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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
May
2

Review: Cold Reign by Faith Hunter

Review: Cold Reign by Faith Hunter Cold Reign Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: All of the familiar players are back in the eleventh story in the Jane Yellowrock series: Jane and Beast, the Youngers, Bruiser, Leo, Edmund, Derek, Grégoire, the Robere twins, Gee, Brute, Ricky, etc. Leo, of course, is so insufferably arrogant (yet necessary) that I kind of wished Jane would just kick him, but Jane’s family, Clan Yellowrock, becomes more endearing and fascinating by the minute. This growing assemblage of personalities is my favorite part of Cold Reign, and Jane is infinitely better for their presence in her life. In Cold Reign, Jane is once again trying to stop an attack aimed at Leo Pellessier, the Mithran Master of the city of New Orleans. Despite Leo’s secrecy and manipulations, Jane is now fully aware of what might be lost if Leo falls, and knows that turning her back on it all would be far too costly for everyone, including her. To say that it’s a complex situation is a gross understatement, but Jane’s learned a thing or two since her arrival and uses it to her advantage without a flinch. As to Jane, she’s become one of my favorite characters ever, and I truly feel invested in the life she’s been building for herself. She’s got scars. Lots of them. But, she’s earned every one, and has managed to find some happiness, too. No longer the obstinate, wounded loner, she’s a richer character all-around, and in Cold Reign, it seemed more evident than in any of the previous novels. Jane’s evolution is reflected in the narrative as a whole, and Cold Reign benefits from the effect it has on the other elements of the story. There are some really funny moments sprinkled throughout, made even more so because of their irreverence and borderline impropriety, thanks to Jane’s “quirkiness”—which seems to be catching. Likewise, there’s serious romance going on here that Jane absolutely deserves, even if she’s disgusted with herself just a little. I thought it was completely wonderful. Eleven books in, and the Jane Yellowrock series keeps getting better and better. And unlike many other long-running series, it has remained consistently strong and downright riveting more often than not. Jane still stumbles occasionally, but rarely now, and her determination to learn whenever she does makes me love her even more. While Jane’s understanding of the world she’s become embroiled in continues to grow, it is her own...
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Apr
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hunted by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hunted Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #6 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Hunted Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. After completely enjoying the previous title, Trapped, I couldn’t wait to get into Hunted; however I was a bit apprehensive over what would happen to my favorite trio of characters as life seemed to be going “too good” for them. Of course, life didn’t stay safe, and the opening of Hunted was rather surprising as the Morgain helps fight off the Roman-Greco goddesses of the hunt to save Atticus. She confides in Atticus some rather telling information that made me relook at her character. Now Artemis and Diana are hunting Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon across Europe to seek retribution for perceived losses, and all of Europe has been struck with Pandemonium, preventing their escape to Tír na nÓg. I love that Hunted is a blend of pure adventure as well as a mystery to be solved. Someone/s is out to end Atticus and has recruited a number of players in the effort. Not only are the Olympic pantheons after him, but there are vampires, dark elves, and gods tracking his every move. Oh, and Loki is on the loose, again. Finding out that Jupiter, Zeus, and Odin are following along and watching the chase for entertainment is the perfect nod to the classic tales. The battles are epic and even a bit frightening. Meanwhile, Atticus believes a powerful fae is orchestrating the efforts against him, and his weariness and fear had me on the edge of my proverbial seat. With so much going on, I thought I’d be lost, but rather, I was completely engaged as I followed along the frantic chases. The book also treats us to chapters from Granuaile’s POV. While the first time it occurred it almost felt out of place, later I realized it was setting me up for the events to come. I enjoyed seeing life through her younger and unfettered eyes. Although, being Atticus’s apprentice and now companion has forced Granuaile to quickly mature and deal with the ugly. Granuaile’s perspective and powers, along with her powerful feelings, adds so much to the series and each story. She balances Atticus perfectly, and I simply love how much Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon have become a genuine team....
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Apr
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Trapped by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Trapped Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #5 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Trapped Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Twelve years have past since the last book, and Granuaile has finished her Druidic apprenticeship. Looking for a safe place to bind her to Gaia, the earth, Atticus discovers that Loki is free and the Olympus pantheons are plotting against him. Now the pair, along with best hound friend, Oberon, are trapped between a rock and a hard place unsure who to trust, as they try to find a safe place to tie Granuaile to the earth. Oh I really, really enjoyed Trapped. I love the deepening connections Atticus and Granuaile. The book isn’t about romance, but their love is true and a perfect addition to the overall mythology and storylines. Stories are best when the reader/listener connects with the characters, developing a relationship with them. In this case, I’ve grown to care about Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon, making their journeys more exciting and emotional. And all three characters have matured so much since the first book. Especially Granuaile, who is now a full Druid. Yet she still has so much awe for the world around her. Having Atticus reconnect and rediscover the wonders of the earth and other planes through Granuaile, in effect allows me the same discoveries and awe-inspiring experiences. I also appreciate and am extremely thankful of the direction the author has taken with the overall story arc. Atticus continues to pay for his crimes when he chose to help Leif seek revenge against Thor instead of walking away and staying neutral. It was one thing to kill Angus Og, who had been hunting him, but to assist in and cause the destruction he did to the Norse pantheon was simply outrageous. And now, over twelve years later, his actions are still causing him problems. Atticus’s introspection over his choices is the perfect blend of regretfulness and acceptance. He understands that he may never make amends and balance the scales, but he will do his best to try. However, it seems that in his effort for atonement, Atticus continues to cause more issues, and the problems he and Granuaile face just keep growing in a trickle-down effect. Luke Daniels continues to surprise and amaze me with his consistently strong...
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Apr
18

