SHARP TEETH is one of the best books of poetry I have ever read and one of the most enchanting books aboutReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
SHARP TEETH is one of the best books of poetry I have ever read and one of the most enchanting books about werewolves ever. It is a story about dogs and homeless people. It’s about living on the beach in LA. It’s about picking up strays, both the canine and the human kind. SHARP TEETH is also a mystery about drugs and control, with meth labs and police officers and chases.
Because it is a poem, the sex is not romance novel sex and the gore is not horror novel gore. In a poem you can describe dogs sleeping in a pile, chasing after something in their dreams and it can be beautiful. You can explain hunger using more colourful language than a restaurant review. You can write about cute moments where someone does dishes and is hugged from behind, without it seeming dumb.
It’s still partially prose, but it reads more like song lyrics than a regular book. The story tumbles and trips, pulling you along as you discover rival gangs of werewolves, living in a world both magical and terrible, where life can end with the snap of sharp teeth. This is a beautiful book for lit and fantasy lovers alike....more
DATING THE UNDEAD introduces a world where vampires are “out” and don’t need blood to survive. It’s also aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
DATING THE UNDEAD introduces a world where vampires are “out” and don’t need blood to survive. It’s also a world where vampires need a website to find dates though, which is a bit strange.
The vampire mythology was interesting: the elder vampires cannot be killed - even decapitation is only temporary! - but the vampires are much more like traditional vamps with weaknesses. Learning about these weaknesses is why Silver, and the London Police Department start spying on vampires using the V-Dates.com website. Silver
Silver and Logan are hot together, and their romance goes through many typical PNR tropes: keeping secrets, trying to stay apart to protect each other, scorching hot sex. But I was also super confused as to why they like each other. Their meeting was pretty random, and apart from the fact that they “can’t stop thinking about each other”, I never felt like they had that much in common.
DATING THE UNDEAD is a book with really sexy love scenes and a few surprises that kept things interesting, but it failed to be either super corny or super dark. It was constantly toeing the line which left it a bit bland. Not bad, but bland....more
SPILL ZONE is creepy. Wonderfully, awesomely creepy. In part because of the creepiness, I think the storylReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
SPILL ZONE is creepy. Wonderfully, awesomely creepy. In part because of the creepiness, I think the storyline of SPILL ZONE is a perfect fit for the graphic novel medium, and the images coupled with the story are delightfully scary and not something you want to read right before bedtime!
With a short description, I really wasn't sure what to expect when I cracked open SPILL ZONE. I hadn't read anything else by Westerfeld before reading SPILL ZONE, though I've heard good things about some of his series. The way the story starts out, you're immediately thrown into the drama and mystery of the Spill Zone and Addison's world.
I love Addison's character. She has this code she operates by, and everything she's doing is just to get by in the world with no parents and a little sister to take care of. And because she's trying to take care of her little sister, she's drawn into something she would normally never do, which has very interesting consequences. I liked her grit and ability to operate relatively calmly in the face of craziness. The side characters she interacts with also manage to be relatively fleshed out even though there's not a lot of page space dedicated to them. But the most interesting aspect of the story is the Spill Zone itself. As a reader, I simultaneously wanted more details and less details, because sometimes it was so creepy it was scary.
Well-plotted and very entertaining, SPILL ZONE was a book I couldn't put down! When I finished, I wished I had the next one immediately, because the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger. I can't wait to see where Westerfeld takes the story next!
This book drew me in from about ten feet away on the shelf. The whole thing is beautiful and feels old inReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
This book drew me in from about ten feet away on the shelf. The whole thing is beautiful and feels old in your hand. The story of Johannes Cabal’s fight with the devil takes place in a demonic fair ground, where he is charged with stealing away 100 people’s souls in a year in order to exchange it for his own (which he carelessly sold to the devil a few years back - he figured a scientist wouldn’t need it!).
The reason he needs his soul back is amazing in itself.
The fair ground staff work for him but are, in the end, loyal to Satan, making for an interesting dynamic between Johannes and the demons. In order to wrangle them, he frees his vampire brother from the crypt where he has been imprisoned for the last decade. Unfortunately for Johannes, it was his fault his brother was turned into a vampire in the first place, so there’s a bit of tension there.
The writing is elegant and can be quite funny at times. This is the type of writing best read slowly, in case you miss anything. There are funny asides to the reader and seemingly nonsensical asides, which recall Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
By the end of the book, Johannes is a truly human character, you feel bad for him and at the same time understand where he is coming from. With the fifth book in the Johannes Cabal series now published, I’m still amazed how each book can be totally different from the last one while keeping up the spirit and delicious writing style. Whether he is a necromancer, a detective or a revolutionary, Johannes Cabal is always entertaining....more
This book is the ultimate blend of science-fiction and romance. It will leave you thinking about the worldReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
This book is the ultimate blend of science-fiction and romance. It will leave you thinking about the world and characters long after you finish the book, wishing you could be back on Trilby's ship for just a few more pages.
