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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Sep
29

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Hounded Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: contest win Hounded The Iron Druid Chronicles follow the life of a 2,000+ year old Druid named Atticus O’Sullivan (not his given name, but most recent alias). Atticus is the only remaining Druid from a time long gone by, hiding out from Angus Og, the Celtic god of love and youth, who wants to kill Atticus for a perceived wrong-doing. In Atticus’s world, every deity, Fae, witch, and paranormal creature is very real. Posing as a twenty-something new-age bookstore owner, Atticus has remained hidden in the East Valley/Tempe region of Arizona. However, powerful Fae are playing a game of politics, and Atticus finds himself in the center of their machinations. The Iron Druid Chronicles were recommended to me by a couple of my urban fantasy-audiobook friends, and I am happy to report that so far, it’s a winner. Although I was expecting something along the lines of either the Mercy Thompson series or the Dresden Files, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a unique and interesting mythology. This first offering, Hounded, serves to develop the extremely detailed mythology and introduce what I assume with be the key players throughout the series. The primary focus of the story is the impending battle between Angus Og and Atticus, with each step serving to share more of the Iron Druid’s world. Although I would have like a little bit stronger story, the fresh and unique mythology kept me more than interested in the tale. Additionally, I enjoyed Googling the different Celtic deities to find out more about each and add that knowledge to the context of the story. The story (and series) is read by Luke Daniels, a new-to-me narrator. Overall, I felt he did a solid job. His performance as the narrator/Atticus is spot on; a youthful voice, tempered by years of knowledge and wisdom. I also found his voice for Atticus’s more-than-a-dog, Oberon, perfect with a gruffness one would expect from a dog that can (mentally) speak. Sometimes I found Atticus a bit too calm, but not negatively so. Daniels has a nice range for both female and male, human and non-human characters. Overall, Hounded is a good start to an interesting UF series. I enjoyed the world development and character interaction. I really liked Atticus: a...
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Sep
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Small Favor by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Small Favor by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Small Favor Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #10 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan Small Favor Once again, Harry Dresden, Wizard and Protector of Chicago, finds himself under the service of the Fae Winter Queen, Mab. This time around, she’s summoned him to find newly-minted Baron Johnny Marcone, who was kidnapped by an ancient enemy. However this puts him at odds with the Summer Queen, who has sent her champions to slay Harry. Oh I did enjoy Small Favor, even during the times I was confused and a bit lost. Harry’s world is slowly changing in fits and starts, and I am enjoying the journey. Harry’s fallen angel nemesis is back with an entourage, and meanwhile, he must also fight off the Fae and work with Marcone’s top enforcers. There was a lot going on, and sometimes I needed to rewind and listen again to make sure I had it all. On top of figuring out how to get back Marcone AND stay alive, Harry realizes his friends don’t necessarily trust him. This, along with having Kincaid back in Murphy’s life, created a lot of emotional content, and I will admit that I found myself tearing up (and down right crying) at times. I loved the mix of the strong emotional pulls, strung together with high action, dry humor, and clever storytelling. And I honestly didn’t think that James Marsters could improve his work as Harry Dresden, but I was wrong! There is more than one highly emotional scene in Small Favor, and Marsters elevated his performance to match the content. In particular, there is one extremely powerful scene that brought me to tears as Marsters bellows Harry’s frustrations and fears. You could hear and feel the anger and grief in his voice. Simply amazing. Small Favor brings about more of the changes that seem to be surrounding Harry. I like that his friends have his back, even if it’s in question during this adventure. Although there is a lot going on, carrying some confusion with it, the emotional intensity elevated Small Favor to one of the best in the series. Story: A Narration:...
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Sep
19

