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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Jan
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Ghost Stories Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #13 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Ghost Stories Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he’s in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out. After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far. Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along. Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed...
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Jan
5

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Side Jobs Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #12.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Side Jobs After the cliffhanger-esque ending of Changes, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sift through a “side story” rather than going straight to the next book to find out what becomes of Harry. However, I am so glad I took the time to listen to this wonderful anthology from the Dresden Files. The book contains a set of mostly previously released short stories and novellas, ranging chronologically from before the first Dresden book up to a brand new story that takes place after the conclusion of Changes. The stories cover a variety of subjects and star a range of characters. All but two of the stories are shared from Dresden’s traditional point-of-view, some more humorous than others. I loved seeing Harry react as Harry would in different settings and shorter, less dark adventures. Additionally, much can be learned about those side characters Harry considers friends and family. While it’s very difficult to pick my favorite of the bunch, the two stories not told from Harry’s POV stand out the most. The first is “Backup,” a novelette told from Thomas’ POV, where he must protect Harry from an ancient evil, without Harry knowing he was doing it. The story shares Thomas’ struggles with his vampire monster, and the reader glimpses how much Thomas actually feels under his tough guy, nonchalant persona. The other highlight in this anthology is the final, all-new novella, “Aftermath.” Told from Karen’s POV, we find out what happened the hours after the shocking conclusion of Changes. No only was the story extremely adventurous and exciting, but the emotional content was powerful as Karen and Harry’s friends deal with Harry’s disappearance. Each story is narrated by the fabulous James Marsters, who gets kudos for maintaining consistent voices for a wide range of characters, taking place over the course of several years. I especially enjoyed his work in the two stories not told from Dresden’s POV. Side Jobs is an amazing treat for fans of the Dresden Files and it SHOULD NOT be overlooked and passed by for the full-length titles. While one could read/listen to it at anytime after Changes (if one wants to avoid spoilers), the timing coming after Changes was ideal. It was a great way to review Dresden’s history and life thus far, because things are going to be much different...
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Dec
20