When Captain Trilby Elliot saves Rhis from a crash on a wild jungle planet, he tells her he’s a pilot who got lost. He promises his commanders will pay her to get him back to civilisation. She’s wary, but when he offers to help her finish the repairs she was making to her ship as well, she agrees to take him to the nearest space station - she's seriously strapped for credits. It also helps that he’s kind of charming, and good with an electric wrench and computers.
Unfortunately, Rhys isn’t quite who he says he is. He may not even be fully human.
The interactions between Trilby and Rhis are testy at first, but as they work together the tension turns from wary to hot. They’re trapped together, at first on an uninhabited planet and then in Trilby’s small ship, for the first half of the book. They do have a slightly annoying but endearing AI with them as well, but he lacks a physical body. Trilby’s not used to having another person around, especially not one that doesn’t listen to her orders.
The author does a great job of making a small space feel both claustrophobic but complete. Trilby’s ship feels like a character in itself, a recycled, cobbled piece of crap that should have been retired years ago… Or at least, it seems that way from the outside. Trilby and others have done so many illegal repairs and modifications to the ship that it could probably outlast, if not outrun, many modern ships.
By the end of their short trip, they’ve really made a connection; too bad Rhis hijacks her ship and takes them back to a massive space station where everyone listens to him: he’s actually a high ranking military officer. Not only that, he’s known as the coldest, meanest commander in the fleet, who everyone fears and most hate. Rhis appears to be gone, replaced by Khyrhis Tivahr, and Trilby feels betrayed. Too bad for her, he’s not the only one who has used her without a full disclosure.
The plot, which started out relatively simple when they were stranded on the jungle planet, gets more complex, and as new characters and locales get introduced, it’s easy to get a feeling that what Rhis and Trilby have gotten themselves into could easily prevent - or start - and deadly galactic war.
This book has a bit of everything: there are political plots and betrayals to uncover, unethical experiments to unearth, competing military factions and alien computer programs to hack. The science and space combat is strong enough to satisfy the more traditional science-fiction lovers, who may be turned off by the idea of a scifi-romance novel.
This is one of those books I selfishly wish was part of a series. Although all of the plot points are wrapped up, I just want to read more of Trilby and Rhis’ interactions and romance. Although they seem so different at first, when they find shared passions, they are fun and work amazingly well together. I’ve read this book a few times a year since I discovered it, every time enjoying the evolution of the characters and of their relationship as much as I enjoy the discussion of space cannons and space maps. This book is a must read for both romance and science fiction fans....more
If I am the first person to recommend NIMONA to you, drop whatever you’re doing and check out the three fiReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
If I am the first person to recommend NIMONA to you, drop whatever you’re doing and check out the three first chapters, available as an excerpt. If you don’t fall in love with Nimona and Lord Ballister Blackheart, there is possibly something terribly wrong with you - or your sense of humour.
This graphic novel features a strange mix of tech and fantasy I found automatically endearing. Dueling knights and dragons share the pages with supercomputers and scientists, and it works so well that you don’t even blink when these aspects mix. Nimona’s strange powers seem purely magical, but it’s a scientist who comes closest to understanding her - or at least containing her.
Although the book is named after Nimona, the red-headed, hot-headed shapeshifter, the true hero for me was Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain with a strict moral code. He used to be one of the good guys, until he was betrayed and made to be a scapegoat for the secretly sinister Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. It cost him his arm, but it also cost him his best friend. He is truly horrified when Nimona’s antics cause someone’s death during one of their disruptive attacks; this isn’t how he operates, and although he is a villain, it’s not how he “does things”. Nimona, on the other hand, has morals as shifty as her shape.
It has enough action and humour to appeal to younger teens, and becomes emotionally charged enough to appeal to older readers. As Nimona’s mysterious origins and powers start to create more problems for the Institution and for Lord Blackheart, readers become more conflicted about the morality of the various characters. By the end, it’s almost deliciously heart breaking.
For a book with a truly sharp, unique illustration style and characters that will stay with you long after you’ve reread the epilogue, get your hands on NIMONA. I have yet to find someone who didn’t adore it, regardless of age....more
It takes far too long for CITY OF GHOSTS to get started. Plot and character development is pushed to the sReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
It takes far too long for CITY OF GHOSTS to get started. Plot and character development is pushed to the second half of the novel, leaving the first half aimless. The revealed backstories aren’t enough to humanize characters who have spent the entirety of the novel telling us how women are just the worst.
Jackson Stone is looking for ghost stories. He decides to spend a night alone in Hensu, an abandoned, flooded Chinese city. He ditches his tour guide, sets up camp and invites a shoeless, wet, Chinese girl to sit at his fire. It isn’t long before the girl decides that Jackson is the best person to tell her story, whether he wants to or not.
It’s hard to remember that Jackson is in his mid-twenties. He acts like a college bro and has no plan except ‘writing a book = millions’. Jackson is self-described as charismatic, which is surprising because he talks smack about almost everyone. Especially women. Throughout the book, Jackson drops knowledge bombs like: women only talk about cats, women overpack, or that women talk too much. The only two female characters spoken well of are his sister and his love interest, Kate.
