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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Feb
10

Review: Supernaturally Kissed

Review: Supernaturally Kissed Supernaturally Kissed Author: Stacey Kennedy Release Date: Dec. 29, 2011 Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Frostbite Series #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book: Ghosts harass and annoy Tess Jennings to save their souls. Sometimes she helps them. Other times she ignores them. But one ghost will give her no choice. Kipp McGowen, a cop with the Memphis Police Department, will stop at nothing to gain her help, including using his ghostly charms to seduce her. Tess must help solve the five year old cold case of Hannah Reid, because solving the case will save Kipp. But a bigger problem presents itself. Tess is falling in love with a ghost. Now she must decide. Keep Kipp forever or find the killer… What I’m talking about: Tess is a little different from the rest of us – she sees and communicates with ghosts. She usually ignores their plight, or if she stops to listen, she tries to send them on their way to the “other side” quickly. That process has always worked for her until she meets Kipp – he is different from any ghost she’s met before. He remembers his life and acts like a “normal person.” Kipp implores Tess to help him catch the man who killed him while he was tracking down the killer of a young girl. Right from the start, Kipp reminded me of Patrick Swayze’s character in the movie Ghost – bothering Tess until she acknowledged him and did his bidding. It didn’t hinder the story, but rather made me chuckle. I will tell you right up front that I spent a lot of time during the first half of so of this book trying to figure out how Kipp and Tess could have a happy ending. First, I thought maybe he wasn’t really dead like Reese Witherspoon’s character in the movie Just like Heaven. Then I wondered if she would die too. Or *gulp* would there not be a happy ending? I just couldn’t see how it could possibly end well…. with him a ghost and her, well, not. Let me reassure you that this concern is addressed AND once the story got rolling, I was so engrossed that I didn’t really care. I loved how my emotions were tugged around in this book. For example, several times my heart raced with Tess’s frustration when she tried to explain the truth to Kipp’s partners. I was waiting for one of...
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Feb
9

Review: Unbroken

Review: Unbroken Unbroken Author: Rachel Caine  Release Date: Feb. 7, 2012 Publisher: ROC Outcast Season #4 ISBN: #978-0451464422 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: For millennia, Cassiel was a powerful Djinn-until she was exiled to live among mortals. Now the threat of an apocalypse looms, and Cassiel is in danger of losing everything she has come to hold dear… As the world begins to fall apart around her, Cassiel finds herself fighting those she once called her own-the Djinn. With Weather Warden Luis Rocha and the rescued child Ibby by her side, Cassiel struggles to find a way to protect those that are in her charge and come to terms with the leadership role she never asked for. Cassiel is opposed by a powerful Djinn bent on raising an army of kidnapped Warden children to bring about nothing less than the end of the world. It will take everything Cassiel has to stop the Djinn from starting a war that will wipe all of humanity from the face of the earth. She knows that this might not be a battle she can survive, but protecting those she loves is worth any cost… What B is talking about: Mother Earth is awake and suffering, angry and insane, and is using everything in her power to lash out at the cause, obliterating humanity in the process. With perpetual disasters, both natural and otherwise, taking an enormous toll on all life on the planet, Pearl, a powerful Djinn who wants nothing less than absolute domain over the earth itself, is putting her plan into motion as well. Cassiel, Luis, and the rest of the Wardens are facing the impossible, and although they know they can’t stop the destruction, they are helpless to do anything other than fight to the very end.  Unbroken is easily one of the most challenging novels I’ve reviewed to date. It is by no means light reading. Cassiel, Luis, Isabel, and Esmerelda pick up where Unseen left off, fighting not only a crazed and powerful Djinn, but Mother Earth herself. Aside from persistent, deadly natural disasters, the rest of the Djinn have fallen under the Mother’s spell, and are eradicating the rest of humanity in a wave of destruction, with only the Wardens to stand in their way. Caine is a gifted writer and her unflinching drive to the ultimate reckoning is filled with tension and compelling narrative. The love Luis has...
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Feb
1