Review: Nice Guys Bite by Jennifer Estep

Review: Nice Guys Bite by Jennifer Estep Nice Guys Bite Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Working for assassin and underworld crime boss Gin Blanco as her personal assistant leaves Silvio with very little personal time. While he loves his job, he’s finally decided to take some personal time to enjoy a coffee date. However, when some giants decide to interrupt his time off, Silvio must deal with painful memories from his past in order to save himself. Nice Guys Bite is an entertaining short set in the amazing Elemental Assassin world. For the first time ever, readers are treated to a tale told from Silvio’s point-of-view. We learn a few personal secrets about this über-organized vampire, and while I’ve always respected Silvio, now he’s got my heart as well. His life while working for his previous boss wasn’t kind, and it’s a wonder how Silvio managed to come away without more emotional and mental damage. The story is short, ending at about 75%, with the remainder an excerpt from the upcoming title. While I found the entire tale entertaining and light, I was disappointed with its predictability. I pretty much guessed the entire plot from the get go – which may be a sign that Ms. Estep has trained me well to look for clues and be as paranoid as Gin. Regardless, I still loved watching Silvio work his way out of his dire situation, and I truly enjoyed learning more about this awesome character. Nice Guys Bite is an excellent treat for fans of the Elemental Assassin series, even with its predictable nature. I certainly enjoy anytime I get to spend with Gin and the gang at the Pork Pit. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Working for Gin Blanco (aka the Spider, the assassin who runs the Ashland underworld) doesn’t leave much time for romance, especially with Gin’s holiday party planning in full swing. But when he catches the eye of a charming gentleman, Silvio finds himself going out for coffee. All’s fair in love and war, though. Just as Silvio is starting to enjoy himself, he realizes he’s being watched. His nice guy date doesn’t sense the danger, and Silvio wants to keep it that way (and, well, keep the guy alive) so Silvio ends the date early—only to be abducted by some villainous giants. Will Silvio survive the night and make it back to the Pork Pit in time for Gin’s holiday party? Only if...
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Dec
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lucifer’s Daughter by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Lucifer’s Daughter Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #1 Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Lucifer’s Daughter Muriel just wants to live a normal life, but as the daughter of Satan and one of the Princesses of Hell, she finds normal isn’t achievable. Yet, she tries… living on the human plane, running a bar, and saving herself until she finds true love. She does have her naughty side, even if it’s not evil enough for Daddy. Lucifer’s Daughter is the first book in a light urban fantasy romance series from Eve Langlais. The story is shared in the first person POV of Muriel, and focuses on her adventures, which is why I call it an urban fantasy series; however, the entire first book is all about Muriel finding her true love, therefore – romance. Overall, I enjoyed meeting Muriel and watching her fall in love with the “wrong guy,” Auric, someone her father forbids her to see. Auric and Muriel have immediate, more-than-lust feelings, but I appreciate Muriel’s caution as she tries to find out if he’s “the one.” However, the lustful feelings overwhelm the storyline far too often. Muriel is obsessed with her virginal state and whether or not she should finally have sex. It was too much for me at times. I wanted more from the story than her nonexistent sexcapades. Additionally, Muriel is written to be a smart woman, yet at times she was utterly dense and a victim of her own ignorance, which felt false, since she is an intelligent character. Muriel’s love life aside, Lucifer’s Daughter got very interesting once Muriel wasn’t obsessing over Auric or her virginity. There is an unusual big-bad making moves to overthrow Satan, bringing chaos to the underworld. The glimpses we saw intrigued me greatly, and I need to know the connection between this mysterious new evil and Muriel’s early childhood. This alone is enough to keep me listening to the series. And honestly, I enjoyed Auric and Muriel’s romance, once they opened up and were honest with one another. New-to-me-narrator Rebecca Estrella provides the performance for Lucifer’s Daughter. At 1.5x speed, I enjoyed her vocalizations, and her “narrator Muriel” is strong. She seems to capture the entitled yet honest feel I think Muriel embodies. Ms. Estrella has a good mix for her male and female voices; nothing that...
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Dec
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Changes by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Changes by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Changes Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #12 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Changes Changes opens with a secret so shocking and huge that it changes Harry’s life forever. IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS – do NOT read the book blurb for this one! With this one big moment, events begin to unfold that change the face of the supernatural world forever. Duchess Arianna Ortega of the Red Court seeks revenge against the White Court for the murder of her husband, heating up the war between the two factions. The book closes in much the same manner as its opening… with completely and utterly jaw-dropping scenes that you will honestly wonder if what you just heard (read) was correct. But while the opening brought me joy, the ending irritated me. One thing I’ve appreciated about the Dresden Files is that, for most of the books, Mr. Butcher balances light with dark, and Changes is all about the light and dark within and around Dresden. For every high, there is an equal low. For every laugh, there was a sob. The emotional intensity of the story had me laughing out loud at times, while completely bawling at others. So much happens in the book, It truly is a game-changing title – one not to be missed. As always, Mr. Marsters brings to life the very essence and soul of Dresden. The intensity of Dresden’s highs and lows are perfectly projected. His performance had me weeping. I did notice one change: Marsters’s voice for Anastasia Luccio was more heavily accented and not as innocent sounding. Fellow listener, Melanie from Hot Listens, theorizes it is because Ana is no longer bespelled, and its her true self coming through after the body swap several books back. I like this theory! Changes is a gripping, emotionally-draining, utterly satisfying tale that sees the world around Dresden altered in many ways. It is a must listen (read) for fans of the series, with so many aspects of this fascinating world moving and changing before Dresden’s eyes. My Rating: A Narration:...
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Nov
23

