TREASURE & TREASON, the book I assume Raine Benares fans have been clamoring for, features Tam and PhaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
TREASURE & TREASON, the book I assume Raine Benares fans have been clamoring for, features Tam and Phaelan. AMAZING, am I right??? These two characters, the reformed dark magic practitioner goblin Tam and the endlessly amusing magic-fearing pirate captain and thief Phaelan, together - just the idea is spectacular. Reading TREASURE & TREASON is a treat, especially for fans of the series, and even new readers would find something to love, I suspect.
Tam has always been one of my favorite characters in this series, and I'm so happy to see him finally get his own book. Phaelan, too, but Tam always had that dark mysterious side that makes him that much more intriguing. The premise was great- throwing Tam and Phaelan on a boat together, with no way to escape the other is hysterical, and Shearin definitely makes plenty of jokes despite the drama that of course happens. After all, it is a Raine Benares world novel- something has to go down. And plenty does, with fight scenes and bad guys popping up out of the woodwork, and into dreams, it seems there's no escape for our intrepid heroes.
My one complaint, and this may be because I recently read another Shearin book, is the repetition. It is really drilled in that Tam is pissed at the bad guys, that he's willing to do whatever it takes to do what needs to be done, that he's willing to make sacrifices, on and on his inner monologue is full of thoughts like that. It just starts to get a little frustrating. This could also be the way Shearin writes and I just haven't noticed it before since I haven't read multiple books so close together. The other thing is the cliff hanger - I felt like the book was a little slow to start and then it just ENDED, right before what I felt would have been the most exciting part. So there was that, too.
Like I said, TREASURE & TREASON might be a good place for a newbie to the series to jump in. We've got a new main character, and while there is a lot of background, there isn't nearly as much as in previous books with Raine and Tam frequently mentions the information you might need to know. Plus, there's new characters and a new setting, so that makes it different than previous books as well.
All in all, TREASURE & TREASON is a delight. Shearin is a clever writer, interspersing laugh out loud funny moments with action and magic, and it is definitely worth the read.
With a big name like Margaret Atwood, I was expecting something a bit more profound from ANGEL CATBIRD, evReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
With a big name like Margaret Atwood, I was expecting something a bit more profound from ANGEL CATBIRD, even with the ridiculous title and premise. Unfortunately, I was left incredibly disappointed in what was a predictable, preachy book that although marketed to adults, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone over 13.
If you’ve never read any Margaret Atwood, she’s known for her social commentary, her depictions/discussion of women and being really literary. Most of her books are so in-your-face feminist they can be overwhelming. I would recommend reading ORYX AND CRAKE - and to a lesser extent THE HANDMAID'S TALE - if you like speculative fiction. They both bring up interesting points, and I enjoyed ORYX AND CRAKE.
ANGEL CATBIRD does the opposite of bringing up new and interesting points. There’s a narrow line behind paying homage to a genre and just copying something on every page. Mad scientist with bumbling assistant who gets himself accidentally mutated into a half-animal (well, quarter, but whatever) shifter? Check. Cute babe who knows about the world he’s in and happens to work in his office? Check. A nightclub for shifters hiding in plain sight? Check. It’s all stuff I’ve seen before.
Very little actually happens in the book, apart from Strig trying to get into Cate’s pants and the evil scientist plotting and cackling to his rat minions like a more manic version of WILLARD without any of the heart or acting chops of the movie. Beyond his shift and finding out who the villain is, the plot barely advances.
The most annoying part of this comic has to be the weird “educational” paragraphs at the bottom of many of the pages. “Don’t let your cats outside.” “Spay and neuter your cats.” “Here are some stats about how many birds cats kill in the US, Canada and UK.” These factoids were preachy and felt like they belonged in a book for ten year olds, not the adults the book is marketed towards. I’m not reading a graphic novel to be educated about the number of kittens a female cat can have, Margaret. I want escapism and drama I want adventure and humour. ANGEL CATBIRD delivers none of that.
The art and the colours are great, and I love the art notes at the back of the book. It’s the concept that is childish and doesn’t actually lead to anything. Margaret Atwood said in an interview that she “came up with it around the age of six, when I was drawing flying cats with wings.” It kinda shows. Freaks of nature have such an awesome power to portray human existence in graphic novels, but all this comic does is regurgitate tropes and preach.
The only reason I didn’t give this book a single bat review is the cat to half-cat shifters. Some of the half-cat shifters who hang out at the Cat-astrophe nightclub (really?) are cats first. They cannot become fully human. Likewise, the humans who can become half-cat cannot go full cat. It’s pretty cool, although it raises weird questions about these natural half-cats, who are genetically born and aren’t created by science. There is zero insight into the mythology or history of these shifters, and I have zero interest in finding out more.
There are two other volumes of this graphic novel planned, but I won’t even be glancing at them. I'm just glad I got this title at the library and didn't waste money on it.
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE is nearly everything I wished it would be. After hearing comparisons to UPROOReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE is nearly everything I wished it would be. After hearing comparisons to UPROOTED, THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE had a lot to live up to, UPROOTED being one of my recent favorite fantasy books. Luckily, it was a delightful read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE has a quality that I've recognized before, frequently in Robin McKinley's books - the ability to make the mundane lovely. For the majority of the book, honestly, not much happens. But in the descriptions of the everyday tasks and actions, the characters get a chance to grow and needle their way into the reader's heart. I loved Vasilisa, I loved her father and her brothers and sisters. And the characters I didn't love, I still felt a sympathy for - they weren't straight-out villains by any means (that was left to the Bear of the title) but they were complex and interesting to read about. (Though being a step-mother myself I tend to dislike the trope of the evil step-mother, and THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE was no exception to that.)
When the action did come, I was ready for it, having prepared for the entire book, basically all of Vasilisa's life. The reader watches as she learns to befriend the spirits all around her, as she learns to commune with the horses, and as she grows stronger with every day. She is a wonderful heroine in an interesting setting, where the world building was done so well you barely notice it spinning around you until you're firmly situated in the world of the book.
Taking a page from Russian history and folklore and spinning it into something more, with beautiful writing and spectacular characters, Arden's debut is quite a wonderful read. I can't wait to see what she has in store next.
