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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Jan
22

Review: Iron Night by M.L. Brennan

Review: Iron Night by M.L. Brennan Iron Night Author: M.L. Brennan  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A+ What We’re Talking About: Iron Night is the sequel to Generation V in the Generation V series.  We really enjoyed Generation V: it was fresh and unique, gripping and engrossing.  Iron Night knocks Generation V out of the park!  Gikany and Una loved it and cannot wait until we get more of Fort and Suze! **NOTE – there may be some mild spoilers for Generation V in this review.  So please, just go out, purchase or borrow Generation V so you can catch up on this fabulous series.** As much as we loved Fort’s debut in Generation V, he comes back stronger and more determined in Iron Night. Fort, a born vampire, has been avoiding his true nature his whole life, but is now forced to deal with it as he makes his transition into a full-grown vampire. Fort is working out with his older brother Chivalry – and they are learning more about each other.  He is also feeding from his mother more frequently in order to be stronger and better equipped just in case.  Fort is even tagging along with Chivalry, learning about the different creatures that live in his mother’s territory and the agreements for their continued good behavior.  Yet, poor Fort’s world is turned upside-down when his (finally) great roommate is murdered and left in his bedroom for Fort to find.  Determined to find justice for his friend (and have some peace of mind about whether he was killed because of Fort or for another reason) Fort imposes on his occasional bodyguard, Suzume to assist him. As Fort searches for the killer of his roommate, he also embarks on some self-discovery of his own.  Without giving away any of these wonderful insights and experiences that Fort endures, through this journey he learns not just more about himself and his transition, but more about his family.  Fort discovers another facet to his sister, Prudence, as well as why his mother has raised Fort differently than her other two children.  We are just awed at the skill Ms. Brennan utilizes in her seamlessly weaving this gruesome detective drama and self-discovering/coming of age story.  Fort cannot deny his heritage or his species, but he was raised as a human and longs to simply be a human.  It is a conundrum, one that he walks as well as a skilled tightrope acrobat. If you haven’t experienced the Generation...
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Jan
15

Review: Cursed by Destiny by Cecy Robson

Review: Cursed by Destiny by Cecy Robson Cursed By Destiny Author: Cecy Robson  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: ****Due to the nature of this series, this review contains some spoilers.  We enjoy the Weird Girls series and although there are not blatant spoilers – there are some general giveaways.  You have been warned!**** Cursed by Destiny is a book we have been dying to get our hands on.  After the cliffhanger of Celia walking away with Misha because Aric is to marry another pureblood – we were heartbroken with her. A Cursed Embrace left us bewildered: the Tribe devastated the weres and was growing in power, Aric and Celia’s relationship destroyed, and due to her sisters and their were mates/boyfriends, Celia deciding to live with Misha.  We had so many hopes and questions as we started Cursed by Destiny and though some are answered, more have developed. Celia is now living with Misha, albeit in a guesthouse, training and working with the Alliance to stop the Tribe.  However, her heart still belongs to Aric who is engaged and about to be married to another pure blood.  As much as Misha tries, and his attempts at wooing Celia are as subtle as a two-by-four, Celia cannot go there.  So in lieu of wallowing, she immerses herself in training. The Tribe sees her as the great enemy that will be their downfall and are trying to assassinate her.  Because of the assassination attempts, Celia decides to go head-to-head to end this conflict.  Therefore the Tribe story arc is finally resolved in Cursed by Destiny. However, the Tribe is not Celia’s only conflict.  The tension between her and Aric is uncomfortable and off the chart.  Poor Celia leaves her family because she cannot handle being around the other weres.  They all know they are both hurting.  Celia understands the predicament that Aric is in, but it is bitter comfort.  Aric only wants Celia – but with Celia’s self-esteem issues, it is difficult for her family to have sympathy for Aric.  The love that Aric and Celia have is one in a million and yet it is has been completely thrashed by were politics and to a small degree Celia’s own poor self-image.  It is heart-battering to watch this relationship train-wreck.  With Anara firmly working to keep Aric and Celia apart – it just feels so hopeless.  Aric’s inability to let Celia go contributes to the ongoing painful encounters because Celia knows she cannot have...
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Jan
13