Review: Promise the Moon by Hailey Edwards

Review: Promise the Moon by Hailey Edwards Promise the Moon Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: **blinks** What did I just read?!? (totally in a good way). You all know I’m a HUGE fan of the Black Dog series and it’s spin-offs. Promise the Moon is the first title in the Lorimar Pack books. The second title, Wolf at the Door is set to release January 25, 2017. **grabby hands** There’s a lot of history in this book. I highly recommend reading all the Gemini titles before picking up Promise the Moon. Ms. Edwards does do a great job of filling in backstory, but seriously? Who would want a shot of their favorite milkshake when a 20-ounce cup is available? There’s seriously a whole bunch of stuff going on here. Dell is left to run the pack while Cam and Graeson are off doing political stuff. Okay. I can live with that. The pack is living somewhere that’s a fixer-upper. Still good. Wait. Ugh. Spoiler-free reviews. I can’t really tell you much more. I still love Dell. Isaac. **unf** Enzo. There, there. **pats back** I have some need-to-knows, though. 1. Zed & Moore. More, please. 2. The littles from the battle scene. 3. Cliffhanger, much? I’m seriously okay with this, though. I feel like the last bit of the story could’ve been the beginning of the next book and everyone would’ve been perfectly content. 4. How mad are Cam & Graeson going to be?!?! Will they say I told you to read that? 5. When Enzo and Isaac find out about the event at the very end, how does it affect their relationship? Oh. Also? I may be shipping IsEnDell. If you haven’t heard me rave about the Black Dog series titles—including the Gemini series, out of which the Lorimar Pack titles grew, listen up. Go forth and one-click all of these titles. I’m starting the countdown to 1/25/17 and Wolf at the Door. Seriously. I NEED TO KNOW!!! My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite About the Book: War is a constant threat on Dell Preston’s horizon. As beta of the Lorimar pack, her job is to maintain the peace on the new border between Faerie and Earth at all costs. Even if that means playing nice with her ex, Isaac, the fae who savaged her wolf’s soul, and Enzo Garza, the flirty witch who ought to be focused on building up their magical defenses instead of tearing down the walls around Dell’s...
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Nov
7

Review + Giveaway: Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson

Review + Giveaway: Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson Belle Chasse Author: Suzanne Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Warning: Spoilers from the privious book, Pirate’s Alley, included in this review. Belle Chasse opens shortly after the surprising conclusion of the previous book, with our heroine, DJ, on the run with her pret friends. She was stripped of her wizarding license by current leader Zrakovi and given a death sentence. Now somewhat safely in the Beyond, in Old Barataria with Jean Lafitte and her friends, she works on a way to clear her name and get back her life, especially since her love, Alex, has remained behind, trying to change the rot from the inside. Like the book before it, Belle Chasse is more about the overall and continuing story arc surrounding the rising tensions between the different preternatural sects than an individual, self-contained tale. Readers of the series will enjoy the forward momentum and line-in-the-sand moments; however, anyone new to the series shouldn’t start with this title. While I miss the inclusion of those standalone stories from the earlier books, I still found myself glued to the pages, anxiously witnessing the fate of DJ and so many key characters. Due to the nature of Belle Chasse, it is difficult to compose a spoiler-free review that delves into the specific plotlines of the book. As the book unfolds, events in the pret community turn dire, and by the end, everyone must take sides. Some long-standing loose ends are tightened and some bonds are strengthen, while other relationships fall apart and true natures are revealed. To find out who does what, you have to read the book! In the earlier titles, and throughout the first parts of Belle Chasse, I felt DJ was too much of a pleaser to be a solid UF heroine. In fact, for a bit, I felt she’d regressed, as DJ constantly filled her thoughts with “if only’s” and regret. DJ was too busy trying to please the wrong people and compromising her morals in the name of peace. However, as the story progressed and the looming war, DJ finally grew a backbone of steel, and took action to do what she felt was best. And although filled with action, the book isn’t without a tender moment or two. Overall, I enjoyed DJ’s latest adventure, complete with its ups and downs. Although Belle Chasse really isn’t a standalone story, I liked how it tied up some loose ends and bridges the...
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Nov
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Turn Coat Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #11 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Turn Coat When long time nemesis Morgan shows up near death at his door, Harry makes the hard decision to help Morgan, potentially further damaging his reputation with the White Council. Along with protecting Morgan, Harry must deal with a deadly skinwalker,  the White Court Vampires, and a traitor among his own kind. For several books now, Harry has been slowly unraveling the mysteries of these unknown threats, and Turn Coat brings his poking around to a head. With so much taking place within the pages of this title, I strongly urge anyone new to the series to start at the beginning. The Dresden Files should NOT be read out of order. Turn Coat has the feel of a transition story, taking listeners (readers) from point A to point B without much change. Harry’s search for the unidentified “black council” members and its nefarious purpose has gone on for sometime without any real progress. While there is quite a bit of forward momentum with this story arc, bringing Harry closer to the truth, there isn’t any conclusion by the end of the book, leaving me scratching my head and yearning for more. It was an exciting, enjoyable, yet sometimes confusing ride, but in the end, I hadn’t gone all that far. With that said, a LOT happens around and to Harry in Turn Coat. By the end of the book, I was left with more questions than answers. Different factions and storylines, which have always been somewhat separate in each of the Dresden Files books, are starting to crossover and blur. It feels like each little action in Turn Coat is building and snowballing, and soon everything will explode. What does make this an extremely enjoyable tale is the depth of emotion and changing relationships within the chaos of the actions. Harry’s relationship with his commander and lover, Ana, is brought under a harsh light, making Harry question himself and his actions. Second, Harry’s relationship with apprentice Molly is evolving as she tries to learn and grow. With the constant threat of death hanging over the pair if Molly crosses the line, I fear every action Molly makes will be for the wrong reasons. Then there is the oddity of Harry and Morgan, which brings about some heartfelt moments in the story, leaving...
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Oct
25