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep Snared Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: With clues left by her late mentor, Fletcher, Gin and Silvio have started identifying the members of the devious Circle. They discover the “easiest” mark is Damian Rivera, a trust fund prince with a huge drinking problem, and Gin starts surveillance on the man, looking for any clues as to the identity of the mysterious head of the Circle. Meanwhile, Gin’s friend Jade comes to her asking for help locating her missing sister. As Gin digs deeper into both situations, she uncovers a serial killer is loose in Ashland. Once again, Ms. Estep had me glued to my Kindle as I took a ride with my favorite assassin. The Elemental Assassin books are always full of high-octane action, and Snared is no exception with its race against time – serial killer plot. While parts were fairly predictable, I found the energy surrounding Gin and her situation strong, and it pulled me in right from the start. I enjoyed learning more about the Circle and Gin’s own past. With that said, there are a few things that bugged me this time, more than usual. I genuinely enjoyed Snared, so I don’t want you to think otherwise as I list these issues, but I feel like it needs to be said. These are character flaws and/or plot devices that have started becoming repetitious, making the books predicable. First: Gin is an extremely intelligent woman; one of the smartest heroines out there. She also relies heavily on her gut instincts. So when she “hears” something or feels an ominous presence and then just walks away, saying it’s nothing… it frustrates me. We ALL know it is something, so why doesn’t Gin go with her gut instincts?! And she always seems to have facial recognition amnesia. That whole “something is off but I can’t figure out what” thing happens too often. Second: The dreams. I know the dreams are Gin’s “thing,” guiding her as if Fletcher was still around. But at this point, I find them disappointing. Too often, after recalling nothing about a significant memory from her youth, things that Gin *should* have remembered or never forgotten, she suddenly remembers something HUGE from her childhood that is just too coincidental in solving her current case. It’s just frustrating to see it over and over again, uncovering these secrets that Gin didn’t know she knew all along. Even with my frustrations...
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Apr
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Tricked Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Tricked Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Tricked opens with Atticus’s spectacular death as foreseen by the Morrigan. Her prophesy was actually a deal that Atticus brokered with Coyote in the previous book, something readers/listeners were not privy to at that time. Coyote shifted to look like Atticus and then let the remaining, avenging Norse pantheon kill him, with the help of a few thunder gods. Now Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon must move on, but first Atticus must fulfill his promise to help Coyote move some earth. Well, knowing that Coyote is a trickster god means nothing is as it would appear. After the self-serving adventures into Asgard that dominated the previous title, I was thankful to see that there were indeed consequences to Atticus’s actions. Hel has been unleashed on Earth, and she looks to start Ragnarök for her father, Loki. While this wasn’t the primary plot of the book, I was glad Atticus now realizes the mistakes he made when he indulged Leif’s vengeance. And speaking of Leif… he is back, and he has changed. Or maybe he hasn’t changed, but now that he’s used Atticus for the purpose he intended, we are privy to his true vampiric nature. I enjoyed Tricked for its Native American-based mythology. While I have no clue how much of it is based in actual beliefs, I found the story engrossing and the mythology interesting. My favorite character was the Navajo spiritual leader who brought a new level of spiritual magic to Atticus, and conversely, he learned much about the earth’s magic from Atticus. Their temporary bond was genuine and fruitful. It looks to me like the series is heading for change, with the farewells in the previous book, Hammered, and the start of new identities in Tricked. Atticus wants to focus on training apprentice Granuaile, who he is also completely taken with. I love his awkwardness around her. I also enjoyed how he opened up about his own long life to her. Granuaile, in turn, shares some secrets with Atticus that she had been internalizing. Their bond is growing stronger. I also really like the development of Oberon’s character. He’s becoming an intelligent, humorous sidekick. His nature has matured and grown...
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Apr
6

