If, like me, you were a little underwhelmed by the villain in DESIRES OF THE DEAD, you’ll be glad to know tReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
If, like me, you were a little underwhelmed by the villain in DESIRES OF THE DEAD, you’ll be glad to know that in Kimberly Derting’s THE LAST ECHO, Violet finds herself once again in the crosshairs of a serial killer. As with the phenomenal debut, I was creeped out and afraid while reading, two emotions that helped make THE BODY FINDER and now THE LAST ECHO such powerful books. I actually found myself anticipating the serial killer POV chapters because they were so well done. Unsettling but fascinating. And the serial killer in THE LAST ECHO is very different from the killer in THE BODY FINDER, so this book felt new and exciting in it’s own right.
While I was glad to see the return of a serial killer to ratchet up the fear factor, I was disappointed by the significantly smaller role Jay played in THE LAST ECHO. I’m all for love triangles and I think Derting handled the very gradual introduction of a new guy for Violet very well, but I fell hard for Jay in the last two books and I missed getting to see him really shine. He just didn’t get the page time or impactful moments I’d been hoping for.
But the diminished role Jay played wasn’t the biggest change in THE LAST ECHO, it was the introduction of the government run psychic teen group that recruits Violet. I kind of don’t know what to make them. It’s an interesting new twist and it does expand the world significantly, but it does so at the expense of the intimate, small town feel that was so much a part of the debut. Lots of people are in on Violet’s secret (in fact almost everyone knows in the book), so we see a different side of Violet’s personality that I ended up finding a little abrasive and even bratty on occasion.
Overall, The Body Finder series is an intriguing one and it packs in more heart palpitating fear than any other YA I’ve read. Big changes are happening that readers will either embrace or shun and I find myself wanting to do both. Don’t let the finality of the title confuse you, THE LAST ECHO is not the last book in The Body Finder series. Kimbery Derting has confirmed there will be at least one more book (currently untitled) due out in 2013. It’s an easy call to add it to my wishlist if only to see more Jay and hopefully a new serial killer too.
It is thrilling to return to the same steampunk and paranormal alternate Victorian England that made The PaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
It is thrilling to return to the same steampunk and paranormal alternate Victorian England that made The Parasol Protectorate series so brilliant. In ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE, the first in the four book Finishing School series, set 25 years before Alexia’s series, we meet a young girl named Sophronia. In classic Carriger fashion, Sophronia is the embodiment of cleverness, bravery, and falls woefully short of the societal definition of a lady. In other words, she’s fantastically entertaining, just like this book.
Once again, the writing is spot on. Very proper, when propriety demands it, and then irreverent and wacky when, for example, garlic mash potatoes are hurled at a vampire. And the characters are delicious, especially Sophronia. My only minor criticism had to do with the plot. It was very simple and perhaps not robust enough for a full length book. The middle felt just a little slow as a result. Sophronia was delightful throughout and I very much enjoyed her Harry Potter-like introduction to her mysterious floating school, unusual professors with names like Professor Braithwope, the group of other students, and the secrets surround all of them. In fact, the whole book has a very Harry Potter feel to it, if the series had focused on Hermione instead of Harry and revolved around steampunk instead of magic.
Peppered with fun Easter eggs for those who have read The Parasol Protectorate series (like the fact that Sophronia is the little sister of a main character), fairly bursting with dirigibles, mechancles, and all manner of steampunk gadgets, along with a thorough appreciation for a proper cup of tea. ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE is just as charming, just as witty, and just as delightful as the other books set in this world. I’m froth with anticipation waiting for next book in the Finishing School series, CURTSIES & CONSPIRACIES, which will be published in November 2013.
I’ve run out of awesome things to say about the Kate Daniels series, but fortunately Ilona Andrews hasn’t rReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’ve run out of awesome things to say about the Kate Daniels series, but fortunately Ilona Andrews hasn’t run out of writing books that make me want to say them. MAGIC RISES is the latest and one of the greatest books featuring the deadly smart and brilliantly lethal Kate Daniels who this time leaves her magically mucked up Atlanta, braves a monster invested ocean, for a castle full of homicidal shapeshifters on an island in the Black Sea.
Yep, MAGIC RISES is the first book to leave Atlanta behind, but fortunately, nearly all of the characters we love make the perilous trip with Kate, although sadly, not everyone returns. As expected, Kate and Curran encounter new mythological creatures and half the fun involves figuring out who/how/what they are. Meanwhile Kate and Curran face the biggest obstacle to their relationship thus far in the series and it’s not just a plot device to add intrigue (although it adds heaps of that). Kate is always so strong and confident that it was crushing to see her wounded on such an emotional level. But this is Kate Daniels we’re talking about. She’s not the girl who slinks off to drown her sorrows with chocolate, she’d rather draw blood instead and she may have set a new record in MAGIC RISES.
It’s tense, riveting, and shocking on the emotional front, and the action is nonstop. Expect several big game changing revelations and more than one character who you will never be able to look at the same way again (both good and bad). And this isn’t a series to be intimidated by even if you are brand new to it. The Kate Daniels series may be the most accessibly urban fantasy series for new readers who want to jump in mid series (or for fans like me who read 100+ books between installments and need little reminders here and there). I never feel lost or confused reading this series despite the robust world and various mythologies because Ilona Andrews adds tiny, quick intros when characters first appear and brief references when a past event in mentioned. I didn’t realize how much I appreciated that until reading MAGIC RISES.
So basically, Kate (and Curran) is awesome, the series is awesome, and the most awesome thing of all is that there will be at least four more books in the Kate Daniels series to enjoy.
HEAD RUSH is a book that almost wasn’t (a thousand thank yous to Samhain and Carolyn Crane for making sureReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
HEAD RUSH is a book that almost wasn’t (a thousand thank yous to Samhain and Carolyn Crane for making sure this book happened). It survived a publisher switch, format shifts, and some rather odd release dates (audio version first, then ebook, and finally print sometime in 2012), but when an author is as creative and consistent as Carolyn Crane, when a series is as mind blowingly good as The Disillusionists Trilogy, and when the final book in that series is as exhilarating as HEAD RUSH, it’s more than worth the wait.
There are no vampires or werewolves in HEAD RUSH. No fairies or witches or anything that you might expect to find in a typical urban fantasy. That’s because there is nothing typical about The Disillusionists Trilogy. Instead of fangs, we get phobias. Crippling, mind numbing fears that Justine and her fellow crime fighters have learned to weaponize in order to keep the streets of Midcity safe. Except, Justine doesn’t just suffer from off the charts hypochondria, she also plagued by a guilty conscience that attacks her every time she zings her fear into someone else—even if they deserve it. As bad as I feel for Justine when her fears rage out of control, it’s so crazy fun to read!
