ICONS pulled me in nearly immediately, with the fascinating premise of a futuristic world in which humanitReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
ICONS pulled me in nearly immediately, with the fascinating premise of a futuristic world in which humanity is ruled by a group of aliens with technology that can make hearts stop. There is so much to love about the book: the vivid characters, the enticing mystery, the excellent pacing and even the small details, all well done and enjoyable to read. Full of action, tension, humor and the occasional romantic moment, ICONS has something for everybody.
Some of the better moments in ICONS were due to the great, well developed characters. Our four protagonists, Dol, Ro, Tima and Lucas all have specific abilities that stem from certain emotions, and those emotions play out in their personalities. Ro’s full name, for example, is Furo, and his abilities come from anger. He, therefore, tends to be a bit jumpy and quickly riled. Amongst the others we have Lucas, who is a bit of a goody two-shoes and Tima, who starts out rather antagonistic but mellows as the book goes on. Our narrator, Dol, is quiet and you get the impression she just wants to go back to her life in the outskirts of the city, away from all the action. But she also wants to know why she is the way she is, what she can do, and the purpose she has being alive. The four grow throughout the story, as they learn more about their origins and how they can possibly subvert the aliens’ hold on humanity. This is a big weight to put on teenagers, and they begin to change accordingly, thinking more about others instead of themselves as they get near the end of the book. Luckily, there are some characters that offer more lighthearted interactions. Fortis, the mercenary, is an especially intriguing and likable character, even if you aren’t sure you can completely trust him. And then there’s Doc, the artificial intelligence doctor at the Embassy, who really wants to be able to tell jokes.
Another aspect of ICONS that I enjoyed was that at the end of each chapter we are shown some sort of document. They included autopsy reports, memos between government officials, or pages from propaganda books, and they offered a way to show the reader more of the world than what Dol knows. The documents create a bit of tension, as well, because as we get further in the book, we start seeing information about how the aliens came to be on Earth and the possible human involvement in bringing them here. Clearly, the nearly simultaneous timing of the birth of the four teens and the entrance of the extraterrestrials on Earth is not a coincidence. Though they aren’t exactly present in the book, their presence on Earth is obviously integral to the story, and I am sure that we’ll learn more about them as the series advances.
Well written and action packed, ICONS is an awesome mashup of science fiction and dystopian with telepathic teens and alien overlords, guaranteed to make your heart race and keep you breathless on the edge of your seat. I am definitely on board with the Icons series, and I can’t believe I have to wait until 2014 for the next book.
CRUEL BEAUTY is the fairy tale retelling I didn’t know I was waiting for. Taking the Beauty and the Beast sReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
CRUEL BEAUTY is the fairy tale retelling I didn’t know I was waiting for. Taking the Beauty and the Beast story and turning it upside down, spinning it around and still keeping it recognizable, it was entrancing and mind-blowing. Hodge created a fascinating setting, from what I could tell, an England cut off from the rest of the world, where mythology holds sway and the people worship the Gods of Olympus. Greek mythology played a large part in the story, with frequent references to Pandora, Persephone and other well known and lesser known stories.
Every character in CRUEL BEAUTY has flaws, and that is part of what made it so amazing. Nyx is the opposite of a typical fairy tale heroine- she’s angry, resentful, and at times she’s even cruel. Ignifex is handsome, but he’s a demon lord, ruling over the populace with his bargains, which never work out very well for the person on the other end of the deal. Even Nyx’s sister ends up being different than the reader expects. Nyx finds she can’t trust anybody, but then what do you do when you’re falling in love with the man you’ve been sent to kill? Watching the romance blossom between Nyx and Ignifex is so fascinating, as it is so hard to believe that love could come out of the circumstances, and yet Hodge does exactly that, never giving the reader the chance to doubt the veracity of the emotion.
CRUEL BEAUTY sometimes made my head hurt. It is so much more than a simple curse to be a Beast, there is a story of princes and gods, magic and demons, and the story whisked along at such a pace that I felt breathless the entire time. After reading it in one sitting, I almost feel like I should go back and read it again, take the chance to savor it. It seems to me a perfect little package, just waiting to be opened, full of little secrets I may have missed. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to catch everything the first time around, as CRUEL BEAUTY sometimes had me so twisted up following the intricacies of the story.
CRUEL BEAUTY is one of the most creative takes on Beauty and the Beast that I have ever read (and I’ve read a lot). Definitely worth your time to pick it up and spend a few hours with Nyx and her world. My only complaint is that while CRUEL BEAUTY is an excellent stand alone novel, I wish that I could keep visiting the world Hodge created. Luckily, it looks like we’ll have another chance to peek inside- a novella, GILDED ASHES, will be coming out in April, and I’ve already pre-ordered it.
Sexual content: Kissing, implied sexual situations...more
If you thought THRONE OF GLASS was action packed- you better put your seatbelt on, because you’re liable tReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
If you thought THRONE OF GLASS was action packed- you better put your seatbelt on, because you’re liable to get whiplash from CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. Full of mystery, conspiracies, secrets and betrayals, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT covered so much ground that I’m still reeling, three days later. This was one of those books that once I started, I couldn’t put it down, and despite the level of action, I didn’t feel overwhelmed, because the pacing was just the right balance between action and exposition to keep me hooked.
Quite a few of the questions left unanswered in THRONE OF GLASS were answered in CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. We’re given so much more information about Celaena’s background, where she came from, what’s going on in the kingdoms, and much more. But at the same time, we get new questions and Celaena continues to be a bit of an enigma. Saddled with a burden from an ancient queen, trying to keep her pride and dignity in the face of the king’s never-ending list of people to kill, and fighting her attraction to Chaol, the captain of the guard, she is constantly having to make tough decisions which further her growth and change as a character. She’s not perfect- she can be stubborn, rude and even mean, but overall, she is the type of girl character that I love reading, one who is figuring herself out and trying to find her place in a complicated world.
