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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Sep
22

Review: Black Water by Faith Hunter

Review: Black Water by Faith Hunter Black Water Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jane Yellowrock is back in this trio of short stories that go a long way toward easing the wait between full-length novels. Told from Jane’s perspective, they provide a more thorough look at some previously seen minor characters, introduce a few brand new ones, give readers a glimpse of a younger Jane just starting out, and reaffirm that, no, she really doesn’t get any down time. Ever. They’re also a good reminder that Jane is adept when it comes to vengeance, and that, very often, retribution is extremely satisfying. “Black Water,” which takes place between Blood Trade and Black Arts, finds Jane headed back to Chauvin, Louisiana to tie up some unexpected loose ends related to the last job she and her business partners were hired to do. Forced to track a violent escaped convict through the swamps, Jane enlists the help of a one-of-a-kind werewolf and his dog, as well as the wonderful Younger brothers. The situation quickly becomes more urgent and disturbing than Jane could possibly have anticipated, but, then again, everything Jane does seems to follow that pattern, so that’s not really a surprise. While I found parts of the story unsettling, the punishment Jane delivers here is darkly enjoyable, and reaffirms that Jane plays the role of avenging angel exceedingly well. The next story, “Snafu,” is the shortest offering in this collection and tells how Jane began her evolution from orphan to vamp hunter. We are also treated to one of her earliest interactions with her Beast, which I enjoyed a great deal. The younger Jane is just as wary as she is later on, and her economy of conversation is likewise as entertaining and consistent. The best part of this story, for me, however, is the excitement Jane expresses once she’s alone. It’s a single, bittersweet moment colored by the reader’s knowledge of the events Jane has yet to face, her unguarded enthusiasm both beautiful and a little sad to see. Of the three stories, “Off the Grid” was definitely my favorite. In the final story in the collection, Jane is acting in an official capacity as Leo’s Enforcer to rescue a missing vamp from a religious cult. Jane is cool and capable here, and has no trouble holding her own in the company of unfamiliar vampires. The Younger brothers make another appearance, I was very happy to see, since Jane’s...
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Sep
15

Review: Midnight Everlasting by S.M. Stelmack

Review: Midnight Everlasting by S.M. Stelmack Midnight Everlasting Author: S.M. Stelmack Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: This dark urban fantasy, tinged with romance, immediately reminded me why I liked Undertow, the first title in The UnderCity Chronicles by husband-wife team, S.M. Stelmack. I still missed Jack, but was delighted to see Reggie make an appearance. The new main characters are engaging, and battling similar horrors as the first title described. With a LOT more at stake. Yup. Still pre-1992 Stephen King-esque. The creeptastic creatures crafted by the Stemacks are straight out of nightmares. No. Lie. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be giving manholes a wide berth for awhile, once again. And, for some strange reason, I’m thinking a rat might be a good pet. Even though the setting (underground London) kinda creeped me out at first (thoughts of all the decay and generally gross stuff in those ancient tunnels?!?! *shudder*), the descriptions weren’t anywhere near as graphic as the first title. I’m okay either way on that, btw. When Whitechapel was mentioned, my head immediately went to Jack the Ripper. I actually had a lot of déjà vu moments while reading, courtesy of some history class I took in college. I thought the descriptions of the settlements ‘down below’ were well-done, and I felt as though I was experiencing these cavernous places with the characters. Zephanie is part of an underground hierarchy. She’s technically the maven, and although she is young, she seems to have no interest in the role at the onset of the story. I thought it was really interesting to watch Zeph grow in to the Rat Queen. I like the way her mind worked, her independence, and the way she was a take-charge girl. Part of what drew me to Zephanie was the expectation that she was ‘destined for greatness’. As the oldest child of the former Rat Queen, Zeph had mismatched eyes – one blue, one grey. This genetic marker signifies the descendants of the original Sweetly (family surname) that ruled the London underground. We learn about gifts and talents passed down through generations. Her diary was part of the story, and I found it interesting that the authors chose to infuse the history of the Rat Queen in that way. It worked. I’m not usually a fan of diary entries amidst a novel, but this really worked. What solidified my girl-crush on Zephanie was the fact that she never begged or groveled. She was all...
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Aug
29

Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost The Beautiful Ashes Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una have discovered a new and wonderful series called The Broken Destiny.  The Beautiful Ashes is a new series by Jeaniene Frost and it is fresh, fascinating and fun. First, we really like this mythology.  Angels and demons are the primary focus in this series.  As the series name denotes, it has a strong element of destiny woven into it.  Are you more than your ancestors?  Is destiny truly cast in stone or is it more fluid? In this book, we are given a look at the demon realm, and it is truly fascinating.  The way that it is illustrated is very different from typical mythology, and we enjoyed the change, as well as the creativity behind it.  The different creatures that inhabit the world, the way the world is organized, and the demon culture are really interesting. Our heroes, Adrian and Ivy, are compelling.  Ivy’s plight is gripping; her dedication to finding and rescuing her sister is admirable.  She will do anything to save her sister and to return to the life she had.  Ivy seems to take things as they come and work at internalizing them.  She tries not to be too judgmental, but we did find that she would sometimes say one thing but act another.  We understood that she is in a tough place, being forced to trust, but when she gives her trust, we thought she would not later waffle on it.  However, given the gravity of her situation, we can understand fearing that she was making a mistake and questioning those decisions. However, it is Adrian that we found mesmerizing us.  He is unbelievable. This mysterious and somewhat brooding man who is more than he seems, he is hard not to fall head over heels for.  We found him stoic, solid, but also loyal to a fault in some ways.  The attraction between him and Ivy is completely understandable and we enjoyed its slow burn through the novel.  Though it is not resolved in this story, we have a feeling that it may be an overarching story line. The Beautiful Ashes is a great start to what may be a fabulous new series.  The characters are engaging, the world is fascinating and fresh and with the cliffhanger at the ending, we cannot wait until the next novel is out.  If you enjoy urban fantasy/new adult...
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Aug
25

Review: Under the Final Moon by Hannah Jayne

Review: Under the Final Moon by Hannah Jayne Under the Final Moon Author: Hannah Jayne Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una are not sure, but we have heard that Under the Final Moon may be the last novel in the Underworld Detection Agency series.  Although it has the same humor and witty repartee we have come to enjoy, if this is the last book, we are a little disappointed.  Except for the ending, we did enjoy following Sophie through this most dramatic case of her life: confronting her father who is evil incarnate. This is the book where Sophie finally confronts her father, the devil.  The love triangle between her, Alex and Will finally is decided.  Sophie’s troubles due to her being the Vessel of Souls is finally resolved.  This is the book that resolves these overarching plot lines.  Under the Final Moon has a slow burn as we slowly figure out where her father is and the final confrontation is slow to come.  But with him being the great Trickster this makes sense.  He would have all this drama.  But with all this slow build up we expected more from the ending, something we did not get. However, the slow build up to the confrontation with the Devil is intermingled with Sophie trying to be tough and calm while taking it in stride without her usual hysterics.  Honestly, we were not sold on the “new and improved” Sophie.  However, we were not left without the humor and witty banter between Sophie and her best friend Nina.  We loved the light hearted moments.  We also enjoyed the camaraderie with her and Vlad. Our true issue with Under the Final Moon is the abrupt ending.  It felt as if the novel was getting too long and it needed an ending and a quick one.  Both of us were slightly confused by the ending.  We had to reread the final confrontations and we still don’t have it figured out.  Without giving anything away, it just felt like some of what transpired may have been Sophie having a dream or hallucination.  We aren’t sure what was real or what may have been the Trickster playing Sophie.  It was just very confusing. Included in the abrupt ending was the resolution of the on-going love triangle.  Honestly, we were not satisfied with the ending, but we are glad the love triangle was resolved and Sophie has a single beau at the end.  The way it...
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Aug
19

Review: Revenant by Kat Richardson

Review: Revenant by Kat Richardson Revenant Author: Kat Richardson Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Revenant is the final (for now) book in the Greywalker series.  Gikany and Una are a little sad to see this series end.  We’ve really enjoyed this series even though we jumped into it in the middle.  However, this final book fell a bit flat for us. Do not get us wrong, we love the world that Ms. Richardson has created.  It’s vibrant, fascinating, and draws you in.  In fact, her novels are very much like a roller-coaster.  They start slowly, building the tension gradually until you reach a pinnacle.  From that point on, it’s a nail biting, gripping, action and adventure-filled wild ride. There may be twists and turns, but nothing stops the fall and you find yourself glued to the pages until the end.  Sadly, we did not get that in Revenant.  It started off intriguingly, as Harper is secretly shipped off to Portugal, to help Quinton.  But then it started hitting speed bumps.  The action starts to build, and then when the story begins to take off, it stalls for pages of description and Harper’s musings.  This is something that wasn’t in the previous novels. The voice and the tone of the narrative felt off.  We aren’t sure if this is just a side effect of the author not being able to visit the sites she utilized in the novel.  From the author’s note at the end, she had to rely on internet research and the descriptions of others for the descriptions in the novel.  We wonder if this is why the descriptions from Harper felt different.  Perhaps, since Ms. Richardson wasn’t able to experience them for herself, they translated oddly to the novel.  As the action started to pick up and Harper found herself in a new location, she would pause to describe the area in longer and richer detail than we recall her doing before.  These pauses in the action stalled the flow of the novel giving it a different feel.  Not that it was bad, just different from what we were used to.  One thing that we have always enjoyed is the rich descriptions, but in this novel, they seemed to be a bit heavier handed, altering the flow. Although Revenant is the final novel in the Greywalker series, the author states in her post-note that it is only final for now.  The way that it ends, there are...
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Aug
12

