Bringing swashbuckling, fantasy, and police procedurals together into a perfect adventure on the high seas, A DAUGHTER OF NO NATION is even better thaBringing swashbuckling, fantasy, and police procedurals together into a perfect adventure on the high seas, A DAUGHTER OF NO NATION is even better than it's predecessor. For anyone who enjoys a touch of real world risk in their magic, this is an adventure you won't want to miss.
Sophie's exploration of Stormwrack is the perfect balance of science, magic, and adventure. She is a scientist dropped into magical circumstances, and while she's well educated and dogged, her story is accessible in a way few "born special" urban fantasy heroines can be. From the first chapter where we see Sophie training and preparing, everyone in this story feels believably flawed and human. Sophie has to rely on her wits and "mundane" skills, making this magical setting feel utterly real and really dangerous.
It was a delight watching Sophie balance her skepticism about alchemy and primitive sciences against the very real evidence of magic in Stormwrack. Her own perspective means the reader can be surprised as well, finding unexpected truths hidden amongst the superstitions and traditions. A DAUGHTER OF NO NATION was a joyful adventure and I can't wait to set sail with Sophie again.
Sexual Content: Kissing, discussions about sex and rape. ...more
Process nerds will find much to love and hate in the latest Anita Blake installment. While readers may tune in to solve a crime spree, that promised pProcess nerds will find much to love and hate in the latest Anita Blake installment. While readers may tune in to solve a crime spree, that promised police procedure never materializes. Rather, CRIMSON DEATH offers an unexpected love song to therapy, to the rewards of the hard work required to maintain relationships both romantic and otherwise. For the first time in a long, long time, it is the relationship side of Anita's story that offers progress and hope.
As with many of the later Anita Blake books, CRIMSON DEATH proves that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. All the care once lavished on which color Nike swoosh graced the side of Anita's shoes now makes every chance conversation a social lesson, each walk down the hallway a roll call of body guards, lovers, and bystanders, each lavishly described regardless of their importance. By this point in the series, I'm used to tuning out when someone becomes the "voice of intolerance", or when a soliloquy on relationship hygiene is on the horizon. Anita and her honeys have grown a lot, however, which means their interactions have become less needlessly fraught. The Circus and police stations are always filled with someone who has issues, though, so don't expect to escape without a half dozen jealous outbursts or sexist confrontations.
Damian and Nathaniel's interactions were legitimately interesting, but the central police plot of CRIMSON DEATH never resolved to a meaningful payoff. Much of this book is sifting through chaff, but the core character interactions leave me with hope. Anita and her significant others have happily ever afters on the horizon, hard won and well deserved. I like peeking in to the series to see how my favorite characters have grown and changed, but I wish I didn't have to tune out so much noise to get to the meaningful heart of the story.
Sexual Content: Sex scenes, references to rape....more
A PROMISE OF FIRE is Paranormal Romance with the sweet, freshness of YA, a traditional adventure with the snappy wit of Urban Fantasy. Hitting the sweA PROMISE OF FIRE is Paranormal Romance with the sweet, freshness of YA, a traditional adventure with the snappy wit of Urban Fantasy. Hitting the sweet spot between so many already wonderful genres, this is a funny, sexy, un-put-downable book.
Cat is ferocious and hilarious, and allowed to grow out of her prickly shell in an organic way. While she and Griffin buttheads and throw sparks from the get go, their chemistry is given room to build in a lovely way. This romance has the freshness of young love mixed with the passion and fire of two headstrong adults resisting compromise. In other words, a devastatingly sexy combination.
Offering the slow burn of a YA romance with the satisfying consummation of an adult romance, A PROMISE OF FIRE fulfills a craving I didn't even know I had. Book one was exciting, sweet, and an enormous amount of fun, I can't wait to read more of this series.
The world of Rhiannon Held's Silver series is seen through its characters, the shift of point of view is wReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
The world of Rhiannon Held's Silver series is seen through its characters, the shift of point of view is what paints mythology and plot. This means the story has to do more than follow our Urban Fantasy heroine, and Silver shares the stage with various likable and unlikable characters.
