The adage “don’t judge a book by its cover’ couldn’t be more true than when it comes to DEMON HUNTING IN AReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The adage “don’t judge a book by its cover’ couldn’t be more true than when it comes to DEMON HUNTING IN A DIVE BAR which is nothing like the cheesy cover. This turned out to be a surprisingly hilarious, fun and fast read. The dialogue is witty and sharp with tons of quirky southernisms which helped enhance the swamplands feel of the New Orleans dive bar Beck owns and her community of truly weird people.
One of the aspects of this world I enjoyed was the way half-demons are explained (possession of a human for a while) and how this affects Beck and the rest of the half-demon populace. The secondary characters are given great details too, especially my favorite, Tommy, a former vegetarian-now zombie who is denying his growing hunger for brains. Like Tommy, just about every character has some crazy quirk which gets showcased in at least one of many off the wall moments of DEMON HUNTING IN A DIVE BAR.
One of the characters I wasn’t too big of a fan of was Beck’s long lost twin brother. His existence wasn’t explained very well, so he came off as more obnoxious than evil most of the time. On the other hand, the romance between Beck and Conall is steamy and funny especially when Beck has to act as translator for various things Conall is not familiar with in this world. In fact I loved every time Conall and his demon hunting brothers ventured out to interact with humans who don’t know about demons.
The author has described her series as ‘Southern fried paranormal romance’, and she’s dead on. DEMON HUNTING IN A DIVE BAR has an excellent mix of wacky characters with an intriguing plot that will have readers smiling all the way to the end. As of now there are no details for the fourth book in the Demon Hunting series but with the cliffhanger ending, I am eagerly anticipating the next book.
R. J. Anderson has a gift for submerging a narrative into her heroines’ skins. Through insanity, through synesthesia, through alien thought processesR. J. Anderson has a gift for submerging a narrative into her heroines’ skins. Through insanity, through synesthesia, through alien thought processes and motivations. I enjoyed ULTRAVIOLET with reservations, Alison’s point of view was interesting but not compelling. I fell in love with QUICKSILVER, however, Tori’s abilities and limitations were mesmerizing. Anderson does a beautiful job offering her character opportunities for growth and room to surprise without ever violating their central identity.
It was just that identity that made me fall in love with Tori. She’s smart, capable, and undeniably alien. A popular golden girl who breaks all the molds, Tori is an engineer after my own heart. After ULTRAVIOLET, I had high expectations for an atypical romance. Tori’s love life was not only unique, it was beautifully fitted to this story and her perspective. About as much as I enjoyed the present tense action, the flashbacks to past events would jolt me out of the story. New readers may enjoy this glimpse into Tori’s past, but I lost momentum those few times Anderson took me out of the present.
ULTRAVIOLET was 3bats in my estimation, and QUICKSILVER outperformed its predecessor with 4. Though the narrative wasn’t flawless, my investment in Anderson’s characters more than compensated for the few times my attention wandered. Anderson’s consistent ability to immerse me in the heroine’s point of view guarantees that I’m excited to come back for more.
Dreams can be a tricky sort of magic. So much of their power is comes from the disorientation and internal logic of the dreamer, reading any sort of nDreams can be a tricky sort of magic. So much of their power is comes from the disorientation and internal logic of the dreamer, reading any sort of narrative built on top of that fluid and arbitrary base can be alienating. Kerry Schafer, however, takes the best of the mystery and humor of a dream-state to enrich the mechanics of magic in her world. I laughed, my heart raced, and I finished BETWEEN more than a little bit in love with Schafer, Vivian, and a penguin named Poe.
I spent awhile looking for Schafer’s other pen names or prior books, because it’s hard to believe BETWEEN is a debut effort. This story is rock solid. Action flows beautifully, characters are introduced and grow in believable ways. Vivian and Zee are wonderfully believable as they try to reconcile their “real life” with the influences that seep in from their dreams. There were several surprises for me as the story progressed, as hints of past events and dreams were matched with present day characters, and all of these revelations felt well structured and natural. Vivian’s ex-boyfriend, Jared, is the violent bogey man that haunts her dreamscape, and my only caution would be to readers who are sensitive to sexual violence. I didn’t like Jared. I looked forward to his defeat or comeuppance or demise, but my dislike for him didn’t dominate the narrative or overwhelm my affection for other parts of the story.
Urban Fantasy fans will be able to pick out several familiar plot points in BETWEEN. The main character discovers a hidden heritage, there’s a beautiful man who has loved her long before they met, she has a preternaturally smart pet, a crazy mother and mysterious grandfather. None of these elements on their own are entirely new, but the elegance and magic with which Schafer writes them is a welcome surprise. And nothing in this story is included “just because”, each piece is tied together mindfully and specifically. Take Poe, Vivian’s penguin side-kick. While he certainly brought most of the comic relief, he was also integral to bringing those splashes of dreaming disorientation to a fantasy plot. Schafer is a comedic genius to realize that nothing says “This is a weird dream,” like having a silent, deadpan penguin standing in the corner.
I never expect a series to sweep me off my feet in the first book, which makes it all the sweeter when it happens. BETWEEN is the best of what Urban Fantasy can offer, rife with adventure, danger, and our familiar world threaded with dreams. For the magic and romance (and unlikely penguins), BETWEEN has already found it’s way to my favorites shelf. I can’t wait to read what Schafer comes up with next.