Review: A Curse Awakened by Cecy Robson

Review: A Curse Awakened by Cecy Robson A Curse Awakened: A Weird Girls Novella Author: Cecy Robson Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: If you haven’t tried the Weird Girls series, you are in for a treat.  In A Curse Awakened, we are given a prequel to the Weird Girls series.  In this novella, we see the sisters in their home in New Jersey, prior to their move to Reno and are given a great insight into why they felt they were cursed.  Gikany and Una enjoyed this novella with all the trademarks that we have come to love as part of the Weird Girls series. The sisters are not as we typically see them.  Their powers are not as robust or dependable as they become later in the series.  After they were initially cursed as children, their powers were further bound by another spell.  Through the course of this novella we find out who was responsible for the curse and why their powers are more of a curse than a gift.  It also explains the deep friendship and bond the sisters have with Danny, Celia’s ex-boyfriend.  Through this romp, we watch as Danny goes from Celia’s ex to a friend who believes in them and supports them. A Curse Awakened has the wit, fun, and dash of scary evil we have come to love and expect in the Weird Girls series.  It was especially insightful to experience why the sisters felt that their powers were a hindrance rather than the gift that they currently possess.  We also enjoyed watching how Danny went from being the ex to being a part of their inner circle.  This is a must read for any fans of the series and for those thinking about it, a great test read.  Hope you enjoy as much as we did! Our Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Celia Wird shouldn’t possess the ability to transform into a tigress. Her three sisters should never be able to burst into flames, heal wounds, or transform common objects into deadly weapons. And yet they do. Before they were born, the Wird Sisters were cursed by a spell that was intended to destroy them, not endow them with extraordinary powers. The sisters’ magic is untamed and explosive at best, and time is running out for them to take command. Vampires have targeted Celia’s sweet, tragically human ex-boyfriend Danny. The sisters rush to his aid, but in order to take down...
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Jul
28

Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews Magic Breaks Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: NOTE: After seriously struggling on how much to include in my review of this book, I have decided to include a separate section at the end of the review with anything that may be considered a spoiler. After recently completing my “re-read” of the entire Kate Daniels series via audiobooks (check out my post on listening to audiobooks), I was primed and anxious to start Magic Breaks. In fact, probably too anxious: I was downright apprehensive. And when the book opens with a note to readers from the authors stating “some really big things happen in this book,” and “it reads like the final book in the series, but it’s not,” I was petrified! What was going to happen to my beloved characters? Although I went into the book mostly confident that the authors would continue their style of ending the story with a mostly happy ending, I wondered what would be the cost for Kate and her family? I share all of this because my feelings honestly interfered a bit with my enjoyment of the book. I found that at times I was reading too fast – wanting to get to the next action scene because I was fearful of what would happen. Then at other times, I didn’t want to pick up the book because I was worried. Without sharing spoilers, I will state that the authors (once again) do a fabulous job, and I think that this is a book that I will grow to love more with subsequent re-reads. If you have yet to pick up Magic Breaks, do not let your worry for the characters and what happens by the end of the book spoil your reading experience! As the story opens, we find Kate and Curran back in the Keep, recovered from their exhausting and deadly trip overseas (Magic Rises). Now that Hugh D’Ambray knows about Kate, she doesn’t have to hide her magic, so she practices her blood magic in the Keep, getting undead blood from various sources. Kate is also busy with her business, Cutting Edge, and is hoping to gain support from the local newspaper by saving the chief editor’s magical pet. Unfortunately, when Curran is called away for a few days, Kate must attend the monthly conclave meeting with the People, whom she’s been avoiding since her encounter with Hugh. At the conclave meeting, all...
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Jul
22

