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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Jun
1

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

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

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

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

Review: White Hot by Ilona Andrews

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

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: The Purloined Poodle Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased The Purloined Poodle The Purloined Poodle is a delightfully entertaining tale shared from the point of view of series regular, Oberon. Yes… Oberon the Irish wolfhound. As readers of the Iron Druid Chronicles know, Oberon has gained the ability to think and understand with humanlike intelligence thanks to his human, Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. When Oberon and Atticus discover that someone has been dognapping prized hounds in the Pacific Northwest, Oberon compels Atticus that it is their responsibility to save the hounds and get to the bottom of this mystery. Oberon has become my favorite character in the Iron Druid Chronicles. I’ve enjoyed watching him learn more and evolve as his life is extended well beyond that of a normal wolfhound. His sense of humor and lack of human pettiness endears him to me, but in The Purloined Poodle, it is also his sense of right and wrong, along with his insight that make him the perfect narrator for this tale. I enjoyed getting Oberon’s take on everything he and Atticus run across as the zigzag across both Oregon and Washington state to uncover what happened to Jack, the prized poodle, as well as several other missing dogs. The addition of the Boston terrier Starbuck was entertaining, even though we have no idea what he is thinking or feeling. He is Watson to Oberon’s Holmes, and shines through both Atticus and Oberon’s impressions of Starbuck. I hope we’ll see him in future tales. Luke Daniels absolutely shines with his narrative performance in The Purloined Poodle. Maintaining his silly, yet houndish, voice of Oberon for the entire story, I honestly felt like I was inside the dog’s head. The narration only adjusted when one of the other characters spoke aloud, and even then, Mr. Daniels used the perfect voice for each new character. Although it could be enjoyed as a standalone mystery, The Purloined Poodle is a treat for those who’ve followed Oberon and Atticus since their start. Additionally, the epilogue wraps up a few things for Atticus that were left open at the conclusion of Staked (IDC #8). I highly recommend this mystery to all! Rating: A- Narration: A+...
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May
17

Review: Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

Review: Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish Owl and the Electric Samurai Author: Kristi Charish Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I have missed the adventures of Owl.  I don’t know why it feels as if it has been years since I’ve read Owl and the City of Angels but I was excited to finally know what happens next.  Owl and the Electric Samurai did not disappoint! When we last saw Owl, she had lost custody of her beloved Mau cat, Captain, to Lady Siyu, while also receiving a mysterious offer from the IAA. I had no idea what to expect when I started on this novel, but watching Owl trying to actually track down Shangri-La and prevent IAA from getting their hands on the World Quest game developers was more than I imagined.  Though she has questionable morals at times, Owl’s heart is in the right place and she does strive to do the right thing.  Though the right thing is not always something you can live with, nor what you end up with – no matter how hard you try. While Owl is trying to find and help the gamers, the red dragon sends her on an errand for the elves – to find a magical armor that has been lost for centuries.  As she starts out on the journey, Rynn and Owl are aware of the supernatural politics – the war between supernaturals remaining myth or being revealed.  However it seems there is much more going on than it appears and no one can be trusted. I enjoyed the emotional rollercoaster that seemed to permeate this novel.  As Owl and Rynn’s relationship progresses, there are still bumps and adjustments along the way.  Though, it seemed working with your significant other has benefits – it also has drawbacks.  I enjoyed the give and take between them.  I liked how they made a better team as they both learned to trust each other.  I did miss Nadya as she was off solving a problem at her club. The novel ends with a tremendous cliffhanger, one that has me emotionally in knots, especially after the epilogue.  I’m left with so many questions, but I don’t want to voice them as they could spoil.  Suffice to say, I wonder what is in store for Owl next, and if we will see what happens to several others in the next novel.  This novel felt almost even more gripping with the strain between Rynn and Owl, the race to...
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May
16