Review + Excerpt: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

Review + Excerpt: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Heart Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Opening two years forward from the conclusion of the previous book, it’s been a fairly quiet time since the Ancient Alexander awoke early and the world last saw Lijuan. The Cascade has paused, and everyone is waiting for things to get hinky again. Because of the potential imbalance in the Cadre with Lijuan missing, the Luminata, an independent, neutral, secretive group, has called the Cadre together. The Cadre must decide if she’s dead, Sleeping, or other, and what to do with her Territory. With the meeting being held in the homelands of Elena’s maternal grandmother, she decides it is time to do some digging into her own little-known past. Archangel’s Heart is another great story in what has become one of my favorite series! I absolutely LOVE the Guild Hunter stories, most especially when they are Elena/Raphael-centric. While overall I’d still call it a paranormal romance series, this go-around is more on the urban fantasy side of the equation. Raphael and Elena’s relationship is now one hundred percent solid, and while they will continue to experience growing pains and have to deal with changes, their romance wasn’t the focus of the book. This time the focus was on Elena’s past and Cadre politics. It was exciting and gripping, but also tender and sweet. I continued to enjoy Raphael and Elena’s many-tiered encounters: intelligent dialogue, playful sparring, tender moments, sexual and sensual lovemaking. It’s all so three-dimensional and fulfilling on multiple levels. One of the things that stood out most this time is how the powerful Archangel of Manhattan is embracing his touched-by-mortality heart. Not only does he respect his Guild Hunter angel, but Raphael listens to her counsel and allows her to take her own risks. He changes are most apparent as Raphael helps Elena understand the politics of the Cadre, and how mortal lives have little meaning to these immortal Archangels. His earnest efforts to protect human lives is directly the result of Elena’s influence. I hope to see a shift in the thinking of the Cadre as Raphael’s powers grow during the Cascade. While the tone of the Guild Hunters series has always hovered a shade or two darker than Ms. Singh’s other PNR series, this time around, I also found it to be heart-stoppingly suspenseful. While staying with the Luminata, Elena and Raphael uncover dark secrets that tie into Elena’s own past....
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Oct
6

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hexed Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Hexed Having lived a somewhat quiet life hiding out in the East Valley/Tempe area of Arizona, Druid Atticus O’Sullivan has become quite popular after he killed two powerful Celtic gods. Different pantheons have been paying a visit to Atticus, either making sure he isn’t a personal threat or wanting him to knock off rivals. This includes his vampire lawyer, Leif, who is rather rude about wanting Atticus’s help to knock off Thor. However, when Atticus experiences an attack that should have resulted in his death, his attention turns to stopping a wicked coven of out-of-town witches looking to take over the East Valley. Hexed, the second title in Mr. Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, expands Atticus’s world beyond the personal grudges of the Celtic Fae, although he must still deal with the outfall of his battle with Angus Og. I really like how every pantheon, and even multiple versions of each deity, exists in this world. Mr. Hearne is able to build upon what was established in the first book, while creating new and interesting characters and mythology. Even with several new players and mythologies, I didn’t feel confused or overwhelmed. Atticus is a character that could easily walk away from the trouble brewing around him, after all, he didn’t survive for two millennia by heading head-first into adversity. So I appreciate his reason for staying around and helping to protect the East Valley, out of concern for the land that was damaged in the first title. He’s not a noble protector; rather a practical hero, which is genuine and refreshing. However, I am conflicted on his “love life,” which is very much set in the Iron Age – sex is sex, and emotions are separate. As a fan of romance, part of me wants to see Atticus find a woman to be his equal partner and love interest. The interactions with other characters and friendships Atticus develops give the series heart. His relationship with his more-than-a-dog Atticus is both sincere and entertaining. However, it’s his fondness for his widowed neighbor and his respect for her faith that truly made me smile this time around. I love how this 2,000 year old man is a “youngster” to the widow. One thing that I did not care...
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