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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Sep
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Night by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Night by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: White Night Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #9 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan White Night Opening nearly a year after the previous book, Harry and fledgling apprentice Molly Carpenter are investigating a rash of suspicious murders at the request of and along with Karen Murphy. Someone or something is killing off practitioners of magic, some with barely any perceptible power. Unfortunately, it looks like Harry’s half-brother, Thomas, may be involved. As Harry digs deeper, he finds layer upon layer of subterfuge and evil. I think White Night may be one of my favorite books in the series. First of all, the story returns back to the series roots, bring back into the mix gentleman Johnny Marcone, Chicago’s notorious underworld boss. I’ve always enjoyed Johnny’s dark character. He’s not a good man, but he still makes noble gestures and has a heart under the slick surface. His actions are always made with a self-serving endgame in sight, but he also has secrets that motivate him in unexpected ways. Events in White Night suggest we will see more of Marcone in the titles ahead. Second, I found the balance of dark and light within and around Harry, ideal. The book’s mix between action and storytelling emphasizes this underlying struggle that Harry faces every tale. With the shadow of a manipulative fallen angel inside of Harry, I constantly worry that a point will come when Harry can no longer resist the temptation and take up the coin, bringing power and possession with it. I found this particular storyline extremely exciting and engaging this time around. There are other characters from the past that resurface in White Night, which was both interesting and frustrating. Interesting was the plot and subplots involving the characters. However, I was frustrated because I couldn’t always place the characters, only that I know I’d heard of them before. Yet, Mr. Butcher weaves a strong tale, keeping me just enough in the loop as to not worry about the past so much. As always, James Marsters works his own magic, bringing Dresden to life with his top-notch performance. However, this time around, I accidentally listened to the book at 1.5x speed instead of my usual 1.25x speed. I thought things sounded a little off once and a while, but by the time I realized why (the faster...
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Sep
14

Review: Devils and Details by Devon Monk

Review: Devils and Details by Devon Monk Devils and Details Author: Devon Monk Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Devils and Details is the second book in the fascinating world of Ordinary, Oregon.  Though Una and Gikany are a bit split on our rating, suffice to say we both liked it and look forward to more. ****If you haven’t read the first book (Death and Relaxation), this review may contain spoilers.  Read at your own risk – you have been warned!**** Gikany and Una love this world.  The varied paranormal creatures intermixed with gods and humans allows for a rich cast of characters.  In this installment, we see and learn more about the world’s mythology, while Delaney tries to find lost god powers, heal her broken heart, and find a murderer.  Oh, all while keeping humans in the dark about their more otherworldly friends and neighbors. The feel of the novel bounces between light-hearted and serious.  It’s a nice mixture of both, though it is not quite as humorous as the previous novel.  It could be due to the nature of the murderer and what danger he poises.  Not to mention, only the killer’s identity is revealed by the end of the book, but his story is not over. In the previous novel, Ryder (Delaney’s never-ending crush from her youth) and Delaney have their long awaited fling – only to have it come crashing down.  Ryder was swathed in mystery and we find out through the course of Devils and Details who his really is and what he does for a living.  Through the course of this novel, Una sees Ryder apologizing for being an absolute jerk, several times over.  It is plain that he loves Delaney and realizes he made the biggest mistake ever.  However, Gikany feels that Ryder crossed a line – one that no apology can make up for considering how he ended things with Delaney.  Gikany holds out hope that Delaney will end up with someone better, while Una is waiting for Ryder to stop apologizing and start redeeming himself.  Though, to do that he would need to start actually listening to Delaney and her advice… The characters are so vibrant in this series – it’s what makes the series work.  In particular, we love the relationship between Delaney and her sisters.  All three are working as the law in town to keep people safe (and blissfully unaware), while also ensuring the gods enjoy a little R&R as...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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Sep
2

