As one of those dorky kids who loved Greek mythology, the premise of the Fates mixed with the descendants oReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
As one of those dorky kids who loved Greek mythology, the premise of the Fates mixed with the descendants of Greek Gods existing in the modern day Midwestern US is right up my alley. STRANGE FATES didn’t turn out quite like I was expecting, and I did have a few issues, but it was a light fun read with an original premise.
While I loved the world building and mythological aspects, there were some things that detracted from my enjoyment. My biggest complaint was the repetition. In one instance, Nyx repeats three times in two pages how he can’t share his true identity, because if his friend knew, it would put him in danger. When similar phrases are used frequently and close to each other it is distracting and pulls me out of the story. Another problem is that there was frequent coincidence in order to tie together plot lines. For example, though Nyx was characterized as lucky, since his mother is Lady Fortuna, as soon as he shows up in Minneapolis he discovers multiple of his mother’s charms and belongings in short order. This would normally be fine, but he supposedly has been looking for them for years- so why didn’t his luckiness help him sooner?
I liked Nyx as a character. His desire for revenge against his aunts (who killed his mother) was understandable, especially as we learn more about his early life. However, there were aspects of his personality that were unbelievable. For example, he’d been around for centuries, and yet hadn’t learned much magic, instead relied on fighting skills to protect himself against possibly magical enemies. He was also far more impulsive and less thoughtful than I would expect somebody who had lived as long as he had to be. However, there were a few side characters who made up for the sometimes clueless Nyx. There was Talbot, the slightly insufferable member of the House of Poseidon and Naomi, Nyx’s cousin who doesn’t know they’re related, but becomes his friend. Even Nyx’s aunts, the Fates, turn out to be different than we’re expecting based on the set up.
STRANGE FATES was a worthwhile read despite the issues. It was fun and quick, and the world Perez created is an original one in an Urban Fantasy landscape replete with werewolves and vampires. Since STRANGE FATES is the first in a trilogy, I’m looking forward to seeing where the overall story arc goes, and I’ll be around to read the second book, DARK DESCENT when it comes out.
Sexual content: Mild sensuality, single sex scene...more
WHEN WE WAKE is a very political book, and, to a lesser degree, a very religious book. Those aren’t necessaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
WHEN WE WAKE is a very political book, and, to a lesser degree, a very religious book. Those aren’t necessarily bad things. But when the politics and religion are preachy, it becomes much harder to enjoy the story hiding underneath.
And the story underneath is intriguing, or at least the premise is. A girl who is brought back to life a hundred years after she dies must learn to adapt to a hostile and unfamiliar world. Everything from technology to language has changed to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable. Initially, Teegan was likeable enough with her Beatles obsession and free running hobby, but she ended up making a few too many temper driven choices that just struck me as stupid–though not as stupid as almost every adult in this book.
The problem arises when WHEN WE WAKE attempts to tackle almost every single potentially polarizing issue dividing people today: hyper environmentalism, vegetarianism, racism, homosexuality, sex change operations, Islam, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, cults, drugs, immigration, totalitarianism, and so many more. The author’s position on all this issues comes across loud and clear. The characters who hold opposing viewpoints are complete villains. The problem isn’t always the issues themselves, which I think most of us would agree the way they are portrayed, it’s just so heavy handed and relentless. The story, such as it was, felt like it was just a series of events strung together in order for the author to get on her soapbox.
I had a hard time finishing this one. Instead of raising issues and letting readers think for themselves, only one position is presented as acceptable in WHEN WE WAKE, not because it is morally or intellectually more tenable (even when it is) but because the opposing view is a caricature/straw man version of itself. Regardless of your political and religious ideologies, it struck me as deeply disrespectful to lampoon and deride opposing viewpoints as thoroughly and overwhelmingly as this book does. There is clearly a sequel planned based on the unresolved ending, WHEN WE RUN, but I won’t be reading it.
I loved the previous book in A Monster Haven Story series, MONSTER IN MY CLOSET and POOKA IN MY PANTRY firmReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I loved the previous book in A Monster Haven Story series, MONSTER IN MY CLOSET and POOKA IN MY PANTRY firmly places this series in my top favorites. Zoey is a absolutely quirky and delightful character. Seeing her try to adjust to life as a helper of Hidden Creatures is really fun and leads to a variety of amusing situations that had me constantly laughing. Aside from the assorted Creatures Zoey deals with in POOKA IN MY PANTRY, the plot is wonderfully fascinating and adds to the hectic mess that becoming Zoey Donovan’s life. I really like how the world building is expanding as new layers of mystery and changes for Zoey are presented POOKA IN MY PANTRY.
