Mother and son writing efforts haven’t been wildly successful in the YA genre (see FORBIDDEN by Syrie and R...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Mother and son writing efforts haven’t been wildly successful in the YA genre (see FORBIDDEN by Syrie and Ryan M. James), but with J. A. London (aka Rachel Hawthorne of the Dark Guardian series and son Alex Nowasky) that trend may be broken. Mixing vampire romance with a dystopian world, DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN paints an exciting and cohesive tale with a heartfelt love story set against a dangerous fight for human survival.
It’s been years since the 30 year war between human and vampires was waged, and the few remaining human strongholds are beginning to rankle under the so-called peace treaty they signed. Vampires still slip into the cities to slake their thirst and vampire king is threatening to withdraw his nominal protection if the blood donations don’t increase. This is the situation Dawn steps into when she inherits the role of delegate from her murdered parents.
While there have been other YA series that imagined vampire run worlds (see similar titles below), DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN adds its own flavor by emphasizing the dystopian nature of its world. Subtle details like cellphones cobbled together from toaster parts, fang checks at clubs, the beyond scarcity of things like soda and butter. And of course the mammoth wall that wraps around what’s left of the city. All of that balanced beautifully with the vampire mythology and surprisingly satisfying love triangle.
Fans of dystopian and vampire fiction will be delighted with this dangerous and engrossing world. I did think Dawn’s grieving process for her parents was shockingly fast, but once I put that out of my head, I couldn’t put DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN down for a second. Be ready for a bit of a cliff-hanger ending, but it’s the good kind. I’m already dying to see what happens next when BLOOD-KISSED SKY is released in 2013.
In the past week, I have been gorging myself on Ann Aguirre in three different series and subgenres: SHADY...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
In the past week, I have been gorging myself on Ann Aguirre in three different series and subgenres: SHADY LADY (urban fantasy), NIGHTFALL (paranormal romance), and now ENCLAVE (paranormal YA). If I didn’t already have her on my short list of authors par excellence, there is no question that ENCLAVE would have catapulted her over the edge. It’s a creepy and shocking and thrilling look at post apocalyptic New York that will remind readers of THE HUNGER GAMES and LORD OF THE FLIES.
Speaking of LORD OF THE FLIES, in an interview, Ann Aguirre has set that she was heavily influenced by William Golding’s book when it came to writing ENCLAVE. Children forced to band together and form societies (some more successfully that others) is as much a commentary on human nature as FLIES, but in a more flattering way since Ann shows both the depravity that would emerge in this reality as well as the altruism of others, and even the misguided groups that fall into the middle of that spectrum.
As always, Ann’s writing is a sensual delight. I felt my own heart race as Deuce and Fade were being hunted by the zombie like Freaks in the tunnels underground, felt when they were injured, when they escaped. I experienced the first fluttering awareness that developed between them, the sheer terror when they faced down the gangers above ground. Hunger, dehydration, and exposure. They come to life in a way that I could swear I was traveling alongside the characters. It is an amazing feeling that few authors can deliver.
I already made a comparison to THE HUNGER GAMES, and while there are a lot of similarities between the two, it’s unfair to expect ENCLAVE to match such a beloved book. But if you want a different kind of apocalypse with another brave and resourceful heroine, you won’t be disappointed with ENCLAVE. The trailer does an excellent job of conveying the tone of the book: harsh yet hopeful. Bleak and bloody, yet with moments of undeniable beauty. Can’t wait for more. The next book in the Razorland series is titled OUTPOST and will be released in Fall 2012.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to rape. (less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
MASTER OF NONE is a wickedly funny, darkly twisted take on the Aladdin story. Walt Disney may not...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
MASTER OF NONE is a wickedly funny, darkly twisted take on the Aladdin story. Walt Disney may not approve, but I certainly do.
Male protagonists in the urban fantasy genre are about as common as tan lines on a vampire. As women are the main readers of this genre that makes sense. Typically, that's how I prefer it, but after spending a few hours inside Donatti's head, I'm ready to bring on the boys. He is endearingly self-deprecating, a bit of a loser, and he knows it. Basically everything about his life generally sucks, and when it doesn't, he's leery.
The relationship between Donatti and the djinn Ian is somewhat reminiscent to the relationship between the horse Bree and his boy Shasta from C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy. Well, with a bunch more swearing of course. Ian gives new meaning to the word arrogant and he treats Donatti pretty much the same I would treat a mosquito that I couldn't reach to swat.
I loved how the details of this world unfolded slowly. By the end of the book, most everything was explained, but I never really had to endure any info dumps.