The cliffhanger at the end of DOUBLE CROSS was as evil as they come, and from the very first page of HEAD RUSH, all those same emotions of disbelief, rage, and shock at what had happened came back in an instant. It was awesome. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that my emotions did a complete 180 by the last page. However, because this book is linked so inexorably to the previous one, you’ll want to read them in order (and really, this series is so amazing, you wouldn’t want to skip one anyway) to fully appreciate the character evolution and treachery of a certain character.
There was a time not to long ago when I despaired of ever reading this book. And yes, I’m using the word despaired because it would have been a terrible thing to miss out on the final installment in the increasingly excellent, completely unique, genre stretching series that is The Disillusionists Trilogy. There is a new novella about Simon coming in February/March 2012, but otherwise this is it for Justine, and the only thing consoling me is the news that Carolyn Crane has two new series in the works. I have no doubt they will be worth the wait too.
Sexual Content: One non graphic sex scene, one moderately graphic sex scene....more
It’s been two years since the last Mercy Thompson novel was published, but life for these characters hasn’tReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
It’s been two years since the last Mercy Thompson novel was published, but life for these characters hasn’t remained completely stagnant. If you’ve been reading the other series set in the Mercy Thompson world, Alpha and Omega, you know that some seriously huge stuff has happened regarding the Fae. We predicted that the fallout would hit Tri-Cities, and it did.
Mercy has gone through quite a transformation since MOON CALLED introduced us to the loner coyote shifter mechanic. Mercy is now fully integrated into the wolf pack of her husband, she has fae and vampire allies and more enemies that half a dozen other urban fantasy heroines combined. She’s wiser and shrewder, but just as impulsive when danger threatens others. I’ll admit to finding the previous book, RIVER MARKED, a touch slow compared to the rest of the serious mostly because Adam and Mercy together aren’t nearly as satisfying as Mercy on her own. That’s part of what made FROST BURNED feels like classic Mercy. Adam is abducted at the very start and Mercy goes on the hunt to rescue him, calling on old friends like Stefan and Zee, and a new friend that A&O fans will recognize and find thrilling in this new setting (I definitely hope he sticks around).
There’s a reason the Mercy Thompson series is one of our 10 Best Urban Fantasy series. Tri-Cities is a crazy/cool melting pot of supernatural beings. Fae, Wolves, and Vampires coexist in a perfectly tense balance that is always threatening to topple one direction or another, leaving countless human and nonhuman casualties in the wake. And then we have Mercy Thompson. Not super strong, not super powerful, but loyal and smart and clever enough to dart through all the posturing and politics of the various supernatural communities and emerge mostly unscathed. And there is still a mystery about Mercy that, even after seven books, hasn’t gone stale.
What’s up next for this series? A book of short stores set in ‘Mercy’s World’ including stories about Ben and Samuel. The next full book will be either an Alpha and Omega book or something new set in this same world. While we may have to wait for it, there is currently one more book contacted for the Mercy Thompson series. I’ll always want more Mercy, but I’m learning that however long it takes, Mercy Thompson books are always worth the wait.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex and rape....more
From the beginning, the Shade series has had a strong sense of direction, a clear endgame that has allowedReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
From the beginning, the Shade series has had a strong sense of direction, a clear endgame that has allowed readers to fully immerse themselves in Aura’s ghost filled world. In a word, Jeri Smith-Ready established trust between herself and her readers, and in SHINE, she rewards that trust with a completely emotionally and intellectually fulfilling conclusion. I loved every single moment.
One of the many things that makes the Shade series so fantastic is the very honest and occasionally messy portrayal of teen characters. So often in YA fiction, issues get sanitized or glossed over. Neither SHINE nor the preceding books in this series shy away from the raw and emotional scenes that give these characters breath and life. There is nothing gratuitous about anything in this book, but when characters screw up, we see it. When they have to face the unpleasant consequences of their actions, we see it. Likewise when new experiences occur, we don’t get the everything-is-perfect-right-away scene. We get the pain, the awkwardness, the shyness, which makes the whole thing more tender, more sweet.
How good is a book when you’re already bemoaning the fact that it’s the last one by the end of the first page? Expect emotions to run wild while reading SHINE. Outrage at the increasingly totalitarian actions taken by the DMP, exhilaration when Aura and Zach are finally reunited, grief filled heartache at last moments and remembered memories of Logan, bittersweet goodbyes, tragic losses, and hope so bright and shiny you can almost taste it. SHINE is everything I wanted it to be and more. I only wish it didn’t have to end.
Very few YA series earn readers love so completely with a debut, fewer still take that love and fan it into a blaze of emotion so intense that it burns a permanent place in your heart. The Shade series does that. Every page is better than the last and SHINE is the almost painfully perfect ending to one of my all time favorite YA series. Make plans to hit the bookstore on May 1st. You won’t regret it.
Sexual Content: A non graphic sex scene, several implied sex scenes...more
WITHER was one of my favorite dystopian releases from 2011, and even though I expected FEVER to be a very dReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
WITHER was one of my favorite dystopian releases from 2011, and even though I expected FEVER to be a very different type of story based on the ending of WITHER, I think my expectations were still too lofty. FEVER picks up with Rhine and Gabriel having escaped the mansion where Rhine had been forced into a polygamous marriage. In sharp contrast to the affluent and pampered life in the mansion, Rhine and Gabriel find themselves abducted and forced into a brothel run by a demented and cruel Madame. Once again, Rhine must play the part of a biddable and grateful girl while secretly plotting her escape. Life inside Madame’s sex slave tents is harsh and merciless. The girls are tragic and vicious, the men who patronize the tents are just as desperate and depraved as you would expect. Since this is YA, the details and descriptions are somewhat sanitized, but it’s all to easy to imagine the atrocities that go on.
What was fascinating about FEVER, and what I was hoping to learn more about, was the world outside the mansion. The various factions, the politics, the first generation elderly mixing with the terminal youth. How would that society look? We get some answers in FEVER, and the promise of even more in the next book. What was less fascinating, was the romance. Rhine and Gabriel lived on stolen moments, fleeting glance, tiny moments in WITHER. In FEVER, they are together, but without that constant threat of being caught, their relationship became rather dull. Gabriel, in particular, became this flat and uninteresting figure that just roamed around in the background.
An inherent problem with trilogies is the often mundane middle book. FEVER kind of feels that way. I’m not sure it needed to happen. The end of the book is where the action is, where the stakes finally rise and events occur that feel purposeful. But the first 250 pages…I’m just not sure they really added much to this series. Lauren DeStefano is a tremendously talented writer, so even though the beginning and middle of this book lacked impact for me, I enjoyed reading her phrasing and descriptions, I just wish the plot had been given the same care as every lovingly crafted word. I am fully engrossed in this world, and the ending was powerful and ripe with excitement, so the final book in The Chemical Garden trilogy (currently untitled but scheduled for publication on April 1, 2013) is already on my wishlist.
