One of the most common tropes in romantic literature and even romantic comedies is the couple who at firstReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
One of the most common tropes in romantic literature and even romantic comedies is the couple who at first absolutely hate each other and eventually fall in love after some trials and tribulations or hilarious hijinks. EVERNIGHT takes this type of relationship and starts right out the gate with Thorne seriously threatening to kill Holly. I was kind of surprised to see the death threats starting out so soon in the story so I was quite interested to see just how these two would go from wanting to commit homicide to love. The fact that this emotional transition makes sense and works within the plot is a testament to the superb writing as well as the fact that this very complex plot was so easy follow with out too much confusion. While it is okay to start the series with EVERNIGHT I’d recommend starting at the beginning of the series to get a better understanding of the main story arc.
In EVERNIGHT, both Holly and Thorne grow and evolve as people especially given the dire circumstances of the plot involving mysterious would be kidnappers and death threats. Thorne who in my opinion had the longest road to take in regards to a personality shift, came off as a self-centered jerk in the beginning. By the end he sort of grew on me especially as he slowly became more protective of Holly and all together an endearing character as I began to understand him better. Holly is a pretty tough character in regards to her magical abilities and intelligence which I admired as she didn’t need to be physically strong to hold her own in this magical world. I enjoyed the fact that she had the ability to stop Thorne from attacking her with a mere touch. Their growing romance is also helped by the fact that they have to stay close at all times which increases the sexual tension quite a bit. This situation leads to some very amusing situations and memorable sexual innuendos.
EVERNIGHT is the Darkest London series at its best with heightened suspense and danger lurking behind every corner and at its core is an emotional journey of reconciliation and a burgeoning romance between Thorne and Holly. I loved wrapping myself up in this phenomenal world and look forward to what comes next in this series....more
Lauren Oliver is one of the elite when it comes to YA fiction. She writes with a painful honesty that imbuReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Lauren Oliver is one of the elite when it comes to YA fiction. She writes with a painful honesty that imbues her characters with a life that lingers long after the last page. In her newest YA, PANIC, she steps away from the high concepts that distinguished BEFORE I FALL and the Delirium trilogy for a straightforward contemporary YA that unfortunately doesn’t come close to resonating emotionally the way her previous books have. The storyline is rather weak in PANIC. Kids compete in various panic inducing challenges in order to win money. It’s all very secret and dangerous, but the problem is that it’s really not handled well. There are tons on unexplained questions (like how does the prize money get secretly collected? If no one knows who is running Panic, than who continues it each year?). But mostly, the challenges are lame and unimaginative, and they feel like background stuff for the rather uninspiring characters. Poor, abused and/or neglected, it was all sad and pitiful but neither Heather nor Dodge (the two protagonists) made me really care about them in an active way. The romantic interests were even less interesting. All in all, PANIC doesn’t feel anything like a Lauren Oliver book. It’s not panic inducing on almost any level, it’s just rather dull and ultimately forgettable....more
TYGER TYGER is a dark faerie tale, and I mean that in the best possible sense. The scary creatures that useReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
TYGER TYGER is a dark faerie tale, and I mean that in the best possible sense. The scary creatures that used to frighten and terrorize children in the old original faerie tales skulk through the pages of TYGER TYGER in truly chilling let-me-pop-your-eyeballs-and-slurp-the-juices kind of ways.
All manner of creatures from Irish folklore pop up in this story including pixies that brandish needle sized swords for decapitating their enemies, goblins who steal children for eternity, and cat sidhes who crush babies just to hear them scream. They are dark, depraved, and mesmerizing.
The human (or nearly human) characters are less gruesome but no less entertaining. Teagan’s best friend and Mob princess Abby, her adorably precocious little brother Aiden (who shares my loathing of Elvis impersonators), her grizzled and cryptic sage of a grandmother, and the cursed but captivating Finn.
Finn, or course, would be the romantic lead and I loved him from his very first scene. He has a chivalrous and noble streak that balanced out his more reckless independent tendencies. And he has some of the best make-you-swoon lines that I’ve read in a long time.
Reminiscent of C. S. Lewis’s wonderful Chronicles of Narnia books, TYGER TYGER is a twisted tale of goblins and magic filled with honorable yet flawed characters, and a lovely dash of true romance that readers of all ages can enjoy. Sign me up for the next Goblin War book. ...more
There is always a challenge when it comes to characters who suffer from amnesia. It can feel like the readeReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There is always a challenge when it comes to characters who suffer from amnesia. It can feel like the reader is just as confused as they are. In CONJURED, Sarah Beth Durst handles this conundrum better than most by creating a hazy but still intriguing reality for her short-term memory challenged protagonist with surprising bursts of information well paced throughout the book. Oh and the literally magical kisses didn’t hurt.