Along with learning new things about her own abilities, being tested by Riley’s probation officer and the Leprechaun Mafia, a horribly messy Pooka shows up. I really liked this character with his lack of boundaries, lack of desire for wearing pants, and the hilarious interactions between him and Zoey and her friend’s pet fennec fox. The Pooka’s appearance actually complicates the plot which revolves around luck. The concept of certain amounts of bad luck canceling out good luck actually had my brain spinning, but it was fun to see Zoey find a way to balance the good and bad luck that is plaguing her and her town.
With the town in danger of too much bad luck, Zoey and Riley’s relationship luck slowly moves towards the good kind. I liked how they actually sat down and discussed their relationship and I really felt bad for Riley as his noble actions in MONSTER IN MY CLOSET are the cause for a lot of the problems Zoey has to face in this story. Their relationship is very sweet and I was excited and amused to see them move their relationship forward under the watchful eye of Riley’s probation officer who follows them around annoyingly writing notes in his legal pad and silently judging them.
POOKA IN MY PANTRY is a delightfully quirky read with funny characters and an utterly fascinating albeit off kilter world. I will be first in line for FAIRIES IN MY FIREPLACE due in fall 2013 and awaiting news on the next three books scheduled in the A Monster Haven series.
Joseph D’Lacey is an author who has been on my radar for some time now. I was intrigued enough by his first novel, MEAT, to purchase a copy, but sadlyJoseph D’Lacey is an author who has been on my radar for some time now. I was intrigued enough by his first novel, MEAT, to purchase a copy, but sadly it’s been a neglected member of the black hole that is my to-read pile ever since. After reading BLACK FEATHERS I’m most certainly going to rectify that.
I’m finding it hard to describe BLACK FEATHERS. I don’t think I’m the only one either judging by the incredibly short official publisher’s blurb that you can see above. I feel that in this case that is actually a good thing. BLACK FEATHERS is a book you want to discover on your own and too many spoilers would most certainly make the reading less enjoyable.
With that said, here’s my spoiler free attempt at discussing the book in a little a more detail.
BLACK FEATHERS is told from two narratives. The first is told from the point of view of Gordon Black (who has an incredibly awesome last name, by the way). Gordon is a young boy in England at the time of some sort of environmental collapse. This is all present day/near future stuff and it deals with English society turning into a police-state run by a quasi-corporate operation known as The Ward. I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get the nitty-gritty details of the events leading up to the disaster that caused the collapse of civilization, but this is Gordon’s story – not humanity’s as a whole. It deals with Gordon’s quest to find the Crowman (also known as Black Jack and the Scarecrow depending on which of the myths you happen to believe). Gordon believes that if he finds him he can save his family and what remains of the rest of population.
The second narrative is brought to us by Megan – a girl roughly the same age as Gordon. This part takes place in the far-off future and the people of the Earth are now living an almost peaceful medieval-ish existence. There’s no high-tech gadgets and whatnot, though there are the decayed remains of large cities of the past. Megan, too, is searching for the Crowman. He appeared for her and chose to place her on the Dark Feathered path. Because of this she comes under the tutelage of a wandering healer known as Mr Keeper. This is who Megan is to become – a Keeper. These are the people charged with keeping the story of the Crowman. It is told that the first female Keeper will also be the last of all of the Keepers. Does this mean the end or salvation? That’s what Megan needs to find out.
D’Lacey does an excellent job interweaving the two narratives and the story moves along at a brisk pace. To tell any more of the plot of the book would be a disservice to the wonderful tale that the author has woven. D’Lacey’s definitely an author you should be checking out and this is an excellent book with which to start....more
WHAT’S A WITCH TO DO? is a fun paranormal mystery with a lot of humor and a steamy romance. The mystery ofReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
WHAT’S A WITCH TO DO? is a fun paranormal mystery with a lot of humor and a steamy romance. The mystery of who wants Mona dead was well plotted and I had fun analyzing everyone’s motives along with Mona. I liked the small town of Goodnight where everyone knows everyone else’s business which presented a lot of amusing gossip for Mona to wade through to find her would be killer.
Mona was an interesting character who has to take care of her two young nieces, a coven to run, and a never ending to-do list. It was interesting seeing a character with small children to care for as it really affected her decision making and helped make Mona feel very relatable. While I enjoy a heroine I can relate to who has self-doubts, Mona’s constant jabs at herself and self-image issues started to grate and I began to wish for a more self-confident character. Is it too much to ask for a normal heroine who isn’t super thin and strong without having to endure continuing references to her weight and her ‘less than average’ appearance by Mona and other characters? This was the one really annoying aspect of WHAT’S A WITCH TO DO?, and unfortunately, the references at times dominated the story.