The world of the Throne of Glass series continues to grow and become more intriguing. We’re given hints about the magic, about how the king of Adarlan so easily and handily defeated all his enemies, and about what may yet exist outside of the kingdom’s boundaries. CROWN OF MIDNIGHT had, in my opinion, a bit more of a chance to go into the world and the history, as opposed to THRONE OF GLASS, which was focused on the champion competition. There is so much depth to this story that it felt like there was a surprise around every corner, but at the same time, it wasn’t too much. Sometimes, authors can get a bit carried away, creating excessive barriers for the character, or making the characters too perfect, and I definitely didn’t feel this was the case in CROWN OF MIDNIGHT.
Going into CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, I only remembered that I had enjoyed THRONE OF GLASS, and that I thought it was a good read. Now, having read CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, I want to go back, read them both again, and read all the novellas, too. Also possibly speed up time so I can get the third in the series. Luckily, it looks like there will be at least four more books in the Throne of Glass series (untitled as of yet) so I won’t be denied my fill of Celaena.
Sexual content: Kissing, very briefly described sex, references to prostitution...more
The Raven Cycle is a tip of the tongue puzzle, at once familiar and alien and ever fascinating. In THE RAVEN BOYS, Stiefvater gave us not just one herThe Raven Cycle is a tip of the tongue puzzle, at once familiar and alien and ever fascinating. In THE RAVEN BOYS, Stiefvater gave us not just one heroine, not just one hero, but a world where it seemed every character carried their own seeds of greatness. In THE DREAM THIEVES, that world spirals ever deeper to explore the villains in the cast. Beneath the emptiness and destruction lie boys that want to be loved, that want to be powerful, that just want and want and want as they burn up the world. And through that crucible of need some peel away the impurities, emerging battered and smaller but unmistakably heroic. Some, but not all.
The magic of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is difficult to describe, but indelible to experience. She made me weep for the bad boys, the murderers and drag racers, and showed the darker side of her heroes. In short, I fell in love with just about everybody, including the characters I didn’t want to like, the ones I didn’t want to forgive. And all of that love was good, as THE DREAM THIEVES still refuses to buckle under and become a “typical romance”. It’s not so much that there’s a love triangle as… everyone is loveable. And life is messy. Also, there’s magic and some people are going to die. Or have died. See how hard this is to capture? Just know that on every page Stiefvater wrote a sentence that made me smile, made me go back and read it again. And as much as I wanted to pick a favorite, to focus in on one story or one character and judge everyone else by that yardstick, Stiefvater stubbornly made me adore them all.
I struggled at the start of THE RAVEN BOYS because it refused to settle in and follow my expectations. I went into THE DREAM THIEVES knowing that this series would never be predictable, and I enjoyed the second book all the more for that open mind. The Raven Cycle shares more DNA with Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint than the usual paranormal YA. The world inside THE DREAM THIEVES feels bigger than what’s around us. Stiefvater combines the details of real life with leavening magic to produce a mesmerizing, ever-expanding wealth of moments, each one I want to live inside and experience first hand. I put down this book and felt bereft that I didn’t have the next one to reach for, exiled from Henrietta for another year.
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex....more
I’m going to be completely honest here and say what we’re all thinking – a comparison to both George OrwelReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m going to be completely honest here and say what we’re all thinking – a comparison to both George Orwell and Suzanne Collins in the same sentence doesn’t exactly make sense, does it? And while I appreciate the publisher’s desire to pull in THE HUNGER GAMES’ audience, if you go into THE OFFICE OF MERCY looking for another Katniss, you’re going to be disappointed. Not because THE OFFICE OF MERCY is in any way inferior to THE HUNGER GAMES, but it’s a totally different type of book – in the same way that Collins and Orwell wrote very different works, even though they may both have books that take place in dystopian environments.
THE OFFICE OF MERCY is clearly literary fiction. It may have dystopian and science-fiction elements, but the story is focused on Natasha and her significant internal conflict. The “genre” elements are background to the character growth and the stories of the people of America 5. There’s a lot in the way of moral and ethical dilemmas, with situations Natasha is put in that are so hard to conceive with our modern day sensibilities, but that Djanikian takes and convinces you are totally reasonable. There is also a bit of a young adult feel to the book, as well, despite the fact that Natasha is in her twenties. The way the romance plays out, the powerful elders, and the plot line of self-discovery all lend themselves to a young adult vibe. This should not, however, in any way discourage you from reading it.
Djanikian’s writing is magical. THE OFFICE OF MERCY does not feel in any way like a debut novel. There’s a clean, deliberate feeling to the prose, which flows smoothly across the pages. She has a very matter-of-fact way of telling the story, giving the impression that each word was carefully considered, with the total effect being a book that didn’t seem as long as it was. It was so easy to get lost in the pages, entranced by the story.
THE OFFICE OF MERCY has action and romance, and leaves the reader with lots to think about. It was a fascinating exploration into the gray area of humanity, and what humans are capable of doing when they view something as lesser. No one character is perfectly in the right – there is ambiguity that allows the reader to think for themselves and form opinions. THE OFFICE OF MERCY isn’t a light read, by any means, but it is definitely worth the time you’ll invest in it.
Sexual content: Kissing, implied sexual situations...more
The blurb for THE CURSED was what drew me in- a supernatural private investigator in a dimensional fold inReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The blurb for THE CURSED was what drew me in- a supernatural private investigator in a dimensional fold in New York City with a romance storyline to boot? Yes please! But if there is one thing I’d like to get across with this review, it is that though THE CURSED definitely has those elements, it is more a book about Rio and Luke (not just Luke), and it is far better than the blurb makes it sound. Set in a richly created world, with likable main characters, and excellent pacing, THE CURSED is a perfect first installment in the League of the Black Swan series.
