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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
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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Jun
15

Review: Dr. DOA by Simon R. Green

Review: Dr. DOA by Simon R. Green Dr. DOA Author: Simon R. Green Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A/A- What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una love the Secret Histories series.  It is a fun, tongue-in-cheek, urban fantasy take on James Bond.  We love that no matter how grueling or arduous a mission is, Eddie always finds a way to overcome and triumph. First, let us say we continue to love the characters, the fascinating world, and the witty banter that are key elements in this series.  Eddie and Molly’s verbal volleys (along with their adventures) are gripping, humorous, and all around great fun.  No matter what mystery or mission is thrown at them, by the end they always triumph.  Although there may be overarching minor plot lines, the major plot of each novel is resolved at the end.  Until this one.  Dr. DOA ends with a massive cliffhanger.  So a word of warning to those that can’t stand them, wait until the next book comes out. This novel was incredibly gripping and filled with emotional turmoil.  Eddie is faced with his own mortality, and it is incredibly difficult as Eddie deals with it.  The tension that develops between Molly and Eddie, since she is desperate to save him at any cost, along with Eddie’s turmoil as he is forced to deal with the choice between keeping a personal vow or protecting loved ones, keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The suspense continually builds as the novel progresses with Eddie trying to find a cure, and if he cannot, revenge.  It makes those moments of witty banter rest points. The novel flows seamlessly as if a roller-coaster on rails. For fans of the series, this is a serious must read.  It is gripping, with certain minor overarching elements being exposed.  That being said, it has an incredible cliffhanger ending (yes, Gikany and Una’s screams of frustration can still be heard).  Needless to say, we are biting at the bit for the next book. Our Rating: A, Loved It until the cliffhanger ending… Then A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: The name is Drood, Eddie Drood, also known as Shaman Bond. My family has been safeguarding humanity for generations, facing the hidden horrors of the world so you can sleep at night and remain oblivious to the existence of the monstrous nightmares that walk and stalk among us.  Speaking of predatory night terrors, there is a man who gets away with murder. A man...
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Jun
9