Review: Undertow by SM Stelmack

Review: Undertow by SM Stelmack Undertow Author: S.M. Stelmack  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Creepmeister things living in tunnels underground?!?! Um. This book needs to come with some sort of ‘Stephen King inspired me’ warning. Naturally, I’m a fan of all things pre-1992 King. Stelmack completely nailed the ambiance of the underground and put her reader smack-dab in the middle of all sorts of crazy! What I really liked about Undertow was the underlying theme of ‘love can conquer all’. I liked everything about the whole development of the relationship between Lindsay and Jack. Even though the ‘I’ve loved you forever’ trope is often used, Stelmack brings a fresh twist that I really enjoyed. And it was realistic. In reality, this was really a breakneck pace book. We moved from one conflict directly into the next with a night of nookie in between. Ok. I’m generalizing. You get the idea. If I had to pinpoint the reason this isn’t an ‘A’ book for me, I’d have to say that some of the descriptions of the tunnel communities and the people that inhabited them bothered me a bit. It’s a me, feminist thing. The supporting characters, especially Reggie, were all necessary. No extraneous characters. No side story lines that send the reader on a wild goose chase. However, when I skimmed the first several pages for the sequel, there was no mention of Jack. This is my sad face over that: 🙁 (As I rule, I try not to read the ‘teasers’ at the end of a novel. I have very little self-control, and my imagination hits overdrive easily.) Lindsay sure has had a crappy luck-of-the-draw in life. As the guardian of her niece, she’s suffered more loss than should be even possible. I liked her tenacity. I like her honesty with herself. I liked the way she was willing to give Jack space while letting him know that she did love him. Her ability to love, forgive, and believe make her a memorable character for me. Jack was one of those characters that I wasn’t sure I’d like. He starts out as rather a prig, and for a bit I wasn’t sure whether I’d actually finish the title because I just didn’t want to read about someone so damaged self-combusting. It’s a ‘me’ thing right now. Watching him develop and emerge from within himself is one of the fascinating things about this title. Of all his qualities of which I am...
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Jan
7

Review: Broken Blade by JC Daniels

Review: Broken Blade by JC Daniels Broken Blade Author: J.C. Daniels Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Warning: Spoilers from previous books in the Colbana Files series. Broken Blade is the long-awaited and much anticipated follow-up title to Night Blade by JC Daniels. I HIGHLY recommend that anyone new to this series start with the first book and read the second book before picking up Broken Blade, the third title in the series. Broken Blade opens approximately four months after the conclusion of Night Blade. Our heroine, Kit Colbana, is broken and has been reduced to hiding in a closet. She works at her friend TJ’s bar, while barely existing from moment to moment. It’s not often that a UF heroine is truly broken. Usually she will encounter tragedies and find a way to move on before she hits rock bottom. But not Kit. She has been utterly destroyed from her captivity by vampire Jude, the abandonment of her shift-mate, Damon, and the loss of her bond with her sword. After going through all of that with Kit in Night Blade, reading the first few chapters of this book hurt. It has been such an emotional journey, I am glad and thankful that the author allows the reader to share Kit’s lowest points. The first part of the book is titled “Broken,” and for good reason. Ms. Daniels successfully captures the fear and pain of this broken woman. She manages to convey these emotions so clearly that I was in tears and hurting along side Kit. Yet Kit needs to find a way to move forward, and she does so with a grace that only Kit could pull off. As the story progresses, we are privy to Kit’s thoughts and feelings as she makes initial contact with her lover and past associates. Every single encounter is difficult to work through, but she survives. What I admire is that Kit is NOT the same woman she was before the events of the previous book. She finds her way out of the closet she in which she was hiding, but she isn’t necessarily healed. I think that Kit’s story resonates with readers so strongly because most of us at some point in our lives have felt broken. Hopefully not to the extent that Kit has had to endure, but her emotional journey becomes the readers journey and cross to bear. It hits something inside and allows a deep connection with this character. The story...
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Jan
3

