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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Feb
26

Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop Murder of Crows Author: Anne Bishop  Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Meg Corbyn was a complete mystery to the Others when she first arrived at Lakeside Courtyard. Two months later, the resident terra indigene, or Earth Natives, have accepted that this aspect of their relationship with her isn’t likely to ever change. Although, as a Cassandra Sangue, or blood prophet, Meg has proven herself to the terra indigene time and again, it is her pure and sweet nature that leads them to accept her as one of their own. But, with angry humans trying to overthrow the Others, and the man who considers Meg his personal property more intent on getting her back than ever, it will take everyone, terra indigene and trusted humans alike, to strike at the true source of all the trouble before the threat of war leads to a slaughter. Simon Wolfgard is leader of the most progressive terra indigene courtyard in all of Thaisia. Though distrustful of humans, in general, he’s created a place where humans and Others can interact peacefully, work together, and typically get along—to a point. But the arrival of the short, strange woman with stinky, orange hair one winter’s night turned everything he thought he knew about the “clever meat” inside out, changing almost everyone in the courtyard to varying degrees in the process. Him, most especially. Now, with the threat to both Meg and terra indigene alike growing by the day, Simon will have to rely on allies both new and old in order to give the fragile trust they’ve all worked so hard to build a chance to survive. In preparation for this review, I reread most of the first book in the series, Written in Red, and I have to say that I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Meg Corbyn is a delight to read in both novels, as are Simon and many of the other characters, her innocence and fortitude combining to endear her to the Others as much as she confuses them. In Murder of Crows, Meg continues to work for and aid the terra indigene who have taken her in, and their understanding and appreciation of her self-sacrifice is the catalyst for many other changes within the community as a whole. Meg is an anomaly in so many ways that none of the Others really know what to do with her, leading to several laugh-out-loud moments that broke...
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Feb
21

Review: The Problem with Promises by Leigh Evans

Review: The Problem with Promises by Leigh Evans The Problem with Promises Author: Leigh Evans Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: As with most urban fantasy series, the Mystwalker series books should be read from the beginning and in order, or the reader will miss out on substantial world development and character growth. In fact, I don’t know that I would have enjoyed The Problem with Promises nearly as much if I hadn’t spent my time in the trenches with Hedi and Robson. So with that, I highly recommend that any reader new to this series start with the first book, The Trouble with Fate. The Mystwalker series chronicles the story of Hedi Peacock, a half-werewolf, half-fae who doesn’t fit in among either of the races. Her “one true thing” and mate Robson Trowbridge, is alpha to a pack of werewolves who don’t really know him and aren’t fans of Hedi. The Problem with Promises opens a couple of hours after the conclusion of the previous book, The Thing About Weres. The central characters are all present to discuss strategy and create a plan of action to deal with two major events that occurred in the prior book. The first involves saving Hedi’s twin brother, Lexi, and the second is damage control with the ruling werewolf council (NAW) after Robson killed its emissaries. This leads to much action and adventure as Hedi must fight, once again, to save those closest to her. I’m just going to put this out there… The Problem with Promises is heads and tails above the previous two stories. While I enjoyed both books, I had some issues that kept me from elevating the stories to “one of my favorites.” Things such as rambling monologues, confusing storylines, and (my biggest beef) too many problems for Hedi, weighed down the prior books. However, this time around I found the storyline to be sharp, well-focused and engrossing. Each of the main characters underwent substantial growth, leaving this reader emotionally tied to and invested in each one’s fate. I throughly enjoyed reading this tale and look forward to more. Hedi Peacock has become one of my favorite UF heroines. I admire that she’s no where near perfect, with her insecurities close to the surface at all times. One of the things that I find so fascinating is that Hedi experiences her fae and wolf sides as two distinct beings within her, with one or the other surfacing (or retreating) when it is needed most....
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Feb
20