Kate is a genuinely interesting character. She drives the plot, knows the answers, and pulls Jackson along. She’s funny, smart, and has a much better handle on ghosts. Are you surprised? Don’t worry, Jackson was too. Good thing she’s super hot, acts just like guy, and also doesn't get along with women. Kate’s backstory is incredibly problematic, veering too close to ‘sometimes people deserve to be bullied’ line of victim-blaming. She also explains a new, uncomfortable element to ghosts: that they will resort to rape and molestation to get attention.
These elements overshadow the plot entirely. It’s hard to focus on a ghost story when characters are only talking about how terrible women are. CITY OF GHOSTS is formed by misogyny. It drives the characters, it drives the plot, it’s validated every step of the way. No one learns from these opinions, if anything these opinions are supported. Setting the book in China keeps the main characters off-balance but it should have provided more tension as they raced through the country, stood out in crowds, and were hampered by language barriers. Instead the setting just highlighted the characters' prejudices. If you want a good ghost story, look elsewhere.
Sexual content: nonconsensual sexual contact, past references to a teenage girl being raped and sodomized, mentions of suicide ...more
THE BURNING PAGE combines the best of THE MASKED CITY and THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY to produce a madcap, worldReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE BURNING PAGE combines the best of THE MASKED CITY and THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY to produce a madcap, world-jumping caper. With the return of Alberich, stakes are high and Irene and Kai have no idea who they can trust, inside or outside the Library. A thrilling read, THE BURNING PAGE should delight any fan of the Invisible Library series.
In THE BURNING PAGE, Irene cements her place as one of my favorite fantasy protagonists. She is competent and smart, and doesn't let her mistakes cause herself to second-guess every decision she makes in the future. She gets the job done but is able to ask for help when she needs it (mostly). She's a remarkably compelling heroine, in my opinion, as though there are some small bits of romantic tension between her and the various men in her life, she doesn't ever let that get between her and her job, which I love. In a genre sometimes littered with unnecessary sex scenes, I enjoy the muted romance in THE BURNING PAGE.
The world expands even further in THE BURNING PAGE, as Irene and Kai go to even more alternate worlds on missions. We're treated to a trip to a world with magic and high-order, and Irene gets to use the Language to get her and Kai out of quite a few sticky situations. If I have one complaint about the book, it's that the Language seems to be a catch-all "get out of jail free" card, sometimes making a situation almost too easy to escape from. Regardless, there still is plenty of danger, and Irene manages to think her way creatively out of all of it (did I mention I loved how competent she is?).
All in all, THE BURNING PAGE manages to answer some questions, but also brings new ones to the front of the reader's mind, and I, for one, am desperately wanting to read the next book, THE LOST PLOT. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a longer wait for this one, so I'll be over here, stewing on the mysteries Cogman introduces.
DARK MOON WOLF was a pretty unique premise from the typical wolf shifter urban fantasy/paranormal romance sReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DARK MOON WOLF was a pretty unique premise from the typical wolf shifter urban fantasy/paranormal romance story. The love interest is not there, and there is already the HEA baby that happens at the end of many of these stories. In fact there is really no romance or person who could eventually become a romantic interest (granted that could still happen later in this series) I enjoyed seeing the way in which Julie is introduced to the shifter world through her baby randomly shifting into a wolf pup. That would be pretty weird to experience-a suprise werewolf in your baby's crib. I found it rather fascinating that the story revolves around loss and discovery instead of Julie finding her place and new love in a shifter town. The discovery part mostly involves a murder mystery which was well done and is full of betrayals, kidnappings, secret agendas, and suspense.
I love seeing a new angle on werewolf mythology and DARK MOON WOLF presents a kind of complex system of wolf powers based on the phases of the moon. The wolves were shockingly welcoming to Julie, a human who randomly shows up with a kid, looking for the father. The baby could have very well be kidnapped by Julie as a part of the same evil plot that was causing werewolves to go missing in this story. They didn't know. Either way, I enjoyed meeting the Greybull pack and learning more about their lives.
DARK MOON WOLF was a fun, unique take on werewolf mythology and an interesting murder mystery with some exciting twists and turns. The ending could make the story work as a one off story but I can see how more books could be added as there is enough story and character development to stretch it out to a series. I am interested to see where this series goes from here.
If you enjoy sexy fluff with characters who make you fall in love with them, THE GEEK JOB is perfect for yReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
If you enjoy sexy fluff with characters who make you fall in love with them, THE GEEK JOB is perfect for you. The characters are instantly likeable, even when they’re bad, and their relationship, although initially built on falsehood, is fun to read about and believable. I find this book is nearly addictive - I’ve managed to read it twice in the last year alone.
