BLACK DOG, book one in the Hellhound Chronicles, had some aspects I definitely was not a fan of. However,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
BLACK DOG, book one in the Hellhound Chronicles, had some aspects I definitely was not a fan of. However, for the most part, BLACK DOG is a dark urban fantasy, packed to the brim with characters, plot lines and action, and is a wild ride through a new world Kittredge has created.
I had a few problems with BLACK DOG. First off, and I've mentioned my dislike of scenes like this before, but there was a torture scene. I understand the logic behind it, but it also turns my stomach, and the fact that the characters maintained an association after the scene was bothersome to me. I feel like there should have been some other way of doing it that didn't involve one intentionally harming the other. My other issue was that there was a lot of plot smushed into the novel. There were multiple different story lines, and at times it felt like a bit too much. Ava's interactions with Lillith could have been enough. Instead, we also have Leo (the human necromancer) and his fight with his father, plus Clint's drama...it all got to be somewhat confusing. Any one of those stories alone would have made for a great book, but trying to shove as much as possible made it feel a little all over the place.
That being said, BLACK DOG did a lot well. It was intriguing, and very creative. The glimpses of creatures other than the hellhounds, like the shifters, leads me to believe that there's a lot more Kittredge can do with the world, and there's a lot of room for growth. Ava is a great character. She is both vulnerable and strong, and the fact that she's a hellhound makes her even more interesting. The secondary characters also were all really fun to try to unpack. You could never be sure of motives, and it left this on edge feeling that spilled over from Ava to me as I read. The combination of the world and the action kept me turning pages late into the night with this one.
I am curious to see where Kittredge goes with the Hellhound Chronicles next. While not every storyline was 100% tied up, there was some significant resolution at the end of BLACK DOG that although it opened the way for further adventures of Ava, it seems they'll be taking a totally different direction than the previous book. I, for one, can't wait to see what she comes up with!
ALL IN, the third Sin City Collector novella from Amanda Carlson, delivers just what I was looking for: aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
ALL IN, the third Sin City Collector novella from Amanda Carlson, delivers just what I was looking for: a sizzling romance, some magical action, and a hint of mystery to keep things even more interesting. With two super badass leads, the relationship is fun to watch - Ginger being as stubborn as Luke makes for some interesting clashes. Ginger is my kind of heroine, strong and successful, but just vulnerable enough to not have a huge problem letting a guy into her defenses. Luke is also spectacular, a clearly caring individual (we know from previous stories he cares for his brother on full moon nights) and someone who I ended up rooting for almost immediately.
Though the Sin City Collectors novels can be read individually, I would suggest reading all of Carlson's as a "series." If you don't, it isn't as if you'll be confused while reading ALL IN, but knowing the backstory between the characters is helpful and makes the short novella feel richer. Plus, you'll have more context around the Collectors and what they do, so that can be helpful.
One thing that is great about these novellas is that despite the fact they're self-published, you can't tell. They're written and edited just as well as Carlson's Jessica McClain series, which is traditionally published. From what I've read of the Sin City Collectors novellas, these are those self-published diamonds in the rough - the story flows nicely, dialogue isn't choppy or awkward, and there weren't any noticeable spelling or grammar issues at all.
Overall, ALL IN is a quick, enjoyable read, a great continuation of the Sin City Collectors series. It's a fun paranormal world that you'll want to dive completely in to! If anything, ALL IN is too short - I would definitely have kept on reading if I could have.
THE FAIRYLAND MURDERS was a interesting mixing of noir detective stories with fairy tales. With this mixturReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE FAIRYLAND MURDERS was a interesting mixing of noir detective stories with fairy tales. With this mixture of a gritty murder mystery with light fanciful fairies and princesses you get an at times bizarre world filled with some hilarious interactions between characters. There are some neat references to fairy tale characters and fairy tales. I liked the mystery as it expanded on the tooth fairy mythos making the tooth fairy the center of the fairy world. I like the random cameos of familiar fairy tale characters and this blending of two different genres was really well done.