Sexual Content: Sex slavery. Attempted assault. Kissing...more
OUTPOST is a very different book from ENCLAVE. Instead of a group of teens governing themselves a la THE LOReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
OUTPOST is a very different book from ENCLAVE. Instead of a group of teens governing themselves a la THE LORD OF THE FLIES, Deuce, Fade, Stalker, and Tegan find themselves literally adopted into the town of Salvation. Instead of focusing primarily on hunting Freaks and surviving, Deuce has to learn gender roles, attend school, and accept parental affection…yeah. It’s a big change. Aguirre still writes well and the characters have maintained believable consistency in their new circumstances, but the dramatic departure from the debut was jarring to say the least.
The whole first half of the book felt like one long lecture on gender stereotypes. The townspeople kept trying to get Deuce to conform with their puritanical notions regarding women. She naturally objected and then there were lengthy passages about gender equality etc. Not that I disagree, but it became somewhat tedious after the third ‘girls can do anything boys can do’ monologue. The romantic developments helped to breakup these parts, and only deepened my love for Fade. It was nice to see Deuce soften where he was concerned and see her own sense of wonder at her emotions regarding him. Unfortunately, that storyline ended up moving in several cliche directions.
The story did pick up when the group finally ventured outside the walls of Salvation, but they didn’t stay out there long enough to fully compensate for the slower beginning. That’s partly due to the Freaks themselves. Yes, they are still cannibalistic feral creatures, but it’s almost as if they’ve evolved. They almost end up being viewed like some indigenous people group that Deuces group just doesn’t understand. Yes, they are hostile, and yes, they eat people, but they also have baby Freaks and build houses. They just didn’t feel the same as they did in ENCLAVE.
As an audio book, the production level was good, and I appreciated that the narrator altered her voice subtly when delivering dialogue from other characters My only complaint is that she was a little too sunny in her delivery for Deuce. Still, this is a series with merit, and while OUTPOST didn’t wow me in the way that ENCLAVE did, I’m invested in these characters and where the story is headed. I’ll be interested in seeing how it ends when HORDE is published on October 29, 2013.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to rape...more
Sequels to stand out debuts often struggle to advance the series plot and recapture the magic of the firstReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Sequels to stand out debuts often struggle to advance the series plot and recapture the magic of the first book. INSURGENT isn’t one of those sequels. It’s as powerful or even more powerful than it’s predecessor. And considering how phenomenal DIVERGENT was, that’s no small compliment.
One of the most inventive and action packed dystopian series ever, INSURGENT picks up almost immediately after the end of DIVERGENT. The factions that dictate every aspect of society are in danger and all out war seems inevitable. Tris’s faction has ben split as too many members have turned traitor. Power hungry Erudite have set their sights on the Divergent, like Tris, systematically rounding them up to kill…and worse.
What continues to impress me with the Divergent series is the character arcs. They are magnificent. Tris transformed from the almost Amish-like Abnegation member to a brave and confrontational Dauntless member so convincingly in DIVERGENT, and her transformation in INSURGENT is no less impressive. After the tragic choice she made at the end of DIVERGENT, Tris is plagued with guilt, self recrimination, and shame. She isolates herself even from those she cares about the most. It’s heartbreaking to read. And Tris isn’t the only one who evolves in the book. Characters who I thought were villains became heroes, and characters who I thought were trustworthy became villains. Shocking doesn’t begin to describe it.
The beginning of INSURGENT was a little slow and not as easy to jump into as the debut, especially since the worldbuilding isn’t really recapped for readers (like me) who could have benefitted from a refresher. But once I got my bearings, and the central conflict was revealed, INSURGENT was as compulsively readable as DIVERGENT. And the revelations at the end were almost overwhelming—in a good way--considering their implications. Bottom line, this is a series not to be missed. The stakes just keep getting higher and I can’t wait to dive into the third book in the Divergent series when it comes out in 2013.
There is always a gamble when beloved authors start new series in different genres. There are going to be dReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There is always a gamble when beloved authors start new series in different genres. There are going to be differences. Sometimes those differences prove just how talented an author is, other times they reveal hitherto unknown weaknesses. I’m sorry to say that the latter is true in THE PLEDGE.
The worldbuilding is excellent and unique in the sea of other dystopian novels that have flooded book stores of late. There is oppression, injustice, and powerful villains that make readers seethe to read about. The most fascinating aspect of this world is that language is the barrier that divides people. The classes all have there own distinct language and, on pain of death, are forbidden to speak or understand languages of those above them. As you can imagine, there is gross abuse of this system.
But the overall writing is not as impressive as it should have been (not nearly as impressive as in THE BODY FINDER). The character relationships are also very rushed. I didn’t even realize that there was a love triangle here until Charlie made some ‘why am I thinking about [name] all the time’ statement. The main romance with Max felt equally fast. I didn’t for a second buy how quickly they were consumed with each other. Considering the war, murder, and destruction going on around them, romance really should have been the last thing on their mind.
I also noticed a lot of logical inconsistences. Too many things happened without a plausible reason, or worse, plans were made with glaringly obvious weaknesses that were of course exploited by the enemy. Honestly, it just made all the main characters look stupid or at the very least painfully naïve. Not really the qualifications that leaders in a revolution need to possess. I really wanted to like this book since I’m such of fan of Derting’s The Body Finder series, but THE PLEDGE just isn’t as good as it’s promising premise.
I remember the first time I read the original Hans Christian Anderson’s THE LITTLE MERMAID and franticallyReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I remember the first time I read the original Hans Christian Anderson’s THE LITTLE MERMAID and frantically searching for the happy ending that the many retellings I‘d read/seen had reworked into the story. It wasn’t there. And the story leading up to the ending was rather depressing too. It took me a long time before I could appreciate the melancholy source of this classic fairy tale, but I do still love the happily ever after of the subsequent versions. BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY by Jaclyn Dolamore is the latest mermaid story to end up on my shelf, and while it isn’t a retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID, is does borrow heavily from Anderson’s work and also from the less depressing versions that followed.
The mermaid mythology borrows one of the more bleak rules from Anderson’s story: every step that a mermaid takes on land feels like knives stabbing her feet. So right away, I realized the happily ever after I wanted wasn’t going to be an easily accomplished thing, if it was possible at all. Especially since the mermaid in question falls in love not with a human, but with a winged folk, a sort of human/bird like race. His wings would not allow him to enter the ocean, and every step on land is agony for her. Their whole relationship is practically forbidden before they even meet, and once they do, the knowledge that a life together is impossible makes every moment they share together so bittersweet.
The beginning of BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY doesn’t come close to having the depth and emotional intensity that the rest of the book has since it deals with Esmerine’s underwater life and her insipid and silly sisters, but once she is forced to leave them behind, I was completely swept away by this tender and mournful love story. BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY, although a YA title, is much more mature than the other mermaid tales that this genre has recently produced. It is full of heartbreak and impossibly difficult choices, but that’s part of what made is a love story I won’t soon be forgeting.