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews Magic Binds Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Nine books in and the Kate Daniels series continues to be one of the best and most original out there. Magic Binds ushers in some big changes for the series and its characters, while maintaining a level of familiarity that grounds the reader as she goes on another fantastical ride with Kate. Kate and Curran are within two weeks of their wedding and of course, Kate’s malevolent father is causing problems and making life difficult. Roland oscillates between trying to goad Kate into battle and inserting fatherly concern over her upcoming nuptials. Roland’s duality, and its effect on Kate, made for some humorous moments. Unfortunately for Kate, Roland kidnaps one of Atlanta’s citizens, and, therefore, Kate must defend her people by getting him back. Walking a fine political line, Kate must juggle her own morality and magic against how best to resolve the issues. While continuing the series in a very familiar way, Magic Binds felt very different to me. Usually Kate is battling creepy-crawly, evil creatures on behalf of others, and each book focuses on her personal journey as she goes through these trials. Yet Magic Binds is all about Kate. From her growing powers to her wedding to her battle with Roland, the entire book is extremely personal. Yet even with the change in the aura surround the series, certain things remained the same. The underlying humor that permeates Kate’s dialogue and thoughts is utterly sublime. I smile, snicker, and laugh so often when reading these books. Another constant is the caliber of the action sequences. Never over the top or gratuitous, until they need to be, the fight and action scenes are perfectly choreographed, keeping me on the proverbial edge of my seat. The attention to detail, coupled with the emotional intensity as Kate struggles, brings to life each confrontation. The biggest drawback of Magic Binds is the ending. No spoilers here. However, I felt like the main story just ended, and I was left unfulfilled. It was an extremely full story, but the ending was very sudden and too abrupt. The authors do provide a lovely epilogue that buffered the rough edges of the main story, and I loved it, but even the epilogue has a bit of a jaw-dropping aspect to it. Additionally, I felt that there were a couple of BIG unanswered questions – things that were directly part...
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Sep
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Night by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: White Night by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: White Night Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Dresden Files #9 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: library loan White Night Opening nearly a year after the previous book, Harry and fledgling apprentice Molly Carpenter are investigating a rash of suspicious murders at the request of and along with Karen Murphy. Someone or something is killing off practitioners of magic, some with barely any perceptible power. Unfortunately, it looks like Harry’s half-brother, Thomas, may be involved. As Harry digs deeper, he finds layer upon layer of subterfuge and evil. I think White Night may be one of my favorite books in the series. First of all, the story returns back to the series roots, bring back into the mix gentleman Johnny Marcone, Chicago’s notorious underworld boss. I’ve always enjoyed Johnny’s dark character. He’s not a good man, but he still makes noble gestures and has a heart under the slick surface. His actions are always made with a self-serving endgame in sight, but he also has secrets that motivate him in unexpected ways. Events in White Night suggest we will see more of Marcone in the titles ahead. Second, I found the balance of dark and light within and around Harry, ideal. The book’s mix between action and storytelling emphasizes this underlying struggle that Harry faces every tale. With the shadow of a manipulative fallen angel inside of Harry, I constantly worry that a point will come when Harry can no longer resist the temptation and take up the coin, bringing power and possession with it. I found this particular storyline extremely exciting and engaging this time around. There are other characters from the past that resurface in White Night, which was both interesting and frustrating. Interesting was the plot and subplots involving the characters. However, I was frustrated because I couldn’t always place the characters, only that I know I’d heard of them before. Yet, Mr. Butcher weaves a strong tale, keeping me just enough in the loop as to not worry about the past so much. As always, James Marsters works his own magic, bringing Dresden to life with his top-notch performance. However, this time around, I accidentally listened to the book at 1.5x speed instead of my usual 1.25x speed. I thought things sounded a little off once and a while, but by the time I realized why (the faster...
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Sep
14

Review: Devils and Details by Devon Monk

Review: Devils and Details by Devon Monk Devils and Details Author: Devon Monk Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Devils and Details is the second book in the fascinating world of Ordinary, Oregon.  Though Una and Gikany are a bit split on our rating, suffice to say we both liked it and look forward to more. ****If you haven’t read the first book (Death and Relaxation), this review may contain spoilers.  Read at your own risk – you have been warned!**** Gikany and Una love this world.  The varied paranormal creatures intermixed with gods and humans allows for a rich cast of characters.  In this installment, we see and learn more about the world’s mythology, while Delaney tries to find lost god powers, heal her broken heart, and find a murderer.  Oh, all while keeping humans in the dark about their more otherworldly friends and neighbors. The feel of the novel bounces between light-hearted and serious.  It’s a nice mixture of both, though it is not quite as humorous as the previous novel.  It could be due to the nature of the murderer and what danger he poises.  Not to mention, only the killer’s identity is revealed by the end of the book, but his story is not over. In the previous novel, Ryder (Delaney’s never-ending crush from her youth) and Delaney have their long awaited fling – only to have it come crashing down.  Ryder was swathed in mystery and we find out through the course of Devils and Details who his really is and what he does for a living.  Through the course of this novel, Una sees Ryder apologizing for being an absolute jerk, several times over.  It is plain that he loves Delaney and realizes he made the biggest mistake ever.  However, Gikany feels that Ryder crossed a line – one that no apology can make up for considering how he ended things with Delaney.  Gikany holds out hope that Delaney will end up with someone better, while Una is waiting for Ryder to stop apologizing and start redeeming himself.  Though, to do that he would need to start actually listening to Delaney and her advice… The characters are so vibrant in this series – it’s what makes the series work.  In particular, we love the relationship between Delaney and her sisters.  All three are working as the law in town to keep people safe (and blissfully unaware), while also ensuring the gods enjoy a little R&R as...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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Sep
2