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

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Fate’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased The third Edge story, Fate’s Edge, features Kaldar Mar, the swindling, grifting cousin of Cerise, the previous book’s heroine. The story is set two years after the second book, with Kaldar working for the Adrianglian spy network, the Mirror, hoping to exact revenge on Spider and the Hand for killing his family. He’s been recruited to recover a valuable stolen artifact, which should give him the opportunity for which he’s been waiting. Audrey Callahan wants to live a normal life, working for a PI firm in the Broken and maintaining a small home in the Edge. After living a life filled with heists and disappointments, she’s left her family behind, for good. However, when her dad shows up and requests her help in “one more big job” she gives him a choice: he can either walk away and keep her as a daughter or she’ll do the job and he will no longer have a daughter, killing him if he returns. Her dad picks the heist over his daughter. Now the Hand is after her to recover the artifact, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. I am throughly enjoying my time in Ilona Andrews’ Edge. The mythology is unique and interesting, and with each passing book, the plot expands and deepens. While each story is a standalone romance with its own adventure, there is an overall urban fantasy arc. Although new characters are introduced in each title, previous characters are brought forward and sometimes play key roles. Kaldar and Audrey’s story is genuinely fun, although at times confusing and complex. The pair are con artists, working both the enemy to gain back possession of the stolen artifact, but also with each other. They play games, hiding their true feelings in an effort not to get conned and hurt. While on the surface, the plot of retrieving the items Audrey helped steal seems simple, the overall story is anything but. At one point, the pair had to steal money from a pirate to get in good with the preacher, so that they could rob him and exchange that item for an invitation to the bad guy’s auction, in order to get back the item stolen in the first place. *phew* I became tired of all of the layers of...
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Jun
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bayou Moon Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased Bayou Moon opens two years after the conclusion of the previous book, On the Edge, where we find William living a solitary life in the Edge. He is soon recruited by the Mirror, a spy network for the country of Adrianglia in the Weird, and finds himself off to the Mire in the Edge. Cerise Mar lives in the Edge in the swamps called the Mire. The Mars are in a family feud with the Sheeriles, and her parents have been kidnapped by evil agents of the Hand. Lucky for Cerise, she crosses paths with William, and they team up to stop the Hand. The second book started as a bit of a shocker to me. I thought that the Edge series was an urban fantasy series that would follow Rose and Declan through four books. But it’s not… It’s more of a UF romance, with a different couple featured in each book. After my initial disappointment, I learned to love both William and Cerise. Overall, I enjoyed Bayou Moon. Once again, the storytelling is phenomenal, with an engrossing plot filled with some twists and turns. It is, however, a long book, and I felt that it would have benefitted from some editing. The ending dragged on a bit too long and started to frustrate me. Additionally, the authors left open some doors that I would have preferred closed. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if they are resolved in future titles. I did enjoy the reintroduction of the main characters from the first title. I hope that the next two books will continue to involve some of these familiar players. Renée Raudman’s performance is utterly amazing. She captures every moment perfectly – reconstructing emotions that allow a listener to experience what the character feels. She also introduces appropriate sighs, breaths, and more to express the attitudes and physical exhaustion (for example) of the characters. In the end, another wonderful addition to the Edge series. My Rating: B Narration:...
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May
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: On the Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: On the Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased On the Edge is the first story in Ilona Andrews’ unique urban fantasy romance series. The Edge is the place between the Broken (human, non-magical world) and the Weird (mirror world with alternate history and magic-filled). Rose and her two young brothers, Georgie and Jack, live in the Edge, while Rose holds a below minimum wage job in the Broken to try and make ends meet. Everything changes when a Blue Blood from the Weird, Declan, shows up on Rose’s land, while mysterious, evil hounds pick off Edgers one by one. The writing team of Ilona Andrews is one of the best around. Their attention to detail, while weaving a unique and exciting, action-packed tale, results in one engrossing story after another. On the Edge reads mostly like an urban fantasy, but has multiple third-person POVs and features a romance. Declan and Rose are like Curran and Kate (Kate Daniels series) or Rogan and Nevada (Hidden Legacy series). They are oil and water. Noble, calm, alpha male and feisty witty hard-on-her-luck female. Female in trouble and could protect herself, but the male wants and needs to protect. I love the dialogue and banter. Renée Raudman, who narrates all of the Andrews’ titles, works her charm, giving each character a unique, age-appropriate voice. She works in accents, attitude, and emotion to keep the listener engaged. Overall, On the Edge is exciting and full of twists. The authors have created an incredibly fascinating world, filled with complex and engaging characters, coupled with strong storytelling. I look forward to more from The Edge. Story: A Narration:...
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May
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Black Blade #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: purchased/audible Bright Blaze of Magic Bright Blaze of Magic is the third and final story in the wonderful young adult urban fantasy Black Blade trilogy. The book hits all the right marks needed for the successful conclusion of a series: bringing to end the overarching storylines and finishing on a positive note. The story begins shortly after the exciting conclusion of Dark Heart of Magic, with the younger Sinclairs: Lila, Devon, and Felix, breaking into the Draconi Mansion to steal Victor’s magic infused black blades. With the help of new ally Dia, things have gone as smoothly as possible over the past couple of weeks. However, time is up and Victor is ready to make his move against the rest of the Cloudburst Falls Families. Overall, I enjoyed the final adventure in the Black Blade series which brought to close the war between the families and filled in all the details of Victor’s backstory and his dastardly plans. I loved seeing how much Lila has grown over the course of the three books, going from loner to a valued and loved member of the Sinclair family. I also enjoyed seeing her make connections with the monsters around town and learning more about her mother and her own roots. While predictable in where the story would end, the whys and hows were interesting and kept me engrossed in the tale. With that said, I felt that this book was lacking the richness and fullness of the previous two titles. Bright Blaze of Magic focused pretty much solely on the battle between the Victor and the other Families. The book felt like one fight scene after another, with little else. In the previous books, there was a central mystery to be solved, but not so with Bright Blaze of Magic. This, coupled with the amount of repetitious thoughts, actions, and phrases, made the story drag at times, and I found my thoughts wandering as I listened. The narration by Ms. Pressley remained spot on and highly enjoyable. She gives the primary characters the vibrancy of their youthful years without making them come across young or immature. One difference for me this time around; I listened to the book at 1.5x instead of my usual 1.25x. I’m not sure if this is...
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Apr
27

