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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
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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Apr
20

Review: The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Review: The Demonists by Thomas E. Sniegoski The Demonists Author: Thomas E. Sniegoski Reviewer: Una Rating: A-/B+ What I’m Talking About: I was intrigued by the premise of The Demonists and picked up this new-to-me author.  The writing and crafting of the overall story and world was mesmerizing, I easily fell into this world of ghosts and demons.  However, there are a few elements that were a bit much for me in this very dark fantasy world. First, I really did like the world Mr. Sniegoski created: the paranormal experts going on a routine haunt call only to have it go horribly, horribly wrong.  I will warn you there is violence, but thankfully it is not gratuitous.  That being said, there is violence against children.  As a recently new mother, this was the aspect that did not sit well with me.  Due to anxious mother syndrome, I could not read this novel at night.  It either gave me some vivid nightmares or it had me awake worrying over my child.  Because the author so expertly immersed me in this world that it “stayed with me” during the day, I have to say it was well written.  I believe because it was not gratuitous, I was able to continue through the novel.  Though if you cannot handle violence towards children and loss of that nature, then you may not want to pick up this book. I really enjoyed the main characters John and Theodora.  There are several supporting characters that I really enjoyed as well (Nana and Elijah). I look forward to seeing them more in the next novel.  The characters felt real to me; Mr. Sniegoski was able to create relatable, three-dimensional characters.  John’s plight to save Theodora was gripping.  The game of “what-ifs” he played was heart-wrenching. That being said, I am not a huge fan of multiple first person point-of-views in a story.  Changing “heads” frequently tends to stutter the story for me; just as I am settled into one character, I have to adjust to a new one.  Especially when reading an ARC where there are no graphic clues (skipped lines, skipped page, etc) to illustrate a change in narrator. Though it appears that our heroes won, it was only the first battle and not the war.  I look forward to reading the next installment in the new Demonist series.  If you enjoy dark urban fantasy, full of demons and psychic abilities, you might just want to pick it up and try it out. My Rating:...
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Apr
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Dead Beat Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #7 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Dead Beat Time goes on and Harry Dresden continues to battle the dark forces that mean to harm the mortals of Chicago. This time around, Harry learns that a group of necromancers are in town to summon a powerful entity and turn themselves into powerful gods. Harry is the only one with the right combination of knowledge, power, and friends to get the ball moving to stop the terror and save Chicago. I rather enjoy listening to the Dresden Files on audiobook, and generally the stories are superb, with Dead Beat being no different. However, I have to say that this one ranks as one of the lesser titles for me. It was very dark, and I found that Harry had to endure and struggle way too much this time around. Overall, the story is a good one, and I like that Harry is learning to rely on friends and his brother more and more. His connection with Thomas is evolving, and they share a great discussion early on in the story. The best part of the book for me, was witnessing Harry connect with someone from his past. It was tender and emotional, and made Harry so real. With that said, I felt like the story spent too much time on Harry’s moral dilemma of getting help from a dubious character. His internal struggles went on and on, resurfacing over and over, and frankly, they bothered me. Harry already struggles so much, with how is perceived, and I really don’t want to follow a series where the character slowly slides down a slippery slope. Additionally, there were just one too many horrible events that happen to Harry. How much can one guy handle? And how can he continue to have lengthy internal monologues while being tortured? While I did find a few issues with the story this time around, the narration by James Marsters was exquisite as ever. I could probably listen to him describe how to build a nuclear reactor and still enjoy it. He has captured all that makes up Harry Dresden in his voice, while able to create distinct variations for each of the supporting cast. All-in-all, I found that I still enjoyed listening to Dead Beat, despite some of the...
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Apr
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Blood Rites Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #6 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Blood Rites Listening to Blood Rites, the sixth Dresden Files story, I found myself in a comfortable spot and enjoying Harry Dresden’s adventures. Jim Butcher knows what works, making each story engaging and unique, but familiar and enjoyable. This time around, Harry agrees to help the sometimes friendly, yet always dangerous, White Court Vampire, Thomas Wraith. The fact that it’s a job protecting a producer of pornographic movies and his crew creates all sorts of humorous opportunities. Along the way, Harry also learns that Mauvre and her Black Court goons are in town to kill Harry. I absolutely enjoyed Blood Rites. Once again, the author pulls together the ideal balance between mystery solving and paranormal hi-jinx and danger. Harry must logically work through the clues to discover who is behind the attacks on his client, as well as employ his magic to protect himself and those around him. There are several new characters added into the mix, but this is balanced by a few familiar characters having significant roles throughout the story. While each book in the Dresden Files has some great twists and reveals, I feel that the one in Blood Rites is by far the best yet. I. Did. Not. See. It. Coming! And I love that it didn’t come across as contrived or forced. Mr. Butcher created a whole new aspect of Harry that I look forward to exploring in future titles. If you have been following my reviews of the Dresden Files, you know how much I love the performances by James Marsters. His work as the narrator is utterly sublime. He is able to put me right into Dresden’s head, yet expertly alters his tone and cadence to fit each of the supporting characters. His work on the series is phenomenal. Blood Rites is another wonderful adventure in the Dresden Files series. Each book builds upon the previous title, allowing Harry to grow personally, professionally, and emotionally. This time around, when Harry could have felt sorry for himself and crawl under a rock, he pushes forward. While each title is a standalone mystery, the author has left open several doors that could spell disaster for or bring joy to my favorite professional wizard. My Rating: A- Narration:...
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