If I were to rewrite the description for the book, it would go something like this: Rio Jones is just a bike messenger…until she sees the kidnapping of a human girl in Bordertown. Then, all of a sudden, everybody is after her, and she has no choice but to seek out the Dark Wizard of Bordertown, Luke Oliver, the very person she has been trying to avoid since despite their obvious mutual attraction, he has rejected her advances in the past. As Luke and Rio start the search for the little girl, they meet up with fae, demons, and other denizens of Bordertown, all who seem to know more about Rio’s past and parentage than she does. Why is everybody suddenly so interested in Rio, and what significance does her 25th birthday have? As the date grows closer, Luke is desperately trying to keep Rio safe, but is it because she hired him, or something more personal? And when Rio finds out about her heritage, will it bring them closer together, or will it tear them apart- forever?
Rio and Luke are really spectacular main characters. This is definitely a case of opposites attract with Luke, a gruff loner, and Rio, super friendly and fun, making an interesting, unexpected combination. Luke having to contend with feelings for somebody after being alone for so long is a realistic struggle, and it is satisfying when he comes to the (obvious) conclusion that Rio is the one for him. And rightly so! Rio is an independent, strong woman, the kind of person ready to stand up for children and small animals and who wins everybody over with her charm and manners. For example, at points, Rio makes friends with a troll and acquires a pet kitsune! And though THE CURSED took place over a short period of time, the growth of the relationship didn’t feel forced or rushed. The pacing did a really good job of balancing the action and romance and I was never bored, always wanting to know what was going to happen next.
Seeing how Luke and Rio work out their relationship kinks is something I’m hoping we’ll see in the next book in the League of the Black Swan series. Plus, I feel like Day has only scratched the surface of the world she created, and I want to learn more about the fae and the demons and other creatures of Bordertown. There are so many great elements that made for an excellent story in THE CURSED, and I have high hopes for further installments.
This is only the second Cal Leandros book that I’ve read, and once again I find myself wondering how I could have let this awesome series slip throughThis is only the second Cal Leandros book that I’ve read, and once again I find myself wondering how I could have let this awesome series slip through my fingers for so long. SLASHBACK is even more accessible as a standalone than DOUBLETAKE, as the narrative flicks back and forth from past to present, giving a perfectly balanced glimpse of Niko’s adolescence and Cal’s current state of mind. This structure, combined with Cal’s rough and hilarious voice, had me hooked from the start. I’ve already started making a list of friends who need a copy of SLASHBACK, it is the perfect gateway book to seduce new readers into this world.
Part of what makes SLASHBACK so relateable and accessible is the focus on Niko and Cal’s relationship. There are few relationships as appealing as a deep friendship, and as as devoted, damaged, and codependent as the brothers Leandros may be, they are also indisputably friends. Head smacking, prank pulling, smart-assing compatriots; essentially my ideal leading men. While Cal seems to spend most of his waking moments trying to provoke a response for his big brother, it is obvious how much love is interwoven with all that annoyance and mischief.
Two data points isn’t enough for me to make any sweeping recommendations regarding this series, but SLASHBACK is so good on it’s own that shouldn't matter at all. I had a copy of NIGHTLIFE on order minutes after finishing SLASHBACK, but whether you read from start to finish or just swoop in to enjoy SLASHBACK as a standalone, this book is not to be missed.
Sexual Content: References to sex and prostitution....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
TRICKSTER is a book that has restored my faith in the urban fantasy genre as a whole. Jeff Somers has creatReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
TRICKSTER is a book that has restored my faith in the urban fantasy genre as a whole. Jeff Somers has created a wholly original world that, even with magic, feels incredibly real.
The book centers around Lem – one of the world’s blood mages. And, yep, blood mages are exactly what they sound like. In this world there are two types of mages – those who use bleeders and those who supply their own blood for their magics. Lem is one of the latter.
The title comes from how the low-ranking, barely enough skill for a glamour mages refer to themselves. They are – almost to a man – con artists, thieves and grifters. They survive using little spells like making a crumpled up one dollar bill appear as a twenty. They’re scraping by and for the most part ignore (and are ignored themselves) by the more powerful magic users of the world. At least that’s how it was for Lem before he found Claire Mannice tied up in the trunk of a car. Now Lem’s in the thick of it and fighting just to keep himself and his friends alive.
I understand if right now you’re thinking I was a little hyperbolic in saying how this book restored my faith in urban fantasy. You’re just going to have to trust me and give this book a try. Seriously. It has everything. It has an incredibly well-thought out magic system, wonderful world-building, characters who not just break, but shatter, the cookie-cutter stereotypes so common to the genre and a plot that moves along at breakneck speed. Hell, it even has a dash of kinda-sorta romance in it for those who are in to that sort of thing.
To put it another way: I loved this book so much that even though I received an ARC, I’ve already pre-ordered four copies of it. One copy to put on my shelf (and I almost never buy anything but eBooks anymore) and three copies to let friends borrow. That’s how much I loved this book.
Do yourself a favor and read what should rightfully be one of the biggest urban fantasy releases of the season.
While not normally drawn in by retellings of the The Snow Queen (Beauty and the Beast is more my style) COLReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
While not normally drawn in by retellings of the The Snow Queen (Beauty and the Beast is more my style) COLD SPELL surprised me with its originality and unique take on a lesser known fairy tale. I enjoyed the twists and turns in the story and the way Pearce spaced it out, giving the reader small bits and pieces as the story progresses. With a strong female lead character, action and a tender romance, I couldn’t have asked for anything more from COLD SPELL.
One of my favorite aspects about COLD SPELL was the relationships Ginny forms along the way to rescue Kai. Flannery especially – while the time period the relationship is given to develop to the level it does is brief, I still enjoyed the camaraderie between the two girls. Then, there are the flashbacks to Ginny’s memories of Kai which give the reader a peek into the depth of their relationship. Understanding Ginny’s relentless quest after Kair would have otherwise been a bit much to ask the reader, since he takes off early on in the novel. There were definitely more than a few questions to ponder about love and what it means in COLD SPELL. Did Mora’s guards really love her? Why wouldn’t Flannery want to marry Callum even if she loved him? What would Ginny be willing to do because of her love for Kai? There was a very moving conversation between Ginny and Flannery regarding just that near the end where I definitely started tearing up.