Review: Unraveled by Jennifer Estep

Review: Unraveled by Jennifer Estep Unraveled Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Picking up after the secret-revealing conclusion of the previous book, Bitter Bite, Gin is determined to discover more about the mysterious Hugh Tucker, the Circle, and the extent to which her mom was involved. When Finn receives notice that his recently departed mother left him the Bullet Pointe resort and amusement park, Gin realizes it’s a trap set by Hugh. But Gin isn’t one to run from a fight, so she and Finn, along with Bria and Owen, head to the quaint resort for fun-filled vacation. Unraveled is yet another exciting, action-packed adventure for Gin and her friends. How Ms. Estep can keep writing fresh and thrilling stories for Gin is beyond me! Yet here we are, the fifteenth book in the Elemental Assassin series, and at just one chapter in, I was not only totally surprised, but utterly hooked. What I liked most about Unraveled, is the almost standalone feel of the story. Gin and her core group travel away from Ashland for a vacation, all the time knowing it would be a trap. The change in setting, along with the smaller cast of her usual characters, gives the book an independent feel and a nice break from the craziness of Ashland. And although Gin’s purpose is to discover more about the secretive and malevolent group, the Circle, the story focuses more on a wild-west themed treasure hunt and showdown. Although, in the end, thanks to Fletcher’s own scavenger-type-hunt for clues, Gin begins to unravel some of the mystery; however, this overall storyline is far from over. Which in its own right is exciting because we haven’t really had a larger, over-arching nemesis for Gin since Mab. The only thing that bugged me, just a wee-little-bit, is the use of dreams to reveal important truths to Gin. While I mostly enjoy the flashbacks that make up Gin’s dreams in the series, sometimes (this being one), the dreams frustrate me because they come off contrived. In this case, Gin discovers that her understanding and the memories of her mother aren’t all she thought them to be… that Gin actually saw Hugh and others in her youth. It irritates me that these memories were buried so deeply, and that in the past weeks, with all the time spent around Hugh and Deidre, that she never once remembered anything. The timing of these dreams is just too convenient....
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Sep
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Charley Davidson #10 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased After spending the previous book lost in Sleepyhollow with no memories, Charley is back at home and working as a private investigator. Meanwhile, she’s trying to learn more about the three gods sent to kill her daughter, and if Reyes, her beloved husband and the son of Satan, knows he was formed from one of those gods. For those who have followed my reviews, you know that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Charley Davidson series. I felt the books became too confusing, with too much going on and some huge inconstancies over the course of the series. Another big issue I’ve always had is the lack of personal growth in Charley and the fact that she would make the same mistakes over and over. So I was a bit surprised that I actually really enjoyed The Curse of the Tenth Grave. It didn’t feel as convoluted as several of the previous titles. Charley was back to solving insolvable crimes, and there weren’t a dozen storylines running at once. But the biggest improvement is that there was substantial relationship and character growth for Charley and Reyes. Things like open communication, helping one another, and trust. Things that should have happened books ago. Additionally, this book cleared up a lot of the mythology, as well. What I didn’t care for was the apparent changing of the rules, again. The little inconsistencies that drive me insane about this series. The convenient way the rules and mythology change to suit the current storyline. Details forgotten or adjusted to fit. Which then got me thinking about open storylines that never closed the loop, or if they did, I missed it. This series is far from perfect when it comes to the little details; however, when the story is strong, as this one was, those type of little issues have a way of melting into the background. So I was able to forgive and move on because I was so engrossed in the tale. Once again, humor is central to Charley’s interactions with all she comes into contact. Lorelei King’s performance of Charley only enhances the wit and humor in the story and strengthens Charley’s narrative voice. Ms. King raises the level of the storytelling and also allows me to forgive and move...
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Aug
17

Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill

Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill The Sight Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: In the second book of her Devil’s Isle series, Ms. Neill expands upon her exciting world filled with Paranormals, humans, and Sensitives (humans with magic abilities). The Sight picks up with heroine Claire Connolly and her group of friends continuing to thrive in post-war New Orleans, in the Zone, an area ravaged by the battle between Paranormals and humans. However, a newly emerging group, the Reveillon, wants to rid the world of all things magical, as well as the humans who support the capturing and jailing of Paranormals at Devil’s Isle. The Reveillon’s leader will stop at nothing to purge “traitors,” to include Claire and Liam, from New Orleans. While The Veil established and shaped the parameters of Claire’s world, The Sight fills in the details with vivid characters and engaging friendships. Not having to worry about constructing the rules of this world, Ms. Neill allows her characters to come into their own and fill the pages with color and emotion. I’ve become invested in this world which is both utterly fascinating and yet so completely frustrating. Frustrating, you ask?! YES… because I want more, and I want it now. While in both of the first two books, battles are fought and won, there is a larger war and a much bigger picture with several open-ends waiting to be shared. What will happen to Claire and other Sensitives? Will the Veil reopen and the looming war to take over the Earth begin again? Will Devil’s Isle change? Is Claire’s mom alive? Is there a Claire and Liam? These are all questions that came out in the first book, and while The Sight tackles some, there is still much more. Claire is a fascinating, first-person narrator, and I have grown to really enjoy her voice. While I had some issues with Claire coming off overly young and innocent in the first book, this time around, we see her inner desire to make the world a better place and to fight for justice. Although Claire must hide the fact that she’s a Sensitive, she’s unwilling to leave her store to run and hide. I loved that she started go after what she wants, to include Liam. Rounding out this exciting story and Claire’s strong personality, are the wonderful friendships and relationships developing on the pages. Whether well-established or newer links that are being formed, the camaraderie and...
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Jul
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Proven Guilty Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Proven Guilty After taking a break from the Dresden Files for a few months, listening to Proven Guilty was just what I wanted and needed from this dark urban fantasy series. The war between the Red Court and White Council isn’t going well, meanwhile the Merlin wants to find a way to remove Harry from the Council, permanently. Harry’s mentor, Ebenezer, tips off Harry that the Winter Court (fae) have not joined the war after the Red Court used their lands without permission and that there is a traitor in the Council. So Harry embarks on a secret, multi-faceted mission, where not only is his own life in danger, but that of his dear friend Michael’s daughter, Molly. While Proven Guilty continues the somber storytelling that dominates this series, I found it had a much better balance of light and dark with respect to Dreden’s mental and emotional wellbeing. There is no denying he lives in a dangerous world with the cards stacked against him, but he does have many friends, and Dresden is finally turning to them. I’ll admit that I held my breath while reading most of the first half, waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop right on top of Dresden’s head, Mr. Butcher was able to keep things from going too far, and brought Dresden back from the depths before he hit bottom. But with that said, there were a couple spots I was ready to give up, only to be drawn back in by the excellent storytelling. At the core of Proven Guilty, there is a mystery, and Dresden is back doing what he does best: piecing clues together to uncover the truth. As he does so, he discovers that the overall picture is much bigger than he initially expected, with an unknown threat that could be the ultimate foe. This journey allows Dresden to expunge some of the guilty he’s been carrying around for the past year or so, as well as strengthen friendships and alliances he’ll need to stay on “right” side of that fine line between dark and light. While we see Dresden work through his relationships with a few key characters, it is his heart-to-hearts with longtime colleague and friend, Karen, that gave me all the...
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Jul
11

Review: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep

Review: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep Unwanted Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Unwanted is a delightful novella shared from the POV of Gin Blanco’s foster brother, Finnegan Lane, as he deals with the fallout from the events of the previous full-length story, Bitter Bite. Finn is not in a good place emotionally, feeling responsible for his mother’s horrible actions. He’s shunned by his coworkers, but takes the hit because of his guilt. Gin (and others) stand by him, silently showing support, hoping he’ll recover. Meanwhile, Finn’s astute boss requires Finn to attend each and every funeral of those bank employees that lost their lives in his mother’s attempted robbery. Seeing Finn in such a low place hurt me. He’s always been such an upbeat, happy guy; the comic relief in Gin’s overly serious life. He’s genuinely a good man, so knowing what his mother’s actions did to him, was emotionally taxing for me as well as Finn. Ms. Estep does a good job bringing Finn full circle, through helping the widow of a hardworking bank guard. Finn’s protective nature and generous heart find their way to the surface as he gets himself back in the game. Unwanted is the perfect bridge between Bitter Bite and the upcoming Unraveled because it gives Finn time to deal with his state of mind before getting back in the dangerous game of life among Ashland’s underworld. While the story could be read as a standalone, I strongly discourage it. Having known Finn for 14 books is what makes his story all the more enjoyable to readers; Unwanted is a heartfelt treat to longtime Finnegan fans. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: The fallout from his disastrous “family reunion” in Bitter Bite has left Finn feeling hurt, angry, and depressed. He can barely stand to look at himself in the mirror, much less eat any of the delicious barbecue from Gin’s famed Pork Pit restaurant. But when the funeral for a slain security guard at his bank turns into a showdown with some nasty underworld giants, Finn knows that he must act in order to protect an innocent family. Finnegan Lane might be the most unwanted man in Ashland these days, but he’s determined to try to make amends for his past mistakes… Release Date: July 18, 2016 Publisher: Pocket Star Series: Elemental Assassins #14.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy, novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: NetGalley Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series:...
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Jun
21