Review: Black Arts by Faith Hunter

Review: Black Arts by Faith Hunter Black Arts Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: As Enforcer for the Master vampire of the Southeastern United States, Jane Yellowrock has seen more crazy and impossible things than she ever wanted to. Having finally acknowledged that she can’t do the job alone, she’s been slowly adapting to sharing her home, heart, and secrets with a handful of others, and finding comfort in her small family in the process. But, when one of her only friends goes missing, and she becomes embroiled in yet another mystery alongside the very creatures she used to hunt, Jane will discover that she has more to lose than ever, and this newest challenge could prove to be the deadliest of all. I have to say that I absolutely love Jane. By this point in the series she has become one of my favorite heroines ever, and not just because she’s as tough as she is. Jane is complex and difficult, and occasionally fragile, but she’s learned a lot since the beginning of the series—none of those lessons having been gentle. A loner for much of her life thanks to the Puma concolor she can shift into, she’s had to keep her true self hidden, only rarely putting her trust in anyone else. But, no matter how much she’s always told herself it was better that way, it isn’t what she really wants. Her secrets may have given her an edge in the face of her enemies, but they’ve kept her chained to the guilt of her past as well. Honesty, trust, loyalty, and respect are all new concepts for Jane, as is the knowledge that those she cares about have an earnest faith that she will be there for them no matter what. Jane isn’t the only bright spot on the roster of characters in the Jane Yellowrock series, either. There are plenty of extraordinary characters on the list, not the least of which are the newest additions to Jane’s household, the Younger brothers. They’re among the only people Jane has ever been able to trust, and she’s come to consider them her family. Extremely competent and able to meet Jane head-on, they are all a perfect fit for each other, and add warmth to the stories that I didn’t even realize was so badly needed. There’s also Leo Pellissier, the MOC of New Orleans (who I’d like to kick sometimes), and his Primo, “Bruiser,” who are both...
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Dec
24

Review: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall

Review: Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall Iron & Velvet Author: Alexis Hall Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: There’s one thing that can be said for certain about Kate Kane: she does not date vampires. Well, she tries not to date vampires. Except for the Prince of Cups, who’s managed to win Kate over with her bribes of pudding and the phenomenal sex that Kate’s not really interested in resisting. Hired to investigate a murder perpetrated outside a nightclub belonging to said Prince, she quickly learns that this case is going to get messy fast—and not the figurative sort of messy, either. As a mostly-mortal faery princess with a drinking problem and a penchant for composing her own varying, yet gruesomely hilarious, headstone inscriptions, she’s got her work cut out for her. But, with an unlikely assortment of supernatural allies by her side, she just might survive and win the girl after all. For this review, I’ll begin with a warning, and then move on to better things. This story is filled with lots of icky things and places. And I don’t mean that as a deterrent to reading the story (because I liked it tremendously overall), but as a warning if you’re easily grossed out. The descriptions of the monsters, the sewers (and things associated with them), the carnage of battle, etc., are vivid and creative, which actually made Iron & Velvet a lot of fun to read. No half-visualized, amorphous, lackluster baddies here—no sir. These things are so delightfully revolting that I couldn’t finish the cookie I was nibbling on during one especially descriptive scene. I’m not usually a fan of gore, but Kate is such a great character, and her perspective so sharp and unorthodox, that I set my treat aside to finish the scene. Which is saying something, because it was a really good cookie. One of my favorite things about Iron & Velvet is that I found it to be genuinely, uproariously, snort-inducingly funny. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard over a suspense novel. There are so many quips and zings, as well as drily observed portents of destruction, that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire story—even those above-mentioned gory parts. There are plenty of gems dotting the narrative, even from the very beginning, one that had me snickering early on being: “There’s a dead body in the alley outside.” “And it just slipped your mind?” “No, I just decided to seduce you first.” “Corpse first.” “He’s...
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Dec
23