While I enjoyed most of the secondary characters, I wasn't to taken with Blue Reynolds, the stereotypical noir detective at the center of this story. First of all his 'power' of being a human electrode seemed out of place in a fairy tale/noir detective world. Also, he seems to be very bad at his job considering he has multiple cases open which he is nowhere near solving. Along with being bad at his job he has the classic tragic back story all good detectives must have except all we know is that he was cursed at some point which I guess is the start of a story arc for the rest of the series. I just kind of wanted to know more about it to get the hang of this character better. Blue also comes off as really sexist and many of his comments about women were off putting. I get that that is kind of what noir detectives speak like but Blue came off as really harsh many times.
There is a lot going on in THE FAIRYLAND MURDERS and at times it was a bit confusing but that didn't hurt my enjoyment too much. Perhaps in the next book the ideas and story will feel more settled. I enjoyed this genre mash-up and seeing a different take on fairy tales. I wasn't a fan of Blue Reynolds as he just didn't seem to fit in this world and came off as really incompetent, mean, and sexist....more
THE RISE OF AURORA WEST takes familiar superhero tropes and flips them to a new angle, like a Batman storyReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE RISE OF AURORA WEST takes familiar superhero tropes and flips them to a new angle, like a Batman story told through Robin’s eyes. Though Aurora’s monster fighting skills are a credit to her training, she’s also the intellectually curious lens through which readers question her world. Where did this war against monsters begin? Where do they come from? And what really happened all those years ago on the night when Aurora’s mother died…
Despite THE RISE OF AURORA WEST being a prequel to BATTLING BOY, this was my first introduction to the series. The compact, black and white illustrations in this graphic novel weren’t easy to follow in the beginning, when the world and it’s crime fighting technology were being established through frame after frame of rather confusing action. Once Aurora takes center stage, however, exploring the mysteries of her own past in an attempt to understand the present, the art in this book becomes more effective. While all of the adults in THE RISE OF AURORA WEST live in a world of black and white conviction, Aurora is filled with questions. I found her to be an excellent window into this world, as I had my own questions about right and wrong. The child stealing monsters that by turns evoked empathy and disgust, while at times “the good guys” seemed menacing and duplicitous.
These questions of nuance and motive aren’t resolved by book’s end, but I was still completely engaged in the story. And rather than finding definitive answers to her own questions. Aurora seemed in danger of settling into the familiar, potentially misguided sense of certainty as the adults around her. While I’m not ready to run off and read Battling Boy or Haggard’s side of the story, if another Aurora book comes out I’m totally on board.
I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS lives up to its billing as a prequel novella to THE DANGERS OF DATINGReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS lives up to its billing as a prequel novella to THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE. Unfortunately, I must have missed that part before I read it, and as such, was expecting a complete romance story, like the other novellas in the Half Moon Hollow series.
If you're a fan of Half Moon Hollow and Molly Harper, there's no way you won't get at least some enjoyment out of I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS. All our favorite Half Moon Hollow residents are there, complete with inside jokes and the usual antics we've come to expect from this crew. It's zany and funny and a glimpse at a moment in time in the lives of the Half Moon Hollow residents, so in that regard, it was a lot of fun.
However, I was disappointed because I really was expecting a full story, and I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS is definitely not that. The beginnings of the romance doesn't start until nearly three-quarters of the way through the story, and most of it is focused on how Gigi is going to break up with her boyfriend - most decidedly not romantic.
I'd definitely recommend this as a prequel, but do yourself a favor, and buy it now when it's cheap, and read it right before THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE comes out in March - luckily that's only almost four months you have to wait.
OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS is a wonderfully smart, action-filled journey of a novel. Though I had some isReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS is a wonderfully smart, action-filled journey of a novel. Though I had some issues with the book, I still enjoyed the creative setting, the various side characters, and the fun storyline.
One thing that was really great about OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS was Owl and her friend Nadya’s relationship. Nadya is smart and stubborn, but I like how she sticks by Owl and is a full character in her own right. She’s just as crucial as Owl is to solving the mystery in the end, and I like how there isn’t the feeling of Owl being this miracle worker, but rather it’s clear she relies on her friends for assistance, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Owl tends toward the opposite of a Mary Sue character, pissing off nearly everyone she encounters, but the few friends she does have are great, and it’s only a little coincidental that they’re all really awesome and have great powers or smarts of their own.