Review: Night Owls by Lauren M. Roy

Review: Night Owls by Lauren M. Roy Night Owls Author: Lauren M. Roy  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Night Owls is the debut novel of Ms. Lauren M. Roy.  Gikany and Una never know what to expect when we pick up a debut author.  We were sublimely surprised by this first novel in the Night Owls series and look forward to more. The first element we must comment on is the mythology and world-building – an integral aspect in a first in a series novel.  It is the varied and fresh mythology of Night Owls that hooked us.  We are pleasantly surprised that the “creeps” described in the book blurb are not the usual suspects (vampires, werewolves, etc).  The creeps seem to be their own category of bad – a melding of werewolf and vampire it seems.  They remind Gikany of the “bad guys” from the movie version (except for not being mindless) of I Am Legend (Una has refused to see this movie due to the fate of a beloved canine companion – her heart is too weak).  We enjoyed this unique creature and the richness it brought to the overall story.  Especially considering the camaraderie seen between a vampire, creep hunters, two hilarious yet loyal succubi, one Renfield and a clueless college student.  The way this mythology is introduced, slowly, as the world-building progresses along with the overall story arc, was paced beautifully.  Not once did the story drag due to “downloading” the world-building. Another great aspect of Night Owls is the characters.  Character driven, the story slowly brings together two very different people, our vampire Valerie (Val) and the creep hunter, Elly, to fight the evil creeps.  The path the two main characters took to reach each other was convoluted.  It did not progress as we thought it would, based on the back description.  It took time to build their meeting together, getting the right people in the right place – and desperate enough.  Especially since, although Val is not a creep, Elly was still not keen on meeting a vampire let alone teaming up.  With the dark elements evident in this story – the novel is lightened by the presence of the two succubi.  Their antics which are as natural to them as breathing and their loyalty were a much needed anchor in the overall story. Although our heroes were able to thwart the creeps, the tension and conflict between the creeps and our band of night...
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Feb
18

Review: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Review: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan Oracle of Philadelphia Author: Elizabeth Corrigan  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A+ What We’re Talking About: Sometimes you come across a true gem without realizing it.  By pure happenstance Oracle of Philadelphia came to our attention. Gikany and Una selected it because it sounded interesting, but we were unsure about it: we were not familiar with the author and had no expectations.  Even if we had had some, they would have been blown away.  This is one of our top picks of 2014! It is difficult to describe everything that makes this novel work.  The mythology is intricate and well written.  We have demons, the fallen angels who run around causing their particular specialty of havoc.  Bedlam, Carrie’s “demon” best friend and the former Angel of Chaos, excels at causing confusion and throwing things out of balance (sometimes without even realizing it).  There are also the favored, those angels still in the employ of the one true God.  Gabriel, Carrie’s best “angel” friend, is the Angel of Joy.  He is compelled to offer aid and assistance, even when it comes with a price.  There are also angels who battle the demons to send them back to hell when they are caught transgressing.  It is extremely fascinating. Carrie is neither angel nor demon.  The mystery of who Carrie is and what happened to her were woven gently and tantalizingly throughout the novel.  When her true identity is revealed, we were stunned and amazed.  Carrie’s personality and the millenniums that she has lived through could have caused her to become callous: to keep to herself, and to plug along, day after day.  Luckily for her, between the beloved insanity that is Bedlam, and the searing joy and beauty that are Gabriel, she finds the courage to continue.  When confronted by a man so pure, he sold his soul and yet remains true and untainted, she is overcome.  Carrie feels called to help because she cannot allow herself not to intercede on his behalf. Another aspect that impressed us is the author’s masterful use of flashbacks.  In most novels, flashbacks are best when seldom used, otherwise it is far too easy for the reader to be lost.  That is not the case in Oracle of Philadelphia.  Not only are flashbacks used extensively, they are done in different ways, expertly conveying character backgrounds, important past experiences, and giving foundations to the intricately woven fabric of the mythology.  Through these flashbacks we learn not...
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Feb
13