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner Firestorm Author: Nancy Holzner Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: It’s been 3.5 years since the release of the previous Deadtown story, Hellhound, and I’ve been stalking the author, er… um… patiently waiting the release of the sixth and final story of Vicky Vaughn’s tales. As always, the story opens with Vicky in action, this time trying to banish a group of sirens who are causing people to plunge to their deaths off the Tobin Bridge and into the Mystic River. Aunt Mab is still around, there to help Vicky prepare for the upcoming final showdown with longtime demonic nemesis, the Destroyer. Firestorm is the exciting climax of and fitting conclusion for Ms. Holzner’s amazing Deadtown series which features a “Buffy-like chosen one” set to save the world from evil forces. The book is the culmination of every title that came before it, so you definitely want to start back at the beginning. I was concerned that with so much time passed and the intricacies of this urban fantasy arcing plotline, that I would be completely lost and playing catch up. But between reading my previous reviews and the author’s expertly placed reminders of important events, I was able to jump right into the story. In the previous book, Vicky allowed the Goddess Ceridwen inside her, and now both the Destroyer and Ceridwen are fighting for control of her body. It’s a seesaw battle, and poor Vicky is the one suffering its impacts, like when the goddess took over and when on a tear through the bars of Deadtown. The back and forth wreaks havoc on Vicky’s mental and emotional states, leaving her vulnerable and open to making poor decisions. She feels like she’s constantly being played or used and that she’s fighting against her own destiny. I liked that Vicky had to go through this final set of trials, helping her to realize what is truly important. I also appreciated that the author made sure to tie up all the loose ends with the major characters. No spoilers, but I was happy with everything! Because the focus of the book is the FINAL BATTLE, Firestorm didn’t have a standalone mystery or storyline like each of the previous titles, and I missed that aspect of Ms. Holzner’s storytelling. At times I felt the storytelling suffered from ADD because it jumped from one thought to the next, and the plot wasn’t as complex as previous tales. However, the...
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May
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Staked by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Staked by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Staked Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Staked Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Staked opens with Atticus back in Toronto, a place he swore he’d never visit again. He’s there to steal the list of all vampires in the world. While there, he runs into Joseph – the head of Hammers of God, who has retired and married. Atticus learns that Joseph has seen the errors of his youth, and now Joseph wants to help Atticus kill off the vampires. We also finally learn what happened when he was in Toronto years ago, under the name of Nigel. Meanwhile, Granuaile is in Asgard with Oden, working on a way to remove Loki’s mark. And Owen has moved to Flagstaff with Greta, where he plans to train six young humans to become Druids. As with the previous book, Staked is shared in three different POVs: Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen. This time around, there are actually three separate stories, as each of the Druids is on his/her own journey. I wasn’t as confused this time around since I was used to the jump from character to character. While I truly enjoyed listening to Staked, Atticus’s life weighs heavily on his soul, and it brought me down at times. Also, I continued to worry about what would happen to the characters, especially with Jesus’s dire prediction in the previous title. I was waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop, and didn’t feel lighten by the end of the book. I don’t like feeling this way. But as Owen would say, Atticus has really cocked things up, and I fret at how far-reaching his actions will reverberate. Although at the beginning of the book I felt the narration was off, it settled back into its usual patterns after a couple chapters. Mr. Daniels’ voices are all pretty consistent from the last book – Granuaile’s voice remains not as light as she was when we first started hearing it – and I think it’s because she’s not the same wide-eyed girl she once was. But Luke Daniels continues to provide a top-notch performance, and he does a great job with all the voices, especially the trolls. Staked is emotionally dark at times, which makes for a gripping, if not heart-wrenching,...
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May
10