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin Sins of the Warrior Author: Linda Poitevin Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Sins of the Warrior is the final book in the gripping Grigory Legacy series.  While I am chagrined to say I liked it – the ending was a bittersweet yet satisfying conclusion to this series of Armageddon. First, I wish I had the time to at least reread the previous novel. It has been a few years since I’ve read Sins of the Lost. It took me a bit of time to jump back in. The beginning was slow for me as I struggled to remember so much of what had happened over the course of the series. If you haven’t read the series or are interested, trust me, start from the beginning. But once my brain cells kicked in and I recalled the past, I soon found myself gripped by this novel. ****If you haven’t read the series, this review will contain spoilers.**** As the novel begins, we find Alex hunting for her niece.  Her steel core of honor and duty won’t let her give up on her niece or on the world.  Alex has sacrificed and suffered since the beginning of this series. This novel is no different.  She continues to exemplify true courage, loyalty and determination.  Alex balances on the razor’s edge of sanity as her world and her future falls apart. However, it is a sign of her platinum will that she holds herself together, continuing on the path of doing what is right; even though the effort and choices are excruciating.  Though in the end there is a bittersweet consolation, it was still sad. I enjoyed how Michael (or Mika’el) was more fully developed in this book.  We see more than just the gruff warrior exterior – there is so much more to him.  Through this novel, it makes sense the by-play between him and Alex.  They are both warriors cut from the same cloth.  They have the same loyalty, same courage and determination and sadly, the same ability to sacrifice, to make the hard choices.  Once they start letting down their guards, they discovered how much alike they are, that they are both working for the same goals. What keeps me from rating this higher is that it is sad.  The end of humanity is not something you can say you loved.  This is Armageddon – the absolute war. The losses in this war will be catastrophic; you...
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Apr
6

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #0.6 & #3.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles is just that – two shorter-length stories set in the Iron Druid Chronicles world that are tied to the series, but do not directly impact the overall storyline of the series. The first tale, Kaibab Unbound, takes place shorty before the start of the series. Atticus and his dog companion, Oberon, go north to the Arizona wilderness for some hunting time. However, their trip is cut short when the Kaibab elemental calls to Atticus for assistance, and Atticus must right the wrongs of a trio of witches. The short story is a glimpse into Atticus’s life and duties as the last Druid. It’s a self-contained short and good introduction to the series. It was enjoyable for this existing fan of Atticus and Oberon. Test of Mettle is a bit different because it is shared in the first person POV narration of Atticus’s apprentice, Granuaile. The story takes place concurrently with book 3, Hammered, when Atticus is in Asgard. Granuaile is keeping her promise to Sonora, the desert earth elemental, by ridding the river of an evasive species, when she is attacked by animals under the direction of the goddess of the hunt, Flidais. Test of Mettle was my favorite of these two tales because it gives a perspective we don’t normally experience. I liked seeing how Granuaile interacted with Oberon since she can’t hear him, therefore neither can I. I also enjoyed seeing her survive her trials and get a new perspective of her enjoyment and desire to become a Druid. HOWEVER… there is a dark side to Granuaile as she thinks about a time in the future when she will be able to destroy her stepfather. Eep! While the stories are both narrated by series narrator Luke Daniels, my first notice was that the narration was slightly different. The biggest difference was that Oberon came off a bit rough around the edges – more wild and goofy than I’m used to. I don’t know if it was recorded early on or if the narrator purposely changed slightly. Since we haven’t had a story told from Granuaile’s POV, I didn’t have a lot...
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Mar
30