Review: Unraveled by Jennifer Estep

Review: Unraveled by Jennifer Estep Unraveled Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Picking up after the secret-revealing conclusion of the previous book, Bitter Bite, Gin is determined to discover more about the mysterious Hugh Tucker, the Circle, and the extent to which her mom was involved. When Finn receives notice that his recently departed mother left him the Bullet Pointe resort and amusement park, Gin realizes it’s a trap set by Hugh. But Gin isn’t one to run from a fight, so she and Finn, along with Bria and Owen, head to the quaint resort for fun-filled vacation. Unraveled is yet another exciting, action-packed adventure for Gin and her friends. How Ms. Estep can keep writing fresh and thrilling stories for Gin is beyond me! Yet here we are, the fifteenth book in the Elemental Assassin series, and at just one chapter in, I was not only totally surprised, but utterly hooked. What I liked most about Unraveled, is the almost standalone feel of the story. Gin and her core group travel away from Ashland for a vacation, all the time knowing it would be a trap. The change in setting, along with the smaller cast of her usual characters, gives the book an independent feel and a nice break from the craziness of Ashland. And although Gin’s purpose is to discover more about the secretive and malevolent group, the Circle, the story focuses more on a wild-west themed treasure hunt and showdown. Although, in the end, thanks to Fletcher’s own scavenger-type-hunt for clues, Gin begins to unravel some of the mystery; however, this overall storyline is far from over. Which in its own right is exciting because we haven’t really had a larger, over-arching nemesis for Gin since Mab. The only thing that bugged me, just a wee-little-bit, is the use of dreams to reveal important truths to Gin. While I mostly enjoy the flashbacks that make up Gin’s dreams in the series, sometimes (this being one), the dreams frustrate me because they come off contrived. In this case, Gin discovers that her understanding and the memories of her mother aren’t all she thought them to be… that Gin actually saw Hugh and others in her youth. It irritates me that these memories were buried so deeply, and that in the past weeks, with all the time spent around Hugh and Deidre, that she never once remembered anything. The timing of these dreams is just too convenient....
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Sep
1

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Charley Davidson #10 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased After spending the previous book lost in Sleepyhollow with no memories, Charley is back at home and working as a private investigator. Meanwhile, she’s trying to learn more about the three gods sent to kill her daughter, and if Reyes, her beloved husband and the son of Satan, knows he was formed from one of those gods. For those who have followed my reviews, you know that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Charley Davidson series. I felt the books became too confusing, with too much going on and some huge inconstancies over the course of the series. Another big issue I’ve always had is the lack of personal growth in Charley and the fact that she would make the same mistakes over and over. So I was a bit surprised that I actually really enjoyed The Curse of the Tenth Grave. It didn’t feel as convoluted as several of the previous titles. Charley was back to solving insolvable crimes, and there weren’t a dozen storylines running at once. But the biggest improvement is that there was substantial relationship and character growth for Charley and Reyes. Things like open communication, helping one another, and trust. Things that should have happened books ago. Additionally, this book cleared up a lot of the mythology, as well. What I didn’t care for was the apparent changing of the rules, again. The little inconsistencies that drive me insane about this series. The convenient way the rules and mythology change to suit the current storyline. Details forgotten or adjusted to fit. Which then got me thinking about open storylines that never closed the loop, or if they did, I missed it. This series is far from perfect when it comes to the little details; however, when the story is strong, as this one was, those type of little issues have a way of melting into the background. So I was able to forgive and move on because I was so engrossed in the tale. Once again, humor is central to Charley’s interactions with all she comes into contact. Lorelei King’s performance of Charley only enhances the wit and humor in the story and strengthens Charley’s narrative voice. Ms. King raises the level of the storytelling and also allows me to forgive and move...
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Aug
17

Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill

Review: The Sight by Chloe Neill The Sight Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: In the second book of her Devil’s Isle series, Ms. Neill expands upon her exciting world filled with Paranormals, humans, and Sensitives (humans with magic abilities). The Sight picks up with heroine Claire Connolly and her group of friends continuing to thrive in post-war New Orleans, in the Zone, an area ravaged by the battle between Paranormals and humans. However, a newly emerging group, the Reveillon, wants to rid the world of all things magical, as well as the humans who support the capturing and jailing of Paranormals at Devil’s Isle. The Reveillon’s leader will stop at nothing to purge “traitors,” to include Claire and Liam, from New Orleans. While The Veil established and shaped the parameters of Claire’s world, The Sight fills in the details with vivid characters and engaging friendships. Not having to worry about constructing the rules of this world, Ms. Neill allows her characters to come into their own and fill the pages with color and emotion. I’ve become invested in this world which is both utterly fascinating and yet so completely frustrating. Frustrating, you ask?! YES… because I want more, and I want it now. While in both of the first two books, battles are fought and won, there is a larger war and a much bigger picture with several open-ends waiting to be shared. What will happen to Claire and other Sensitives? Will the Veil reopen and the looming war to take over the Earth begin again? Will Devil’s Isle change? Is Claire’s mom alive? Is there a Claire and Liam? These are all questions that came out in the first book, and while The Sight tackles some, there is still much more. Claire is a fascinating, first-person narrator, and I have grown to really enjoy her voice. While I had some issues with Claire coming off overly young and innocent in the first book, this time around, we see her inner desire to make the world a better place and to fight for justice. Although Claire must hide the fact that she’s a Sensitive, she’s unwilling to leave her store to run and hide. I loved that she started go after what she wants, to include Liam. Rounding out this exciting story and Claire’s strong personality, are the wonderful friendships and relationships developing on the pages. Whether well-established or newer links that are being formed, the camaraderie and...
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Jul
14

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Dresden Files Series Book: Proven Guilty Author: Jim Butcher Narrator: James Marsters Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Dresden Files #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery Source: purchased Proven Guilty After taking a break from the Dresden Files for a few months, listening to Proven Guilty was just what I wanted and needed from this dark urban fantasy series. The war between the Red Court and White Council isn’t going well, meanwhile the Merlin wants to find a way to remove Harry from the Council, permanently. Harry’s mentor, Ebenezer, tips off Harry that the Winter Court (fae) have not joined the war after the Red Court used their lands without permission and that there is a traitor in the Council. So Harry embarks on a secret, multi-faceted mission, where not only is his own life in danger, but that of his dear friend Michael’s daughter, Molly. While Proven Guilty continues the somber storytelling that dominates this series, I found it had a much better balance of light and dark with respect to Dreden’s mental and emotional wellbeing. There is no denying he lives in a dangerous world with the cards stacked against him, but he does have many friends, and Dresden is finally turning to them. I’ll admit that I held my breath while reading most of the first half, waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop right on top of Dresden’s head, Mr. Butcher was able to keep things from going too far, and brought Dresden back from the depths before he hit bottom. But with that said, there were a couple spots I was ready to give up, only to be drawn back in by the excellent storytelling. At the core of Proven Guilty, there is a mystery, and Dresden is back doing what he does best: piecing clues together to uncover the truth. As he does so, he discovers that the overall picture is much bigger than he initially expected, with an unknown threat that could be the ultimate foe. This journey allows Dresden to expunge some of the guilty he’s been carrying around for the past year or so, as well as strengthen friendships and alliances he’ll need to stay on “right” side of that fine line between dark and light. While we see Dresden work through his relationships with a few key characters, it is his heart-to-hearts with longtime colleague and friend, Karen, that gave me all the...
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