Review: Spirits Rising

Review: Spirits Rising Spirits Rising Author: Krista D. Ball  Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012 Publisher: Self-Published, Smashwords Spirit Caller Series #1 ISBN: 978-1-4660-5265-9 Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book: Rachel Mills has one wish in life: for the spirit world to shut up and leave her alone. She thought her move to a remote fishing village in Northern Newfoundland would help. Population: Twenty. What could go wrong? Instead of peace, however, she relocates to a land of superstitution, the air alive with the presence of others. When a local teenager accidentally summons the spirits of the area, including those from a thousand-year-old Viking settlement, all supernatural breaks loose. As the spirits stalk her and each other, Rachel finds herself in over her head. With the help of Mrs. Saunders, her 93-year-old neighbour, Rachel has to put aside her own prejudices long enough to send the spirits back to rest, or risk being caught in the midst of a spirit war. What VampBard’s talking about: Ms. Ball has started out her Spirit Caller novella series by showcasing Rachel and her self-torture because she can’t have Canadian Mountie, Jeremy for herself.  While there’s not a lot of romance, there surely is some major tension.   The tension in Spirits Rising doesn’t only come from the interplay between Jeremy and Rachel, however.  More serious conflict arises between Rachel and the native spirits of the area, unleashed by an unsuspecting Manny – a local teen – as well as his devout father, David.  The resolution at the end of the story was pretty predictable, but over-all, this was a nice read for a lazy day. I really enjoyed the inner conversations Rachel had with herself, and it seemed like her relationship with Mrs. Saunders seemed to ground her.  I look forward to reading future installments of the Spirit Caller series, simply to find out how Rachel fares…and whether she will end up with Jeremy or not! VampBard’s Rating: Liked it a lot – recommend (B+) Purchase Info: Spirits Rising (Spirit Caller...
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Jan
30

Review: Thread of Death

Review: Thread of Death Thread of Death Author: Jennifer Estep  Release Date: Jan. 31, 2012 Publisher: Pocket Books Elemental Assassin #5.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author About the book:       Gin Blanco, aka the assassin the Spider, might have finally killed her nemesis, Mab Monroe, but that doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing. Gin goes to Mab’s funeral to say her goodbyes and runs into some of Ashland’s most notorious underworld power players, including Jonah McAllister and Phillip Kincaid. McAllister wants her dead, and Kincaid has his own murky motives when it comes to the Spider, and Gin once again finds herself fighting for her life. Only this time, she might wind up in the cemetery right next to Mab. What I’m talking about:       I have been hearing great things about Ms. Estep’s Elemental Assassin series for a while now. I’ve wanted to read it, but by the time I got around to it, the series was already four books in, and I just didn’t have the time to commit to reading four to five books. (Lame excuse, I know!). Anyhow, I’d been chatting with the wonderful Ms. Estep and asked her when would be a good time to “jump in” to her series. She suggested this novella, and I’m so thankful she did!       For those unfamiliar with this urban fantasy series, it centers around Gin Blanco, an assassin whose parents were killed by nemesis assassin, Mab Monroe. The first five books centered on Gin (aka the Spider) trying to take out her long-time adversary, culminating with a massive elemental battle between the two in Spider’s Revenge, where Gin finally defeats Mab. (Note: I did NOT read the first five books.)       Thread of Death is a nice little story – a “day in the life” of Gin – that bridges the story arc ending in the past book with Mab’s death, and a new one starting in the upcoming By a Thread (February 28, 2012, Pocket Books). In this novella, we find Gin recovering from her battle with Fire Elemental, Mab. Gin is also an Elemental, able to manipulate Stone and Ice to her advantage (there are also Air Elementals). I’m still learning about Elementals, but I got a feel for what they can do in this story.       The story takes place over the course of one day – the day of Mab’s funeral. It...
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Jan
27

Quickie Review: Magic Gifts

Quickie Review: Magic Gifts Magic Gifts Author: Ilona Andrews  Release Date: Dec. 25, 2011 Publisher: n/a Kate Daniels #5.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Author (A free ebook as a gift to her fans – only available for 2 weeks on her website) NOTE: this story will be included as an extra in the upcoming Gunmetal Magic. About the book:      A dinner date after a hard day at work sounds heavenly. Of course, when that date is between the Beast Lord and Kate Daniels, things don’t go as planned. Before you know it, undead are running amok, heads are being chopped off, lawyers are deployed and used with extreme prejudice, and drunk vikings are calling people out.      Read at your own risk. What Una is talking about:      Magic Gifts is a wonderful present for Ilona Andrews’ fans.  It is a delightful tale that takes place during the next, highly anticipated novel, Gunmetal Magic: Andrea’s story.  If you haven’t read the series, the story will be neither as magical, nor witty and wonderful as if you have.  I seriously suggest you take up this series.  Ilona Andrews is a must-read author for me.  The Kate Daniels series is phenomenal and, as soon as I am able, I’m tying Gikany down so she has to read it.      In Magic Gifts, we get to glimpse behind the scenes as our beloved couple Kate and Curran try to have a date night that goes horribly, horribly wrong.  Their give-and-take, witty banter, and the intricate adventure they go on are fundamentally Kate and Curran. Long-time fans also get a glimpse into what is happening with Andrea, which is set-up for the next book.      The series is a must read.  This story is a must read for Kate and Curran fans – but be warned, as poor Ms. Andrews has talked about on her blog, it is a self-published story and therefore should be treated as an advanced reader copy.  There are a few grammatical blips, but you should have NO trouble following along since you just KNOW what she is talking about!   Yes folks, she (well, they, it’s a husband and wife writing team) is just awesome! Una’s Rating: Loved it – enthusiastically...
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Jan
20