If you aren’t already a fan of Sarah Beth Durst (and you should be) she’s deft at handling both irreverent humor and tender drama, the later of which shines in CONJURED. Eve is so lost in the beginning, literally, she will suddenly become aware in the middle of breakfast and have no idea how much time she’s lost, who she can trust, and what parts of her life are real. It’s fascinating in a teen Momento kind of way.
On the downside, the depth of plot and character that seemed necessary for this kind of story never really manifested fully. Neither Eve, Zach, Adrian, Marcus, or Lou felt as rich or as real as they should have (Aunt Nikki was the one character who did have real depth). The concept–once it was fully explained–fell short in taking advantage of how cool it really was–and it was very cool. I wanted more information about the intricacies of the Witness Protection Program (WPP) and how the paranormal branch functioned, because it’s such a fascinating premise. Likewise, as sweet and adorable as Zach was, I wanted a little more authentic reaction from him when he learned about Eve. He was way too easy going and accepting. And I wanted the romance that developed to be more swoon-worthy than it ended up being.
Still love Sarah Beth Durst. Still wildly intrigued by the premise and ultimate resolution of CONJURED. Still applauding the way Eve’s amnesia was handled in such a way that readers can experience her confusion without having to be frustrated by uncertainty within the story itself. Wish it was the start of a series about the paranormal WPP. Wish all the characters were as three-dimensional as they should have been. Wish the overall story had been as robust as it could have been and almost was. Wish more books had truly magical kisses.
The final book in Sarah Crossan’s Breathe duology ends with more than a few gasps and even more POVs. QuinnReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The final book in Sarah Crossan’s Breathe duology ends with more than a few gasps and even more POVs. Quinn, Bea, and Alina are once again the protagonists, and joining them is Ronan. The multiple POVs worked in BREATHE since the group was together for most of the book, but in RESIST, not so much. One storyline was inevitably much more interesting than the others (Ronan’s was particularly dull), and it was at times rather jarring and frustrating to get thrown from one to the other just when things were starting to pick up.
And while I felt like I got to know the trio in BREATHE, the opposite couldn’t be more true in RESIST. I actually forgot who was who (and there really aren’t many reminders) and what their relationships were. It made it challenging to care about any of them. On the plus side, the anemic romance that I complained about in BREATHE is fortunately even less of a factor in RESIST. The couples are separated from each other for most of the book and far too concerned with securing air, rescuing friends, and preventing a truly despicable plan from being carried out.
Apart from the thin characters and multiple POVs, RESIST does have several shocking twists that dystopian fans will–in a good way–rage over. There are numerous gasp inducing injustices and corrupt authority figures that you’ll love to hate. I had no trouble keeping the pages turning as the horrific picture came together and the nefarious plans of the villains was finally exposed (although I could have done without the gynecological exam scene). It’s not as thrilling as the debut, but taken as a whole, the Breathe duology offers a worthwhile story for dystopian fans.
When I hear about husband and wife writing duos I automatically expect an authentic, emotional romance. InReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
When I hear about husband and wife writing duos I automatically expect an authentic, emotional romance. In FROZEN, the first book in the new Heart of Dread paranormal/post-apocalyptic YA series from Melissa de la Cruz and husband Michael Johnston, the romance is just one of the many things that failed to live up to my expectations.
What’s a really bad way to start a book? How about five chapters of nearly solid info dumps. The unfortunate part is that all these concepts including Marked children with special abilities, the harsh world that has been created by the frosty future, and the mythological Blue that offers the only warm escape are really fun ideas. In a better book, they could have been fantastic.
Then there’s Nat and Wes. Think about your favorite YA book couple; maybe it was the romantic or exciting way they met, the thrilling awareness and interest that grew, the tension leading up to that toe curling first kiss. You won’t find any of that in FROZEN. Everything about them was dull and underwhelming, the angsty Nat more so than adventure seeking Wes. It didn’t help that the dialog was wooden and generic throughout.
Having not read de la Cruz’s Blue Blood series, I can’t say whether or not the shortcomings in FROZEN are atypical of her writing or not. I will say that the potential of this magical, post apocalyptic adventure fell apart pretty quickly and never fully recovered.