Pearce’s fairy tale world is interesting. Taking place in our modern day world, COLD SPELL features probably the most terrifying werewolves I’ve read about lately, and the glimpses of other aspects of the world, the magic, and the other creatures, are fascinating. COLD SPELL was the first I read in the Fairytale Retellings series, and I doubt it will be the last. And having started with the fourth in the series, I now have the first three to keep me company until the next one comes out!
Less formula and more content than your average werewolf romance, TARNISHED is a brand of urban fantasy that I treasure. Though heavily steeped in chaLess formula and more content than your average werewolf romance, TARNISHED is a brand of urban fantasy that I treasure. Though heavily steeped in character, the slow arc of action that Held weaves through this story and her series as a whole has a level of patience that is becoming rarer and rarer in the serialized genre. Patience to let injuries heal, patience to let obstacles stand, patience to let characters struggle without a magical panacea to sweep the slate clean every book.
Though the first portion of TARNISHED focuses on the politics that have brought Dare and Silver to the west coast, that is just a framework for the character growth that fuels the heart of this book. I was surprised by how much I grew to love Susan, the outsider, the new mother, the woman struggling to find her way as a human among Weres. This world’s mythology doesn’t offer the chance of a quick fix, a bite that would make Susan magically part of the pack, but Held is not afraid to tackle the larger questions of culture and acceptance head on. Weres are still alien, still governed by rules and expectations that seem brutal to humans, but they’re also fallible, capable of mistakes and change and understanding. To this author, the cultural laws of Weres are less an immutable plot device (“Oops, you did the thing, now you must *die*.”) and more a living society with expectations, hopes, and flaws.
As much as I started this series all about Silver, Held seduced me into falling in love with her whole world. The Werewolves of Held’s mythology are magical without being impervious, her lovers are devoted without any superhuman certainty, and the politics of the pack is physical without being all about dominance. With TARNISHED this series has ascended to a step above the already strong SILVER to achieve something altogether new. Intricate, interesting, and fundamentally human, TARNISHED is a book not to miss.
SEA CHANGE takes the alien brutality of Grimm’s tales, washes them smooth and small with the hush of the sea, and transmutes the familiar pieces of maSEA CHANGE takes the alien brutality of Grimm’s tales, washes them smooth and small with the hush of the sea, and transmutes the familiar pieces of magic and friendship, villainy and madness, love and happily ever after into something altogether new. Haunting, heart wrenching, and beautiful, SEA CHANGE is a book I won’t soon forget… or entirely understand.
The story opens with a young Lilly and Octavius, human and kraken, each sharing glimpses of their own worlds with their best friend. Just as any young children try to decode the lives and strange rules of the adults around them, they each trade stories about land and sea. Spying on a village at Midsummer Festival or watching merpeople kill and devour their prey, to this young pair it all seems exotic. To a fantasy reader, both sides of the exchange will have their familiar elements, but all of it takes on a new and alien beauty when viewed through the smokey sea glass of Wheeler’s prose. Like our own world, SEA CHANGE can be both beautiful and terrible, and the characters around Lilly are as mysterious and nuanced and broken as any true adult.
I am not a fan of sad endings in books, especially when I feel I’ve emotionally suffered alongside the characters for no reason. Though SEA CHANGE is dark and realistic, though wounds don’t miraculously heal and true sacrifices are made, it also offers a sense of beauty and truth. It hurts when something precious is lost, but the act of loving it in the first place is its own kind of gift. Not a book for children, but rather, a book that reminds adults of the pain and beauty of being a child. Wheeler tempted me to fall in love, to feel once more the youthful, pure passion of a childhood best friend, and that gift is worth all the growing pains in the world.
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex, an attempted rape....more
I may be a little biased because Jack Campbell is my favorite living author, but I loved THE HIDDEN MASTERReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
I may be a little biased because Jack Campbell is my favorite living author, but I loved THE HIDDEN MASTERS OF MARANDUR. This book picks up about two weeks after THE DRAGONS OF DORCASTLE ended, and you’re thrown right into the action. The intense battle and action scenes are one of the places where Campbell’s writing really shines. There are a lot of urban and epic fantasy novels that make me cringe when I read their battles, but Campbell’s years of military experience help him write realistic battles.
Even though the battles are amazing, my favorite part of this book is the interaction between Mari and Alain. In the previous book, Alain and Mari only barely admitted their feelings to each other, so it’s great to see their friendship and relationship develop as they continue working together and saving each others’ lives. One of the things I loved the most about THE DRAGONS OF DORCASTLE was the fun and natural banter between Alain and Mari, and that banter is still in this book and maybe even a touch better. Though Alain is continuing to learn more about normal social interaction, he still makes slips every once in a while that will make you want to either laugh or put your head in your hands.
While they’re relationship continues to grow, it’s also fun to watch their individual characters develop. They have to remove their guild related garb and don the clothes of commons, as they run from both of their guilds. This allows them to see the world through the eyes of the commons when they interact with commons on an equal level. They both work hard to throw off the false teachings of their guilds, as they see what the world is actually like.
I love/hate cliffhangers just as much as anyone else, but Campbell hasn’t found the need for them yet in the Pillars of Reality series. Campbell ended THE HIDDEN MASTERS OF MARANDUR in a great place, where I’m dying to know what happened next, but without putting the characters in a life or death situation. I just have to hope the next installment comes out as quickly as THE HIDDEN MASTERS OF MARANDUR did. It will be an instant buy for me.
On the Audiobook:
Jack Campbell is in the process of getting the books in print, but until that happens the Pillars of Reality series is exclusively on Audible. And that’s okay because MacLeod Andrews does an amazing job narrating the series. MacLeod does an excellent job putting emotion into the banter between Alain and Mari, adding an extra layer of realism to the production.