Review: Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk

Review: Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk Death and Relaxation Author: Devon Monk Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Death and Relaxation is a new urban fantasy series from Devon Monk.  It has down-to-earth characters, humor, mystery, and action with a splash of romance.  What’s not to like? This is a fascinating world with a mix of mythologies.  In the small town of Ordinary, Oregon, gods and monsters secretly mix with mortals.  The mortal Police Chief, Delaney Reed, is in on the secrets since it’s her job to police both groups while keeping mortals unaware.  Although the monsters live as part of the community, the gods are only there for a vacation.  However, a vacation for a god can last decades.  There is so much to this world and we’ve only been given a taste. Gikany and Una really enjoyed this first glimpse into the world of Ordinary Magic.  Although some of the themes can be quite heavy, the humor and banter lighten it up.  You don’t want to miss the Rhubarb Concoctions judging scene (it is hilariously funny). We laughed out loud many times while reading this novel and we found it difficult to put down.  Death and Relaxation was a quick read since we were equally engrossed in both the detective drama and in Delany’s love life.  Delany shares a rich camaraderie with both her family and with the gods and monsters of the town. Although there is some foreshadowing, the ending has a few surprises.  Delany may not have been able to connect all the pieces as quickly as we did, but considering how full her plate is, and how new she is to the job, it was understandable.  Her humanity was a refreshing contrast to the paranormal backdrop.  The mystery of the murder and its ramifications are resolved at the end, but we are left with some interesting questions about Ryder.  We also cannot wait to see how Death enjoys his vacation and want to learn more about the mythology of the individual monsters.  This series has staggering potential. Death and Relaxation is a strong start to what could be a quirkily fun and fascinating new series.  We loved the world that Ms. Monk has created: one that is rich in nuances and is bursting with humor.  Gikany and Una look forward to the next novel in this series, Devils and Details due out in July of this year. Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Police...
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Jun
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Steel’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased Steel’s Edge centers around Richard Mar (introduced in book two), brother of Kaldar. Richard has been around the block, and his life hasn’t been very easy. He doesn’t necessary fit in with his family, so he’s found meaning in tracking down and destroying the illegal slave industry, which was responsible for the torture of his younger cousin Sophie. Stumbling into the Edge after being fatally wounded, he’s fortunate that Charlotte de Ney, a powerful healer, finds and saves him. Charlotte is a noble blue blood from Adrianglia who moved to the Edge after a devastating betrayal left her worried about the dark magic within her. Luckily, Charlotte was taken in by Eleonore Drayton: Rose, George, and Jack’s grandmother. After three years, Charlotte has been accepted by the Edgers and lives a quiet life. But when Richard Mar crashes into her life, everything changes. Now Charlotte is compelled to join Richard on his dangerous quest. As the final book in Ilona Andrew’s wonderful Edge series, Steel’s Edge takes readers on an exciting journey and gives closure to some long running storylines without losing site of the book’s central storyline. Richard and Charlotte’s crusade against the slavers is action-packed, edgy, and thrilling. The execution of the ultimate plan kept me glued to the proverbial pages of the book. The entire plot was well-thought out and masterfully executed. My heart was racing at times. But wait… there’s more! I adored Charlotte and Richard’s romance. They are two damaged individuals that don’t have to hide their true natures from one another. Their attraction is strong, but their love for and acceptance of the other is what makes their romance so engaging. I loved where their story ended; it was fitting for their journey. Steel’s Edge also tackles a couple storylines that have run throughout the series. The first is that of John Drayton, father of Rose, George, and Jack. He abandoned his children to find fortune and treasure after their mother died. The second is that of Spider and The Hand, the longtime nemesis of the Mar family. While neither storyline takes up much page space, the authors do great justice to both. Once again Renee Raudman works her magic with the story, bringing to life these characters. She adds just the right...
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