Lexie is sexy, independent and knows exactly what she wants. She’s also pleasantly surprised when the geek she’s been hired to protect isn’t 60 years old and gross. He’s shy and awkward, but also tall, passionate and in pretty good shape. Anthony typically only cares about his experiments, and can honestly not believe his luck when Lexie pays attention to him when he gets to the conference. He’s so distracted, in fact, that he doesn’t even notice the multiple attempts on his life throughout the weekend.
The reasoning behind the ruse - Lexie pretending to be a fling and not telling Anthony she’s been hired to protect him - is flimsy at best. The vampire who has hired Anthony has not told him about supernaturals, and wants to keep it that way if possible. Anthony believes he is only trying to decode the genetic reason for his boss’ violent sun allergy. He doesn’t know that fairies and other vampires are trying to kill him or kidnap him for their own purposes, respectively. Still, once everything starts to unravel, Anthony catches up quickly and figures out stuff on his own, proving he is as clever as he is supposed to be.
This book hits all my guilty pleasure buttons: a decently developed mythology, kickass heroine, clever characters and just enough romantic misunderstanding tropes without making me roll my eyes in frustration. These kinds of books are meant to be fun, and THE GEEK JOB is tons of fun....more
MUDDY WATERS is set in a world where the boundaries between world have been taken down or thinned and an inReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
MUDDY WATERS is set in a world where the boundaries between world have been taken down or thinned and an influx of supernaturals have come creating new rules, prejudices, and realities that humans and "Others" have to live with. A lot is going on in this story as it seems this new reality is pretty new as people are still working out the kinks of how to live with people who have magic powers and which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction over what and who. The focus of the story is on a murder mystery that crosses worlds; ours and faerie or as the book calls it, Otherwhere.
Tessa Reddick is a pretty standard smart, underdog sort of urban fantasy heroine with a compelling backstory, just coming out of jail for a crime she didn't commit. Her partner Qyll is kind of interesting and I'd like to know more about his life as an elf in the Otherwhere. Along with Tessa and Qyll, most of the characters were not really fleshed out enough for me to get a true sense of who they are. Perhaps the fleshing out will occur in later books because I'd really like to get to know them better.
I was confused about the timeline of the story. There seemed to be random time jumps that had me going back pages to see if I missed something. Tessa gets out of jail, sets up her business, and then there is a very unclear idea of just how long she has been out until she starts working with the FBI. Has it been a week for her to get settled? Was she working for a few months on small jobs for the FBI before the central murder mystery starts? I don't know. I had the same issue with following the murders. There is one Tessa is doing on her own and one with the FBI. They sort of relate but it was hard to follow and I kept getting confused who was a part of which murder.
Basically, I enjoyed MUDDY WATERS enough to want to see where it goes in future books, but had issues with timing/pacing and fleshing out the characters....more
SHADOW WOLF was a confusing mythological mess that overran what could have been a sweet story between twoReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
SHADOW WOLF was a confusing mythological mess that overran what could have been a sweet story between two characters. From the beginning of the book, there are so many unanswered questions that the author isn’t interested in addressing that I spent most of the book frowning in confusion.
My main complaint was with the treatment of the female characters in the book. Although Valetta goes out and does something to try and protect her father, she ends up as a figurehead with no real power until Samson shows up to save her. Then she discovers her destiny (not as a destroyer, but as a protector, of course), and then is kidnapped by the main villain. Another female character who was kidnapped by a rival biker gang, Cindy, is saved early on in the book by Samson. I say saved… He takes her after brutally killing the men who held her captive for the last two years, brings her to Valetta’s father and says: you keep an eye on her, pretend she’s your housekeeper or something. So this poor abused girl gets passed around between powerful men, and then actually becomes the housekeeper and falls for Valetta’s dad! Who we’re told is old enough to have retired from the Brotherhood… wait what?
More unanswered questions include: -How can shifters who are immortal get to an age where they can retire? -How many times can the shadow wolf mythology get retconned? -Can women do anything without getting kidnapped? -How weird is it that they all have blond hair and blue eyes, and how weird is it that the author mentions at least twice how weird it is seeing all these guys together? -What bloody country is this novel set in? I was sure we were in Alaska, but then they find a ruined castle?
When a reader cannot tell what country, or even hemisphere the book is set in, maybe you should spend a little less time revising the mythology as new information is discovered (it turns out we had this power all along!) and a bit more time trying to ground your characters in a real world where Stockholm syndrome doesn’t lead to romance....more
ICE WOLF suffers from having both too much information and not enough. It’s rare to want a book to cut bacReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
ICE WOLF suffers from having both too much information and not enough. It’s rare to want a book to cut back on the world building and just focus on the love story. Elliott Wilder is a member of the Arctic Brotherhood, an elite fighting team with only seven members. He’s tried to completely remove himself from the werewolf lifestyle. But when an old adversary escapes from prison, both he and newcomer Jenny Piper join the Brotherhood to stop the threat. ICE WOLF does twist some of the standard werewolf tropes but the pack’s a long bloody history ends up stealing too much focus. There’s not much to know about Jenny Piper but we do learn plenty about werewolf mythology.
