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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
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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Apr
4

Review + Short Story: Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter

Review + Short Story: Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter Shadow Rites Author: Faith Hunter Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Picking up a few weeks after the end of the previous story, Shadow Rites finds Jane and Co. at the center of yet another potentially fatal dilemma. Beginning with a magical attack on her house in the middle of the night by unknown witches, it starts with an adrenaline rush and maintains that frenetic pace throughout. Jane has changed over the course of the series, however, and, unlike the impersonal nature she once wrapped herself in so determinedly, there’s an undercurrent of affection in her now that makes her even more compelling. Far from the impulsive loner that she once was, Jane has learned many, many things since she first began working with the other supernatural elements that populate the series. Jane is a hero, in every sense of the word. While there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to save those she loves, in recent stories she often “runs the numbers” to gauge how much of herself she can sacrifice for them and live in order to do the same again in the future, should they have need. Just as important, however, is that Jane is no longer acting on her own, and those who love her are entitled to make sacrifices for her, in turn—a fact she’s still trying to accept. One of the most interesting aspects of these stories is that each is built around a specific happening or mystery, the components of which may at once fill in missing information from previous novels, while laying the ground work for events yet to come. Shadow Rites further expands on this template, the pieces of unsolved puzzles from earlier titles suddenly snapping into place, thereby reshaping Jane’s world to accommodate even more unknowns. It’s been an intriguing pattern so far. While the Jane Yellowrock series works perfectly well without an excess of romance coloring the narrative, the fact that Jane still has a mostly-steady love life in Shadow Rites was particularly delightful. The intimacy between Jane and Bruiser is a hard-won thing, and I think Ms. Hunter is spot on to limit these interactions to anticipation and the happily reflective afterglow that follows—at least until the next disaster has them both taking off at a sprint. Bruiser is too much the gentleman, and Jane too private, to justify anything sexually gratuitous. I think my favorite thing about this story is that, all this time, Jane has...
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Mar
31

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Others #4 Source: loan Marked in Flesh is the fourth title in Anne Bishop’s amazingly interesting and utterly unique fantasy/urban fantasy series know as The Others. For newcomer’s to the series: you cannot start here, in fact, if you’ve missed any titles, I strongly urge you to read all the books before cracking open Marked in Flesh. This book is the culmination of all that has come before, in the previous three books. The books are all interrelated and build upon one other, making it important to start with the first book in the series, Written in Red. Ms. Bishop has developed a world where creatures known as the terra indigene, or Others, are Mother Earth’s favored creations and the top predators on the food chain. The Others have the ability to shape shift into forms such as wolves, crows, bears, and even vampires, and those are the most tame of the Others. After befriending Meg Corbyn, a special human known as a cassandra sangue, the Others in the Lakeside Courtyard continue to adjust to having a “human pack” within their own, even learning to trust and care about these humans. Tension is at an all-time-high, as Nicholas Spark and his Humans First and Last (HFL) movement become irresponsibly aggressive in attempts to claim the land of the terra indigene. With events occurring simultaneously across the land, the story is shared from multiple points-of-view, with focuses in Lakeside (Meg, Vlad, Simon), Sweetwater (Jackson Wolfguard, Hope), and Prairie Gold (Joe Wolfguard, new Intuits). Additionally, there is follow up from Great Island and Talulah Falls, where there was much action and strife in the previous book. Marked in Flesh is my favorite book of the series by far. Finally, we see all the working parts of the story come together for what looks to be the final showdown between the humans and Others. Ms. Bishop is able to capture the fears of the human pack and Intuits as they process just what it means to face extinction. Conversely, I loved seeing the Others, most especially Simon, struggle with how much human to keep – whether it be human traits, human-run business, or actual humans. The time spent pondering these questions is both thought-provoking and utterly engrossing. Yet it is the characters, who I’ve come to...
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Mar
17