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep Bright Blaze of Magic Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: It is always difficult to say goodbye to a great series, and that is definitely the case with this final book in the Black Blade series, Bright Blaze of Magic.  We have enjoyed Lila’s adventures and the world that she thrived in.  This final book is an exciting and wonderful conclusion to the series. In this final book Lila’s revenge is sated, those oppressed are freed, and, most importantly, Lila has found hope for the future with her new love and the family which she has become an integral part.  The final confrontation between Lila and Victor was powerful and well played. What makes this series so compelling is Lila’s plight.  When the series began in Cold Burn of Magic, Lila was orphaned and living on the streets.  Her world consisted of herself and her only friend Moe.  By the end of the series she is a part of a family and a group of friends.  She has come a long way.  Her mission to exact vengeance on the man responsible for the horrific murder of her mother unfolds and evolves over the course of the three novels. The world is rich in magic and adventure, and the characters are grounded and engaging.  It is difficult to not be drawn into this vivid and wondrous world. Bright Blaze of Magic is a marvelous conclusion the Black Blade series.  If you haven’t read this trilogy, we strongly recommend it for any fans of urban fantasy. We encourage you to pick it up and indulge in the magic, wit, and action/adventure that make this world come alive.  Although we hope Ms. Estep writes something new in this world, we look forward to the next new world and charming characters she creates. Our Rating (Novel):  A, Loved It Our Rating (Overall Series):  A, Loved It About the Book: Bad Things Always Come In Threes… As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.  Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families–and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom...
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Apr
26

Review: Shadowed Blade by JC Daniels

Review: Shadowed Blade by JC Daniels Shadowed Blade Author: JC Daniels Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Note: This review contains spoilers from the previous book. Shadowed Blade continues a couple of story arcs from earlier titles in the series, and therefore should not be read as a standalone. Opening shortly after the jaw-dropping conclusion of Edged Blade, we find Kit working for President of the United States: a man whom we discovered is a Non-Human (NH). The book moves quickly, as Kit and Justin search for NHs on behalf of President Whitmore and get caught up in some seriously perilous situations. Having absolutely loved the first three books in the Colbana Files series, I found myself struggling a bit on the direction of the past two books (Edged Blade and the novella, Misery’s Way). While I’m happy to report that I enjoyed Shadowed Blade much more than these two titles, I still had some issues with confusing, obtuse scenes. The first three chapters were extremely cryptic, and I wasn’t sure if Kit was having flashbacks, or if some of the events were abbreviated references and overlaps with the novella. However, after these initial problems I had getting into the book, the flow of the story smoothed out and the story was a bit more coherent and definitely more gripping. As Kit pieces together what Whitmore is and is not, she also must dance along a dangerous edge with someone from her past. I liked the introduction of the mysterious stranger who appears to help Kit. Her presence shakes up much of Kit’s world and adds some interesting twists that will need to be addressed in future titles. However, I felt Kit and Damon’s continuing romantic storyline is petering out. They don’t communicate and aren’t careful with the other. Their relationship is all fire but no substance. Part of the problem I’ve been having lately with this series is the cryptic nature of scenes. A successful first person story works because the author pulls the reader inside the head of the main character. Readers are privy to thoughts, feelings, and theories that the heroine experiences. But not so with Kit. I feel that I am constantly left in the dark, making for an extremely frustrating and confusing read. While this wasn’t the case as much in Shadowed Blade, there were still too many times that I wanted and needed more from Kit to keep me in the loop and completely engaged. Additionally,...
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