Sexual Content: Violent sexual assault and rape....more
CLEOPATRA ASCENDING is a wonderfully satisfying paranormal mystery centering around a very relatable reincaReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
CLEOPATRA ASCENDING is a wonderfully satisfying paranormal mystery centering around a very relatable reincarnation of a teenage Cleopatra. The story felt a little like an Indiana Jones type story with a secret cult bent on world domination, ancient codes to break, and lots of references to ancient historical texts. This was a great standalone book filled with action and intrigue and I was actually very surprised to discover that this was the second book in the Shadow’s Edge series (the first book focused on Rhea’s shaman sister, Leah).
I really liked the concept of Rhea being the reincarnation of Cleopatra and enjoyed seeing what powers she got as the story went along. The visions of Rhea’s past life were so visually detailed and I almost wanted to spend more time in ancient Egypt with Rhea as Cleopatra. As a character, Rhea came off as a very realistic teenager with numerous flaws who makes mistakes and learns from them. I was also impressed at her lack of bitterness in regards to not having any real magical abilities.
In regards to Rhea’s love life, I liked that she had a more realistic teenaged relationship with Slade…aside from him being a Dark Creatuir prince. I also enjoyed the lack of a love triangle or any real confrontation/chest thumping between Slade and Declan to ‘win’ Rhea. I liked that while Slade and Declan do assist Rhea in defeating the Octavians, Rhea is able to have agency over what she does and how she grows into her powers throughout the book.
I liked the mystery and magic discovered in CLEOPATRA ASCENDING and I will definitely be going back to check out the first in the Shadow’s Edge series; SHADOW’S EDGE, and keep an eye out for the next book featuring a new sister.
Three stories feature couples facing the end of the world in the form of zombie-like vampires, ruthless leaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Three stories feature couples facing the end of the world in the form of zombie-like vampires, ruthless leaders in post-apocalyptic worlds, and environmental disasters that imbue some with super powers while condemning others to cannibalistic insanity. All three feature prominent romances, though only one delivers a story that will leave readers hoping for survival.
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa
There were several things that bothered me about this story including cliche characters, insta-love, and several continuity issues. One of the bigger issues was that this story is very adult. The characters are in their mid twenties and there is a pretty graphic sex scene. Wouldn’t be a big deal except that this is a prequel to Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series which is very YA. Are they really marketing this to the same audience? That issue aside, this story pals in comparison to the first book. The writing is poor especially in the beginning which involves a lot of medical discussion that feels as inauthentic as anything I’ve ever read. As a fan of THE IMMORTAL RULES, it was fun to see some of the characters before the Red lung virus took over, but most of this prequel is a mess. Several lines made me cringe including this gem:
“…you’re awfully young and pretty to be running a clinic alone…” Absurdly, I blushed at the compliment.
Rating: 2/5 Sexual Content: One graphic sex scene
Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre
Ann Aguirre is a favorite author of mine no matter what she’s writing. In this world that is reminiscent of the one in Escape from New York, life is kill or be killed. As always in Aguirre’s stories, the characters take center stage. A young, resourceful thief, and a vengeful assassin team up to overthrow a tyrant. The romance in this story is super subtle with hints of promised sensuality. Both characters as 100% focused on the task a head of them, so a romance rightly takes a back seat. The pacing is excellent and the payoff and the end is super satisfying, if not a complete resolution. I’m hoping that’s because Aguirre plans to write more about Thorne and Thistle. Both are such fascinating characters that they deserve to have their story told.
Rating: 5/5 Sexual Content: A brief, non graphic rape
Sun Storm by Karen Duvall
This story has a very similar structure to Kagawa’s Dawn of Eden. A doctor in a clinic fighting an incurable ailment meets a mysterious guy with secrets about the ailment, and goes on a perilous trip with him. The writing and characterizations are slightly stronger, but even the idea of crazy environmental upheaval creating supernatural abilities isn’t enough to elevate this story beyond average.
Rating: 3/5 Sexual Content: Kissing. Mild sensuality....more
IMMORTAL CRAVING is the forth book in Kendra Leigh Castle’s Dark Dynasties series, paranormal romances abouReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
IMMORTAL CRAVING is the forth book in Kendra Leigh Castle’s Dark Dynasties series, paranormal romances about a race of shapeshifting vampires. There are some character crossovers, but each book focuses on a new couple, so new readers can enjoy any book regardless of whether or not they read the previous ones. In this case, a human dog groomer crosses paths with an ancient and tormented lion shifting vampire.
This was my first read by Castle, and I would say it’s a decent if not particularly compelling read. In typical PNR fashion, our couple only has eyes for each other the moment they meet. Neither can account for the strange and hitherto unknown attraction they feel for the other, the obsessive thoughts, the almost uncontrollable desire to touch and taste. I can’t really account for it either except that they don’t really have a lot of other options, at least not that we see.
So our couple tries to fight their mutual attraction briefly for various noble and/or innocuous reasons that no reader buys for a moment. Later, when an actually legitimate reason makes itself know, our heroine dismisses it immediately and our relatively weak hero doesn’t protest half as much as he should have. There were also some larger series plotlines involving warring vampire lines that perhaps lost some of their intended impact on me as a new reader. Of course this is a romance, so love prevails and everyone is happy in in the end. I suppose I was too, but not enough to be too motivated to dig into the previous books in this series or be overly anxious waiting for a fifth book in the Dark Dynasties series.