Sexual content: Very brief references to sex ...more
MIDNIGHT CURSE is the first in the Disrupted Magic series, but is actually the 10th novel written in the OReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
MIDNIGHT CURSE is the first in the Disrupted Magic series, but is actually the 10th novel written in the Old World Chronology series by Melissa F. Olson. I didn’t realise it was part of a larger series until after I had finished it, and I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not reading the previous books; in fact, I adored how Scarlett is a more mature, experienced heroine who has tricks up her sleeve and isn’t bumbling around discovering her powers or how the world works.
Scarlett is a null, someone who can cancel the magic of other supernaturals in her vicinity. She’s part janitor, part professional liar, keeping the supernatural world hidden by cleaning up messes and breaking up supernatural fights (by making everyone in her range temporarily human). She’s a necessary part of the council or supernaturals, but it also feels like she’s also excluded because of what she is. It was refreshing to read about a heroine who is capable from the get go, who has gotten past her rocky start and dramatic upbringing. She has a backstory that you hear snippets about, but I was never confused when it was brought up, it just worked to make the character more real.
It’s difficult to pick what my favourite part of the book was: the cool variety in witchcraft types, the awesome ex-police detective Scarlett enlists to help her discover who is trying to frame her friend, the sensitive werewolf boyfriend or the giant hell-dog that was created to hunt werewolves and who Scarlett has to keep by her side at all times.
On second thought, it’s the dog for sure. She's called Shadow, she understands basic human speech, she wears a little service dog vest and can tear out a man’s throat before he has time to scream. What’s not to love?
Supernatural politics, intense actions and high emotion blend perfectly to make one of the best urban fantasy books I’ve read in a long time. Pick it up here, or dig through the older books if you want, but you’ll not be sorry you discovered the Old World Chronology series....more
A Field Guide to Fantastical Beasts: An Atlas of Fabulous Creatures, Enchanted Beings, and Magical Monsters is a wonderfully iAll Things Urban Fantasy
A Field Guide to Fantastical Beasts: An Atlas of Fabulous Creatures, Enchanted Beings, and Magical Monsters is a wonderfully illustrated book filled with descriptions of mostly familiar mythical creatures. Most of creatures are Northern and Western European save for a small handful of monsters. I would have preferred a bit more variety from other areas like Africa, Asia, and even Eastern Europe since most of the creatures in this book are so very familiar in literature and pop culture already.
As I continued reading the descriptions I came to the realization that this book might be for a younger audience not as familiar with these creatures which would fit with the slightly short descriptions [a page or two per creature]. Being nerdy about mythology and folklore, I wanted a deeper analysis. While slightly disappointing the descriptions were a nice refresher with some interesting facts I didn't know before and the illustrations were pretty adorable too.
I think it is a great book for young school aged kids to get them interested in myths and folklore. The writing is pretty simple and in no way talks down to the reader....more
I don’t think I’ve read too many stories featuring gargoyles, and I loved that Ash, the heroine in HARD TOReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
I don’t think I’ve read too many stories featuring gargoyles, and I loved that Ash, the heroine in HARD TO HANDLE is the first female gargoyle to ever exist. She’s been summoned because evil is brewing, and she’s ready to fight with claws, wings and a giant two headed axe. She rocked, but it was her romantic interest that really sold the book for me.
Although he isn’t a giant winged stone creature, Drum isn’t as helpless as an everyday human. His family has various gifts, and his centers on finding lost things. He’s always passed it off as a parlour trick, because he knows that if it’s known about or can be used to find missing people, he won’t allow himself not to use it. It made for a particularly interesting character, who wants to help people, and knows once he starts, his conscience won’t let him stop. It’s very rare in paranormal romance to find male characters who show weakness, especially fear. Drum’s protectiveness of his family is the only thing that convinces him to help Ash when she needs to find her Warden, the human who summoned her.
There are fun bits of humour throughout, which keep the tone light even though the characters are facing the end of the world.
“I always thought it was kinda there in the name. Hell. Mouth. Seems pretty self-explanatory. Didn’t you guys get Buffy the Vampire Slayer over here?”
“Please, God and Saint Peter, don’t tell me we’re going to have to deal with the vampires.”
Dag looked disdainful [...] “Do not be ridiculous. Such creatures do not exist.”
“Well, that’s something, I suppose.”
The writing is much better than other paranormal romances I’ve read before, with the characters examining their feelings with eloquence and interesting metaphors that make reading a breeze even between the action scenes. Although there was a bit of a drag when the book inevitably caught up readers to the four previous books’ heroes and heroines, I quickly forgave it and hopped back into the action. HARD TO HANDLE does feel like a middle of the series book, but there was enough fun and action to make it worth reading whether you’re into the series already or not. ...more
SHADE CHASER was a rare type of book, where the police work and procedures felt real, despite the supernatReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
SHADE CHASER was a rare type of book, where the police work and procedures felt real, despite the supernatural nature of the cases they are investigating. There was paperwork, there was calling for backup when necessary and there were life-altering injuries to important characters.
This is the second book of the series, and although I had questions about the events of the first book, I never felt too confused to not be interested by the current investigation. There has been a dramatic triple murder in the basement of a well-loved pub, and not only are the three men prominent figures in their field, the event has the potential to start a magical civil war, in a world where most people do not know about magic.
The Crows (or Kooks, as the regular police force calls them) are mostly human, some of which have a few tricks up their sleeve. Cal, the main character, has a bit of magic detection, and a nearly killer case of deja vu. They also carry charged magical rings that can shock or burn their supernatural enemies. Even when faced with more powerful werewolves, wizards and witches, they hold their own and have each other’s back.
There is a big threat to the world than the evil that the Crows are having to deal with in SHADE CHASER, and it’s coming sooner than later. The writing was quick and excellent, with incredibly catchy first sentences to each chapter that drew me in and sometimes earned a chuckle. Seriously, who can resist an opening line like this one: “Everything is going according to plan—until the building explodes.” A must read if you love urban fantasy with a police procedural twist....more
It doesn’t take long for FANGS & FENNEL to pick up steam. The fast-pacing of the novel promises a fighReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
It doesn’t take long for FANGS & FENNEL to pick up steam. The fast-pacing of the novel promises a fight or a flee in every chapter. While it seems that everyone in FANGS & FENNEL either wants to kill or kiss her, Alena Budrene just wants to divorce her husband, keep her bakery, and be taken seriously by her friends and family. Most of the novel follows the course of one very eventful day as Alena attempts to win her court case and fend off Theseus, the newest Greek hero who wants to slay Alena’s drakina form.