Review: The Bitter Seed of Magic

Review: The Bitter Seed of Magic The Bitter Seed of Magic Author: Suzanne McLeod  Release Date: Dec. 27, 2011 Publisher: Ace Spellcrackers #3 ISBN: #978-1937007201 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (357 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: On the surface, Genny’s life seems ripple-free right now. Finn, her sexy boss and — well, Genny’s not sure what else she wants him to be — has stopped pushing for a decision on their relationship. The seductive vampire Malik al-Khan has vanished back into the shadows. And the witches have declared her no longer a threat. But unless Genny can find a way to break the fertility curse afflicting London’s fae, she knows this is just the lull before the magical storm. Then a faeling — a teenage girl — is fished out of the River Thames, dead and bound with magic, and Genny is called into investigate. As she digs through the clues, her search takes a sinister and dangerous turn, exposing age-old secrets that might be better left buried. Then another faeling disappears, and Genny finds herself in a race against time to save the faeling and stop the curse from claiming its next victim — herself! What G & U are talking about: The Bitter Seed of Magic is the third installment in the Spellcrackers novels.  As usual, Genny is up to her eyeballs in fae issues, curse issues, vampire issues and all important relationship issues.  By the end of this novel it seems everything is resolved.  Almost. This is a difficult review to write.  Now that we have read two of these books, one of our main issues with these novels is something that seems to be characteristic of the author’s writing style.  The first half of The Bitter Seed of Magic is slow…Genny agonizes about past events and continues to be torn about on-going issues (see the list above).  However, as the murder mystery develops, the last half is gripping and exciting.  The ending is so sudden that it feels like “poof” here’s the ending.  The build-up to the end is too long and the ending is more summarized than experienced by the reader. Genny is an interesting character.  She tries to be very independent and strong but she isn’t…and she can be incredibly dense at times.  It was very refreshing to watch her ask and plan for help in this novel.  She didn’t try to do it all herself.  She was much more open and worked well with others. ...
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Jan
13

Review: Raven Cursed

Review: Raven Cursed Raven Cursed Author: Faith Hunter  Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012 Publisher: ROC Jane Yellowrock Series #4 ISBN: #978-0451464330 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (384 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker and vampire hunter for hire. But lately instead of just slaying vampires, she’s been working for them. The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: skinwalker Jane Yellowrock. But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Is it a rogue-vampire, shapechanger, or witch? Or something else magical? Unless she wants to face a very angry master vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It’s a good thing she’s worth every penny. What B is talking about: Against her better judgment, Jane Yellowrock has once again signed on to work for the Blood Master of the City of New Orleans, Leo Pellissier. This time, she’s in charge of security for talks between Leo’s representative and another master vamp who’s ready for territory of his own. With her crew of hired guns, and her inner Beast helping her along the way, the job should be fairly simple. But, as Jane’s learned time and again, with the vamps, nothing ever is. Hunter doesn’t shy away from complex storytelling, leading both her heroine and her readers through a maze of subplots and conflicts. Raven Cursed and its predecessor, Mercy Blade (review HERE), are two of the busiest stories I’ve read to date. The cast of species/creatures alone is a lot to take in: witches of all sorts, a sorcerer, weres, Mithrans (vampires), blood-servants (and slaves), a grindylow, angels, demons, and humans. There is so much going on, it almost makes me dizzy to think how Jane manages it all. But, that’s part of what makes Jane such a relatable heroine to me: she doesn’t handle it all. Not always well, anyway. She makes mistakes, and in her line of work, those mistakes are often irreversible and deadly. Sometimes, through a certain amount of vanity over her abilities, or a dogged focus on the bigger picture facing her, Jane misses things. But in Hunter’s writing, the inconsequential doesn’t really...
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Dec
22