While I have always had issues when the POV changes from Silver to some of my less favorite characters, WOLFSBANE adds a new twist to the usual intertwining perspectives. The main story is split into several concurrent dreams, each following an alternate timeline. So not only does the story shift from character to character, but multiple "versions" of the characters exist in the dreams. As per usual, it is Silver's perspective that I wanted to read the most, with Dare a distant second, making each shift between narrative threads an annoyance at first. WOLFSBANE also firmly establishes bisexuality as a prevalent and accepted part of werewolf culture, even if their mating practices vary from pack to pack.
The Silver series contains many familiar Urban Fantasy tropes, but always with a twist. Rather than putting a spotlight on Silver's unique, magical snowflake life the narrative follows a full palette of characters, each with strengths and weaknesses that kept me guessing. Though this writing style can be bumpy for me, this series is one I'll always be excited to return to.
Sexual content: References to sex and non-explicit sex scenes ...more
Megan Hart has been a long time favorite in contemporary romance. Raw, visceral chemistry married to a realism that manages to intrigue and haunt. SeeMegan Hart has been a long time favorite in contemporary romance. Raw, visceral chemistry married to a realism that manages to intrigue and haunt. Seeing her name on a Paranormal Romance was an exciting treat, but the realism Hart brings to romance did not carry over to believable "paranormal".
Dark Heat, the first offering in this trio, was the best over all. The setting of a private zoo anchored the initial supernatural elements in reality, and Hart's characteristically well drawn characters effortlessly came to life. Once paranormal elements are revealed and discussed, however, Dark Heat suffers from the same issues that turn up in later stories. The details propping up this world's version of magical phenomena felt flimsy, and in the case of Dark Dreams and Dark Fantasy, silly at times. This change of tone punctured the realism of the romance, leaving all three stories worse for the wear.
If the world building behind your "paranormal" matters less than the "romance", BOUND BY THE NIGHT offers smoking hot chemistry that will not disappoint. As a fan of both Paranormal and Contemporary romance, however, I think these stories would have been better off leaving the magic at home.
Liam Cuelebre has never been a normal kid, and following the events of SHADOW'S END, it's clear this young dragon may not be any type of kid at all anLiam Cuelebre has never been a normal kid, and following the events of SHADOW'S END, it's clear this young dragon may not be any type of kid at all anymore. With his accelerated growth and highly unusual origins, Liam can be a tough character to relate to and believe in. Harrison has carefully developed him through the Elder Races novellas, however, and from a cameo in DRAGOS TAKES A HOLIDAY to center stage in PEANUT GOES TO SCHOOL, his point of view has kept apace with his accelerated maturation. LIAM TAKES MANHATTAN marks another special milestone for him, his graduation from cute side character to "I need his book now" main attraction. LIAM TAKES MANHATTAN is an excellent chance to get a flavor for Liam's new, grownup narration and I can't wait for an entire book devoted to the young prince.
BREAKING OUT PART 1 was a fantastic short from the ENTANGLED anthology, quickly establishing charming characters and a compelling world. But as much aBREAKING OUT PART 1 was a fantastic short from the ENTANGLED anthology, quickly establishing charming characters and a compelling world. But as much as I wanted a continuation of this world, BREAKING OUT PART 2 is too short to fulfill the promise of that first, explosive meet-cute.
The first short in this duo introduces Kelli and Nate as love interests, and Giles as the charming best friend. PART 2 flashes forward to a few weeks after their escape, with Giles taking center stage. Giles is witty and interesting, with a supernatural power that can be as much of a handicap as a benefit, and has no problem filling the spot light. Kelli and Nate, however, have never really gotten the chance to develop their own story. What page time they get in PART 2 isn't enough to satisfy my interest in their romance (I want to see everyone one of Nate's tentative attempts to hug a gunshy Kelli, not just hear about them after the fact!).
Ultimately, the strengths of the BREAKING OUT series is its greatest weakness, too much potential and not enough page time. Worth picking up for the price, I won't come back to this series until we get a full length feature.
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex....more
Nothing made me happier than having Dragos and Pia come back to the Elder Races series as main characters,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Nothing made me happier than having Dragos and Pia come back to the Elder Races series as main characters, but these fantastic little short stories are a close second. In DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON we get to catch up with the First Family of the Wyr, and see them in close quarters with humans and Elder Races a like.