Unfortunately, the world-building and dialogue issues from the first novel carry over. Alena may also be a siren, but it’s hard to believe that almost all the males of the novel fall in love/lust with her. She still doesn’t swear, but continues to shout ‘dingle nuts’ or ‘cat puke on a cookie sheet’ at people. Supernaturals are still called ‘Super Dupers’. And yes, she still says ‘fricky deaky’. While I do have a special place in my heart for a heroine that stabs vampires with wooden spoons, it’s hard to argue against her friends and family belief that Alena can’t fight for herself when she immediately falls to pieces after every attack.
As with the first book, the wall that separates the humans from supernatural is about as imposing as an ant hill. Characters travel between the restricted sections without issue. Nothing stops supernaturals from vaulting over or just driving through the gate. The watchdog police group from the first novel are no longer a concern, especially since two of the three main members are now crushing on Alena. While there are some humans that want the wall demolished, Alena never makes up her mind about whether supernaturals should be re-introduced into human society, even as she’s petitioning the court to be considered a legal person.
Most of the novel’s problems come from the mishmash of supernatural groups. It’s less a melting pot and more a jello salad with marshmallow and fruit – sometimes it works, but a lot of the time it doesn’t. There are gods, mythological characters, Greek monsters, Greek heroes, Arthurian characters, werewolves, vampires, and Vikings. These are very different groups with rich established mythologies. Once a character interacts with yet another group, that character’s purpose and personal narrative becomes overly complex. For example, Merlin: the shifty warlock from the first novel, who purposefully transforms naïve women into monsters for heroes to easily kill, is now also a divorce lawyer. This means he’s works within the human world and, potentially, the vampire gangs. Maybe Merlin working with vampires or drakinas could work, but in this novel it doesn’t.
When you let go of the structural problems and the childish aversion to swearing, FANGS & FENNEL can be a fun read. The plot zigs when you expect it to zag. Though the plot choices may not be the best, they keep you on your toes. The promised hot romance between Alena and Remo remains lukewarm but still sweet and believable. If you enjoyed VENOM & VANILLA, then you know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed. Just like all good sequels FANGS & FENNEL packs more action, characters, and, finally, more baking....more
The A Lion’s Pride series has been a nearly flawless winner up to now, and WHEN A LIONESS SNARLS is up theReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
The A Lion’s Pride series has been a nearly flawless winner up to now, and WHEN A LIONESS SNARLS is up there with WHEN AN ALPHA PURRS in terms of sexy fun and action. Centered around a modern pride of werelions, these novellas are quick to read and will make you laugh out loud, which is always a bonus in paranormal romance.
Although the lions like to think they are in charge, it’s the large number of lionesses (so many cousins!) who are they real muscle in the pride. One on one, they may not be as strong, but they stick together, and in human or lion form, lionesses are fierce adversaries you don’t want to mess with.
Her species and her huge extended family are the main reason Jeoff, the alpha of a smaller wolf pack, fights his attraction to Luna for so long. He’s got a pack to take care, and he runs the security for most shifter events, including the security in the highrise where most of the lion pride live. He’s seen what kind of damage the pride can do, and he doesn’t want his peaceful life disrupted on a daily basis and more than it already is.
Unfortunately for him, Luna likes his dorky glasses and he has a really good sunbeam in his living room she loves to bask in. When they are asked to work together by the pride Alpha on a case, Luna sees her chance to finally wear him down.
She thinks she’s going to work hard at getting Jeoff to notice her, but what she hasn’t counted on is that Jeoff has been paying attention for years. And the close proximity blows any defenses he’s built up to peices. It was adorable and hilarious to watch her work so hard, when Jeoff was already so close to cracking. There’s only so much a red blooded wolf can take!
They are investigating missing shifters, and all signs point to all the shifters having gone to one swingers’ bar before they disappeared. In order to get in, they’ll have to pretend to be a couple, and a sexually adventurous one at that. Corny? Yes. Hilarious? Absolutely. Especially when they realise they are going to have to play the part in front of the whole pride in order to keep the charade from unravelling!
This book introduces new adversaries and allies, and really shows the power the lionesses have when they work together. It could easily be read as a stand alone, although I definitely recommend the other books in the series. Eve Langlais has written a few shifter series in this genre - Kodiak Point takes place in Northern Canada, and Bitten Point in the bayous. They read almost like episodes in a tv show: quick, fun and hilarious. Check them out if you need a laugh and some steamy shifter romance.
Where do I begin? ONE FELL SWEEP continues one of the best urban fantasy series ever! I guess I'll sta**Reviews courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy**
Where do I begin? ONE FELL SWEEP continues one of the best urban fantasy series ever! I guess I'll start where I always do with my Innkeeper Chronicles reviews, the artwork. Doris Mantair does an amazing job yet again with the artwork. Besides the great cover art, there are three other pieces of art scattered through ONE FELL SWEEP that bring the characters and events of the book to life. It's amazing to see the potential of ebooks come to light with the extra art in the pages which would be impossible to do with a traditional paperback.
What first drew me into the Innkeeper Chronicles is what made me dive into ONE FELL SWEEP. The world of the Innkeeper Chronicles is just so rich and full of detail. Even though we're on the third book in the series, the Ilona Andrews writing team is still coming up with more information to flesh out and make the world seem even more real then before. I love Urban Fantasy, but I would never want to live in Harry Dresden's world nor that of Monster Hunter International, but the Innkeeper Chronicles world is so beautiful that I would love to live in it.
SWEEP IN PEACE calmed down a little bit from the intense action of CLEAN SWEEP, but ONE FELL SWEEP combines the best of both books. There is quite a bit of political intrigue involved while also having much more epic battles then were ever in CLEAN SWEEP. So if you were a little upset by the slower pace of SWEEP IN PEACE you won't be disappointed by ONE FELL SWEEP.
I'm hesitant of books that have love triangles. I always end up siding with the losing guy, and then I'm a little upset about the ending. ONE FELL SWEEP does an amazing job of cleaning up the love triangle in such a way that even I was thrilled about it. The romance in ONE FELL SWEEP is beautiful, serving a strong purpose in the main story line instead of slowing it down or distracting from it. While on this topic I have a side note more about the authors than the story. There is a very short sex scene in the book, I personally am not a fan of sex scenes, so I was amazed when I saw Ilona Andrews post on their website that if you provided proof of purchase they would send you a PG-13 version of the story! This is groundbreaking, in my opinion. I'm once again amazed at how these two traditionally published authors are pushing the boundaries and showing the true potential of ebooks. I hope other authors follow their example on this count.