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Mercy Thompson Series Title: Fire Touched Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Mercy Thompson #9 Genre: Urban Fantasy Audiobook Source: purchased With things between the Fae and the rest of the world straining to a dangerous point, Mercy and Adam find themselves defenders of the Tri-Cities after the Pack kills a nasty troll on national TV. Along with defeating the troll, the pair are reunited with their fae friends, Z and Tad, who bring with them a fire-touched human boy who has been locked in the fae realm for centuries. Now Mercy and Adam must find a way to keep those they love and those under their protection safe from the fae threats. BAM! Mercy is back! Fire Touched is another amazing story from the creative mind of Patricia Briggs. Chronologically, the book takes place sometime shortly after and briefly refers to the events of Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega #4), and is tied to the larger story arc of fae discontent that has spanned both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series for the past few books. It also ties up some of the short-term and long-standing issues with which the pack and/or Mercy has been dealing. Warning – this book is NOT the place to start your journey with this amazing series! There is so much that I loved and enjoyed about Fire Touched, it’s hard to express exactly what made it so great. I like that Ms. Briggs has brought Mercy and Adam back to solving a mystery that threatens their well-being, while much of the pack drama is laid to rest almost immediately (note: it’s about damn time!). Adam and Mercy’s relationship grew exponentially during the course of the previous book, and their mutual trust is strengthened as a result, making their actions seamless throughout this book. I think I most appreciate how all the parts work together in this one. Each piece of the story supports the larger whole. Nothing is extraneous and superfluous. The storytelling is amazing, especially when shared by Lorelei King. Additionally, the book moves the entire series forward, while creating interesting changes that will significantly impact future stories. But it’s all done in a way that isn’t showy or brash, which is well-suited to Mercy’s persona. It wasn’t until the book was over that I realized how much was put to rest during the events of Fire...
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Mar
9

Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Review: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs Fire Touched Author: Patricia Briggs Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A+ What We’re Talking About: Ms. Briggs has amazed us again!  Gikany and Una have waited with baited breath for this latest installment in the Mercy Thompson series.  Fire Touched is another dynamic novel in this rich world. The strife between the Fae and the rest of the world has reached a boiling point.  Fire Touched is the pinnacle of this over-arching plot.  After defeating a rampaging troll, Mercy proclaims that the Tri-Cities area is under the packs protection.  This one heartfelt reaction makes the Tri-Cities the epicenter of the ever-increasing political storm between the humans, Fae, werewolves and other paranormal creatures.  Mercy’s proclamation begins a domino effect that will have enormous, and unanticipated, ramifications. There are some wonderful moments in this novel.  Some are positive while others are a little heartbreaking.  We loved how Mercy and Adam did not back down or try to wheedle their way out of what has transpired.  Their relationship is strong and we can see how they will continue to grow together as a team without either of them losing themselves.  In fact, they are one of our favorite literary couples of all time.  After numerous novels, the issues of the pack vs. Mercy are resolved.  We don’t want to spoil it for you, but WOW!  The resolution is so awesome and it was a long time coming – this was one of our favorite moments in the novel. Another favorite moment was Mercy claiming Aiden – not only offering him sanctuary but also claiming him as theirs to protect.   The story surrounding Aiden is heartbreaking.  We enjoyed his characterization and the additional depth of mythology he brings with him.  Underhill is far more than we had ever realized.  Aiden finding sanctuary with the Columbia Basin wolf pack is a catalyst for major changes. Gikany and Una are always easily immersed into Ms. Briggs’ writing.  However, with Fire Touched we were consumed.  There is just something about this novel that kept us glued to the pages – more so than usual.  We loved the ramifications of the character’s actions and how the world is changing.  This novel truly breaks through as one of our favorites of the year!  Although we were heartbroken to say goodbye to a much-adored unique character, we hope there is more to come.  No matter awaits Mercy and the gang in the next novel, we will certainly be...
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Mar
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Brimstone Deception Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1x + 1.25x Series: SPI #3 Source: Audible/purchased I originally read and reviewed The Brimstone Deception earlier this year. At that time I wrote of the book: Although I did enjoy reading The Brimstone Deception, I found that the story didn’t hold up to the previous two titles. The book felt smaller and simpler than the first two, which is something I appreciated, but I also found that I need more. The mystery had some twists, but everything was pretty much straight forward and spelled out for the reader. There was a lot less of SPI and more focus on just Mak and Ian solving the case. I really think I need to reread this one via my audiobook to get a better sense of where The Brimstone Deception fits in the big picture of the SPI Files, and I look forward to it! Since I had listened to and enjoyed the audiobook versions of the first two SPI Files, I wanted to re-read The Brimstone Deception via audiobook, and I’m very glad I did. I found myself much more engaged in the book and story when shared via Ms. Parker’s superb narration. I didn’t consider the story “smaller and simpler” as I wrote in my earlier review. Rather, it was on par with the first two mysteries. While, I still wanted to see more of the characters we met in the previous book, I found that I didn’t realize they weren’t present because I was more engaged in the “here and now” of the story. I credit my enjoyment of the story to the narration. Ms. Parker truly brings Mak to life for me, making her more three-dimensional and real. She breathes life into each character, effectively adding emotion into her performance, making me care what happens to the characters, especially Mak. And due to the added emotional factor, I found myself much more on board with the Mak-Rake romantic pairing than I was when reading the book. The only downside to listening to The Brimstone Deception is I found that the repetition returned. I must zone-out when I read, because I did not notice the constant use and reuse of certain phrases and terms. But when listening, I seem to pick up on every single word, and there is a lot of repetition, just as I found in the previous two books. After a...
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Feb
29