Review: The Spider by Jennifer Estep

Review: The Spider by Jennifer Estep The Spider Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Opening in present day, shortly after the events of the ninth Elemental Assassin story, Heart of Venom, Gin Blanco tells her lover, Owen, the gritty details of the events that solidified her place as the deadly assassin, the Spider. The story fades to a time ten years in the past, when Gin is just starting to make a reputation for herself as the Spider. She’s still living at home with Fletcher, working in the Pork Pit, and struggling to find a bit of independence. When a job comes in that Fletcher is hesitant to accept, Gin pushes to take it. Among other things, it’s rumored that the target, Cesar Vaughn, beats his thirteen year-old daughter, Charlotte. This makes it personal for Gin, and she convinces Fletcher to take the gig. As she gets to know her target, she accidentally meets Cesar’s son, Sebastian Vaughn, and falls head over heels. Every time I open up an Elemental Assassin story, and The Spider is no exception, I am blown away by the intricate details of each setting. I am immediately transported into the scene, fighting and cooking along side Gin. Ms. Estep is an amazing storyteller who writes a detailed descriptive scene like few others. Never too many words or overdone, she weaves a visual masterpiece so perfectly described, that I sit in awe and appreciation. The Spider is a different story than its predecessors in that the primary tale predates the series by several years. I love how the book opens in present time, and I adore getting a glimpse of Gin and Owen “back to normal” after the events from the past few books. However, the primary story is that of Gin’s past. Like the other books in the series, The Spider reads in Gin’s first person POV, so there is a level of familiarity and comfort. However… This is NOT the Gin I’ve come to love. She is young and immature. So much so, that it truly bothered me. She is blatantly obtuse, blinded by her personal agenda to protect Charlotte. She misses so many obvious clues that would have told her she was going down the wrong path. Honestly, it made it hard for me to get into the story because I was annoyed with her oblivious and immature nature. However, isn’t that the point?! We are reading a story told from the...
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Dec
20

Review: Fallen by Traci L. Slatton

Review: Fallen by Traci L. Slatton Fallen Author: Traci Slatton Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Fallen is the first novel in the After Trilogy, a post-apocalyptic dystopian world.  We follow Emma, a woman who faced with the end of the world, fights to save herself and her daughter.  While the ashes have cleared, she continues to struggle to survive, saving other children along the way until she realizes that she cannot continue alone. We meet Emma in the After.  The Before times are just something to wistfully remember when you are scraping by in the After.  The deadly mist that caused this apocalypse remains a continuing threat and lawlessness is rampant. It is a very dark world, full of very grey choices.  Emma and the children survive by hiding from the raiders and foraging for food and other supplies along the forgotten cities in Europe.  While foraging one day, she comes across a new band of raiders.  Emma, tired of fear, senses this might be the time to stop going at it alone. Arthur is the leader of this particular band of raiders and is not interested in having a woman and several children to take care of.  However, Emma agrees to conjugal rights to her body in exchange for food, shelter and the safety in the raider’s camp.  What had started off as a bartered agreement for their survival quickly turns into something more.  However, nothing is ever easy in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world.  There are other raiders with absolutely no morals who threaten their safety: those who imprison, use and abuse women, and even those who have turned to cannibalism.  Arthur’s band is coveted for numerous reasons, not just for his large storage of food and items.  Yet, even in the face of such destruction, Arthur is trying to rebuild the world and fight the mist.  Even as he is trying to start over and forget the past (or maybe atone for past sins), Emma cannot let go of her husband and older daughter from Before.  She feels she must know what has happened to them and finds herself torn between two men. Fallen is engrossing.  Gikany and Una found it to be a quick read simply because it is difficult to put down.  The world building, the aftermath and the nature of the mist were incredibly fascinating.  There are moments while we were reading that we were completely blown away by the world, the narrative, and the...
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Dec
19

Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews Clean Sweep Author: Ilona Andrews  Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: The writing team know as Ilona Andrews decided to give their fans (and blog followers) a treat: they released a serial story on their website.  The story started with a girl and her broom and went from there.  Well, the genius that is Ilona Andrews took “a girl and her broom” and turned it into Clean Sweep, a delightful and fascinating tale of a girl, her broom, and a world we could only hope to dream of.  What took place over months, a chapter a week release, is now available as a full e-book.  I did not follow the serial… I waited until the story was complete and read it then. The story follows Dina Demille, a young woman with more to her than meets the eye.  She owns an inn within a quiet Texas community.  However, her inn is much more than just a quaint little bed and breakfast.  Dina doesn’t cater to human or earthly guest, but those from other planets and dimensions.  She has one permanent guest, but Dina wants to improve her inn and watch it flourish as her parents did before her. Clean Sweep begins in this small Texas community with Dina conversing with neighbors over the latest dog that was killed.  She knows a werewolf has moved into the neighborhood, claiming it as his territory.  So, in her suave way, she tries to get him to take care of this problem after she rules him out as the killer.  However, Sean seems to behave as if Dina has a screw loose and dismisses her.  Although Innkeepers are meant to stay neutral, Dina feels compelled to protect her neighbors from the creature that is stalking the neighborhood.  As she goes on to find and stop this evil, Dina stumbles into more than she bargained for. As the story unfolds, we are given two very different, but very alpha males in the werewolf Sean and the vampire Arland.  The subtle testosterone driven competition between them was a lovely combination of hotness and humor.  The mythology of both species was fascinating and new – something that truly enriched the storyline.  As the novel concluded – there is no resolution; however, there is the tease of more to come.  I honestly cannot be disappointed because it struck of note of realism.  This promise of more to come grounded the novel in urban fantasy. Suffice...
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Dec
2

Review: Darklove by Elle Jasper

Review: Darklove by Elle Jasper Darklove Author: Elle Jasper  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A: Loved It What I’m Talking About: I jumped into the Dark Ink Chronicles a little late. I started with book #3. It’s OK though. I got to know and love our kick-ass, sassy heroine, Riley Poe and her hunka-hunka burnin’ love, Eligius Dupre. And then, in book #4, I watched everything fall apart. Book #5 of the Dark Ink Chronicles, Darklove is a fantastic book. With emotions high, Riley and Noah set out to rid Inverness, Scotland of a pesky rogue vampire problem only to find themselves neatly primed to vanquish a new paranormal being. Well, not so much new as a hybrid. **SPOILERS FROM BOOK 4** At the end of Black Fallen, Riley was bereft. Think: Bella Swan during New Moon. Except, her only reason for living was revenge and keeping innocents safe. With both Eli and Victorian thought dead, Riley was largely comforted and protected (mostly from herself) by Noah. Even though he’s Eli’s best friend, that doesn’t stop him from developing feelings for Riley. Interesting, since he’s got that erotica talent that is kept at bay by a bag of herbs hanging ‘round his neck. Whew. Alright. Now that I’ve gotten THAT out of the way, I can talk about Darklove. If you’ve been reading this series, you know that Riley is a total wild card. She’s a rogue that doesn’t always play by the rules, and that’s what makes her so incredibly effective against the paranormal creeps that are hanging around. At the beginning of the book, we see Riley trying to make it to a realm where she believes that Eli and Victorian exist. Again, going off-the-grid and leaving her constant companion, Noah – who promised Eli he would keep Riley safe – banked on a crap shoot. Whether the advice she’d gotten regarding the way to find her love, as well as a Stregoi that she’d grown to trust would work was of utmost importance to her. Throughout the entire novel, one can only appreciate Riley’s tenacity. Even when faced with the possibility that Eli was lost to her, she never gave up hope, and never gave up on their love. I think that’s what wrapped me up in the story so tightly. I want to believe in that enduring, no-matter-what kind of love. I want to believe that Riley, with all her tendencies, will be able to fix everything. I also want to believe...
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