Looking back on all the books I read this year, the only one that gives ONE FELL SWEEP a run for its money is the Black Ocean series. So I can't quite make a definitive call, but ONE FELL SWEEP is one of the two best books I read this year. If you haven't started the Innkeeper Chronicles yet, then I can't recommend it enough to you, and if you've already started the series, then don't worry, ONE FELL SWEEP is as good a sequel as one could ever wish for.
FOR THE BEAR'S EYES ONLY was a pretty decent paranormal romance with bear shifters which I feel are becoming the new 'it' shifAll Things Urban Fantasy
FOR THE BEAR'S EYES ONLY was a pretty decent paranormal romance with bear shifters which I feel are becoming the new 'it' shifter right now with all of the bear shifter books I've seen lately. One of the things that I had a bit of an issue with right off was the small prologue with Alan and Tonya. It felt kind of disjointed and really not necessary to the plot. That issue aside I enjoyed the angle they took with Alan being a non-shifter in a family of shifters who gets his latent shifter DNA activated. I thought the his reaction to being kidnapped, tortured, and experimented on was really well written and his wanting revenge was very understandable considering his circumstances.I did find his stubborness and 'woe is me' attitude a tad annoying but again I can kind of forgive that in this instance. What I didn't understand was, his viewpoint on his bear form. Was he a bizarre looking/smelling bear shifter or was he just reacting to what a normal bear shifter is supposed to look and smell like? I am assuming his perception might be warped but it was confusing.
Tonya is a pretty tough woman and while I admire that at times she came off as a little mean especially in the prologue where she just yanks Alan around emotionally. She gets better as the book moves along and her relationship with Alan grows closer especially when she realized her feelings for him. Their chemistry felt off to me as I felt like Alan might have needed someone a bit less well, bitchy for lack of a better word. There were some pretty steamy scenes that were well done but I just couldn't get into it because I was really put off by Tonya's personality.
Chemistry and Tonya issues aside FOR THE BEAR'S EYES ONLY was a good read and had an interesting premise. Part of my lack of enthusiasm might stem from not reading the previous two books but I feel like reading the first two wouldn't help too much especially when it comes to Tonya.
The best thing about BEARLY IN CONTROL is the title. It sets up expectations that there will be puns, bearReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
The best thing about BEARLY IN CONTROL is the title. It sets up expectations that there will be puns, bears, and people getting a little bit wild (oh my). Did I mention puns? They’re recycled over and over until a one sentence pun becomes an unbearable two pages of butt jokes. There’s bears, though the bear in question only shifts twice, including when he is found at the beginning of the novel. People getting wild? Well, I suppose if you consider the unprofessionalism of all of the characters then that counts too.
If you’re shot at, would you tell the police force that you work with? If you find a naked, amnesiac man, would you push for a missing persons search? If you find bags of money and jewels, would you think they’re related to the robberies you were debriefed on? Charli Avers, veterinarian and animal mind-reader, wouldn’t. In fact, none of the characters in BEARLY IN CONTROL ever consider the obvious, even when the solution is staring them right in the face.
There is plot to the novel but it’s quickly passed aside to make way for the sex scenes between Charli and Barry, the bear-shifter without a past. The sex scenes are detailed, explicit, and, unfortunately, dominate most of the novel. If the characters aren’t having sex, they’re thinking about it. The overarching plotline—likely to carry over the rest of the series—hints at a evil-doer creating shifters through experimentation and torture. An interesting concept disregarded almost entirely in the rest of the book. There’s even a one-line reveal that aliens are real—that no one remarks on. Aliens! The investigation storyline is followed through by the side-characters, Devin and Russel, who are obvious setups for the next books.
BEARLY IN CONTROL is the first of the Shifter Undercover series but the world seems tied to Milly Taiden’s other book lines. Characters drop information, like two souls, shifter population areas, and investigation teams without full explanations. This problem persists throughout the novel, where information and characterization is inconsistent or dismissed immediately. I think there’s a golden writing rule: if you start a book with an amnesiac main character, by the end you should have either uncovered their identity or at least discovered an important clue.
Milly Taiden is a prolific writer and if you’re familiar with her other series, you’ll likely forgive the book’s flaws. Bears might be the new wolves in shifter novels, but if you’ve got a hankering for a new grizzly/teddy bear paranormal romance you might want to look elsewhere.
PIT PERFECT is a delightfully cozy supernatural mystery story. I enjoyed the different turns the story took in making you queAll Things Urban Fantasy
PIT PERFECT is a delightfully cozy supernatural mystery story. I enjoyed the different turns the story took in making you question everyone's motives at some point (except Smooshie, Lily's adorable dog). I kept thinking "Oh no it can't be him/her...but it would make so much sense and be kind of awesome..." and the conclusion of who the murderer was was pretty understandable in the end. The story as a whole has a cast of quirky characters and is a pretty light, fun read.
Lily has had a difficult past, with her family being killed and deciding to leave everything she knows behind to start anew in a different town. For all of that she is pretty practical and level headed. I really enjoyed the growing attraction between Lily and Parker. They seemed to connect right away on their first meeting and I am kind of rooting for these two to get together.
While I enjoyed the mystery and the world building, I felt like I was missing out on parts of Lily's past that were explained in previous books which was made more confusing since this was the first in a series. Further research concluded that she was a character in one of Renee George's other series HAZED & CONFUSED MYSTERIES and some of what Lily talks about might have happened in that series. The confusion wasn't too bad and didn't effect my overall enjoyment of the story. I look forward to reading more about Lily and I hope Smooshie gets more involved because I have a soft spot for characters with sidekick animals....more
DARK PROTECTOR does a fabulous job of catching up the Moon Shifter series, while introducing a fresh conflReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
DARK PROTECTOR does a fabulous job of catching up the Moon Shifter series, while introducing a fresh conflict and interesting characters outside the ranch where most of the characters live. Vampires are missing during a particularly sensitive time in vampire/werewolf relations, and a war between two clans would be bad news for all supernatural creatures. It’s in the best interest of all parties involved to find the missing vamps, which is why Natalia and Aldrick end up working together.