We’re told quite a lot about the characters and their beliefs but it never feels earned. Elliott Wilder cut himself off from his pack because he developed PTSD after a vicious fight some 400 years ago. As a result he can’t sleep and has panic attacks if he even hears about werewolves in pop culture. This is brought up in the first chapter then never again. Throughout the novel Wilder has no problem jumping into fights or leading the pack. I guess all he really needed was a good lay.
There are only two named female characters in the book. Both end up kidnapped or imprisoned. Samson, another member of the Brotherhood, is introduced as a misogynist who, we’re supposed to assume, is a jerk with a heart of gold. Even though Samson is eventually awed and protective of Jenny, it’s difficult to forgive a male character who outright dismisses her abilities and belittles her, telling her she's only good enough for shopping.
Even though Jenny is a bit of a blank slate, there’s no denying the attraction between her and Elliott. The romance between Elliott and Jenny is sweet and the novel’s saving grace. The complicated mythology and backstory does pull too much focus from character development; but, if you’re into Norse mythology, you may enjoy the details that Jane Godman put into the novel....more
It’s rare for fantasy books to have a lived-in setting. Instead of existing just to explain backstory to tReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
It’s rare for fantasy books to have a lived-in setting. Instead of existing just to explain backstory to the protagonist, DREAM EATER’s side characters don’t care if Koi Pierce is confused and uncomfortable. DREAM EATER also doesn’t waste time trying to make you like Koi Pierce. You like her or you don’t.
There are moments when Koi feels like a real person, like when she’s talking to her sister and father or thinking about her mother. There’s a strong sense of family and duty and never fully gets explored. There are other moments when Koi becomes a cardboard cutout of a person. Name-dropping can be a great worldbuild technique but Koi’s constant references to coffee, chocolate, and Portland doesn't make her a better character. I don’t need to know the names of the barista’s at Koi’s preferred coffee shop. I don’t need to know that she’s craving a super special type of chocolate.
There’s are elements in DREAM EATER that are never fully explained. Professor Hayk is killing to gather power but it’s never quite clear what he’s getting out of the deal besides a criminal record. There’s a brief mention of being a mayor? If I had the power of a god behind me, I’d aim a little higher. It’s unfortunate because most of the book is Koi being dragged through the action and plot, first by Hayk, then Ken, then by her family. Most of the time, it feels like the reader is being dragged along with her.
The book’s focus on Japanese and Native American mythology is a welcome break from the endless Greek and Norse inspired books. Koi’s family unit is small but close. Which makes it a shame and we never really get a full sense of those characters. Koi’s exploration of being baku and her evolving relationships will continue but nothing concrete has been announced. As is, DREAM EATER is a good book to pick up if you’re interested in other myths and if you don’t mind an unlikable main character.
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.
SOULJACKER is a fun and at times dark paranormal romance novel. Obviously since the main character is a sucReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SOULJACKER is a fun and at times dark paranormal romance novel. Obviously since the main character is a succubus, this book has a lot of sex since Lily needs it to survive. While there is a burgeoning romance that is pretty steamy I really enjoyed the thriller aspect of the story with the hunt for an extra creepy vampire serial killer who is after basically all of the main characters you get to know and grow somewhat attached to. The world building surrounding this plot is pretty neat and the politics/realities of magical beings and humans is realistic (or as realistic as it can be...). I really enjoyed the fae world and would love to read more about this aspect in future books.
At first I was confused as to what was going on with the story as they kept referring to a character and past events linked to the serial killings so much that I kept checking if I was on the first book in the series or not. Eventually the full flashback of just what was going on were revealed and everything made sense. While reading SOULJACKER I was a bit annoyed at this but in the end I kind of appreciated how the reveals and story unfolded. It was a unique way of unraveling information.
SOULJACKER has plenty of tense action and thrilling moments that will keep you wanting to turn the page faster to see what happens next. I enjoyed learning more about Lily and the major change in her life that she goes through in SOULJACKER has me curious enought to want to see what happens in the next book in this series.
sexual content: multiple graphic sex scenes...more
THE LIBRARIANS AND THE MOTHER GOOSE CHASE, the second in The Librarians series, follows our intrepid LibraReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE LIBRARIANS AND THE MOTHER GOOSE CHASE, the second in The Librarians series, follows our intrepid Librarians as they fight a Mother Goose who is intent on ending the world. Sounds like pretty standard Librarian fare, yes? While it definitely fits the Librarian playbook, THE LIBRARIANS AND THE MOTHER GOOSE CHASE is entertaining, action-packed and even has a reveal at the end that I didn't see coming.
I didn't feel that this installation in The Librarians series was as good as the previous book, THE LIBRARIANS AND THE SEARCH FOR THE LOST LAMP. It felt a little more forced to me. However, that doesn't mean it wasn't a fun read. I feel like you're getting exactly what you would expect from a book based on a TV show - the characters all match up with their TV personas and the references to prior adventures on the TV show are ever-present. The new characters introduced certainly shook things up a bit, and I really enjoyed how each Librarian was paired with a different person who ended up helping them out as they tried to resolve the situation. There is a little less interaction between the main characters, however, as they are separated for most of the book, so if that is the main draw for you, you might be a little disappointed.