Patricia Briggs is the short story gold standard by which I judge all other efforts, they're detailed, immersive, and function both as standalone stories and an enticement to read more. Thea Harrison's short stories are a near perfect score on the Briggs Scale. DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON could be read as a stand alone, but new readers should really start with DRAGON BOUND to get the full experience. This short runs hot and heavy on the romance, amping up the Paranormal Romance flavor of the story overall.
For fans of the series, DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON is everything you could hope for (unless you're like me, where you immediately wanted the next two stories to appear on my eReader). A fun glimpse of beloved characters, an appetizer that offers flavors of the Elder Races without ruining our appetite for SHADOW'S END on December 1.
Offering a new Harry Dresden story in graphic novel form, DOWN TOWN is a glimpse of a time in Molly's apprReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Offering a new Harry Dresden story in graphic novel form, DOWN TOWN is a glimpse of a time in Molly's apprenticeship that was a simpler, gentler moment in the Dresden household. This being Harry, however, there is still plenty of death, danger, and magical megalomaniacs.
When enjoying a graphic novel, especially one that is bringing to life familiar and beloved characters, the physical representation of said characters is important. This book's Harry Dresden is a fitting heir to the TV show's Harry, ruggedly handsome but down to earth in his jeans and henley. And while Molly certainly has the colorful punk/goth aesthetic from the books, she's often wearing so little clothes it detracts from her character's presence. While there was often a subtle sexual curiosity between Molly and Harry, putting her in a crop top and low riders does not do that dynamic justice. Murphy at least gets to wear sensible clothes, and Molly is thankfully wearing a jacket for the finale (and given that the confrontation takes place in a Chicago winter, Molly wearing less would have been an unforgivable deal breaker).
While the story itself ends in a rather inconsequential (and thus unimportant) fire fight, Harry's playful banter with Molly was a lovely. And while two of the three women are drawn in terrible clothes, the physical interpretations of both Mouse and Bob were endearing. Fans of the Dresden Files will enjoy this glimpse of our favorite wizard pounding the pavement and protecting the innocent, despite some of the graphic missteps. Those new to the series are welcome to give DOWN TOWN a try, but they should make sure to pick up the novel STORM FRONT to get a taste of the genuine article.
Breezy is many things. She could be described variously as a teenager, undead, biracial, bisexual... And yReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Breezy is many things. She could be described variously as a teenager, undead, biracial, bisexual... And yet, she is most strongly and ferociously herself. She is a scientist. She is disciplined. She truly is the type of person who devotes herself to a profession and works from a young age to reach the stars.
And it is this beautifully drawn depth of character that allows the reader to immerse themselves into this dark and unknown world alongside our own. The realism of her experiences make even the most fantastical elements of her life emotionally resonant. Breezy's scientific mindset that allows her to catalog and explore her undeath, even as she tries to process the unimaginable grief of her own death. The losses pile up, her family, her professional aspirations, her future... all either lost forever or changed so radically as to be unrecognizable. The mundane mystery of her own death felt harder to believe than Breezy's grief that she will never become an astronaut, as somehow the emotional state of an undead teenage becomes more visceral than the petty evils that do exist in real life.
While Breezy explores the world around her through a scientific lense, SHALLOW GRAVES doesn't feel dry or clinical. Rather, this oh so human attempt to build a rational concept of this new dark, unexpected world made the most fantastical elements feel real. While the world building has strengths and weaknesses, the main character rock solid. I enjoyed this book, but above and beyond that, I loved Breezy.
BLACK DOG was my favorite book of 2014, and PURE MAGIC is everything I could have hoped for in a sequel. The black dogs of this world are a little darBLACK DOG was my favorite book of 2014, and PURE MAGIC is everything I could have hoped for in a sequel. The black dogs of this world are a little darker, a littler more demonic than Urban Fantasy's usual shapeshifters. With sulfur and fire and violence in their hearts, they flow up through the human body, and burst into our world.