Review: Shaedes of Gray

Review: Shaedes of Gray Shaedes of Gray Author: Amanda Bonilla  Release Date: Dec. 6, 2011 Publisher: Signet Eclipse Shaede Assassin Series Book 1 ISBN: #978-0451235299 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Darian has lived alone for almost a century in the shadows of the night. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind—an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.       Darian finds herself struggling to keep her employer, Tyler, at arm’s length, especially since his seductive smile makes her want to break her rules about love. The work he offers is necessary to protect the innocent—and a welcome distraction. But when Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow, but a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished…. What B is talking about:       Darian has spent nearly a century as an eternal Shaede, and most of that time she’s been alone. Born an embarrassingly outspoken daughter in an era when women were only worth the connections they could ensure through their marriage, she’d lived most of her human life alone, at least figuratively, as well. Believing herself to be the last of her kind after the death of her lover and maker, Azriel, she learned to take care of herself, and remade herself into a deadly assassin.       So many things change for Darian from the very beginning. She starts out believing she’s the biggest, baddest thing out there, but that notion is immediately shaken, and once the shattering of the illusion she’s been living under begins, it doesn’t stop. Bonilla doesn’t spare her main character anything, yet Darian proves to be surprising and capable, not only to the other characters in the novel, but to me as a reader as well.       Bonilla uses the first person narrative to near-perfect effect and does an excellent job of opening up Darian’s world to the reader step-by-step through her eyes. Darian proves to be a methodical guide into her new world from her realization, through her acceptance, and finally, to her thorough immersion...
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Dec
5

Review: Fate’s Edge

Review: Fate’s Edge Fate’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews  Release Date: Nov. 29, 2011 Publisher: Ace The Edge #3 ISBN: #978-0441020867 Genre: Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance Format(s): Paperback (372 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades…        Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he’s going to need Audrey’s help… What Una is talking about:       There are a few authors that are on my “must read” list.  No matter what it is they publish, I will read it.  These are authors who have never disappointed me; who always write stories with characters that stay with me long after I have finished reading them and write books that are forever on my rereading list.  Ilona Andrews is one of them.  This writing team is unbelievable (if you check out their website listed above you’ll find it’s a husband and wife writing team).  Fate’s Edge in the imaginative world of The Edge series is no exception – it is fabulous!       If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend that you start at the beginning with On the Edge.  Not that you couldn’t just jump in, but you would miss the introduction of the characters if you don’t start from the beginning.  The novel is richer and just better if you understand the connections between the characters and the back-story.       The overall story of Fate’s Edge was just fantastic.  The on-going war against the Hand and the intimate war between Kaldar and Audrey were beautifully woven together.  With several subplots going on, the transitions felt seamless and were easy to follow.  I absolutely loved seeing more of George and Jack; they were enthralling as children in On the Edge and I was ecstatic to see so much of them in Fate’s Edge.  The richness and idiosyncrasies of the three worlds just adds to the overall enjoyment of the series.       However the most...
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Nov
23

Review: Bloodstone

Review: Bloodstone Bloodstone Author: Nancy Holzner  Release Date: Sept. 27, 2011 Publisher: ACE Fantasy Deadtown #3 ISBN: #978-0441021000 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Boston’s diverse South End is known for its architecture and great restaurants, not its body count. So when mutilated human corpses begin turning up in the area, the entire city takes notice. The killer—dubbed the South End Reaper—uses a curved blade for his grisly work. And even though there’s no real evidence pointing to a paranormal culprit, the deaths are straining the already-tense relations between Boston’s human and inhuman residents.       As the bodies pile up, Vicky, her formidable aunt Mab, and her werewolf boyfriend Kane investigate, only to find that the creature behind the carnage is after something much more than blood…. What I’m talking about:       Once again, demon-hunter Victory (Vicky) Vaughn, finds herself involved with the darker side of Boston’s paranormal scene. She has a day job – demon-slayer for hire, but it’s the extra-curricular hunting that’s putting her life – and those she loves – in danger.       Bloodstone takes place shortly after the conclusion of Hellforged (review HERE). Once again, Ms. Holzner does an amazing job of creating a stand-alone story within the context of a larger story arc. You don’t have to have read the earlier books to enjoy Bloodstone, but I highly recommend it because the stories are so good.       The story opens with Vicky just “doing her job” of killing off unwanted nuisance demons – this time a “7 deadly sins” demon has created too much sloth and gluttony in a gym. Ms. Holzner’s sense of humor shines here and for the duration the story.  Vicky has a snarky side – a dry wit that made me smile several times.       After completing her job, Vicky and her werewolf boyfriend, Kane, visit Vicky’s “normal” sister and family in the suburbs. I really enjoyed the family dynamics in this scene, as well as throughout the book. Every interaction Vicky has with her sister Gwen, niece Maria and the mysterious Aunt Mab allows the reader to see more depth in our kick-ass heroine. We learn more about why Vicky’s sister gave up her paranormal powers and witness Gwen’s struggle watching her own daughter begin to develop shape-shifting abilities. In addition, Vicky’s relationship with Kane seems to have deepened and...
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