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop Author: Anne Bishop Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Ever since they encountered The Others, humans have seen them as the monsters who lurked in the dark, and some understood that cooperation—alongside a healthy distance—was beneficial to everyone. Different groups of people, however, became angry in response to that fear and resented not being able to take whatever they wanted. Now, the past is destined to repeat itself, and Meg, Simon, and the rest of the Lakeside Courtyard are the only ones who can keep the human race from being wiped from the world forever. Picking up right where Vision in Silver left off, Marked in Flesh follows Meg Corbyn, and the rest of the residents and employees of the Lakeside Courtyard, as the fight between humans and the Terra Indigine finally comes to a head. While I wondered how such beautifully-crafted tension could be adequately maintained for another full-length novel, I found this story to be just as compelling as the previous three. Meg is a truly remarkable character, and has become increasingly so as the series has progressed. Though she’s been living among the Terra Indigine for less than a year, she has changed tremendously. Where she previously viewed the world with the “child’s heart” of a cassandra sangue, along with a good bit of naivety, she has witnessed the consequences of her actions and abilities, and has become burdened with the weight of responsibility as a result—a combination that made me like her even more. But, Meg isn’t the only undeniably unique hero in Marked in Flesh. The rest of the Lakeside Courtyard residents are back, along with a few characters we’ve met previously, as well, all of whom, at this point, I feel are just as crucial to the story as Meg is. Even some of the characters we haven’t gotten to know quite as well have become very important to me, and just the idea of something bad happening to them was enough to break my heart a little. Although the novels of The Others are paranormal urban fantasy, Ms. Bishop still manages to incorporate humor and romance as well. As Meg’s awareness of the rest of the world increases, she’s becoming more curious about her own needs and desires, which succeeds in confusing more than a few residents of the Courtyard, thereby providing the novel with some of its funniest moments. Unlike similar reactions in...
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Feb
25

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Mercy Thompson Universe Author: Patricia Briggs Narrator: Lorelei King + Alexander Cendese Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Mercy Thompson, Alpha & Omega Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Shifting Shadows Shifting Shadows is a multi-story anthology of tales from the world of Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. The book really isn’t meant for those who aren’t familiar with the series, and some of the tales will be spoilerish if you haven’t read/listened to the books through Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8). The stories are told in chronological order, with some narrated by Alexander Cendese (AC) and others by Lorelei King (LK). In between each story, Lorelei King narrates a short message about the upcoming story written by Ms. Briggs. Here are my thoughts on each story. While I listened to the stories in order (numbered below), they are listed as they appear in the book blurb. This book includes the new stories… 1) “Silver” Narrator: AC This is an origin story and a long, long ago prequel to MT #5 Silver Borne. It shares how Bran and Samuel became werewolves and outlines the first time Samuel and Ariana met and fell in love. The tale is dark and haunting, but the way it is written and narrated, it felt more like a recounting of history instead of a solid story with a plot; like I’m being told a story rather than immersed in it. The narration was good but nothing great. I liked the Cornish accents. The story was left very open, but having read the series, I know what becomes of the characters.. B/B- 7) “Roses in Winter” Narrator: LK Takes place between Bone Crossed and Silver Borne. It’s the story of Cara who’s dad appealed to Mercy for help in second book, Blood Bound. Cara was attacked and turned into a werewolf when she was only ten and survived. She’s now living with Bran’s pack and is befriending the lone wolf, Asil. This is absolutely one of the best stories of the bunch. It is the tale of two lost souls finding happiness and comfort together as Asil takes Cara under his wing and shares his garden. It is very emotional and powerful, but more so because I know the characters having listening to both series. I loved this one. A+ 9) “Redemption” Narrator: LK This one is all about Ben, one of Adam’s wolves who is sort...
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