Since THE LIBRARIANS AND THE MOTHER GOOSE CHASE is based on a TV show, and it is the second in a series, it does assume a bit of prior knowledge of the world and the characters, though there are frequent references to main character traits and any information needed about past adventures is definitely explained. It wouldn't be too difficult to pick this one up without having any prior knowledge of the show, and if you like stories with a little bit of mythology (as some of the full Mother Goose rhymes are discussed) this one would fit the bill.
If you're a fan of The Librarians TV show, THE LIBRARIANS AND THE MOTHER GOOSE CHASE is something you should pick up. It's a quick read (though it took me a little while to get immersed into the world again) and it should tide you over while you're waiting for season 4 of the TV show to air. If not already a fan, I'd suggest starting with book one and going from there.
When I saw Kerrelyn Sparks’ name pop up, I instantly wanted to read this book; her Love At Stake is one ofReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
When I saw Kerrelyn Sparks’ name pop up, I instantly wanted to read this book; her Love At Stake is one of my guilty pleasures. Imagine by surprise when this book featured a meatier fantasy setting than her other vampire/urban fantasy series, and was funny and touching to boot! I consumed this book in a single day, tumbling through it as the intrigue, magic and love story developed. It was an enchanting with fabulously loveable characters and both humour and tragedy throughout.
Part of the charm is the world itself: the island-dwelling moon worshippers are female-led and accepting of magic users, and the male-dominated sun worshipping society tries to kill suspected magic users as soon as they are born. Somehow it doesn’t feel clichė’d; the mythology is well established and interesting, and not everything is black and white.
One example of a magic user who lives on the mainland is Lord Leofric, whose lightning imbued body kills all who touch him. This makes him a great weapon in the King’s army, but also an aberration who is feared across the land. He has a few friends, but even they are careful when dealing with him. He also has the misfortune of being the mad King’s nephew, making him a target for assassins whenever his power levels get low. He defends a country who hates and fears him, but still tries to do what is best whenever he can. He knows that he can never touch Luciana, his decreed betrothed, but he still vows to protect her and her father from the King’s machinations.
Luciana was everything I love in an heroine: she’s brave, she doesn’t let Leofric or any other man walk all over her, makes mistakes sometimes but is devoted to her family and her new country, despite having grown up apart from them because of her powers. Oh yeah, she can talk to the dead, too, which at first thought would be weird, but is used in really clever ways throughout the whole book.
My only issue with HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS is the terrible title and cover. Spark’s previous books were a bit cheesy, and the chest/cheese combo worked. This book is so much better than that, and I’m so worried that it won’t get into the right hands. This is a proper fantasy novel. Yes, it has some PNR tropes, and it has a sexy love story, but it’s so much more than that. I really wish they had gone with a more serious cover - this atrocity will turn off so many people and makes reading it in public difficult. It doesn’t match the quality and tone of the book at all.
It looks like The Embraced series will have at least 5 books in it, and I can’t wait to discover more of the mainland countries who have been at war with each other as long as anyone can remember. The mix of political intrigue, magic and romance is such a perfect balance that I can’t wait for the next book, SO I MARRIED A SORCERER… I can only hope the sorcerer has a shirt on the cover....more
I know I don't need to say that I love fairytale retellings, but there it is. I said it. And having read (Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
I know I don't need to say that I love fairytale retellings, but there it is. I said it. And having read (and enjoyed) Cross's work before, I was very curious about THE BLACK LILY and the direction she would go. It ended up being quite a fun read, with plot twists, steamy romance and a mystery to keep me entertained.
Upon starting THE BLACK LILY, the reader is immediately thrown into the action. The retelling part of Cinderalla happens almost immediately - servant girl gets fancy dress and carriage and goes to ball to catch royal prince's attention. There's a bit of lust at first sight on Prince Marius' side, as upon seeing Arabelle, he immediately wants her. However, as they get to know each other, his attraction to her starts to go beyond her physical appearance. Same with Arabelle, who finds the prince attractive at the beginning, even if she does not like what he stands for, but as she begins to learn about him she starts to question her preconceived notions about what he is like. However, it takes a lot for Arabelle to get past her automatic dislike of vampires, and that, combined with other factors, keeps her and Marius separate for a majority of the book. But oh man, when they get together, do sparks fly! Scratch that - more like full on flames. There is definitely enough to keep a romance reader happy.
There's a lot going on in THE BLACK LILY. First of all, there's the vampires, the mystery of the disappearing humans, the rebellion, plus a magical forest and a lot of back story that the reader gets in bits and pieces. Some interesting facts were revealed at the end which felt a little like they were inserted just to keep the reader wanting to know more - and possibly read the next book. My only small complaint would be the world building - it was written to seem like a society similar to a feudal society that we would be familiar with from history (except with vampires ruling) and so not much was explained unless it was pertinent to Arabelle's ranting about the class system.