“Enchanted By Blood” by Laurie London (Sweetblood #2.5)
After being a little disappointed with the last SweReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
“Enchanted By Blood” by Laurie London (Sweetblood #2.5)
After being a little disappointed with the last Sweetblood novella story I read, I was really hoping for a novella that captured the same super sexy and dangerous feel of the full length novels. And that’s what I got. The story here manages to incorporate the depth of a long term relationship while still letting readers experience the thrill of a new couple meeting for the first time. Even though vampire Trance and human Charlotte had relationship prior to the start of this story, Charlotte doesn’t remember it because of a mind wipe. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. Trance already loves and cherishes Char when they ‘first’ meet, but he has to win Char without ever revealing that. So, yes to the super sexy dangerous plot (courtesy of some nasty psycho vamps), but also yes to the tender love story too.
Sexual Content: A couple graphic sex scenes Rating: 4/5
"Monsters Don't Do Christmas" by Michelle Hauf
This story is the most Christmas-y of the anthology. It’s a very unusual story, but that’s part of why I ended up liking it. Human Olivia rescues vampire Daniel from an attack by werewolves (she things it’s muggers), but when she learns what he is, she asks for a kiss as a reward. What follows is a romance that never goes the way you would expect, but ends up exactly where you want. They each see themselves as monsters for different reasons and together find their souls again. I think it might have worked better as a full length novel, but even at this length, the result is oddly beautiful.
Sexual Content: A couple graphic sex scenes Rating: 3/5
“When Herald Angels Sing” by Caridad Piñeiro
By far my least favorite story in the anthology. Plot holes, thin story, unlikeable and foolish characters are just a few of the problems I had in this story about a vampire forced to revisit the high and low points of his life by the woman he loves who is secretly an angel. She dies and is reborn several times throughout the course of his life, yet he is shocked to discover she isn’t human…she meanwhile is basically raped by him in a public bar and then tossed to the ground when he’s done and yet she feels bad for him when he has to relive the experience! I was completely done with caring about either of them at that point, but struggled through the rest of the story which amounted to one long repetitive sex scene after another. Seriously awful.
Sexual Content: Several long, graphic sex scenes including one that could be perceived as rape Rating: 1/5
“All I Want for Christmas” by Alexis Morgan
This was the most charming story in the anthology, it really could end up being a Hallmark Christmas movie. The story is about a diner owner who is selflessly devoted to her quirky regulars and is quick to welcome a reticent new loner who shows up just before the holidays. Several cute scenes follow including the pair hanging lights together and getting caught under the mistletoe. But romance is never easy for the loner who has to hide the fact that he’s a vampire cop sent to spy on the busboy who may be involved in blood selling. The dialogue had a tendency to drift into saccharine territory, especially the too schmaltzy ending, but overall it was a sweet and heartwarming story.
Sexual Content: A graphic sex scene Rating: 3/5 ...more
Full disclosure: I am not a comic/graphic novel fan. I read Archie comics as a kid and made a failed attempReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Full disclosure: I am not a comic/graphic novel fan. I read Archie comics as a kid and made a failed attempt at reading Watchmen at the urging of a friend who swore I become a convert after trying it (I didn’t). I even bought a bunch on the Buffy season 8 and Angel After the Fall comics (which sat mostly unread on my shelves until I passed them on to more appreciative hands). What I am a fan of is Mercy Thompson, so I knew eventually I’d be picking up a copy of the Mercy graphic novel prequel HOMECOMING.
Up front I’ll say that HOMECOMING hasn’t changed my opinion on graphic novels as a whole, but knowing that from the outset, I did enjoy HOMECOMING for a number of reasons. It’s really, really pretty. There were several artists working collaboratively and some of their different styles are apparent from scene to scene (for example, Mercy has crazy buff thighs in one panel, and then a more balanced physique in the next), I found myself staring at the pages long after I’d ‘read them.’
The best part of HOMECOMING was getting to ‘see’ the characters and locations. Zee and Stefan are two of my particular favorites from the series and they each got quite a lot of face time, although Stefan looks nothing like how I imagined him.
The thing I missed the most in HOMECOMING was the same shortcoming I find in all graphic novels: the almost non existent dialogue and internal character thoughts. It’s all about the action scenes, which are very cool to see, but I expect more from a Mercy story than action.
There aren’t any real surprises here and the storyline is nothing special, but if you’re a Mercy fan, you’ll want to check out HOMECOMING to see everyone in action and get a little inside scoop on Mercy’s first few days in TriCity (slinging fries at Burger King, buying her trailer, and how she ended up with Medea the cat).