Natalia has gotten a bit braver since the previous book, when she killed her first person. She also met Aldrick, fallen for him, and then tried to get over him when he leaves her hanging.
Much like his brother, Aldrick works as an enforcer, which puts him outside the pack structure. He’s been roaming for a long time, working mostly for the Brethren, the ruling vampire committee. He hasn’t wanted to socialize with werewolves for decades. After a terrible tragedy with his mate, he even spent years as a wild wolf, unable to think or shift back to human form. He is the definition of a messed up alpha hero, but he manages to be likable.
Even when they don’t get along - which for an urban fantasy novel is almost expected - Natalia and Aldrick are on fire together. His reaction when he sees her in the arms of another man is particularly violent, even if he figures out quickly that it’s only a ruse to get information. I loved all the arguing Natalia did, and the chasing Aldrick had to do in order to get her to listen. When he does catch up to her, and eventually open up, it’s like setting a match to paper.
The mystery Natalia and Aldrick are helping to solve took a backseat to their love story, and I didn’t really mind; it was more of a reason to bring them together. While it was somewhat exciting, it never felt like the missing vampires were a huge, world-threatening plot. We heard a lot from the main villain before they were exposed, so perhaps that lessened the mystery for me.
Many of the books in the Moon Shifter series call back to previous pairings. It was fun to see Jayce and Kate again, as they were so incredibly hot in previous books. While the whole pack doesn’t make an appearance, there is definitely a sense of family and belonging transmitted in the writing. The pack is a tight knit group, living in a small collection of farm houses on a ranch. The wolves hop to each other’s houses, steal cookies out of the pantry and watch each other’s cubs when things get busy. Compared to the quiet desperation that inhabited the ranch in the first book, it’s a thriving community. It’s great when a series manages to keep the feel of the original novels while evolving the story and the setting.
I believe the next book is the last one, and I think it's Christmas-themed, which could be incredibly saccharine or good fun - hard to tell....more
THE FATE OF THE TEARLING left me with lots of feelings. The first two-thirds of the book were rock-star. AReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE FATE OF THE TEARLING left me with lots of feelings. The first two-thirds of the book were rock-star. And, to be fair, the last third of the book was good too, it just wasn't what I was expecting. So, without spoiling anything, I am going to try to review this book for you. First of all, if you read the first two, definitely read the third. You'll want the closure that it provides. And if you haven't read the first two, I definitely recommend them. The trilogy has a very different feel than a lot of other fantasy trilogies, to its benefit.
Second of all, Kelsea. I love her so much. She is so freaking awesome - she does what she feels is right, but she makes mistakes and isn't perfect either. I don't like perfect heroines who can do no wrong, because they don't feel real to me. Kelsea's questioning of her past decisions, her anxiety about whether or not she did the right thing, feels like a young adult reaction to life, much less running a country. For the most part the characters really carried THE FATE OF THE TEARLING. Even the Red Queen had so much depth to her that I almost felt sympathy for her. (Almost, she was still awful.) And nearly everybody from the first two books makes an appearance in the third, so there were very few loose ends that were not tied up.
One complaint I had was that the magic system in the Tearling was underdeveloped. It seems the magic came from the sapphires, but where did the sapphires come from? It was implied they came from the mountains in the Tearling, but if that was the case, why weren't there more of them? I had some other unanswered questions regarding the magic, but I really don't want to spoil anything for you.
All in all, THE FATE OF THE TEARLING is a strong, character driven book. While some aspects of the world-building could have been better, there was enough set up to make things believable, and to give the characters room to grow and evolve within the context of the world. It offered an interesting ending that I totally didn't expect and tied up a lot of character storylines. In my opinion, it was a good ending to a trilogy, and totally worth the read.
Sexual content: References to rape, non-consensual physical contact ...more
THE LIBRARIANS AND THE LOST LAMP, a book based off the popular TV show The Librarians is a fun, fast readReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE LIBRARIANS AND THE LOST LAMP, a book based off the popular TV show The Librarians is a fun, fast read that I really enjoyed. My only complaint is that readers who are not as familiar with the TV show as I am may not get the same level of enjoyment out of the book.
THE LIBRARIANS AND THE LOST LAMP jumps back and forth in time from 2006 to 2016, from the single Librarian, Flynn Carson, to the three new Librarians. Having seen two of the three Librarian movies, and the entire first season of the show, none of the characters were new to me. I already liked the Librarians, and I like the world they inhabit. I felt the characters held true to their TV counterparts, while still being fleshed out enough to be understandable without having prior knowledge.
Some of the writing felt a little flat. Those were the times when I felt the author was relying on his readers having previous knowledge of the TV show. While for the most part it didn't bother me, I assume a reader going in with no knowledge of the series might be a little frustrated. There were few references to past cases the Librarians had taken on, or previous events in the series, so that wouldn't be too much of an issue, which is good.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the plot line of the story. I liked how the two stories (Flynn's and the current Librarians') were woven together. It felt more like a movie than a TV episode, which is good, because it would be very hard to drag a TV episode out to almost 300 pages! There was humor, adventure and plenty of bad guys to outsmart. I liked the tie in with Aladdin and Scheherazade, and how the Librarians were outsmarting the Forty Thieves. It was all quite a bit of fun.
If you are a fan of the TV show, don't hesitate to pick this up! You will definitely enjoy it. If you don't watch the TV show - start! ;) But honestly, maybe try an excerpt before buying to see if you'll enjoy THE LIBRARIANS AND THE LOST LAMP.
SHADES OF HONOR continues the Anomaly series. The Anomaly series is a great military sci-fi series, th**Reviews courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy**
SHADES OF HONOR continues the Anomaly series. The Anomaly series is a great military sci-fi series, that I feel can be enjoyed by urban fantasy readers and sci-fi readers alike. The heroine effectively has supernatural powers that make her one of the best soldiers in the Known Universe making her seem a lot like urban fantasy heroine.
SHADES OF HONOR keeps all the things I loved about about SHADES OF TREASON, everything from the intense battles and political intrigue to the great romance subplot. SHADES OF HONOR adds to that including an epic chase scene and a lot of great character development. SHADES OF TREASON spent most of the time devoted to characters just introducing them, this allows SHADES OF HONOR to actually take time to develop the characters know that you are familiar with them. Sandy Williams put a lot of effort into really fleshing out Ash and Rip in SHADES OF HONOR, and I'm eager to see how they continue to develop in the next book.