Using Cinderella as a springboard, THE BLACK LILY takes some aspects from the original tale and runs with them, making a wholly original tale of vampires and humans, and the romance between two highly unlikely characters. I am curious as to where Cross will take the story, since it seemed rather finished to me (minus the few questions at the end) and I will definitely pick up the next book in the Tales of the Black Lily series.
A few days after finishing WYNTER'S BITE, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. In the past, I'Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
A few days after finishing WYNTER'S BITE, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. In the past, I've enjoyed the Scandals With Bite series quite a bit, but WYNTER'S BITE didn't have the same feel as the previous books in the series, and I didn't like it as much.
One positive is that I did enjoy the characters - Bethany and Justus were great. Both very strong willed and able to do what needs to be done in order to survive their circumstances, they were also super cute together, discussing books and throwing longing glances at each other early on in the book.
Where my problems lie, with WYNTER'S BITE, is the completely ridiculous plot. It seemed like many of the actions taken by the characters were very rash, and not completely in character, or, the reader wasn't given enough background of the character to understand why that character was doing something. For example, Bethany's parents having her locked up in a mental institution after one outburst, while she was a bit doped up after hurting herself, seemed a bit extreme. Then, after Bethany is rescued by Justus, they seem to be caught by every single vampire (after 8 years of Justus managing to be undetected?) in between the institution and their destination.
Lastly, the ending is tied up way too easily. There is a little bit of the miscommunication that is common in historical romance novels - where if the heroine and hero just talked to each other they would have resolved some issues - and that tends toward the annoying, but the solution to all of Justus' and Bethany's problems just was solved in a few pages.
All in all, while I liked the characters, I didn't particularly like the plot of WYNTER'S BITE. If there are more books published in the Scandals With Bite series, I will definitely read them, but this one just wasn't for me.
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
I love a book with really interesting world building and WANTED AND WIRED has a really fun semi-dystopian future world with augmented humans existing alongside non augmented humans and even clones. There is definitely a cyber-punk vibe going on with various sorts of implants humans can get to give themselves abilities like night vision, GPS, and even temporarily connect themselves with machinery. I would have been fine with more pages about just how the world worked.
World building aside, the plot was thrilling with Mari being on the run, double crosses, mysterious pasts, and surprising revelations that keep coming. There is also a fun romance at the center which was interesting as it involves an augmented human. The way in which Mari and Heron connect on physically and mentally was pretty cool and unique. Both Mari and Heron have really fun backstories that were unraveled slowly through the hyper fast paced story.
WANTED AND WIRED is more science fiction futuristic romance than anything paranormal. The characters are well developed and compelling. It's a highly imaginative, hyper sci-fi story filled with danger, cool tech, and a unique romance. I am looking forward to seeing more of this world in the future books in this series....more
When you mix incredibly powerful witches and hot djinns who are tied to their lamps for hundreds of years,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
When you mix incredibly powerful witches and hot djinns who are tied to their lamps for hundreds of years, you get the incredibly sexy RISING FOR AUTUMN, which surprised me in a few different ways: for such a short book, it had big action, big characters, and an even bigger story.
Alanna was an amazing character you don’t often get to read about. In urban fantasy, the heroes and heroines are often part of small knit groups or lone wolves (no shifter reference intended). Alanna is in charge of dozens of staff within the coven head quarters, and together they are in charge of protecting an entire city. She is responsible for the witches and the humans in her city, which means she keeps herself separate from her staff, even from the ones she dares call friends.
Sam keeps himself separated too, but it’s because of his long life and the nature of his servitude. He keeps everyone at arm’s length in case whoever gets his lamp next orders him to hurt his friends and loved ones out of spite. He’s been forced to work for some very evil people, and he’s done more evil than he can reconcile his heart with.
Watching these two get together was definitely the highlight of the story for me, but the action was nothing to scoff at: there were multiple dramatic battles and conflicts that were well written and really managed to capture how desperate things had gotten in Philadelphia. The book hints at a fourth instalment in the Philadelphia Coven Chronicles, and with the naming scheme, we would expect it. If it stars a hot mercenary who can’t seem to pick a side, I’m in, especially if it's a bit longer than this one....more
I will read nearly any story set in Chicago. This has led to great discoveries, such as the Chicagoland VaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
I will read nearly any story set in Chicago. This has led to great discoveries, such as the Chicagoland Vampires series. Unfortunately, THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO OF FRANCESCA FINNEGAN was not one of the great discoveries.
A quick read, THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO OF FRANCESCA FINNEGAN is seeped in Chicago. It comes up with alternate stories for Chicago events - such as the creation of the flag, why the Chicago River runs backwards, and what started the Chicago fire. These stories are fantastical and amusing, and likely would not be as interesting to readers who are not familiar with Chicago history or geography.
The structure of the book is strange as well, since it is told as a flashback, with intermittent chapters being the stories of the people that Rich and Francesca meet on their adventure. It is sometimes hard to determine who exactly is narrating, and that was a little frustrating, and it makes it easy to lose the flow of the story. One upside, however, are the lovely illustrations (done by Chris Cihon) after each chapter.