Supernatural superheroes dominate Kelly Medding’s new MetaWars urban fantasy series. In TRANCE, we meet theReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Supernatural superheroes dominate Kelly Medding’s new MetaWars urban fantasy series. In TRANCE, we meet the next (and possibly last) generation of telekinetics, telepaths, elemental wielders, shape shifters and all other manor of superheroes. The world has turned its back on Metas after a war between the heroes (Rangers) and the villains (Banes) destroyed major cities all over the world in their fight for power.
I loved the complete break from traditional urban fantasy mythology that TRANCE introduced. There is a real X-Men/The Incredibles vibe to this story that really worked. Trance was only a child when the war left her orphaned and alone and no longer in possession of her trivial ability. She grew up in foster care and has made a series of poor choices as an adult. I admired her practicality and doggedness when it came to her life and doing what she needed to survive. She never got caught up in pity parties or wasted time wishing her life had been different. These are the traits that attracted another one of Meding’s trademark beta males to Trance. Gage is the first Meta Trance comes across when the war starts up again and the Rangers are recalled, and is quick to let Trance lead when it is discovered that she has a newly inherited and extremely formidable power. I’m coming around to beta males in general, but I still found myself shaking my head at the way Gage meekly responded to Trance when they fought. I wanted him to have a bit more bite.
I also thought the middle dragged a bit with action scene after action scene separated by Trance talking to a friend about the responsibilities of being a leader and her guilt over the losses she felt responsible for. It just felt like the same scene repeated over and over. Fortunately, the end of the book picked up significantly both with the romance and plot. Trance and the other Metas got answers about their pasts and were able to face the villain they’d been hunting in a very fun comic book style showdown.
Overall, TRANCE delivers a nice break from the urban fantasy norm. Will superheroes end up being the next big thing to hit the genre? Could be. There is certainty a lot of fun to be had in a world like this, much more than in other similar attempts. A bit uneven in parts and I wasn’t ever completely sold on the hero, I still enjoyed TRANCE for its mythology, its resilient heroine, and its mostly successful bridge between comics and urban fantasy.
Sexual Content: Attempted sexual assault. References to rape. A lengthy sex scene. ...more
The most famous love story ever written is real, but the version The Bard gave us couldn’t be further fromReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The most famous love story ever written is real, but the version The Bard gave us couldn’t be further from the truth. JULIET IMMORTAL, the standalone paranormal YA from Stacey Kay, reimagines Romeo and Juliet as demon and angel type beings who have spent centuries since the day he betrayed her fighting for the souls of lovers.
The idea here is a good one. Romeo is a monster who seduces mortals into killing the ones they love. Juliet is a protector who tries to save them. The portrayal is so at odds with the story we’ve all be told that it feels very fresh and fascinating, especially since Romeo is so fond of quoting the famous lines from the play and twisting some of the most romantic words ever penned into the most disturbing threats. I just wished the actual mythology behind this idea had been better.
Romeo is a Mercenary of Darkness (basically a demon) and Juliet is an Ambassador of Light (basically an angel). Romeo sacrificed Juliet all those years ago to gain eternal life. Somehow both Romeo and Juliet ended up on opposite sides of an ancient war fighting for the lives of soul mates. Romeo and Juliet borrow the bodies of people close to a couple on the verge of destined love then they fight and try and thwart the other’s objectives so they can move on to the next couple. It wasn’t ever really clear why they do this and only vaguely explained who was in charge of things. And I never understood the reason for the mysterious creatures that hold special significance for Romeo and Juliet that show up.
The poor girl who Juliet possesses is a truly tragic character that is one slit wrist away from suicide. Her mother is harsh and unloving, her only friend is thoughtless and cruel, and boys at school make bets about who can take the ‘freak’s’ virginity. Juliet finally gives her a chance to stand up to the people in her life, but only as long as Juliet is there. After she moves on, there is no reason to hope things will change for this girl. I did appreciate the romance that developed, even though it doesn’t come close to story of Romeo and Juliet which I inevitably was thinking about, but I didn’t ever really buy just how quickly people were professing undying love.
Overall, the writing in JULIET IMMORTAL is very good, if a little slow in places. I loved the idea of reinventing the Romeo and Juliet story but wished the mythology justifying it had been more developed. This book hit it’s stride in the middle when the romance was the strongest, but I’m afraid I was rolling my eyes at the rather silly ending.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex....more
In INFINITY, Nick had to do battle with his fellow classmates who had turned into flesh eating zombies. InReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
In INFINITY, Nick had to do battle with his fellow classmates who had turned into flesh eating zombies. In INVINCIBLE, Nick was up against a horde of demons who were after the bounty on his head. Given the formidable paranormal foes Nick fought in the previous two books, I was expecting him to once again face off with another seriously scary supernatural baddie in INFAMOUS. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be…school bullies.
I understand that the topic of bullying is especially relevant in this day and age, and Kenyon doesn’t use kid gloves when dealing with the issue. The bully in INFAMOUS resorts to truly horrendous attacks including posting doctored bestiality pornographic images of one of Nick’s classmates, supposed rape footage, outing several homosexual students by posting more photoshopped images, and a website revealing everyone's deepest darkest secrets…and the supposed sources who revealed them. But…I don’t read The Chronicles of Nick series because I want to hear about bullies. That’s not to say there aren’t some supernatural things in INFAMOUS, there are and those were the parts that I enjoyed the most, but most of this book felt like a lecture on the evils of bullying. Hey, no argument there which is why I didn’t particularly enjoy reading about it for almost 500 pages.
The things I enjoy about The Chronicles of Nick series are still present in INFAMOUS. The cameos from the Dark-Hunter series (which there are a lot of in this installment), the pitch perfect depiction of Nick as a fifteen year old boy with all the messy, endearing qualities that won my heart in INFINITY, and the fresh and inventive directions Kenyon takes this version of her beloved character. I really just wish the plot this time had dealt more with the supernatural problems facing Nick than with the natural. I’m still completely invested in this series and will be back for INFERNO when it hits shelves on March 4, 2013.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to pornography including bestiality. References to rape....more
This has not been a good year for sequels. Some of my least favorite reads this year were follow ups to booReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
This has not been a good year for sequels. Some of my least favorite reads this year were follow ups to books I loved. For various reasons, the magic had been snuffed out, and I unfortunately have to add DREAMING AWAKE to that list. DREAMING AWAKE is all the more disappointing when compared to the dark and delightful FALLING UNDER. There were only two chapters in this entire book that I liked, two of the three chapters not written from the protagonist’s POV. Not a good sign.