Another thing that bothered me was Mona’s To-Do list which is featured at the beginning of each chapter. It was cute to see that list with some things crossed out but it just highlighted for me the fact that Mona refuses to ask for help and no one around her even offers to help though everyone knows she has a full plate. I was miffed at the lack of support Mona seemed to have and was glad when Adam came along to ease some of her stress.
Continuing with the almost too real characterization, the relationship between Mona and Adam grows very organically as they start out as friends helping each other out and slowly build to a steamy romance over the course of the story. I like that there was some attraction that turned into something more with no magical instant connection I’ve seen so frequently in romances with werewolves. I also liked that Adam was a beta wolf who is not driven by any aggressive alpha wolf instincts. He comes off as kind, helpful, and a great partner to stabilize Mona’s hectic life.
WHAT’S A WITCH TO DO? is a fun, light mystery taking place is a small town with a plethora of eccentric characters. While I was annoyed at Mona’s characterization I enjoyed the overall story and look forward to any future books to come in this series.
SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is the first full length novel in the Fangborn series, but it's not the first story setReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is the first full length novel in the Fangborn series, but it's not the first story set in this world. I've read and reviewed two short stories set in the Fangborn universe (there have been four--see the series tab below for links) and was thrilled to get to jump into a more expansive novel featuring an archaeologist no less (possibly my favorite literary profession), along with the Stueben siblings from the short stories. I'm sorry to say I was less thrilled by the somewhat staid story and rather bland characters.
I normally love when short stories lead to full novels. In this case, the Fangborn mythology is so cool that it really should have leant itself to a great book. The Fangborn, or Pandora's Orphans, are the hope that was left when the mythical box was opened and evil escaped into the world. Werewolves, vampires, and snake shifters are the superheroes of this world, able to detect and destroy evil. Vampires, for example, don't feed on human blood, they literally suck evil out of people. There are all kinds of new twists on these creatures that I found fascinating. I was even glad to see the characters from the short stories pop up to help in SEVEN KINDS OF HELL. The problem was with everything else.
SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is, at it's heart, an archaeological thriller. But it's less Indian Jones and more whatever the boring equivalent of that is. Zoe was pretty sleepy for me from the start, and as she traversed the globe to rescue her kidnapped friend, retrieve artifacts, and avoid Fangborn politics, she never became any more exciting for me. In fact none of the characters captured my attention--not even George and Claudia who I enjoyed in short form. The whole book was slow even during fang filled action scenes. It all just felt bland.
I'm really baffled by my reaction to SEVEN KINDS OF HELL. It had everything that would normally equal a great urban fantasy for me: Eye catching art from Chris McGrath, fascinating mythology that I was anxious to see expanded, and even an archaeologist protagonist! The writing itself is fine, but I really had to push through the last 2/3 of the book due to the meh story and dull characters. There are two more full length novels planned in the Fangborn series, but I think I'll be passing.
My initial response to STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD was an up and down of emotions. I was excited to read this variation of the Bluebeard tale, made newMy initial response to STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD was an up and down of emotions. I was excited to read this variation of the Bluebeard tale, made new by featuring Bluebeard’s goddaughter rather than a wife. Then I was turned off by my introduction to the heroine, whose admiration for her sight-unseen godfather had strong romantic tones, even when she thinks he is married. Soon I realized each cringe and naive comment built the foundation of the narrative, more ghost story than fairy tale, and I was again swept away.
I love a good Jane/ Rochester romance, but the emphasis on physical attraction between godfather and goddaughter was overt enough to tip from titillation to distaste before the first chapter was over. I sunk deep into the creeping menace of the story. The author created a thick mist of threat and mystery, making it impossible to tell exactly where the path head was leading. Subtle eddies of the supernatural swirled amidst plausible explications, and I found myself hoarding details, trying to fill in the background of the mysterious M. Bernard. The line between supernatural and inexplicable is a wavering boundary in this book, and I enjoyed sifting through clues to piece together both past and present.
Though the foundation of the story was meticulously well crafted, layering eccentricity to manipulation to cruelty, the last third of the story slowed down significantly for me. Once the fog began to clear, once I could see Sophia’s happily ever after on the horizon, I was more impatient for her to get there than caught up in the climactic ending. Furthermore, from rape to slavery to domestic abuse, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD deals with many issues that may or may not impede a reader’s ability to immerse themselves in this ghost story. If you make it through the mine field of triggers, however, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD is a chilling, horrifyingly realistic retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale and a scary little book to curl up with some evening.
Sexual Content: Kissing, attempted rape, references to rape....more