Review: Black by Catherine Winters

Review: Black by Catherine Winters Black Author: Catherine Winters Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: D What We’re Talking About: Black is the first novel in the trilogy entitled Josephine. Although the premise was promising and enticing, the novel did not live up to our expectations. Between some serious issues we have with the plot and the main character, we simply could not find ourselves invested in the story. Warning: we may spoil portions of the novel with this review but we must in order to point out the elements that earned the ratings. First, the biggest issue we have with Black is the non-con (Una just recently learned that this is short for non-consensual sex) situation that occurs at just over the halfway mark.  No matter the basis of a relationship, one party always has the right to say no to sexual relations, whether in a marriage, partnership, or other defined relationship.  There can never be, in our opinion, a reason or obligation that takes the right of refusal away.  Once you take the right of refusing away or more importantly, if you engage in sex over the obligations of the other party, it is rape.  Sex must be consensual on part of both parties by their free will.  If it is a sex game – that is different because the consent is there. In this novel, the non-con situation was rape – it was not in a context of a sexual game nor did it appear at any point in the novel that they engaged in that particular type of sexual play.  Although we are spared the details, it is clear what happens because of the scene’s set-up and the scene immediately after.  Grant makes it clear to Josephine, who says, “No,” that because he pays her to be his mistress, she therefore has no right to tell him no.  The handling of this rape, in our opinion, was not done in a way we can condone.  The only reason Gikany and Una finished reading the novel after that scene was to find out if the rape was eventually addressed and dealt with appropriately?  In our opinion, the answer is no.  Not only does it appear that Josephine accepts this event as something she deserved (because she provoked Grant verbally during their argument directly prior to the rape), there is no lasting trauma or ramifications from it.  Grant’s very expensive “apology gift” is not acceptable in our opinion, and Josephine appears to brush...
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Jul
21

Review: Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep

Review: Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep Poison Promise Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Gin’s birthday is quickly approaching, and she doesn’t like it. Not only does she struggle with memories of her foster father Fletcher’s death, but bad things always seem to happen to those she cares about around her birthday. And as if on cue, Gin’s life starts to get messy, again. There is a new drug in town that is messing with Elementals, and one of Gin’s waitresses, Catalina Vasquez, seems to be caught in the middle. Not only that, but Gin’s little sister Bria is taking a personal interest in the case when one of her informants is killed. Gin makes it her mission to protect Catalina and bring down Beauregard Benson, the drug-dealing vampire king of Southtown, while trying to give Bria some independence to do things her way. There is a reason that Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series is one of my favorites: even after ten full-length books and a handful of novellas, the eleventh story is just as exciting, engrossing, and original as the first. Ms. Estep is an incredibly gifted storyteller who can weave stunning detail into each and every scene. Dark humor, intense action, and raw emotions are packed into every story with exquisite precision, making Gin, and her extended family, all characters which I care about. After the past few books looked into Gin and Owen’s relationship, in Poison Promise there is a lot of focus on Gin’s relationship with her police officer sister, Bria. The pair has only recently reconnected, and sometimes Gin feels like she is still on shaky ground when it comes to Bria’s tenuous acceptance that Gin is an assassin. This is never more evident during the course of this book. Gin struggles with her fierce need to protect and save her family from danger while allowing Bria to go after Benson on her terms. Meanwhile, Bria becomes obsessed with bringing down Benson, and her actions put innocent people in the line of fire. The scene when Gin finally confronts Bria is one of the best in the books. Their dialogue is intense and raw, ripping open old wounds. In addition, Bria’s partner, Xavier also steps in with some harsh words. It’s all so intense and amazing, allowing both Bria and Gin to learn and grow. There is a perfect balance between personal character development and the intense action-driven storyline. One thing about the Elemental...
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Jul
15

Review: Premonitions by Jamie Schultz

Review: Premonitions by Jamie Schultz Premonitions Author: Jamie Schultz   Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: C+ What We’re Talking About: Premonitions is an interesting novel that follows the bad guys as they try to survive the larger predators of the crime world.  It is slow to start and Gikany and Una found it to be a bit lacking, though the potential was there. The novel begins very slowly with Karyn and her crew celebrating after a successful theft and finding out about a new job.  It wasn’t until over halfway through the novel that the action picked up.  As the novel unfolds, we watch as the different pieces and people are moved into position for the big heist.  This big job is one that they cannot refuse (if they want to continue in their chosen profession) offered by someone who can easily make them disappear if he chooses.  Enoch is truly a big bad which allows us to root for these “lesser” criminals.  However, it feels as if the bulk of the novel is the preparations for the heist, which is not all that interesting.  We are given snippets of the players, but not enough to truly connect. Premonitions is told through numerous points of view.  Although it aids in giving a more rounded view of what is going on, there were too many shifting narrations.  The frequent points of view changes made the reading of the novel jumpy.  Also, because we are given so many glimpses of all the interested parties, it never allows for us to connect deeply with any of them.  Especially considering that Karyn and Anna are our protagonists, we have only an inkling of their connection.  We know how they met and that they had an instant bond that has connected them, but we were not able to experience it enough to partake of the connection ourselves.  That despite this deep bond between them, Karyn finds she can just walk away from without a moment’s hesitation seemed wrong to us and confused us further.  We are also only given glimpses of what appears to be a growing connection between Anna and Genevieve and therefore have no vested emotional interest in their developing relationship.  We root Karyn’s crew (since they are fighting against evil) but it is without heart or passion. Although in the end some wrongs are righted, there are still many lose ends at the conclusion of Premonitions.  Without giving anything away, the team continues to find itself...
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