The three words that kept coming to mind while reading this book are what I like to refer to as my holy trinity of bad read qualities: boring, cliché, and predictable. Nothing happened for the first two hundred pages. Theia worried about everything it was possible to fret about. Her sassy friends quipped and offered platitudes to her at every opportunity. Haden smoldered and leered on every page, attempting to wield his supposedly lethal sexuality until all the characters (and the reader) were choking on it. He was a far cry from the dark and dangerous character in the previous book. He was possessive and jealous and if Theia had been a more interesting character, I might have said he didn’t deserve her.
Even beyond Theia and Haden’s flat romance, the actual plot involving Haden’s demon queen mother Mara showing up and slinking around town wreaking havoc doesn’t start until the last third of the book. The two interesting chapters I mentioned occur even later. Theia’s BFFs Donny and Amelia each have to face the dangers of their own hearts and their chapters are both well written and moving (especially Amelia’s), but the same can’t be said for the rest of the book. As much as I loved FALLING UNDER, since I liked only two chapters out of the couple dozen in DREAMING AWAKE, I can’t recommend this.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex....more
I remember being really disappointed when the movie Jumper came out a few years ago because it just didn’tReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I remember being really disappointed when the movie Jumper came out a few years ago because it just didn’t live up to the potential of the idea (and presumably the book by Steven Gould which I haven’t read). Ditto for The Butterfly Effect. Well disappointment is the last thing I feel having just devoured Julie Cross’ debut, TEMPEST. It is so exciting, exhilarating, and emotionally absorbing that I’m not even the least bit surprised the a movie version is already in the works.
Unlike the two movie I referenced, TEMPEST takes the idea of a college guy with a newly discovered ability to manipulate time and space and runs with it. The whole concept of time travel in this book is meticulously well developed but explained gradually and fluidly so that the information is dispensed without the reader even realizing it, and yet by the end, I fully understood how everything worked. Loved that.
I also loved the character of Jackson. Every single thing about him was believable. From his commitment phobias stemming from a childhood loss, to his quick thinking and suspicious nature, and his somewhat reckless behavior with his abilities. I bought everything so completely, that I’d believe this was a work of non fiction if it weren’t for the time travel. Jackson’s girlfriend Holly was really the only character who I found to be a bit lacking, but considering how strong everyone else was, that’s barely a criticism.
As the first book in the trilogy, TEMPEST does leave a number of questions unanswered and it’s clear that there will be an overarching story that spans the series, but the ending is very satisfying. There’s enough mystery, romance, intrigue, and action here to captivate any reader. And it’s all told from the perspective of a humorous and disarming protagonist whose transformation over the course of this book has me completely invested in his story, which I can’t wait to continue in the next Enemies of Time book on January 17, 2013.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Mild sensuality. References to sex...more
BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST, the first book in the Midnight Liaisons series by Jessica Sims (aka Jill Myles) isReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST, the first book in the Midnight Liaisons series by Jessica Sims (aka Jill Myles) is exactly what I hoped it would be based on the cover and description: super sexy, super fun, and full of super hot shifters.
Bathsheba is a human pencil pusher working at a paranormal dating service. She is fiercely protective of her younger sister Sara and has gladly sacrificed her own personal happiness in order to keep Sara safe from a werewolf pack that hunts them both. When a cancelled date puts her job and safety in jeopardy, Bath is forced to step in and ends up on a date with Beau, a were-cougar who made my Alpha loving heart race. Supernatural politics, past vendettas, and an unnatural paranormal danger threaten to extinguish the sparks that fly between these two, but Beau refuses to let go of what he wants, and Bath is finding it harder and harder to remember why she keeps running.
If you’ve read Jill Myles’s Succubus Diaries series, you know she excels at blending humor and romance in a way that elevates both. Under her new pseudonym, Jessica Sims, that same trademark blend shines throughout BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST but with a greater emphasis on romance. There is also a strong suspense element kept me up way into the wee hours of the night. Plus, I loved that the romantic tension started hot and stayed that way thanks to a very sexy twist on shifter mythology which I won’t spoil.
If you’re a paranormal romance fan you’re going to love BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST. This has all the ingredients that make up a classic romance novel, but with a paranormal twist that heightens everything. The future books in the Midnight Liaisons series will feature new characters and new romances. Based on the ending of BEATY DATES THE BEAST, I’m betting that Bathsheba’s sister Sara and a certain were-bear will be up next. Can’t wait.
Sexual Content: Scenes of sensuality. A few graphic sex scenes. Sexual assault. References to rape...more
I love the Greek myth about Hades and Persephone. It’s romantic and dangerous which makes it perfect fodderReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I love the Greek myth about Hades and Persephone. It’s romantic and dangerous which makes it perfect fodder for the paranormal YA genre. Last year, there were at least three contemporary retellings: Meg Cabot’s ABANDON, Amiee Carter’s THE GODDESS TEST, and my favorite, Gwen Hayes’ FALLING UNDER. 2012 kicks off with a new and welcome version from debut author Brodi Ashton. EVERNEATH borrows just enough from the source material to please the purist in me while injecting the story with fresh and exciting new mythology.
If you are unfamiliar with the Persephone myth, it’s about a girl who is abducted by Hades and forced to be his queen for half of every year in the underworld. EVERNEATH begins with Nikki returning to the Surface after vanishing months before. The side effects of her stay in Everneath are very apparent, both physically and emotionally. Nikki wasn’t a queen, she was a meal. Time passes differently in Everneath, so her energy was fed on for a century. All her emotions, her memories are gone. Except for Jack. The boyfriend whose betrayal allowed the immortal Cole to seduce her to Everneath. The narrative jumps effectively from her time before Everneath chronicling how Nikki and Jack fell in love and how Cole pursued and ultimately stole her life, and Nikki’s painful reacclimation to life and attempted reconciliation with Jack when she returns. Lots of heartbreak, but it’s the good kind.
I did feel that there was an imbalance when it came to the secondary characters in EVERNEATH. When Nikki returns to the Surface, she is completely consumed with Jack. Very little attention is given to her father and little brother despite how clearly her absence has devastated them in the wake of her mother’s death and the trial for the man who killed her. I think it would have worked better if Nikki hadn’t had a family or not one that cared about her, than to have this broken family be largely swept to the sidelines. It just felt wrong. Likewise Jack’s PTSD suffering older brother was a mess after fighting in Afghanistan, but they never really address it or even talk about him. I can’t help wondering why these characters, with serious problems, were even introduced at all. Granted this is a trilogy, so some of my objections will likely be addressed in subsequent books, but to not address them at all in this book struck me as a serious oversight.
Overall, EVERNEATH reintroduced me to a myth I love with beautiful writing and skilled narration. The romance is both poignant and tragic. I’m thrilled this is the first book in a planned trilogy. There are zero details about the sequels right now, but I have some ideas of what may happen next. Hopefully the secondary characters will get some much needed attention, but with a central love story this strong and a twist on the mythology this fascinating, I may not mind.