The back cover description of MASTER OF NONE really doesn't do a great job of conveying the irreverent tone of this book. I like the brief description Sonya gave me in her guest blog better (which you should check out because its basically the scene that occurs right before the book starts): “It’s like Aladdin, only set in modern times, and the thief is a professional with chronic bad luck, and the genie doesn’t grant wishes – actually, he’s more like Jafar than the genie in Aladdin – and there’s a Jasmine, but everybody calls her Jazz, and she’s not a princess, but there is a princess, and...”
I think MASTER OF NONE is a great book for newbies to the genre, or friends you're hoping to convert, as it doesn't initially slam you over the head with supernatural elements. As a longtime lover of the genre, I found it to be a surprisingly fun read. Donatti's narrative voice kept me smiling (and laughing out loud several times) from beginning to end. The next book in this series, Djinn’s Apprentice, “features a cult, a curse, a kidnapping, and some serious blurring of clan lines among the djinn on Earth. Donatti discovers he’s more powerful than he thinks, and Ian learns a thing or two about trust, and why blind revenge isn’t always the answer.” –Sonya Bateman on Debuts & Reviews. No release date yet, but I’m looking forward to it already.
Sexual Content: References to sex. References to homosexuality.(less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Funny and urban fantasy are not words that often go together, at least not intentionally, but HAP...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Funny and urban fantasy are not words that often go together, at least not intentionally, but HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA is the rare exception combining cool characters, witty dialogue, and laugh out loud moments in this Jane Austen channeled vampire romp.
Milangro had a strong voice and her outlook on life was hilarious in a Bridget Jones meets Charo kind of way, and there were several bitable vampires who pursued her, but it was the vampire matriarch, Edna who stole this book for me. She was prickly, condescending, and subtly insulting every time she spoke. I loved her.
And did I mention funny? I laughed so hard while reading HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA that I actually had to put the book down at one point because I was crying too hard to see the pages (it was the scene where Edna takes Milangro shopping for the second time).
Was it predictable? Yes. Was it groundbreaking in terms of world building? No. But it was smart, and clever, and great fun from beginning to end. If you’re feeling a little depressed by all the somber plotlines in most urban fantasy books, HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA is like a shot of margarita flavored sunshine in you tukis. I’m already planning my next visit to Casa Dracula.
Sexual Content: References to sex. A few mild sex scenes. A few mild scenes of sensuality. (less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
What do I want in an urban fantasy? A strong, likable protagonist with an as yet unrealized magic...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
What do I want in an urban fantasy? A strong, likable protagonist with an as yet unrealized magical potential, a richly layered paranormal world, a well matched love interest who holds their own, and the promise of a multi-book meta-narrative. DARKFEVER has all that and more.
Mackayla “Mac” Lane is a near perfect UF heroine, and she befriended me immediately. As is a Sidhe-seer, Mac is someone who can see past the disguises, or glamours, that the fey use to hide in our world. Tenacious in pursuit of her sister’s killer, Mac is thorough and smart. Yes, she's a bit cocky, which she glosses over with more than a hint of old fashioned Southern charm, but she's also resilient and quick on her feet. The first time she truly spots a fey and is in danger of being discovered, it’s her quick thinking and cool under pressure that save her life.
Speaking of the fey, in DARKFEVER they are divided into two courts. The fey from the Unseelie court are the stuff of nightmares: grotesque hulking monsters who can suck the life out of humans with a touch. The fey from the Seelie court are the stuff of fantasies: breathtakingly beautiful beings whose very presence can send a human into an all-consuming erotic frenzy.
And this is Karen Marie Moning, so you know to expect romance, but it’s far from conventional. The enigmatic Barrons is Mac’s unwilling teacher/protector. He is harsh and demanding, bordering on cruel through out DARKFEVER, and yet, there are flashes of something more, mere glimpses of a different man beneath the brusque demeanor. The slow, smoldering attraction that builds between these too was palpable.
Overall, DARKFEVER is a near perfect urban fantasy (and yes, it is more urban fantasy than paranormal romance). A chilling mystery, a darkly seductive enigmatic love interest with questionable character, in a terrifying yet alluring world full of both scary and seductive fey. I am dying to devour the other books in the Fever series and be devoured in return.
Sexual Content: References to sex. References to masturbation. Two scenes of graphic sensuality.(less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Kim Harrison - Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel - I had a bit of a falling out with Rachel Morgan's T...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Kim Harrison - Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel - I had a bit of a falling out with Rachel Morgan's The Hollows series after book four. I've long maintained that Ivy is in need of some serious staking, and as her relationship with Rachel increasingly became more of the focus of the series my enjoyment decreased (if a guy pulled half the possessive, needy, territorial garbage that Ivy does Rachel would never have put up with it). Plus after what happened with Kisten...But after reading Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel, I remembered why I loved this series so much to begin with. Nobody, and I mean nobody does better world building than Kim Harrison. I loved getting to read about Rachel as a teenager brimming with excitement about following in her late father's footsteps as a runner for Inderland Security (basically the paranormal police). But Rachel nearly died as a child, and at this point in her life she is still struggling with chronic fatigue and weakness from any type of physical activity, a fact her older brother uses to encourage her to pursue an alternative career as an earth witch. When the two strike a bargain to decide the issue, Rachel accidentally calls forth the ghost of a murdered witch (handsome Peirce) who has some unfinished business with the dead vampire who condemned him centuries before. Together he and Rachel hope to save not only Peirce's soul, but the soul of the young girl the vampire is about to condemn as well. This is a fun quick read sprinkled with holiday magic that will entertain both new and familiar readers, and might even re-hook those of us who had given up on this series for one reason or another. (plus no Ivy!)