Sexual content: Kissing and references to sex...more
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
What do I want in an urban fantasy? A strong, likable protagonist with an as yet unrealized magicReview 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....more
When it comes to the Sandman Slim novels it seems that people either love them or hate them. I personally fReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
When it comes to the Sandman Slim novels it seems that people either love them or hate them. I personally fall in to the former camp. These books are fantastic when you just want a book where the character kicks some ass and gets involved in all sorts of crazy shit. Yet there comes a point where even I was wondering just how much crazy shit ol’ Sandman Slim could get in to and still keep the books fresh. I shouldn’t have worried because KILL CITY BLUES was all that and more
The book opens with Stark (Sandman Slim) and Lucifer (the original one) sitting in a diner. It doesn’t take long before someone is trying to kill Stark. Why? They believe he’s still in possession of the Qomrama Om Ya. What’s that, you ask? It’s a weapon for killing gods and the cult of the ancient gods wants it so they can bring their gods back to power.
Going up against crazies is nothing new for this series, but this time Stark isn’t going it alone. The novel brings back Bridgette, Candy, Father Traven, Allegra and Vidocq. And, of course, everybody’s favorite disembodied head – Kasabian. This ragtag group needs to storm an abandoned mall full of Lurkers and all sorts of other nasties in order to find the Qomrama Om Ya before the bad guys do.
The fact that – for once – Stark isn’t going it alone is the highlight of this book. Sure, the other characters would briefly get in on the action in the other books, but nothing like they do here in KILL CITY BLUES. Getting to see them take part in the ass-kicking was a treat and I hope the next book keeps with the trend. Kadrey has successfully avoided making any of the five books in this series feel like a rehash and if you’re looking for a funny, violent, take-no-prisoners novel then you certainly won’t go wrong with this one.
Every once in awhile you come across a book that hits every sweet spot you have when it comes to fiction. TREVIEW COURTESY OF ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY
Every once in awhile you come across a book that hits every sweet spot you have when it comes to fiction. THE BLUE BLAZES by Chuck Wendig is such a book.
Seriously, folks, this book has everything I love. Mobsters! Monsters! Violence! Gratuitous swearing! In all honesty I’m certain that Wendig wrote this book especially for me. From page one to the very end I enjoyed every single word. Between THE BLUE BLAZES and TRICKSTER, 2013 is becoming an excellent year for gritty, awesome urban fantasy.
Oh, yeah, so what’s it about, you ask? The book centers (for the most part) on Mookie Pearl. Mookie works for the Organization. They’re ones that control the supply of the titular “Blue Blazes” – a drug that gives you increased strength, endurance and the ability to see the denizens of the Underworld.
In the first few chapters we find out that Mookie’s daughter Nora has also been getting involved in the criminal underworld and that the Boss of the Organization is dying of cancer. The Boss tasks Mookie with finding the mythical drug known as Death’s Head or The Purple. This one is believed to cure everything and quite possibly bring the dead back to life. This sets of a story that moves at break-neck speed as Mookie finds himself in the caverns and tunnels below New York as he searches for the Death’s Head. He’ll fight goblins, ghosts and a multitude of other creatures.
The world of THE BLUE BLAZES is fantastic – think Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE written as a mob book – and as Wendig slowly reveals more and more of the demonic underbelly of New York you can’t help but go along for the ride. At turns creepy and horrifying (but always entertaining), THE BLUE BLAZES is a must-read. I’m kicking myself for not checking out Wendig’s work before now. Don’t make the same mistake I did....more
I will admit - when I received A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES in the mail, I may have squealed. Loudly. My loReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
I will admit - when I received A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES in the mail, I may have squealed. Loudly. My love of fairy tale retellings, no matter how loosely the term is used, is well known, and with Sarah J. Maas at the helm, it couldn't be anything but great, right?
Luckily, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES does not, in any way, disappoint. Darker and meant for an older audience than her Throne of Glass series, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is a spectacular marvel that will keep you holding your breath on the edge of your seat for over four hundred too short pages. Set in a lush, well written fantasy world, with a story that flows off the page and captivates the reader, there is almost nothing to dislike about this book.
Aside from my love affair with fairy tales, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES manages to hold its own. With intricate twists and turns in the plot and characters with lots of dimensions, the reader easily gets sucked in. I fell in love with both Feyre and Tamlin, not to mention the side characters, and even some of the characters that came off as slightly evil. Feyre is so tough and cares about her family so much, and though she holds strong opinions, that doesn't mean she's completely inflexible. And though A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES is about faeries, these aren't the faeries that you've seen before. Maas paints an entirely new mythology, creative and different, existing just across a wall from the humans' world.
And when I say dark, I mean dark. The villain is so delightfully twisted, so evil that you can't help but admire the writing that went into making a character that you love to hate. But this also means there are some situations that Feyre is put into that might be tough for younger readers to read, both violent and sexual. This is a young adult book that is definitely meant for the older crowd.
Basically, I can't gush about this book enough. My biggest disappointment is that I have to wait a year (!) for the next installment in the series, especially because there were questions left unanswered that I want answers to yesterday. Oh well, at least there's re-reading - something I plan on doing right now, since this review just reminded me how much I loved this book. Definitely in the running for one of my favorites of the year so far.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex, intimate contact of questionable consent...more
HORIZON, the final book in Sophie Littlefield’s ground breaking, post-apocalyptic, zombie infested, AftertiReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
HORIZON, the final book in Sophie Littlefield’s ground breaking, post-apocalyptic, zombie infested, Aftertime trilogy was everything I hoped and feared it would be.
Like the two books before it, HORIZON is a gut-wrenching, emotionally captivating, phenomenally executed book. The writing is sensory on every level. The descriptions of the Afterime world are so exquisitely written that I can even now close my eyes and see the New Eden compound, smell kaysev plants, and taste the liquor on Dor’s lips. The emotions were just as vivid. I was afraid reading this book, genuinely and terribly frightened in certain scenes. And that fear was made all the more palpable because of the bright bursts of hope and even happiness that Cass (and I) experienced.