DRINK SLAY LOVE is ridiculously fun. I expected the ridiculous part based on the description (vampire slayiReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DRINK SLAY LOVE is ridiculously fun. I expected the ridiculous part based on the description (vampire slaying unicorns!), but I was I was not prepared for the witty, sly, and smart characters, dialog, and story.
I think I’ve been hoodwinked. How did I miss the fact that unicorns are the perfect vampire hunters? Think about it. What kills vampires? Stakes through the heart. What do unicorns have? Giant stakes growing out of their heads. Of course now I’m looking at narwhales in a completely different way too, but that’s not relevant. Still, the whole unicorn vs vampire makes a strange kind of sense, doesn’t it?
What also makes a strange kind of sense is Pearl, who was great fun as a character. Her initial response to humans was very arrogant and dismissive (reminded me a bit like Illyria from Angel, but with a strong sense of humor). She doesn’t bat an eye when her dad brings home dinner in the form of a bellhop trussed up on the dinning room table. But what I loved even more was that she wasn’t evil. She didn’t laugh at human fear, she just didn’t even notice it. Like all vampires, she viewed humans in the way we would cattle, a pat on the head and they’re off to the butcher. No big deal. And tasty with ketchup.
When she ends up in high school, she just got better. Everything she said was dripping with irony and superiority. And the other students were just as fun. No throw away or flat characters. There were plenty of surprises too that kept me on my toes and just made the story even better.
DRINK SLAY LOVE has a sense of humor about itself that never once flagged. It’s full of snappy dialogue that was genuinely clever and funny, a storyline that was wacky but completely enjoyable, and a believable sweet romance. I had a blast reading this book.
DELIRIUM, Lauren Oliver’s beautifully crafted dystopian novel set in a world where love had been declared aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DELIRIUM, Lauren Oliver’s beautifully crafted dystopian novel set in a world where love had been declared a curable disease, was my most recommend book last year. Every book loving friend I knew got a copy shoved into their hands, and the ones who weren’t big readers got a copy and a heartfelt plea to try it. Every single person I recommended it to loved it. That hasn’t happened to me since THE HUNGER GAMES.
The world in PANDEMONIUM is grander in scope than the one portrayed in DELIRIUM. The story isn’t confined to Lena’s sheltered world. She dredges through the Wilds, the Capital in New York and the hidden world beneath it. And it isn’t just about the Cured and the Invalids either. There are Scavengers, Intruders, and the hardcore DFA members who are zealously fighting to force the cure on children. We find out that it’s not just the invalids who are perceived as a threat, but anyone deemed weak or infirmed. It’s an ugly, ugly reality and one that instantly unites the reader with the Resistance and the now fully aware Lena.
PANDEMONIUM is told in alternated chronologies. One picks up in the Wilds just moments after the end of DELIRIUM, and the other several months in the future in the Capital where Lena is posing as a Cured to gain intel for the Resistance. The beginning is a tad on the slow side, and only one of the chronologies proved really interesting. I sort of grew impatient with the slow chapters in the Wilds, but the Capital chapters were gripping. Lena was under the constant threat of exposure as she had to fight to keep from reacting too passionately to the things going on around her. The stakes became even higher when her path crossed with the DFA President’s son. By the time the two chronologies converged…I once again succumbed to the deliria of loving this series. And the ending, the very last page, was like a punch in the gut, leaving me reeling in the same way the ending of DELIRIUM did.
Just like with DELIRIUM, PANDEMONIUM delivers the same beautifully expressive writing, the same frightening world, the same heartbreaking romance, and an ending that will leave you just as breathless for the next book. REQUIEM, the final book in the Delirium trilogy, will be published in February 2013
DARK PARTIES by Sara Grant is a bit like a 1984 version of THE CITY OF EMBER. An entire society of people hReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DARK PARTIES by Sara Grant is a bit like a 1984 version of THE CITY OF EMBER. An entire society of people have sequestered themselves in a Protectosphere. Generations later, supplies are running out, the population is dwindling, and the government wields control over everything and everyone. Questions are ignored and sometimes even the one asking the questions will vanish as if they never existed.
The teenagers are the first to rebel. Initially, it’s with a celibacy pact. The government aggressively encourages reproduction from the day children turn sixteen. They even have special films that are made up of just the sexy/intimate scenes from movies for the new ‘adults’ to watch together. Neva (her name means snowflake) and her friends vow to remain virgins so as not to bring more children into a Protectosphere existence, a vow that they test frequently throughout the book, especially when Neva is around the mysterious boyfriend of her best friend.
There is quite a lot of sleuthing and espionage in DARK PARTIES. Once Neva decides to fully rebel despite the risks, she infiltrates the government that her father works for and begins piecing together a shocking history and a future almost too horrible to be imagined. All of this is brought to life with Grant's simple but elegant writing. There were a couple of little details that grated on me, most notably Neva’s best friend Sanna who had her own catchphrase: A-maz-ing. She said it a lot which in turn made me want to smack her a lot and seriously impacted my concern for her well being. I also wanted to see more of the Protectosphere and the government that controlled it. They remain mostly a faceless enemy.
Overall, fans of DELIRIUM, DIVERGENT and Maria V. Synder’s Outside In series will find plenty to delight and incense them inside DARK PARTIES Protectosphere. There is no word on whether or not there will be a sequel to DARK PARTIES, but the ending leaves plenty of room for more books, and I would love to know what happens next.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex. Scene of sensuality...more
“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
As much as I enjoyed CLOCKWORK ANGEL, CLOCKWORK PRINCE is superior is almost every way. Everything is tightReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
As much as I enjoyed CLOCKWORK ANGEL, CLOCKWORK PRINCE is superior is almost every way. Everything is tighter, crisper, more dangerous, and the romance will warm your heart one moment and break it the next.
My minor complaints about the trio in this series being carbon copies of the trio in The Mortal Instruments is completely gone in CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Will, Jem, and Tessa are so brilliantly alive and distinct from any other characters that Clare has breathed life into that I can hardly believe I ever felt they were knock offs. I will say that the relationships between all three main characters are given equal weight, and that is something that has carried over from the previous series. So while we are torn watching the tortured romance play out between Tessa and Will, and then the touching and heartbreaking love that blossoms between Jem and Tessa, those relationships never overshadow the bone deep brotherly love between Will and Jem. Sometimes while reading about multiple relationships in other books, I will settle on a favorite and become impatient when the others get page time. Not in CLOCKWORK PRINCE, my heart was equally invested in all three.
CLOCKWORK PRINCE, while having a robust plot involving attempted coups, an army of automotons, and spies, is really real about the characters. We learn tantalizing clues about what Tessa is, the reason why Jem is the only one that Will will let himself get close to, and why Will is as tormented and isolated from everyone else (and wow is it a doosey). There is a lot of heartbreak in this one…a lot…like Jane Austen a lot. Honor and devotion and self sacrifice are the dominant themes and they all play out beautifully.