BOUND BY NIGHT never met a romance cliché it didn’t like. If you can think of one, I guarantee you it’s inReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
BOUND BY NIGHT never met a romance cliché it didn’t like. If you can think of one, I guarantee you it’s in this book. And yet, I still enjoyed it.
The plot in BOUND BY NIGHT is jammed packed. It begins as a classic romance with a young girl fleeing her home and accepting an offer from a mysterious man. They share a Beauty and the Beast type courtship, fall in love, and the book almost could have ended there. Instead, the story shifts to focus on the repercussions of their vampire human relationship that defies vampire law. What began as basically a two character romance grows to include a huge cast of vampires, council members, drones, and human sheep (humans enslaved for feeding). The many storylines include arranged marriages, escaped prisoners, murder mysteries, political revolutions, and treason. It should have been too much, but again, I enjoyed it.
While I was won over by the romance tropes and increased scope of the story, there were some aspects of BOUND BY NIGHT that failed to charm me. The book is set in modern day, but it feels much more like it was written as a historical and then the author went back and added a few references to iPods and jeans as an after thought. The dialogue, characterizations, behaviors, and locations are all what you would expect to see in historical novel, especially Elena. She’s about as modern as blood letting.
I don’t normally talk about cover art in my reviews, but it bears mentioning that Elena in the book has black hair (something that is repeatedly mentioned) and yet is portrayed as a redhead on the cover. Potentially more problematic is the fact that the same models are used on the cover of the next book despite the fact that the story is about a different couple. It just seems to me that these are details that the publisher shouldn’t have missed.
Overall, BOUND BY BLOOD doesn’t aim to break any paranormal romance rules, instead it embraces them and, as a result, gets away with using such a familiar formula. The next book in the Bound series is called BOUND BY BLOOD and will be published on September 27, 2011 and will feature one of the characters from BOUND BY NIGHT. I won’t tell you which one so I don’t spoil anything, but I expect more romance clichés, multiple storylines, and a few fun hours spent wondering why it all works.
Sexual Content: Several brief, non graphic sex scenes. References to rape and incest. Multiple attempted rapes....more
Are you ready for another dystopian novel? You should be. ASHES, ASHES by Jo Treggiari destroys the world aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Are you ready for another dystopian novel? You should be. ASHES, ASHES by Jo Treggiari destroys the world and throws a sixteen year old girl into the ruins. My favorite thing about ASHES, ASHES was the evolution of the character of Lucy. In most dystopian novels, the characters have grown up in their dystopian world. They don’t know anything else. Not Lucy. She grew up much like teenagers today. She went to high school, worried about boys and bullies, had a normal family. Until a series of environmental catastrophes brought civilization to it’s knees. And before humanity could even begin to rebuild, a plague swept across the planet instantly killing 99% of the population.
Lucy didn’t grow up knowing how to survive in an urban wilderness. But she learned. After everyone she knew succumbed to the plague, she left behind a corpse filled neighborhood for an unrecognizable New York City, and she hung on to life by sheer stubbornness. When ASHES, ASHES begins, Lucy has survived for a year on her own with little more than her father’s pocket knife and an old survivor’s guide from a ransacked bookstore. She becomes like an urban Robinson Crusoe. Alone with only her thoughts and memories until she meets Aidan.
Those who survived the plague have banded together into one of three groups. The Scavengers, like Aiden, take what they can and make what they can’t to survive. The S’ans are the pitiful leper-like people who somehow survived the plague that ruined their bodies. And then there are the Sweepers. They patrol the streets abducting survivors and raiding Scavenger camps and stealing a few people each time for reasons unknown. Lucy has chosen to live on her own, but when the Sweepers seem to target her specifically, she has no choice but to join with Aidan.
The first in a planned series, ASHES, ASHES deserves a spot on your dystopian shelf. It’s not as grand as some of it’s predecessors, but the portrayal of this ruined New York is vivid and haunting, and Lucy’s story of survival is both pitiful and inspiring. I enjoyed every page.
Once again set in the city of Chicago, author Chloe Neill starts a YA series about a group of magical teenaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Once again set in the city of Chicago, author Chloe Neill starts a YA series about a group of magical teenagers who secretly battle the forces of evil. Great dialogue, an intriguing mystery, and likable characters make up for a few shortcomings.