Cass. She is the beating and broken heart of the Afterime series. I can’t begin to think of another character who has transformed as much as she has. She started out as an addict to any and everything. Someone who chose vice over her baby one too many times. We met her as a shambling, almost putrid individual in AFTERTIME, at the edge of her miserable life. Just like the barren world of Aftertime, she had nothing but a tiny spark of desire for redemption. And that’s what she did. Slowly, agonizingly slow in some places, she clawed her way out of shame and the wretchedness that she had existed in. She fell a lot. Stumbled in ways that made me want to scream at her and for her. But she always got back up. She was reborn in REBIRTH, and in HORIZON, she gets to take her first faltering steps as the woman she never hoped she could be. The woman I always knew she was.
Because of the masterful writing, Cass and I breathed the same air for three books. When she bled, I bled. When Beaters attacked, I stood right next to Cass with my own knife. When she looked at the two very different men in her life, my heart tore with hers. To say I became invested in Cass (and the other remarkably real characters in this series) doesn’t begin to describe the connection I feel with her and her broken world.
Of the 400+ books that have been reviewed on this site, only one series has received perfect 5/5 ratings for every book: the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield. I can’t really believe it myself, but each book really is that good, and HORIZON is the perfect conclusion. Shocking revelations, more fantastic character redemption, and best of all hope. I don’t care if you like zombies or not. If post apocalyptic fiction intrigues you or not. This series is for you and everyone else who wants to be riveted by a story and the characters who live it.
Sexual Content: References to sex. A scene of sensuality. References to child molestation...more
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a gorgeous book. From the perfect cover to the very last page Gaiman deREVIEW COURTESY OF ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a gorgeous book. From the perfect cover to the very last page Gaiman depicts a lush story about agelessness, childhood fears and memory.
We meet our intrepid protagonist driving towards his childhood home after leaving a funeral. He isn’t driving anywhere in particular and after a bit he finds himself driving down an old country lane to a house he vaguely remembers. At the Hempstock Farm old memories begin to surface.
During his childhood his family’s car is stolen and a man commits suicide in it not far from his home. This unleashes a darkness and our narrator (whose name we never learn) soon finds himself involved with the Hempstocks in trying to contain it. He quickly finds himself becoming friends with the youngest Hempstock – an eleven year old named Lettie.
Lettie and our narrator begin to investigate what got out when the thief committed suicide and it quickly becomes clear to the both of them that there is now something out there that does not belong in our world.
Gaiman does a masterful job of giving the novel a distinctly growing sense of horror as the forces unleashed begin to wreak havoc on the narrator’s life. What’s even more impressive is the masterful job Gaiman does of never letting this feel like a young adult novel even when the two main characters are both under the age of twelve.
This is an extremely emotional novel and an extremely hard one to review as to give away any more of the plot than I already have would, in my opinion, kill the enjoyment of reading THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. This is a book to take out on the porch and savor and I can’t wait till I have time to read it again....more
The two books that comprise the For Darkness Shows the Stars series are quickly becoming some of my favoriReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The two books that comprise the For Darkness Shows the Stars series are quickly becoming some of my favorite post-apocalyptic young adult books of all the options in the genre. Peterfreund is a wonderful writer, and ACROSS THE STAR-SWEPT SEA is a spectacular example of her talents. Keeping the reader hooked in a world completely different than ours, explaining back-story without info dumps, and mixing action with a touch of romance, ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA is one of those books you just don’t want to put down, and in my opinion even better than the first.
In ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA, Diana Peterfreund sucks the reader back into the post-apocalyptic world of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, but with new characters and a new setting. For most of the book, I was under the impression that the events in ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA are taking place generations after FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, but as we find out, they are mostly taking place at the same time. In my opinion, showing the way that two completely different cultures could develop out of the same tragic event was brilliant and different. It is rare that we see multiple results of the after of an apocalypse- most books and series of this genre focus on one small individual part of the world and how it is coping.
While the setting is amazing, the story itself is also a gem. I loved the combination of intrigue and romance, action and character development. Nearly all of the characters in ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA are ones that I liked, and they all felt fleshed out. With the exception of Vania, the villain, who comes across a little better than a hand rubbing, evil-laughing caricature, all the rest have clear personalities and motivations that the reader can get a feel for. Especially, we have, Persis, our heroine, who is amazingly multi-faceted, not only because she has created a personality for herself in order to hide her clandestine activities, but also in her feelings and the way she deals with all the other characters. Her various friends and relationships, with her mother and father, for example, and her best friends Isla and Ariane, are all very real feeling- complicated in a way that relationships are, especially when there are disparities in power, such as Isla being the princess regent of Albion.
Those hoping to see Malakai and Elliot from FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS will be sorely disappointed, as they don’t make much of an appearance. That being said, if you’re a new reader to the series, you’ll get just as much enjoyment out of ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA than if you had read the first book. Since the two settings are so different, with different histories, locations and characters, the reader is coming in new whether or not they’ve read FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS. As for the retelling aspect, I haven’t read THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, so I can’t comment on how closely it follows the original story, but there is quite a bit of spying action and dashing escapes, along with court intrigue and drama.
Both books in For Darkness Shows the Stars series are worthwhile reads for all the reasons I listed above and more. They make a spectacular duo, and I can’t wait to see where Peterfruend takes the reader next in the world she’s created. She’s come a long way from Secret Society Girl, and it shows. But you don’t have to take my word for it- Peterfruend has written two short story prequels, one for each of the books, both available for free. I definitely recommend THE FIRST STAR TO FALL, which tells of the beginning of Persis’s career as the Wild Poppy. For me, I’ll just try and sit patiently for the next book in the series!