Review: Dog Eat Dog World: Limited Edition Bundle by Hailey Edwards

Review: Dog Eat Dog World: Limited Edition Bundle by Hailey Edwards Dog Eat Dog World: Limited Edition Bundle Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: It’s no secret how much I adore the Black Dog Universe. I gush over them every chance I get. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, Hailey Edwards has released a LIMITED EDITION bundle with every previously released story (except Over the Moon, Gemini #6, the upcoming title due out this summer), including the shorts she’s had in other collections. And I’VE READ THEM ALL…now you can, too! Below are some quickie comments for the short stories in the collection I hadn’t reviewed and a complete reading order—with linked reviews—appears below that. Dog Days of Summer (A Black Dog Short Story) When a fan boy goes missing, all evidence points to a warg being responsible for the crime. Thierry is called to lead the hunt for the rogue, but the closer she gets to locating the boy, the further she gets from the truth. This Thierry and Shaw short story is—in true Hailey Edwards form—suspenseful. I love learning about new creatures, and the way I can feel Thierry’s disgust at times over the new one 🙂 As always, the connection between Theirry and Shaw is intense. My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite Out for Blood (A Gemini Short Story) White sand beaches, fresh tropical drinks…and three exsanguinated bodies. So much for Marshal Ayer’s transfer to the island of St. Kitts being a vacation. Marshall Eileen Ayer spent some time in Edelweiss Mental Institution, and when she returned to duty she was stationed in the Caribbean. Called in to help with the investigation of a couple murders, she’s on the receiving end of the attentions of one Taye Jones. First, I loved seeing Marshall Ayer again. I’d wondered what had gone down with her. Second, I’m diggin’ Taye. Third, vampire and chupacabras. My paranormal heart is beating a rapid rat-a-tat-tat. My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite The Bakers Grimm (A Gemini Short Story) When two struggling business owners compete for the contract of a lifetime, it’s all bakers on deck. Mix in a dollop of rivalry, a tablespoon of romance, and a pinch of magic, and you’ve got the recipe for one heck of a bake-off. May the best decorator win! Here’s a cute little short—a Rumplestilskin-inspired tale—set in the Gemini branch. We’re dropped back into Wink, TX at a cookie shop called Lookie’s Cookies. Our main character is Millie—Decker Comeaux’s daughter, from other...
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May
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Shattered Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #7 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Shattered Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Shattered opens with the exciting addition of Atticus’s arch-druid, Owen, fresh off one of the time islands and unaware of the millennia that have past since he was last awake. As Atticus and Oberon work to acclimate Owen to the twenty-first century, Granuaile takes her own Druidic journey and heads to India to meet up with Latcha and save her father from a demonic possession. So much happened in Shattered! It was exciting to listen to; however, it did get confusing at times. This time around the story is shared by three voices (Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen) and two different POV tenses (Atticus in past tense, while Owen and Granuaile are present tense). Additionally, there are time lags and overlaps between the different narrators which left me scrambling at times to keep up. The overall stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann chasing after Atticus AND Loki’s intentions for Ragnarök, seem to take a backseat in this one… at first. But then the pieces of the puzzle slowly lock into place until BAM! two huge reveals and a lot of forward momentum. In fact, the events are so huge, that there will be impacts from the revelations for a long time. I loved the addition of Owen, Atticus’s arch-druid, who is now physically younger than Atticus (even tho he looks older) by a couple millennia. Atticus helps restore his body to a more youthful state and acclimate him to the modern times. His POVs add additional comic relief and thoughtful insight to the tale. Allowing the pair to come to terms over their past filled a void I didn’t realize was there. Watching teacher become student was humbling for both. I also enjoyed the addition of Orlla, Granuaile’s Irish wolfhound, and look forward to the time when she and Oberion can speak together. I spent a lot of the book fretting for Granuaile. Between the ominous predictions from Jesus and Granuaile’s own hindsight on her actions, I seriously was afraid of what would happen by the end of the book. No spoilers – something significant does occur, and I survived the tale. haha. But not since the battle with the Norse pantheon in...
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May
3

Review: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller

Review: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller Borrowed Souls Author: Chelsea Mueller Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Callie’s brother Josh is in trouble and the only way to get him back alive is to do the bidding of drug lord Ford. For her task, Callie must borrow a soul from the Soul Charmer and commit a crime. But it’s not that easy. The Charmer insists Callie work for him for two weeks in exchange for the soul saying she doesn’t have enough cash to outright loan it. The Charmer is intrigued by Callie’s soul, and Callie may be getting way more than she bargained for. In Ms. Mueller’s fascinating new Soul Charmer series, souls are pawned for cash or other favors. The Soul Charmer is able to wield “soul magic,” allowing him to take souls from and place souls in bodies. One can trade their for a short time to get cash, or borrow another to sin without repercussions on your own soul. The mythology is completely unique and unlike anything I’ve read before, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to Borrowed Souls. As the first book in a new series, there is a lot of world-building, but it’s not heavy-handed or shared via info-dumping. The author leaves clues about the world in dialogue and descriptive scenes. The reader learns about soul magic as Callie is exposed to this dangerous trade. Callie is rather naive at times, even though she comes from a rough childhood and her mom is a bit of a con artist. I like that Callie has to work for her badass UF heroine status; she’s not born with powers or have innate fighting abilities. Try as she might, Callie just can’t be mean, which gives her a soft edge. Callie makes mistakes, sometimes costly ones, but she seems to learn from her situation and move forward. Callie works as part of a soul repo team for two weeks to earn a day use of a soul. The Soul Charmer pairs Callie with Derek, the muscle to shake up those who are delinquent on returning borrowed souls. Derek is the strong, silent type, but Callie forms a bond with the big guy fairly quickly. She also has difficulty hiding her attraction to Derek, and soon the pair find themselves a couple. I LOVE Derek. He’s kind and good, giving someone for Callie to trust. She’s got so little good in her life, and Derek fills all...
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