Sexual Content: None
Run, Run, Rudolph by Lynsay Sands - I haven’t read anything by Lynsay Sands before, but I’m a little surprised that her story was included in this anthology because its basically a typical contemporary romance with an added sci-fi element. Jill gets struck with a destabilizing ray by an evil scientist and goes on the run through a parade and Christmas party with her longtime crush Nick. Jill new superpowers include being able to take on the appearance of anyone or thing (remember the title?) that she sees. Of course while on the run, Jill and Nick take a few breaks for a steamy make out session, and a near coupling in the parking lot. For a story that was only 90 pages long, the sexual content felt abruptly introduced and overly emphasized.
Sexual Content: A scene of heavy petting, a graphic sex scene that isn’t quite consummated.
"The Harvest" by Vicki Pettersson. Vicki's story focuses on Zoe, the mother of the main character Joanna in her Signs of the Zodiac series as she tries to rescue her infant granddaughter from the evil Shadow agents during Thanksgiving. The Zodiac series has an extremely complex and unusual paranormal world involving an endless battle between good and evil personified in comic book-like heroes of the Light and Shadow. I wouldn't recommend starting this series with this prequel novella as the paranormal elements will likely be confusing (and there are a few spoilers from the main series in here). But if you have at least read Scent of Shadows already, you should enjoy the back-story this provides and a deeper look at the inner workings of both sides of the Zodiac.
Sexual Content: A reference to a rape. A non-graphic sex scene (less)
Confession time: This is my first ever Charles de Lint book. And yes, I’m suitably embarrassed that I run a...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Confession time: This is my first ever Charles de Lint book. And yes, I’m suitably embarrassed that I run a blog called All Things Urban Fantasy and haven’t read the Father of Urban Fantasy. In my defense, I discovered the genre through Buffy, and it was quite a while before I even heard about Charles de Lint. My ignorance excuse ran out a long time ago, but I still shied away because once I understood exactly who de Lint was and what he means to this genre, I was terribly afraid I wouldn’t like his books and that would mean my UF love was really a sham.
My fear was 100% unfounded.
As I said, PROMISES TO KEEP was my first visit to Newford, but I never once felt like I’d missed something. Jilly Coppercorn, "the heart and soul of Newford” according to her creator, has been working hard at keeping her life together and putting a past that included physical and sexual abuse, drugs, and prostitution behind her. De Lint weaves episodes from Jilly’s past throughout the narrative at the exact moments I began to wonder. He gave me every piece of the puzzle I needed precisely when I needed it to understand Jill and the journey that brought her to where she was. Jilly is the perfect example of a character who you root for. One of the most damaged characters I’ve ever encountered, yet I was completely engaged in her story.
Glancing over de Lint’s website, I learned just how numerous and varied the creatures who populate Newford are, but in PROMISES TO KEEP, there really aren’t any. As one reviewer on Goodreads put it, “there seemed to be less of that whisper of magic that brings Newford alive and fills me with joy.” Instead, it’s the place that is the fantasy, and I’m not even talking about Newford, which comes off as nearly completely mundane. Mireya is the magical city in this book, but in a very subtle way. In fact, I would describe it as more lucky than magical.
For my first foray into Newford, I found PROMISES TO KEEP to be a strong character driven tale with the barest hint of magic, but with an easy going narrative style that forced the pages to fly and made me long for my next visit. If you have yet to try a Charles de Lint book, now’s the time. He’s the father of urban fantasy for a reason.
Sexual Content: References to child molestation and prostitution.(less)
I’m such a snob. I avoided this book for a long time primarily because I didn’t like the cover. That’s pret...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m such a snob. I avoided this book for a long time primarily because I didn’t like the cover. That’s pretty much it. But the moment they repackaged it with a pretty new cover and I’m sold (well that and the fact that I loved Richelle’s Vampire Academy series. Plus the $4.79 Kindle price didn’t hurt either). Stupid, shallow, and thrifty. That’s me. Every time I write a review like this one, I swear I’ll never again judge a book by its cover because I might miss out on another fun and sexy read like SUCCUBUS BLUES.