I don’t think I’ve ever replied to an email faster than I did when Abigail sent one out asking if anyone waReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I don’t think I’ve ever replied to an email faster than I did when Abigail sent one out asking if anyone wanted to review comics set in the Buffyverse. I’ve been a fan of the show since the first episode aired and I may be a little (scarily, if you ask my fiancé) obsessed. Needless to say I should probably put a big disclaimer at the top of any of these reviews that says something like “Warning: This review is totally biased” because yeah. They are. I’m a Whedon fanboy and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Lots of stuff going stuff going on in this collection. Angel is still working on finding a way to resurrect Giles, Faith is still Faith and Willow drops by to rope them both in to helping her on her quest to restore magic to Earth. Whew. Like I said, there’s a lot going on. Thankfully each issue contained in this collection feels just like an episode of Angel or Buffy. Gage has such a knack for the dialogue of the various characters that I had to check and make sure he wasn’t one of the writers of the show. He wasn’t, and I knew that, but it sure feels like he was. My favorite line of his takes place at the very start of the collection:
Faith: Wil. Everybody good?
Willow: Still alive. Still wacky. You?
Faith: Y’know. Brooding, bad decisions, violence. Rinse and repeat.
I could literally hear Alyson Hannigan and Eliza Dushku saying those lines. If that’s not a sign of good writing, I don’t know what is. I also really, really like Rebekah Isaacs’ artwork. Everybody looks just how you’d expect them to look in a comic book. Her work never feels cartoonish and fits Gage’s writing to a ‘T’. I wish she could do the art for every book set in the Buffyverse, because the same can’t be said for the artwork in some of the others.
I could ramble on and happily recap everything that has happened previously in this series (or in all of the comics series set in this world), but I’ll end this review and simply say that if you’re a fan of the series you really should track down copies of the trade paperbacks for Season 8 and Season 9. They get a little crazy (especially Season 8!), but it makes me happy to just know the story is still being told....more
I’m unabashedly obsessed with the new AMC show The Walking Dead about the zombie apocalypse and the few remReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m unabashedly obsessed with the new AMC show The Walking Dead about the zombie apocalypse and the few remaining human’s struggle for survival. It’s shocking, and heartbreaking, and so beyond words awesome that my love for zombies has reached an all new high. I can’t get enough. Which is why I’m geeking out of my mind after reading AFTERTIME because I felt almost the same way reading it as I do watching The Walking Dead: Captivated.
The story follows Cass, a young mother and recovering addict, as she searches desperately for her daughter mere months after the mysterious infection set in and turned most of the population into ravenous, cannibalistic zombies. Her only companion is a reclusive man known simply as Smoke. He agrees for his own reasons to help Cass and together they brave a world that is barely recognizable anymore. Zombies carry off children to feast on in their nests, power hungry men seize what little society is left and begin Rebuilding it to suit themselves, cults thrive, oblivion is sought after by anyone sane enough to know what’s happening on the streets each night. The horror is unimaginable.
This is the world the Cass wakes up in. Alone and nearly skinned. Desperate to find her daughter, terrified of what she can’t remember, and fiercely determined to survive. She’s like Terminator’s Sarah Connor and Downside Ghost’s Chess Putnam rolled into one. A deeply damaged woman with a seedy drug and alcohol hazed past full of dark alleys and strange beds. She’s clawed her way out of addiction and has only one care in the world: her daughter.
The story is epic in scope. We get a real sense of the entire world ending and waking up to a nightmarish reality that few could have imagined. We never leave the POV of Cass, yet the people she encounters, both friend and foe, add their own piece to the Aftertime world. The dialogue in the first half of the book is understandably scant, but the story itself is startling and unputdownable from beginning to end.
AFTERTIME is hands down the best zombie book I’ve read all year. Hide your wife, hide your kids, and hide your husbands ‘cause they eating everybody out here. Seriously. No word on the sequel yet, but AFTERTIME is the start of a planned series. So please go buy this book when you can. I have to know what happens next.
Urban Fantasy is full of high stakes, of world breaking power or near apocalypses. It’s common for heroines and heroes to find some heretofore unknownUrban Fantasy is full of high stakes, of world breaking power or near apocalypses. It’s common for heroines and heroes to find some heretofore unknown power at the eleventh hour, some massive, nuclear ability that negates risk. The Kate Daniels series, by contrast, brings the epic down to the human level, without ever pulling danger’s teeth. The stakes stay huge, the world is never quite a safe place, but in the meantime there’s dinner and date night and all the badass abilities that Kate and Curran have had from day one.
I don’t say this to imply that Kate’s power level hasn’t grown, or that there wasn’t a massive, near apocalyptic confrontation, but what resonates and what sets this book apart is all the human moments. With each book the supporting characters become more interesting, the world becomes more detailed, and each conflict, large or small, has both human consequences and fascinating mythological underpinnings. The battles are fun, but what makes Kate and Curran fascinating is each other, their banter and skills and problem solving. Because so much of what makes these books fantastic is this character dynamic, there’s no one confrontation that will feel like “enough”, no one mystery solved that will satisfy interest in the Kate Daniels series.
There’s just being in this world until the last page turns, and then rocking back and forth waiting until the next book comes out. MAGIC BREAKS is the culmination of so many portents and risks, but rather than resolving a conflict and closing things up, it just remakes a piece of Kate’s world to be even more fascinating. As if I needed to be more in love with this series.
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.
From the titles to the page, the first three books in the Craft Sequence marry numbers with magic. The stories themselves explore different parts of sFrom the titles to the page, the first three books in the Craft Sequence marry numbers with magic. The stories themselves explore different parts of society, but always on the bedrock of a spiritual economy where soul stuff is traded and bartered to power the world. FULL FATHOM FIVE weaves together new and old characters on an island of idols and mysteries, infusing this broken world with a slowly building hope that is impossible to resist.