I blinked and I was reading the last page, that how fast CLOCKWORK PRINCE flew by, and I wanted more. The ending is ripe with bittersweet love and loss, and I almost don’t know what to hope for since no matter what happens next, it will be devastating to at least one character that I’ve grown to love. I’m dying for and dreading the next book in the Infernal Devices series, CLOCKWORK PRINCESS, which hits shelves on December 1st 2012. After this fantastic set up, it’s now one of my top wish list titles.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Two scenes of sensuality...more
Unlike Andrews’ Kate Daniel series, which is one of the best urban fantasy series ever written, the Edge seReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Unlike Andrews’ Kate Daniel series, which is one of the best urban fantasy series ever written, the Edge series is rightly categorized as paranormal romance, albeit one that embraces a host of other fantasy tropes to produce something that feels fresh and classic at the same time. The chapters alternate between his and her POV and as with the previous two books, readers can be assured of a happily ever after ending.
The romance is a central feature of FATE’S EDGE and from the moment Audrey and Kaldar met, I was hooked. There was a playful and sexy quality to their relationship that I fell for long before Audrey and Kaldar wised up, but the teasing will they/won’t they back and forth was so much fun that I was actually the tiniest bit disappointed when they finally got together. It was a super steamy scene, but it almost felt unnecessary. I preferred reading about Kaldar’s bold flirting and orchestrated caresses. And watching Audrey try and fend him off when she really didn’t want to was just as fun.
Having been to the Broken and Weird before, the nonmagical and magical counterparts of our world lost none of their appeal. Not surprising since Ilona Andrews’ does worldbuilding better than just about anybody. But it was exciting to read about some new ways that magic and abilities have manifested themselves in FATE’S EDGE. In addition to changeling shifters and necromancers, we meet giants, dragons, and even a character whose magic works by making wagers.
If you are a fan of any kind of paranormal fiction, this is a series you won’t want to miss. The dialogue is slick, the hero oh so seductive—and made all the more seductive because he knows it—and perfectly matched in the quick witted heroine, and the action scenes exhilarating. The next book in the Edge series is scheduled for release on November 29th 2012. Since the lynx changeling been my favorite character since ON THE EDGE, I’m officially pleading my case to make Jack the hero in that book or one soon after. Give him ten years and he could end up giving Curran a run for his money.
Sexual Content: References to rape and molestation. A semi graphic sex scene...more
Rachel Caine is an evil, wicked author for what’s she has done to her characters—and by extension her readers—in LAST BREATH, the eleventh book in herRachel Caine is an evil, wicked author for what’s she has done to her characters—and by extension her readers—in LAST BREATH, the eleventh book in her crazy fun Morganville Vampire series. Not since GLASS HOUSES—which ended with with the decapitation of a main character—have I been as shocked by a book in this series…and yes, that means someone else very important dies.
I am continually amazed at how after so many books, the stories about Claire, Shane, Eve, Michael, and Morganville still feel fresh and exciting. What’s more impressive is that the stakes—pardon the pun—escalate with each book too. How Rachel Caine manages to top herself with each book, I’ll never know, but the reader in me is just thrilled that she does.
Vampire politics have become an increasingly pivotal plot point in the series overall, but like in previous books, there is a very personal storyline in LAST BREATH too, involving Michael and Eve’s impending nuptials. Not to mention the ever volatile relationship between Claire and Shane, who actually didn’t make me hate him even once this time. That’s a new record. There were also some very difficult realizations that Claire had to make about a different relationship. I am extremely excited about what this could mean for the future of the series.
As in the previous Morganville book, LAST BREATH isn’t told exclusively from Claire’s perspective. We get chapters from Shane, Eve, Michael, and even Amelie, the last of which was a little odd. I think I prefer her as the mysterious and aloof Founder rather than knowing her thoughts. But these new perspectives did provide TONS of answers about Morganville and it’s citizens, so I’m not complaining. I can only hope that we get a chapter from Myrnin next time. And there will be a next time. Rachel is under contract for at least three more books in The Morganville Vampires series. Up next is BLACK DAWN, which will be published in May 2012, and after the end of LAST BREATH…the series may never be the same.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex....more
There is something shocking about McKenzie Lewis, the protagonist in THE SHADOW READER by Sandy Williams. SReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There is something shocking about McKenzie Lewis, the protagonist in THE SHADOW READER by Sandy Williams. She’s not a super woman/warrior goddess/magical titan capable of destroying the universe with a wink. Nope, unlike many urban fantasy heroines these days, McKenzie is pretty normal. She does have one ability that sets her apart from the rest of us; she’s a shadow reader, someone who can watch a fae ‘fissure’ (instantly teleport from one location to another) and know exactly where they will reappear. A highly coveted skill when there is a fae civil war going on, which is why McKenzie finds herself being sought after by both sides.
Where do I start with all the things I loved about THE SHADOW READER? The fae mythology wasn’t overly complex, but it was unique and perfectly suited to this world. I especially loved the idea of chaos lusters, tiny, visible lightning bolts that dance over the skin under certain circumstances like when fae touch humans. And speaking of touching, the tug-of-war going on with McKenzie’s heart was nothing compared to what I felt. How do you choose between the honorable warrior Kyol loyal to the fae king and the determined rebel leader Aren?
Another highlight for me was the constant cloud of doubt I was kept in. I was thrown back and forth suspecting first Kyol then Aren and back again so many times that I got dizzy. Just like McKenzie, I never knew who to fully trust, who to love, or who to align with. And just when I’d think I ‘d finally figured it out, something would happen and raise the questions all over again. The action was relentless and the emotions kept so sky high that I couldn’t decide until the very end.
THE SHADOW READER is a fantastically fun urban fantasy! One of the best debuts of the year and easily my favorite fae urban fantasy since Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever series. Wonderfully integrated mythology that flowed naturally in the story without needing lengthy explanations, a to die for love triangle, and a relatable non-super woman protagonist who relies on her brain and bravery to fight for what she wants. This is a book that checked off all my urban fantasy wish list boxes and I can’t wait to read the sequel.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to rape...more
Guild Hunter fans will recognize the hero from this story.Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Angel's Wolf by Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter #4.5)
Guild Hunter fans will recognize the hero from this story. Noel was the vampire in ARCHANGEL’S KISS who was brutally beaten to the point where virtually all the bones in his body were crushed. After an agonizing recovery, he is sent to Louisiana and the smoldering but heartless angel Nimra. A failed attempt on her life has cast the loyalty of all Nimra’s court in question, and Noel is sent to discover the traitor, while under the guise of Nimra’s latest toy.