The first half of FIRESPELL was a little slow for me. Too many hints dropped about the school, the students, Lily’s parents etc. over and over again with very little provided in the way of answers. Once Lily does learn the truth—most of it—things picked up noticeably.
The dialogue was sharp, smart, and rapid-fire quick from start to finish. Another high was the private girls school of St. Sophia’s that was very reminiscent of the school Rory went to on Gilmore Girls, Chilton, even with the same snooty girls and crazy hard academics.
The romance, what little there was, felt tacked on. Lily spoke only a handful of sentences to Jason, and knew even less about his personality before they both started acting like a couple. The book might have been better off if the entire romantic subplot had been pushed to the next book
HEXBOUND, the second book in the Dark Elite series, is available now and I’ve been drawn in enough by the mysteries surrounding Lily (and the snarky fun exchanges between her and Scout) that I’ve already got it on my shelf.
Pure fun. That’s what Jess gave us with HUNTED BY THE OTHERS and that’s what she delivers in the follow up,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Pure fun. That’s what Jess gave us with HUNTED BY THE OTHERS and that’s what she delivers in the follow up, TAKEN BY THE OTHERS. Well, that and nonstop action, some of the best romantic tension in urban fantasy, and a heroine who just gets better with every book.
Royce and Shia have a pitch perfect urban fantasy relationship. He wants her for semi nefarious purposes (and he just plain wants her). She is rightly terrified of him half of the time and terrified of herself the other half. Whenever these two get near each other (not often enough for Royce’s taste & way too often for Shia’s), sparks fly and it’s anyone’s guess if Royce is plotting to bite Shia or bed her. Can you say romantic tension?
Shia & Co are my favorite character ensemble in urban fantasy right now. The dialogue always crackles with wit and biting sarcasm, dry humor, or sly innuendo with near perfect timing depending on the character. And Shia doesn’t just play the straight character who everyone else gets to be funny around, she holds her own cut-the-crap attitude and can’t help but mouth off when she’s really scared.
The only thing keeping me from giving this another 5/5 bat review is that I thought there was a little too much driving around while planning/revising the next move. But that’s pretty minor. Overall, it doesn’t get much better for pure urban fantasy than Jess Haines. DECIEVED BY THE OTHERS with be published on July 5, 2011. Take my advice and pre-order it now. If you’re still on the fence, check out this pee-your-pants-laughing comic strip of how Shia met Royce.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex....more
GRAVEMINDER is the adult debut for YA Paranormal queen Melissa Marr, a very slow building gothic/horror mysReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
GRAVEMINDER is the adult debut for YA Paranormal queen Melissa Marr, a very slow building gothic/horror mystery, almost like the movie The Village. There is a small, quaint town populated with mysterious characters most of whom seem to be in on a Big Secret: the dead don’t always stay dead. A legacy, passed down from generation to generation, binds two families to the town in order to magically protect the rest.
The main idea in GRAVEMINDER is fantastic with a big nod to the Hades and Persephone myth. But Marr takes it a step further and creates her own very unique folklore by imagining two complimentary roles: The Graveminder and the Undertaker. Both mythologies work well and really serve to inject the story with a fresh yet seemingly historical context. It was easily my favorite thing about the book.
I did get impatient with the pace and the fact that Rebekkah and Bryan had only one conversation that they just repeated throughout the book (Him: Admit you love me! Her: I can’t, I’m still hung up on my sisters/your ex girlfriend’s death). It made their relationship feel very stale to me. We learn throughout the story exactly what brought them together and then drove them apart, but unfortunately, it felt more like an obligatory romantic obstacle rather that a real emotional feat that I could invest in, and given their situation, it could have been.
Another miss for me was the ‘shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D.’ It was kinda cheesy and felt almost like a different story. There was all this build up about the mystery and the town curse that when that part of it was revealed, I was disappointed. It didn’t have the same gothic horror vibe as the rest of the story and I couldn’t wait to get back to Claysville. Fortunately, that’s what happened and the story finished strong.
Overall, GRAVEMINDER is a big departure for Melissa Marr that is mostly successful. The gothic mystery along with Marr’s easy writing style hooked me and pulled me into to this cursed town, but the romance was repetitive and the reveal was a bit of a let down. Marr fans will want to check it out as well as anyone who enjoys small town mysteries with a supernatural twist. So what’s next for this world? GRAVEMINDER has already been optioned for a television show by Ken Olin (Alias and Brothers & Sisters), and Melissa has confirmed that she’s working on a sequel.
Sexual Content: Vague references to rape. A scene of sensuality....more