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Night Prince Series Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1.25x and 2x Series: Night Prince #4 (Night Huntress Universe #13) Genre: Urban Fantasy, romance Source: HarperAudio NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to any of the titles in the Night Huntress Universe, and when I found out that Ms. Frost was wrapping up the Night Prince series with Into the Fire, I was quick to pick up a review copy. I honestly couldn’t recall what had happened to Vlad and Lelia until I started the book, and the narrator quickly filled me in. The story opens about four months after the conclusion of the prior book. Leila and Vlad’s step-son nemesis, Mircea, are still magically linked so that harm and damage done to one is repeated on the other. Mircea is able contact Leila psychically, yet Leila cannot use her abilities to find Mircea. In the process of taunting Lelia, Mircea is kidnapped, and the abductees threaten to kill him (which would in turn kill Leila) if Vlad doesn’t do as they require. This ramps up the efforts to break the magic link between Leila and Mircea, leading Vlad and Leila to Ian for assistance. While I started having issues with this series in the previous book, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would be annoyed by the two main characters. Leila is amazingly whiny. And her “dreaded inner voice” is annoying. Her life is hard, she whines, she cries, she accepts it, she rationalizes it, then we move on to the next issue. And Vlad is too far gone – too dark – to be an enjoyable romantic lead/hero. He is made of ice and vengeance, and while he cares for some individuals, he’d willingly kill those he cares about if it means keeping Leila alive. It’s taken to an extreme this time around. And the lies, which are rationalized, just make it so frustrating and annoying. It’s basically the same issues over and over again, and I had a very difficult time enjoying the book. Honestly, if Into the Fire wasn’t the last book in the series, I would have DNF’d in and moved on. With that said, the last third of the book was much better than the front parts. Once the action started and the plot moved forward, it was...
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Mar
23

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Others Series Etched In Bone Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Others #5 Source: Penguin Random House Audio Etched in Bone is the fifth and final book in the utterly amazing, wholly original The Others series by Anne Bishop. The story picks up just after the conclusion of powerful events of the previous book, and is the culmination of everything learned since Meg arrived in the Lakeside Courtyard way back in the first book. Etched in Bone deals with the limited transportation and food shortages created when the Elders culled many humans and took back human-controlled towns. The new living situation brings out a different kind of human “predator,” and the Elders must determine how much human they want to keep in the world. Having two Elders observe the Lakeside Courtyard places Simon in a precarious situation; he must allow a dangerous human (Officer Montgomery’s shady brother, Jimmy) to stay in near the Courtyard so the Elders can figure out what makes him a bad type of human (and therefore they will be able to destroy those humans that are a threat). Simon, along with the other Terra Indigine and some of the more astute humans like Burke and Monty, recognize that the fate of all humankind depends on what happens in Lakeside. This sets up a number of situations that endanger the lives and wellbeing of many of the Lakeside Courtyard residents, weaving a sense of urgency around the moments of everyday living. Like all the previous books in the series, readers (listeners) are privy to an unpleasant series of events that unfold over the course of Etched in Bone and witness how the Terra Indigine react. Although is it evident where the story is headed, it’s still gripping. This time around, I liked how well the Others and humans worked together, but I also like that the Lakeside residents are now able to recognize a human predator. The introduction of Monty’s mother, Twyla, adds a missing human/pack grandmother component. She is able to understand the ways of the the Others and put her own way of handling a situation into their framework. Her presence is calming, knowing that she is able to handle the craziness with a firm but caring hand. Additionally, Etched in Bone progresses the unique relationship between Simon and Meg. By now, it is evident to all, expect...
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Mar
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hammered Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Hammered Making good on his promise to the powerful witch Latcha to obtain a fabled apple from a Norse god, Atticus finds a “backdoor” into Asgard, then weaves a ridiculous tale of the Roman pantheon aiming to hurt the Norse pantheon to lay blame for the tragedies he causes while on his task. But Atticus isn’t done! He follows up these acts by heading back into Asgard with friend Leif and a handful of scorned immortals, fulfilling his promise to assist the vampire in his quest to kill Thor. Hammered is an interesting and exciting adventure for Atticus. Honestly, I’m still a bit dumb-struck over the events that occurred. Let’s just say that Atticus makes some really, really awful decisions this time around. The story has a different feel as Atticus takes on the Norse pantheon. The author expands beyond the limited look at the Tempe area and tosses about all sorts of new-to-the-series mythology. I appreciate that the majority of the world-building is presented as fact, rather than trying to convince the reader through telling. The book has a bit of a transition feel to it as Atticus concedes it is finally time to move on. His reflection on his reasons for always moving and never loving again are profound. We find out that he was married and experienced deep, true love for two centuries and had 25 kids! It’s been over 500 years and he’s afraid to set roots and love again. But he does love Oberon. And now he has a friendship with the Widow MacDonagh and his obligations to Granuaile (his apprentice). And he feels obligated to repair the damage to the land that happened back in the first book. It’s actually a very moving self-reflection as he makes the decision to leave Arizona. Another reason Hammered comes off as transitional is that as Atticus says his farewells to companions and friends, everything from the previous two books makes an appearance. Things like the Hammers of God, the witch coven, his friends, the shop; they are each dealt with in a manner that is mostly permanent, yet leaving room for reemergence one day. However, it was his farewell to the Widow MacDonagh that had me in tears. It was well done...
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