Essentially, Angel’s Wolf is a mystery. Noel investigates the court, comparing stories, and interviewing suspects during the day while growing closer, emotionally and physically, to Nimra at night. The chemistry was lacking between these two for me and even though the writing and mythology is as good as ever, I was a bit bored by the story. Noel was by far the more interesting character, but it felt like he warmed up to Nimra much too fast—even for a novella—than he should have given his traumatic past. The Guild Hunter series is a great one and I’m still a big fan, but this was probably the weakest installment I’ve read. Sexual Content: A scene of sensuality. References to sex. Rating: 2/5
Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews (Alphas series)
I would never have guessed this was an Ilona Andrews story. Alphas: Origins has a very different feel and writing style from either the Kate Daniels or Edge series. It feels a little less polished, less sharp, than those series. The story involves a young mother and her daughter accidently winding up captors to four very alpha males ensnared in a millennia old war between beings who seek to destroy humanity. To ensure her daughter’s safety, Karina agrees to become the slave of Lucas, a shapeshifting warrior who needs her blood to survive.
The writing wasn’t as slick as I’m used to from Ilona Andrews, and initially, I was hung up on the writing style differences, but the storyline and uber alpha male characters, which reminded me of old school Linda Howard romances, quickly picked up the slack. The mythology was outlandish but fun, and the character of Lucas suitably tortured and aggressive. I’ll be looking forward to more Alpha books in the future. Sexual Content: Reference to sex and rape. Kissing. Rating: 3/5
Nocturne by Sharon Shinn (Samaria series)
This story occurs chronologically about 70 years after ARCHANGEL (Samaria #1). A woman has run from a murky past and taken a position at an exclusive boarding school when she comes across an injured angel hiding on the grounds. She begins visiting him and helping him learn to fly again. The writing is understated and quite good. The romantic relationship is not immediately evident and both the woman and the angel have a lot of personal baggage to deal with before looking at each other.
This was my first Sharon Shinn story, but it won’t be my last. Her writing feels more like magical realism than the other stories in this anthology. The pacing isn’t aggressive, but the story and characters gently wooed me until I was completely invested in Nocturne. This isn’t a flashy story, but it is a memorable one. Sexual Content: References to rape. A non graphic sex scene. Rating: 4/5
Ascension by Meljean Brook (The Guardians #7.5)
I’m not as familiar with The Guardian series as I’d like having only read a few other novellas previously, but Meljean’s engaging and romantic style has won me over in everything else I’ve read from her. I’m not knocking the mythology here, but newbies to the series might feel a bit lost if this is their first Guardian story. The story reunites two Guardian lovers whose romance ended badly more than a century ago. They team up to track down a demon responsible for the deaths of several high school students.
Mostly, the romance deals with overcoming the way this couple broke up originally. My big problem stemmed from the fact that Radha initially pursued Marc even knowing that he’d taken a vow of celibacy and experienced severe guilt over his attraction to her. It struck me as callous on her part and then selfish when she got mad watching as he was overcome by guilt after they had sex. I never believed that she cared about him beyond the sex. In my mind, if she truly loved him, she would have waited for him to sort out his beliefs before seducing him. Sexual Content: A scene of sensuality. Rating: 2/5...more
SPELL BOUND might have well been titled WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD: THE ALLSTARS EDITION because just about evReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SPELL BOUND might have well been titled WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD: THE ALLSTARS EDITION because just about every main character from the series pops up. Elena and Clay, Paige and Lucas, Hope and Benicio, Jaime and Jeremy, and on and on…It’s a a fun flashback for fans of the series and it even inspired me to go back to some of the books I missed before.
As far as the story goes, SPELL BOUND picks up right on the heels of WAKING THE WITCH and for the first half of the book falls into a less than thrilling pattern: Savannah and Adam interview someone, crash at a hotel, interview someone, then crash at a different hotel. It’s not especially exciting and there is no headway made towards the long hinted romance between these two characters. Fortunately, things do wake up a bit for the second half and several new story threads are introduced. My favorite involved a pregnant Hope visiting an incarcerated Jasper who is still obsessed with her…best scene in the whole book.
Unfortunately, SPELL BOUND never completely unbound. Savannah and Adam do a lot of investigating, Savannah does a lot of emotional running, which in turn opens the door for every other character in the book to lecture her on what it means to be an adult. The romantic tension that built so nicely in the previous book between Adam and Savannah goes all of nowhere this time until the last few pages. I kept thinking it would pick back up and was frustrated when instead of finally confessing her feelings, Savannah would go off and interview another suspect. Not very satisfying.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the Women of the Otherworld series is that you can easily hop in and out and for the most part enjoy each book without having read all the previous installments. Not so with SPELL BOUND. It reads very much like part two of WAKING THE WITCH and a significant portion of the plot is directly related to the events from that book. In fact, SPELL BOUND feels like the middle of one big book. The ending especially, since it really is more of a breaking off point that doesn’t really wrap up any of the plotlines established in either book.
This is a great series, but SPELL BOUND, while not a bad book, is my least favorite installment since it really isn’t it’s own story. Very little progress is made in terms of plot, romance, or even character growth. It is inexorably connected to WAKING THE WITCH and the next Women of the Otherworld book, number thirteen, which is titled 13. 13 will be published in 2012 and will be the final book in this series. I’ll still be sad to see this series end, but not as sad as I would have been if SPELL BOUND had been a stronger book.
BOUND BY BLOOD picks up twenty-one years after BOUND BY NIGHT and features the daughter of the couple fromReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
BOUND BY BLOOD picks up twenty-one years after BOUND BY NIGHT and features the daughter of the couple from that book who is fresh out of college on her own for the first time in America. Like her mother before her, I had some issues with Kaitlyn as a heroine. She came across as very young and naïve. I could have started a drinking game and gotten myself truly hammered by books end if I’d taken a shot every time Kaitlyn or some other character said she ‘was a big girl now.’ Zack, of course, was the different-girl-every-night type who inexplicably wanted to change his ways only moments after meeting Kaitlyn.
Character clichés aside, I consistently felt like I was reading a romance novel from twenty plus years ago. Modern readers may get frustrated with some of the more outdated character portrayals and mindsets, but overall, it struck me as more nostalgic than anything else. On the plus side, the basic storyline is full of suspense and sprinkled with enough family drama, and vampire politics to keep the pages flying in this paranormal love story.
Overall, I surprised myself by still enjoying this book despite it’s formulaic plot, overly familiar character types, and excess of romance novel tropes. BOUND BY BLOOD is a fun, frivolous way to spend a few hours. The romance is on the chaste side, but the multi generational love stories feel authentic and kept a smile on my face while reading. If you like traditional romance novel formulas and want the added allure of vampires thrown into the mix, you’ll enjoy BOUND BY BLOOD too.
Sexual Content: Kissing. A couple brief, non graphic sex scenes....more