My only problem with SHADES OF HONOR is the same one I had with SHADES OF TREASON. And I even had reason to believe it would be avoided too. About halfway through the book Ash and Rip talk about how stupid it was for them to have sex when they were literally being chased down by an enemy force. So I thought the sex scene in this book wouldn't be so stupid. But it still was. When Ash and Rip should be getting ready for an op only minutes away, they decide that is a good time to have sex, and in the armory of all places. I'm sure others won't have a problem with this, but it really makes it hard for me to suspend my disbelief.
In the end, what made SHADES OF HONOR such an amazing book for me was that it actually made me laugh on multiple occasions. So if nothing else I said piqued your interest maybe that does. SHADES OF HONOR isn't a "hard science" science fiction novel. SHADES OF HONOR focuses on character and world development, so you don't have to worry about pages and pages of technical information. SHADES OF HONOR is just an amazing story that takes place in space, and I highly recommend it.
One of the genre tags on the Goodreads page for DEADER HOMES AND GARDENS is "cozy mystery" and that is a very accurate descripAll Things Urban Fantasy
One of the genre tags on the Goodreads page for DEADER HOMES AND GARDENS is "cozy mystery" and that is a very accurate description for this book and in fact, the whole series. It's the type of when you're looking for a 'scary but not pants-wetting scary ' book to read on a cold October evening. I got through this book in one sitting as it's a very quick read and has an interesting mystery that kept my interest enough to want to see what the resolution would be. I love when a mystery doesn't make the reveal so glaringly obvious in the first few chapters and keeps me guessing.
I enjoyed seeing the story of the haunted houses' ghostly inhabitants unravel during Verity Long's first ghost-hunting job venture. It seemed to get more complex as more information was revealed. Verity's ghost talking powers are kind of limited so far as she has to connect with her ghost companion, Frankie to use them. This issue is brought up in this story as a B plot but it doesn't resolve this limitation that much. Verity and Frankie's relationship is fun and I love that he hasn't moved past his 1920s gangster ways. Verity is a fun character who has gone through a lot in her life especially with having to put up with being the town weirdo who 'sees ghosts'.
DEADER HOMES AND GARDENS was a fun and spooky little mystery that fits well for a light read. I am looking forward to what spooky missadventures Verity and Frankie get involved in next....more
Every small glimpse each episode of Bookburners gives us into the past of the various characters is like aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Every small glimpse each episode of Bookburners gives us into the past of the various characters is like a little treat for me, and in this episode, after getting a bit of Liam's past in the previous episode, focused on Asanti, who easily is my favorite character.
DEBTOR'S PRISON fits the typical bill of a Bookburners episode, offering a bit of fun, a bit of mystery, and even a bit of politics. Though this episode wrapped up in a rather strange, rather quick, way, the lead up to the climax was just as interesting as the actual fight at the end.
DEBTOR'S PRISON was funny, so much so that I laughed out loud at certain moments, and I was happy to be back in the Bookburners world. Every episode seems to open another door to possibilities, but without leaving the reader hanging. All of the options to explore just make the world seem that much richer.
I am super behind on my reviews of Season 2 so far, but that means you could go ahead and binge read up to episode 10! Let me tell you, it's totally worth it!
A fun mixing of magic and technology, GHOSTS is one of the more interesting episodes of this season of BooReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
A fun mixing of magic and technology, GHOSTS is one of the more interesting episodes of this season of Bookburners yet.
There's a lot packed into this episode, and I enjoyed the way that doors were opened for further future discoveries about the team members' pasts, especially Liam's. Though this episode seemed to reference some events of the previous season, I wasn't ever lost or confused, I was always able to keep track of what was going on.
The mixing of the magical and the technological is something that was very interesting, and I'd love to see more of that in future episodes. The magic in the Bookburners world is fascinating, and I enjoy it's evolution and learning about it as the team learns about it.
If any complaints, this episode was, to me, not as witty as previous episodes, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of it.
All in all, this was, as always, an enjoyable jaunt through the Bookburners universe.
Most novels don’t begin with the heroine dying in a secluded, high security hospital. Things get both bettReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
Most novels don’t begin with the heroine dying in a secluded, high security hospital. Things get both better and worse for Alena, who has caught a super contagious wasting disease that kills every person who catches it. The only way to survive it is to be turned into a supernatural creature - any supernatural creature. This clashes with her religious upbringing, but when push comes to shove, she decides she wants to live, even if it means a new form and banishment. She is sent past the Northern Wall, a physical wall that has been built to keep the supernatural creatures away from the general populace of the United States.
VENOM & VANILLA was not quite what I was expecting: I thought it would focus more on the baking and on Alena learning to fit in north of the wall. Unfortunately for her, it’s less of a country or town, and more of a ghetto where supernaturals are dumped, encouraged to stick to their own kind and policed by a clearly corrupt police force. There are abandoned buildings, gangs, and not much else, which made me wonder where the hell all the Canadians went. It’s not clear exactly where the wall sits, but even my vague geographical knowledge had me wondering about the feasibility of building a wall along any portion of the upper United States. There are quite a few people north of there.
Alena was nearly infuriating at first, but luckily redeemed herself by the end of the book. She starts off meek and shy, refusing to swear and calling supernatural creatures Super Dupers. Her husband walks all over her, spending her money and not appreciating her. After her turn, when she has lost all human rights, she still considers herself married, even though no court will recognize her as alive or worth their time. She is super passive for the first portion of the book and she drove me crazy.
After a few good blows to her status quo, though, she finally comes into herself and starts to kick ass. She’s been set up, but the people who decided that she was the perfect pawn didn’t count on the effect of a lifetime of abuse on a girl’s mood. Especially when she can become a spectacular new kind of monster no one has seen since the glory days of greek heroes. Especially one armed with poisonous fangs and a steel rolling pin. And Alena knows how to wield a rolling pin with fatal accuracy.
The one thing that bugged me was the lack of infrastructure in the world of VENOM & VANILLA. The wall is supposed to be a big, impassable way to stop a plague, but people hop over and through it like it’s a cheese cloth with a few holes cut into it. I was expecting the world to be strictly divided, but Alena visits her parents and hops back over the wall a few times in the book. The police force are incompetent and don’t seem to care that supernaturals carrying a potentially lethal plague are getting back into the general human population. Shouldn’t they be a bit more stressed out?