As promised in the title, PURE MAGIC focuses on the protective arts Natividad used in BLACK DOG. And with the introduction of Justin, a Pure boy with no concept of his own magic, readers have a new chance to learn about the "aggressively defensive" power that lives alongside all the violence of the black dogs. Though there are several instances where great peril is answered by spontaneous leaps in magical skill, the geometry of Pure magic and the ballet of Ezekiel whirling in and out of human form make these battles a visual delight. While I don't normally hope for movie adaptations, the characters and magic of the Black Dog world would be a pleasure in yet another medium.
Natividad and Ezekiel's story is what made me anxious to read more of the Black Dog series, and Neumeier delivered them and several other surprises as well. By the end I felt empathy for Grayson (a growly version of Giles, futilely trying to direct superhuman teens and all their impulsive power), grew to admire Keziah, and want so desperately to know more about the youngest black dogs of the pack. Like the best of worlds, every taste of this series just makes me hungry for more.
Sexual Content: A non-explicit sex scene, references to sex....more
Classic sword and sorcery, but by no means a simple story, BLOODFORGED explores the intricacies of politics, war, and marrying your ex-boyfriend's broClassic sword and sorcery, but by no means a simple story, BLOODFORGED explores the intricacies of politics, war, and marrying your ex-boyfriend's brother. In this universe "victory" is more nuanced than defeating a single villain or weakness, forcing Alix and company to face heartbreakingly real obstacles as they fight for the alliances and resources that can turn the tide of a losing war. And upon this stage of high adventure and higher stakes, Lindsay's characters sparkle with wit, emotion, and relationships that ring true.
Much like its predecessor, BLOODFORGED is told from multiple points of view, and much like BLOODBOUND, this structure works very well. Liam may feel hapless as an ambassador, but his witty, self-depricating inner monologue makes his chapters a pleasure. Rigard, as well, is a fantastic narrator. Dashing, astute, and capable despite the great odds stacked against him. Erik and Alix, however, not only have a rough start to their journey, their point of view took awhile to get interesting. Lindsey continues to play with traditional romance tropes, showing the awkward aftermath of a resolved love triangle. And while their attempts to reestablish their friendship and working relationship feel real and interesting, they're not interesting enough to compete with what Liam and Rig.
The pacing of these different narratives smooth each other out, however, into a deceptively smooth trajectory that makes twists and turns all the more exhilarating. Lindsey's combination of wit, action, and intrigue brings a modern flavor to a classic genre, making this series one no fantasy fan should miss.
Sexual Content: Kissing, non-explicit sex scenes, references to sex....more
If THE HISTORIAN adds hints of supernatural mythology to academic research, BLOOD CALL does the same for the romantic thriller. While the premise andIf THE HISTORIAN adds hints of supernatural mythology to academic research, BLOOD CALL does the same for the romantic thriller. While the premise and subtle mix of genres are great, Anna and Josiah are problematic at best. Though the narrative tries to focus on this ultimately unsatisfying relationship, it was only the background of myth and reality colliding that really worked.
Anna is so shocked and hurt for the first several chapters of the book, she doesn't register as anything other than vulnerable. Josiah, unfortunately, choses this time to be very sexually aggressive. Depending upon your tastes, this will either set up a dominating, coerced sexual dynamic between two characters that are physically attracted to each other but emotionally shattered, or it will make Josiah an irredeemable rapist who took advantage of Anna when she was vulnerable.
While I found Josiah's choices problematic, I was still invested in his story. Once out of shock, however, Anna proves to be alternatively helpless and irrational, wanting to both use Josiah's skills and shame him for them. Josiah's earlier sexual dominance evaporates into regret and he seems to be attracted to Anna's worst traits, her helpless naivete and physical fragility. The only portions of BLOOD CALL that I truly enjoyed where where Josiah and Anna are too busy fighting for their lives to draw attention to their flaws.
The action portion of the story can't carry everything, however. Seeing the preternatural bleed into the "real world" was the only detail keeping me engaged, and Josiah and Anna were too involved with their terrible romance to have much of a reaction at all. Not cinematic enough to bring the fights and violence to life, not twisty and political enough to make a mystery worth following, BLOOD CALL felt like a great premise left unfulfilled.
Sexual Content: References to rape, sex scenes....more