Review: Known Devil by Justin Gustainis

Review: Known Devil by Justin Gustainis Known Devil Author: Justin Gustainis  Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I had no idea what to expect from this story, being new to both the author and the Haunted Scranton series, but it truly was a lot of fun to read. Following Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski and his vampire partner, Karl Renfer, as they face down the latest threat to their city, Known Devil sets off at a lively pace and doesn’t slow down for the duration of the novel. Unlike other suspense novels I’ve had the opportunity to read, this story includes nearly every supernatural creature imaginable. From vamps and elves to witches, sirens, and ghouls, they’re all here, each of them having a significant role to play in the outcome of the narrative. At its root, Known Devil is a detective story complete with gangsters and hostile takeovers and more twists than a bag of Twizzlers. Stan is a good detective who’s dealing with his own baggage as best he can, as well as trying to save the city he’s vowed to protect, all while trying not to get any of his extremely loyal (and generally well-intentioned) co-workers and family killed in the process. It isn’t an easy job, especially in a world where bigotry and hatred are alive and well, and fear makes easy tools of those who readily embrace the empty promises of false comfort. Aside from being a captivating whodunit, Known Devil has a good lesson about change and tolerance within its chapters, and Mr. Gustainis uses familiar stereotypes to valuable, yet never overbearing, effect. Unsurprisingly, religious fanaticism is a major culprit in the ongoing chaos, those who seek to take over the city government, and ultimately eradicate a large sector of its population, using it to terrifyingly successful results. There are quite a few good digs in Known Devil, however, and, rather than trivialize the major issues presented in the story, I felt that they added to my enjoyment of each and every victory Stan and Karl have. Although I was fortunate to have a synopsis of the two other novels in this series, Hard Spell and Evil Dark, now that I’ve experienced the many details the author puts into every page, I’m very sorry I missed reading them both from cover to cover. I like Stan and Karl a great deal, the sarcasm that is more of a native tongue throughout the story lending the entire narrative a gritty,...
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Feb
6

Review: Falling Light by Thea Harrison

Review: Falling Light by Thea Harrison Falling Light Author: Thea Harrison  Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Falling Light is the follow up tale to Rising Darkness and the concluding story of the 2-book Game of Shadows series. Although I was confused and a bit bored with the first book, it effectively maps out the world and rules, which are crucial for understanding and enjoying the second story. With that said, I highly recommend you read Rising Darkness prior to picking up Falling Light. Also note, this review contains spoilers from the first book. Falling Light opens immediately after the closing of the first book when our hero and heroine survived a battle against the Deceiver and his minions. The author does an excellent job recapping the important highlights from the first book… There is Michael and Mary: two soulmate aliens who gave up their former lives to send their souls to Earth to help capture the evil being known as the Deceiver. The aliens’ souls are continually reborn on Earth, but their bodies are subject to the human frailty and life cycles. Their leader, and only other remaining alien, is Astra. She has not subjected her body to rebirth in a long time (if ever), and therefore, she retains the most memories and knowledge of their original lives. Now that Mary and Michael have reunited, their goal is to find Astra, and once reunited, bring down the Deceiver once and for all. This book is unlike the urban fantasy/science fiction stories that I typically enjoy. While there is quite a bit of conflict and some low-key romance, the story’s focus is more philosophical in nature rather than being driven by intense action. At times the story moves slowly and is filled with long moments of self-reflection or in-depth discussions. While that bothered me in the first book, this time around I was actually drawn in by the conversations and dialogue. Because the world was previously established in the first book, I am able to just sit back and take it all in this time around. One of the reoccurring discussions I most enjoyed revolves around the concept of preservation of the individual versus collateral damage for the greater good. I found that the arguments for both sides were well-written and fit smartly within the framework of the story. I never felt like I was being preached at or told to believe a certain way. I like Mary and Michael together. They...
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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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