Despite the logistical issues, VENOM & VANILLA was fun. Alena realistically morphed from weeping mouse to war general, and a potentially hot romance was teased at. There are interesting social questions brought up that could have serious implications in later books, and if Alena can try to get settled into her new world, I’ll be picking up the next book....more
ROSEBLOOD is, for lack of a better word, a bit weird. Billed as a young adult retelling of The Phantom ofReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
ROSEBLOOD is, for lack of a better word, a bit weird. Billed as a young adult retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, it reads more like a sequel to its inspiration, rather than a retelling. Dark and mysterious, ROSEBLOOD has a lot going for it, but it just didn't live up to what I felt it could have been.
One thing that is important to me when I read is the cast of characters of the book. Unfortunately, the characters of ROSEBLOOD never felt more than one-dimensional, and all could easily fit into a nice little box - none were very complex, save one adult who mostly just went from heartbroken to scary.
The magic in ROSEBLOOD felt almost like an afterthought, like halfway through the book the author decided they needed a reason for something and added it in. What I felt was "the big reveal" was casually remarked upon and then not explored much further.
As the original phantom is a character in ROSEBLOOD, but the main characters are two teenagers, like I mentioned, it reads more like a continuation of the original Phantom of the Opera story, which could have been quite cool, but ended up failing in a few major ways. The ideas were creative, and the story well written, but the characters fell flat and the mythology just wasn't developed enough. If you liked the original Phantom of the Opera, you might like ROSEBLOOD out of curiosity, but I wouldn't recommend it for everybody.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to prostitution, child prostitution, oblique references to sex ...more
There are so many fun surprises in LEGAL WOLF’S MATE that I was grinning the whole time I was reading it.Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
There are so many fun surprises in LEGAL WOLF’S MATE that I was grinning the whole time I was reading it. The characters are fun, the mystery is just weird enough to be interesting, and the romance is smoking hot.
In a world where only men can be werewolves, the women who they love need to be strong. Gavin isn’t sure that Megan is strong enough to deal with being a wolf’s mate, but as soon as he sees her sitting in his waiting room, he knows he has to have her. She admits that she feels the same electric attraction to him, but since she’s the one being framed for murder, she really thinks they should stick to business… At least until the trial is over.
The fated mate motif can be super cheesy, but in a novella, it definitely works. It makes it easy to get rolling and explains how quickly the characters feel a connection. It’s the supernatural equivalent of getting back together with “the one that got away”.
As Gavin and Megan dodge murder attempts and fall into bed together, the plot gets thicker. Her apartment gets broken into and vandalized, another man turns up dead, and it turns out Megan may have had the strength needed to kill a man in the first place.
The surprises are too fun to spoil, but they were well set up enough that I never felt like it was completely sprung on me. As I was still digesting the twists, little things I had read came back to me, now clear. The writing is tight and there were almost no lulls in the story. It’s easy to get into and satisfying to read.
LEGAL WOLF’S MATE is a nearly perfect novella, with just enough world-building to give a taste of the bigger world without being frustrating....more
This is the the first in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series. It's a sexy story about a ValkyrAll Things Urban Fantasy
The Warlord Wants Forever
This is the the first in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series. It's a sexy story about a Valkyrie and vampire warlord. I enjoyed the quick pace though I was confused at the time period things were taking place for awhile which was really confusing when they started using modern technology and I was still in medieval mode. Aside from that the story was pretty fun and filled with tension, violence, and passion. There is a point in the story where Wroth has complete control of Myst. This bordered close to rape territory with the lack of actual consent on Myst's part but luckily it just touches the line with some lustful actions and desires.
Forsaken by Night
This was my favorite story in this series. It's a short novella from Larissa Ione's Moonbound Clan Vampires series and a series I will be putting on my TBR pile after reading this story. The world building was fascinating and it was in interesting take on vampires mixed with Native American lore. I really liked the way this romance happened as it wasn't really an insta-love trope but the way the characters met was pretty cool and unique.
A novella in the Otherworld Assassins series, this was another fascinating story with a very complex world building. So complex that I had a bit of trouble keeping all of the alien races, their powers, and various other concepts straight. Even though it was a bit of a task trying to keep things straight I did enjoy it and loved the powers of the three sisters we are introduced to in the beginning of the story. Basically they have been held captive and experimented on because of their abilities. We flash forward a few years and meet Dallas, a character readers of the main series are familiar with. I enjoyed Dallas and Leilia's romance and their telepathic connection as it also meant they felt what the other was feeling which led to some tense and even sexy moments....more
I fell in love with Jemm, the main characters, from the first few pages of the book. She’s strong, she’s worried about her family and she wants a better life for them. She wants to follow her dreams, but the same sport that is putting food on their table is the one their mother claims killed her father. Oh, and girls aren’t allowed to play bahja, a kind of sensory-deprived fencing/martial art/yoga. Oops.
The story of the girl dressed as a boy, updated, in space! I also appreciated that unlike many of these stories, the other main character, Klark, catches on early in the book, making it their secret to protect rather than her versus him. It was a pleasant change of pace and really helped raise the stakes: he was not another victim of her deceit, he was her co-conspirator. He wasn’t just training a hot new talent, he was training a woman he was learning to love.
One of the best things about this book was the way the three planets the action took place on we're so different. The cramped, dirty, dome-covered planet of Barésh felt claustrophobic and dangerous. We could understand why Jemm would do anything to escape it. There are dirty children everywhere, crime and corruption are constant, and the poor die of things the rich get cured in an instant. Still, Klark’s world is no less dangerous, if more comfortable; every move is being watched and calculated, women have less power than on Barésh, and your mistakes are not only your own, they shame your whole family. The tropical planet where Jemm and Klark train was lush and felt like a perfect hideaway, one they knew was only a reprieve from the real world of competition and backstabbing.
THE CHAMPION OF BARÉSH is related to other books in the previous series, but is isolated enough that you don’t need to have read them. Even without knowing the full story, I knew that Earth was a new player, that the in-fighting of the noble families was serious business and that the universe can be a harsh, unfair world.
The romance between the two characters evolves slowly, at first confusingly because he thinks she’s a boy, then hesitantly because he’s the team’s owner and he trains them as well. They almost tumble into it, and as a reader you’re just cheering for them to just get it sorted!