All in all, THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO OF FRANCESCA FINNEGAN was a very strange book that I found hard to get engrossed in. While I didn't dislike it, it didn't hold my interest, and I sometimes found it hard to pick up again. If you're interested in fantasy set in Chicago or something a little different than your typical urban fantasy, definitely pick this one up. Otherwise, this one might not be for you.
MER was a quick read with lovely art, a story that held my attention, but it left me with a number of quesReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
MER was a quick read with lovely art, a story that held my attention, but it left me with a number of questions at the end of the story.
One complaint I had is that the story jumped around a little, and sometimes the transitions were a bit jarring. However, it fit how the different threads were being woven together, so maybe just a bit of careful attention is needed while reading. My other issue was that the story was a bit short, and I wish some more time could have been spent on various questions I had.
Otherwise, the art was gorgeous and I enjoyed the storyline. I liked the main character, Aryn and loved the honest depiction of the difficulties of balancing family life with having a social life. The story was creative and unusual in the current gamut of young adult paranormal novels, since mermaids aren't super common, so I liked learning about the mythology the author created.
All in all, MER was a fun read and pretty cute. I would recommend to anybody who likes graphic novels and is looking for something a little different, or anybody who likes mermaids and creative takes on that mythology....more
HISSES & HONEY finds the fun that was so vital to the first novel. After the getting her divorce and bReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
HISSES & HONEY finds the fun that was so vital to the first novel. After the getting her divorce and besting Theseus on live TV, Alena has taken a large step forward for supernaturals. Human’s respect her, even treat her like a celebrity. But even then, Alena just can’t win. She gets her bakery but loses her man. Instead of cagey characters, who tease Alena that they know a something she doesn’t, in HISSES & HONEY revelations are dropped like bombshells. Everything that should have been explained in the first two books are finally thought out. Family secrets are out! Characters finally tell the truth! Bad guys are actually killed! Each page is loaded with information -- so much so that I wish Mayer had just explained them earlier.
There is so much plot in the novel that it’s hard to tell where the focus is supposed to be. Important events are forgotten. For the final book of a trilogy, a reader should know exactly where the plot is taking them. Am I supposed to care more about the Aegrus plague or the vampire drama? Should I care about Hercules or Alena’s lineage? This unevenness is exemplified with Remo and Smithy. Remo both supports Alena’s strength but also abandons her in order to protect her. He coldly leaves her, then begs for forgiveness. The introduction of Smithy in the second book was a bit of fresh air. He was sensible, talked like a grownup, and you definitely felt the heat between the him and Alena. Giving Smithy a large role in HISSES & HONEY makes sense, but inconsistent characterization lets him down, even before Ernie’s love arrows force the attraction further. (These love arrows have such a rapey vibe. It’s explained away that the arrows foster an attraction that’s already present... but the characters change so much when they’re hit with an arrow, it’s uncomfortable)
Overwhelming plot aside, the worst elements of the second novel (the abundance of mysteries, the sulky main character, the emphasis on Alena’s baking puns and terrible version of curse words) have been greatly reduced. There’s a greater focus on Alena’s personal history, but she’s not obsessed with sticking it to her husband or rebuilding her bakery. The romances become too much (seriously Ernie, a woman is capable of being single for more than four hours), it they don’t detract from Alena’s self-reflection. It’s almost like we’re back to the Alena of the first few chapters of VENOM & VANILLA. If the second book gave you cause to abandon the series, this one should make you pick it back up....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
Action-packed and suspenseful, THESE RUTHLESS DEEDS is an excellent follow-up to THESE VICIOUS MASKS.
THESE RUTHLESS DEEDS starts out with a bang, and even having read THESE VICIOUS MASKS within the past few months, it took a little while for me to get immersed into the world again. There isn't a ton of character development, but what is lacking in that regard the authors more than make up for in terms of action. There are plenty of super-powered fight scenes to keep a reader entertained, with a little romance thrown in here and there to spice it up.
One thing that irks me is that Evelyn is a bit of a "Mary Sue" character. She has multiple boys after her, she always seems to be the smartest and most aware person of her group of friends, and she has what is arguably the best superpower (healing ability). This doesn't make her that much less likable, it just bothered me on a few occasions when she seemed to be the ONLY person to realize some key clue or piece of information was crucial (though she did guess wrong on something at the end and I appreciated that display of imperfection).
What I like best about THESE RUTHLESS DEEDS is how those with superpowers aren't always the good guys. The authors definitely play with the gray area between good and evil, and I enjoyed watching the various characters reveal their motivations as the book progressed.
All in all, THESE RUTHLESS DEEDS was a fun, quick read with a crazy ending that left me thinking about the moral quandaries the characters were put in, even after I'd set down the book. While it isn't without its faults, These Vicious Masks series should definitely be on the to-read list of anybody who enjoys historical fantasy or characters with superpowers!
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