As with THREE PARTS DEAD, this story starts in the clinical mechanics of a spiritual economy, and builds to aspirations of a more balanced world, if no better or “perfect” than the good intentions that preceded it. Having familiar faces from prior books working in the background added particular weight to the job of unraveling motives and mysteries in this book, as Cat and Teo and Ms. Kevarian effortlessly add tension to the background every time they appear. The Craft Sequence series works best when grounded in the more accessible elements of this exotic world, and the flowing character perspectives of FULL FATHOM FIVE give a gorgeous human weight to events as they unfold. With Kai, a priestess of the idols once born in the body of a man, and Izza, an orphaned refugee living in the cracks and shadows of society, the story presents both the center and fringes of this island in alternating chapters.
All of the characters in this book slowly ratchet up the tension as you wait for them to intersect. Often times there is both the potential to join forces or collide, with no assurance of how the dominoes will fall. Gladstone is a master at building contagious emotions, and FULL FATHOM FIVE takes readers from wonder to despair to the most delicate of hopes. As deeply as I loved Alt Coulumb, now I find myself so hopeful and starry eyed for the island of Kevekana. Max Gladstone has done it again.
While THE SWEETEST DARK brought Abe’s Drakon into the twentieth century, marrying the poetry and mystery of their magic with bombings and black-outs aWhile THE SWEETEST DARK brought Abe’s Drakon into the twentieth century, marrying the poetry and mystery of their magic with bombings and black-outs and Europe at war, THE DEEPEST NIGHT took that foundation and soared to the next level. A strengthening heroine, a budding love story, and daring midnight flights over war-torn Europe, this book gave me all the tenderness and adventure and strength and magic I could have hoped for, all in a neatly paced story that left me anxious for more.
THE SWEETEST DARK had to establish Eleanora’s magical nature, but THE DEEPEST NIGHT is all about her growing stronger. The social constraints hemming her in become less and less of a challenge, instead she faces her own magical limits and the realities of the war. Shana Abe has once again inserted a dragon into history, and rather than being cloistered in a remote enclaves of her kind, Eleanora is surrounded by humanity, making the contrast all the more thrilling.
In addition to this wonderful world building, the romance wrung so much emotion out of me. Jesse’s loss was heartbreaking, and his ephemeral presence in this book adds a lovely, bittersweet backdrop to Armand’s devotion to Eleanora. True to the time, true to the characters, these two don’t fall into each other’s arms. However, shared experiences built on friendship, respect adding to attraction, despite the social barriers in their way THE DEEPEST NIGHT gave me fragile hope that Armand’s affection may be something other than a destructive force in Eleanora’s life.
THE DEEPEST NIGHT fanned my anticipation to it’s highest point, and once again I am dying to get my hands on the next in the series. So many conflicts, magical and mundane, still encircle these fragile characters. After this heart pounding adventure through the skies of enemy territory, I don’t know how Eleanora and Armand are going to shrink themselves back down to fit the claustrophobic society of everyday life. I don’t know if I’ll be able to bear it… but I can’t wait to find out.
From page one, WORKING STIFF was a wonderful surprise. I did not expect to fall in love with the heroine soReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
From page one, WORKING STIFF was a wonderful surprise. I did not expect to fall in love with the heroine so quickly; Bryn's careful, quiet personality is so winning and fierce I was captivated. She has a life and a job history prior to working at the funeral home, and that made her all the more human and interesting. This rapport with Bryn is the gateway into her world, and gives emotional heft to the rest of the story.
And oh, what a story. So many familiar themes of immortality, loss and vulnerability are woven into this most delicate balancing act of rebirth. WORKING STIFF felt more like vampirism from a foot-soldier's perspective than a zombie story; Bryn's continued existence relies on an organization that is rotten to it's core. Anyone who has ever wondered if they could survive the collapse of society without access to life saving prescriptions will relate to this book, Bryn has a daily death sentence hovering over her. And yet, even as she lives, she's caught in the perfect stasis that is immortality. No going forward, but the fear of falling back into death and darkness hanging over every moment... her emotional journey is both heart-wrenching and riveting.
Bryn and her world were so interesting to me, it was easy for friendships and love interest to get lost in the shuffle. They were there, they were sweet and sexy and dangerous by turns, but I was more fascinated watching Bryn adapt to the changes in her life than anything else. As I close WORKING STIFF, I'm still emotionally invested enough to worry about these characters. At odd moments I find myself planning strategies to keep Bryn safe, and I can’t wait for Book Two to set my mind at ease.
Sexual Content: Kissing; references to sex, necrophilia, and sexual assault....more
When there is a significant wait between two related books, such as the wait (almost three years!) betweenReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
When there is a significant wait between two related books, such as the wait (almost three years!) between SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE, I begin to doubt my impressions of the first book. This was the case here, as I began to worry that I had imagined how wonderful I thought SERAPHINA was and how there was no way that SHADOW SCALE could live up to the expectations I'd set up in my head. Luckily, SHADOW SCALE delivered on all my expectations and more.
Hartman's writing is amazingly smooth and almost lyrical, making the reading experience very enjoyable, despite the length of the book. There were some parts I felt could have been cut down a bit, but all in all, everything contributed to the plot and I loved all the detail we got into Seraphina's world. Though I would love to compare SHADOW SCALE to some other young adult fantasy to help you decide whether or not you'll like it, I feel that it almost defies comparisons, standing in a class of its own.
It's hard to go into too much detail without ruining any key points of the story, but needless to say, SHADOW SCALE made me laugh, with the wry humor of the dragons and it made me cry, with the losses that Seraphina endured. There were twists I never saw coming, that were amazing and surprising, including one which warmed my heart. The fullness of the world and writing allowed me to feel all those emotions when I was reading, and it was spectacular to be allowed to spend the time with the characters and be welcomed into their world.
With amazing world building, excellent characterization of a multitude of characters (no cliches or 2D characters here) and beautiful writing, SHADOW SCALE is a book for readers of all ages. With its coming of age story and heroine journey, there is enough to keep even the most reluctant reader occupied. As wondering and fascinating as SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE are, I wish there were move books in this series, but I've only my imagination to guess what may happen next.