Georgina is an excellent UF protagonist torn between what she needs to survive as a succubus: sex, and what she craves as a human: love. The problem being that any one she actually cares about she can’t even touch because her succubus nature would steal away part of their life. Whoever thought being a succubus would suck so much?
I was surprised by the lighter tone of SUCCUBUS BLUES compared to most books in the urban fantasy genre. It’s almost like a cross between a traditional urban fantasy and a paranormal chick-lit title. Light and funny in moments, smoldering and sexy the next, and dark and dangerous too. Somehow they all work together and the result is a blast to read. There are currently five books in the Georgina Kincaid series so far with number six, SUCCUBUS REVEALED, releasing on August 30, 2011, after only one book, I can tell that so many books to look forward to is a very good thing.
Alpha and Omega is the novella that preceded Patricia Briggs’ Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Book 1). Part of the On The Prowl anthology, A&O is less its own story and more the introduction to Cry Wolf. It almost feels like someone decided to cut the first few chapters of Cry Wolf and publish them separately. Having read Cry Wolf previously, I already knew the basic plot of this novella as most of it is rehashed in that book. But what makes A&O worth reading is the character insight revealed through the alternating POV of Anna and Charles. And I actually found Anna to be a much stronger character this time around, despite the ongoing abuse she is enduring in A&O. She shows some spine and resourcefulness that I was proud to see. In Cry Wolf she almost seemed to take a step backwards in that sense. As a heads up, there is a lot of romance in this story. I would say the vast majority involves exploring feelings and attraction. So in that sense, A&O is very much a romance with paranormal elements and not the other way around. But even though the romance is the focus here, because this is Patricia Briggs we're talking about, the paranormal elements are top notch. The werewolf pack dynamic is fascinating and I particularly enjoyed how the wolves in this world have there own distinct personality that is not always in agreement with their human counterparts. I just wish there was more of them, especially regarding the origin of the Omega wolf. Perhaps Briggs is planning on doling out more of those details in future books. If you are reading this story first, be sure to have Cry Wolf on hand as the story does not conclude in this novella.
Sexual Content: Sexual abuse and rape is alluded to in the past tense.
Inhuman by Eileen Wilks:
This is the third book set in the compelling World of the Lupi, but it was my first visit, and right off the bat this book struck a nerve with me when the author resorted to writing two of my pet peeves: In the first chapter alone Christians and Republicans are stereotypically dismissed as evil, ignorant hate mongers. I mean how cliché can you get? And the second pet peeve is the info dump. Instead of gradually drawing her audience in to a world unlike our own, we get an entire history crammed into the first chapter. Starting chapter two, I was prepared to groan through the rest of this book for the purpose of this review, but after those initial turn offs (and basically a worthless first chapter full of irrelevant characters), not to mention the whole power wind concept which I found clear as mud, I ended up really liking this book, more to the point, I liked Nathan. His chapters are by far the most interesting (as is the revelation of what he really is). Kai, on the other hand, was pretty vanilla. Yes, she is Gifted (in some undefined way that we only get hints about initially), and yes, she does become more interesting towards the end, but Nathan is why I kept reading and why I was so disappointed to learn that nothing further has been, or is going to be written about him. Eileen had this to say on her website: '’10-05-2009 08:02 am …when I wrote about Kai & nathan I hoped to continue their story in books or novellas. But for now, my editor wants Rule & Lily stories from me, so no Kai & Nathan books--yet. This may change.’ Maybe we should start a letter campaign to Eileen Wilks’ Editor to write more books about Nathan (and Kai if she wants to)? In the mean time, I’m already planning my next visit to the World of the Lupi.
Sexual Content: There is a sex scene that is not overly graphic
Buying Trouble by Karen Chance:
I liked this story from page one. Claire is a Null (or something more), someone who can nullify magic, a rarity that her 'family' wants to cash in on by selling her to the highest bidder. Heidar, a Light Elf, lends a hand in her rescue sending the two on the lam through the Faeire realm where, of course, romance and action ensue. There isn't any explanation for the world in this story (I didn’t even realize that I was in the same world as in the Cassandra Palmer series until afterwards, which, considering how I reviewed the first Cassie book is probably a good thing); its like ours in most respects, except that it is populated with fey, weres, vampires, mages, trolls and even dragons. Some hardcore UF lovers might not enjoy this story as much as I did as the majority of the story takes place in the decidedly un-urban faeire realm, and in that sense feels more like straight fantasy. The characters, however, are strong with very modern mindsets. Claire specifically was sharp and witty with just the right amount of cynicism for my taste. Another nice thing about this story is, that unlike a lot of anthology selections, this one actually has an ending. None of that, 'read the rest of the story in the next book...' And it feels like a complete story, something not all novellas do. I hope Ms. Chance plans on writing more about Claire and Heidar in the near future.
Sexual Content: One semi graphic sex scene. (less)