Susan Grant’s books always make me happy when I read them. The worldbuilding is top notch, the characters feel alive and real, and I always end up thinking about them for days after I finish them. I have re-read MOONSTRUCK and CONTACT so many times, I nearly know them by heart, and I still enjoy them fully every time. I’m adding THE CHAMPION OF BARÉSH to my short list of science-fiction romance favourites!...more
A Wolf Unleashed keeps the action high and the romance steamy for the duration of the book. With dog-fightReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
A Wolf Unleashed keeps the action high and the romance steamy for the duration of the book. With dog-fighting rings, a hot new drug that’s killing people at an alarming rate and a spat of college girls going missing, there’s a lot for the Dallas SWAT team to be involved with, even if their supervisors would rather they just break doors down on command. Too bad these shifters can smell trouble coming a mile away.
I love that these books start with what got the team member go fuzzy. The last book dealt with Cooper’s brush with an IED in Afghanistan, and this one starts with the time Alex answered a call about some fireworks and had the worst night of his life. Not only did he nearly die, but he didn’t save the people he was supposed to save. These introductions really bring home the hero’s character and past struggles, but also act as attention grabbing intros that just work.
Lacey, the heroine, is a vet, and as Alex and the SWAT team work on breaking up a drug and dog-fighting ring, their paths cross. I appreciated all the little nods to Alex’s canine nature, as well as his effect on the dogs around him. I also adored how Alex tried to get closer to her, pretending his dog needs extra food, or toys, or treats, anything to get him into the vet’s clinic so he can say hi. When he does finally get her to agree to go out with him, he does adorable things to make their time special. Alex is a lot more quiet than many Alpha heroes we see in paranormal romance books, but he can definitely kick ass when needed.
There are a lot of different level of comfort the SWAT team has with their wolves. Some of the guys have always been able to shift into wolves, and others can only achieve a partial shift, with fangs and elongated nails. Alex has never been able to shift the whole way until Lacey gets taken and he needs his nose to track her. The desperation Alex feels when he’s trying to push his body to do something he’s never done before and doesn’t even know if he can do was chilling.
There is a definite feeling of sh*t about to hit the fan in Dallas soon: there are beta werewolf families moving into the city because they heard there was a pack of strong Alphas and they might protect them from the werewolf hunters. The team has started to put together a map of suspicious violent deaths in the last year, and all the signs point to the hunters not only ramping up the murders, but heading their way. The team had previously been convinced that the hunters were a problem mostly in Europe, and they aren’t sure what they’ll do if they go to war. They are police officers after all.
That brings us to the other issue the SWAT team is facing: cameras, their superiors, and the number of people who are starting to realise there is something seriously weird going on with the Dallas SWAT. When I read the first few books of the series, I thought that the greatest suspension of disbelief wasn’t the werewolves, it was the fact that they hadn’t been discovered yet. With video cameras and police investigations, it’s only a matter of time before they’re spotted. That aspect comes into play in a big way in this book, and it’s about time. They also hinted at the fact that multiple people in the police department/justice system are covering up for them without necessarily knowing what they are. Some people know there is something weird, but the good that the SWAT team are doing outweighs the strangeness. It’s getting a bit ridiculous to believe that people who are paid to notice things (medical examiners, detectives, reporters) are all secretly in on it.
There are lots of questions that need to be answered in this series, but I wasn’t left with a cliffhanger feeling. Alex and Lacey’s story is resolved, and I’ve just been left hungry for more. This series continues to grab me....more
THE GRACES pulled me in with its intriguing description and lovely cover, but ultimately didn't deliver. TReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE GRACES pulled me in with its intriguing description and lovely cover, but ultimately didn't deliver. Though the writing was lovely, the plot wasn't as good as it could have been and the ending was, to me, a complete let down.
One thing THE GRACES has going for it was that it was a compelling read. I had a hard time putting the book down. Unfortunately, the ending didn't live up to the rest of the book. The last quarter or so was frustrating and a little confusing. Part of this is due to the fact that River is an unreliable narrator, in that she clearly isn't always telling the truth, or the whole truth. Sometimes that works, and sometimes that doesn't. In this case, I don't feel it worked very well.
Though compelling, for a large portion of the book, I didn't feel like lots happened. It flowed well, and was easy to read quickly, but the events of the book didn't inspire many feelings in me. Mostly, I just wanted to know what was going on. I was mainly curious to find out what the ending was, because I wanted to know how the author was going to tie everything up. Part of the reason is that I never felt like I was fully immersed in the world, more like I was watching everything going from afar. I think this was because River was never completely divulging all the information the reader would need to make sense of some things, always leaving the reader wanting.
Though THE GRACES might work for another reader, for me I just felt "meh" after I finished it. I was disappointed by the ending and I don't think I would pick up the next book in this series.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex ...more
ONCE A GYPSY was an interesting paranormal romance read that suffered from a little too much going on. TheReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
ONCE A GYPSY was an interesting paranormal romance read that suffered from a little too much going on. The setting and characters were fun, and the writing was good, but there were just a few too many bad guys.
I really liked Helena, the heroine of ONCE A GYPSY. She had a strong backbone and was willing to stand up for what she felt was right. Unfortunately, her opinion of right was sometimes colored by her family and their traditions. I loved watching her relationship develop with Graham, and even though he was kind of a jerk at the beginning of the book, I came to really like his character. He was just trying to do what was best for his family as well.
One complaint I have is that the portrayal of the Travellers made the culture feel a little flat. There was a lot of focus on the family, and Helena was frequently justifying actions by saying she was doing it for her family. It seemed there could have been other aspects of the culture that could have been pulled in. Of course, I don't have experience with this culture so I can't say for certain how accurately it was portrayed.
My other complaint was the pure amount of villains in this book. It seemed whenever Helena and Graham turned a corner there was a new bad guy to contend with - Helena's mom, Graham's step-dad, the mysterious possible murderer, evil spirits, and the list goes on. It seemed like overkill. Any one of those people or things could have been a good impediment to the relationship between Helena and Graham, but we had all of them, at once!
The first book in the Irish Traveller series, ONCE A GYPSY held my attention with the sweet romance at the core, but ultimately had too many distracting elements. I am curious to see where the series goes, and I will definitely pick up book two, because I enjoyed the characterization and am hoping the next book is a little more focused.