One issue I had with OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS was the feeling that it was dragging near the middle. There was plenty of action, but it felt almost slow at times (I think those times for me were when Owl was playing video games). My other problem was with Owl herself. She fit the typical Urban Fantasy heroine mold, jumping into the fray without a second thought, except for the fact that unlike the typical UF heroine, she doesn’t have any special powers. She’s smart, sure, and confident, but she doesn’t have any magic or shape-changing abilities to back up her bravado. You’d think she’d be a little more cautious when approaching potentially dangerous situations.
Despite my issues, there is enough intrigue and drama to make me want to come back for more. I’m curious about the relationships and about the contact Owl takes at the end of the book, and the last sentence delivers a great cliffhanger without being too frustrating. I’m definitely curious about OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, the next book in the Adventures of Owl series, due out later this year.
One of the best things about GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY is the fact that the worldbuilding takes place in China duriReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
One of the best things about GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY is the fact that the worldbuilding takes place in China during the Qing Dinasty. I so rarely read books predominately set in Asia so it was refreshing to see steampunk mixed in with Chinese customs and history. I enjoyed seeing some of that culture play a role in the fast paced plot such as the Opium Wars, arranged marriages, and mentions of foot-binding.
Along with this being a historical fiction filled with some steampunky goodness this is a wonderful action adventure. There actually was a good balance of steampunk technology in that the story wasn't to bogged down in technical descriptions of fantastical contraptions. Jin is a strong, smart, heroine who I really felt for right from the start considering her family situation. Her determination to support her family brings her full throttle into the circle of war, politics, and some pretty cool ship battles. The romance is definitely a slow burn to the point that it didn't really feel like there was even a romance there. I see how Jin's relationship with Chang-wei is developing into something more than simple friendship but it barely exists in GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY. Perhaps there will be more romance in the next book between these two? All of the characters have wonderful back stories and are fully realized. I just hope there is more to the romance in later books.
GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY created a wonderful tapestry of epic battles, political intrigue, and a rich setting which made for a great story. I loved seeing Chinese culture and history with a steampunk bent and am looking forward to seeing what the next book brings in the Gunpowder Chronicles. ...more
I've only ever read one other Anita Blake novel and after reading that book I experienced for the first timReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I've only ever read one other Anita Blake novel and after reading that book I experienced for the first time wanting to unread a story due to reasons too long to write here. Since then, I've been hesitant to even pick up the first few books of this series which are supposed to be excellent according to everyone I've spoken to. I decided to give JASON a chance as I was prepared for the random sexual encounters, throngs of characters, and over explaining of Anita's relationships. I thought I was prepared to have fun with the sex-capade that would be this book especially since the focus would be on Anita's friend Jason and therefore would be a tad different. Wow, was I wrong.
Jason's issue and its resolution is regulated to the side as we are invited to read pages and pages about Anita's complex relationships and personal issues. Now I am pretty darn open about poly relationships but the sheer amount of men this woman is connected to is just ridiculous. I think Anita had a relationship with a barely legal kid according to a passing reference in this story. I think the only other line this woman can cross is bestiality. Although she is having sex with shifters so I guess it could count as bestiality if they did it in were form. I am certain there is a chart out there with all of Anita's relationship connections because someone somewhere has to have figured out this tangled web.
Okay, the plot. I'm pretty okay with a story that has lots of sex though I like a bit more non-sex related action than what was in JASON of which was none. It was all rather not sexy sex and talking. Oh is there talking; talking during sex, talking getting ready for the sex, talking after sex, and more talking. It was work to read through the sex scenes especially since they talked so much through the sex. The issue of Jason wanting to show his girlfriend some rough sex is resolved through demonstrating rough sex with Anita. That's the story. Talking about and planning sex, then having said sex with Jason's issue resolved in a page or two.
With my previously read Anita Blake book I remember getting so frustrated with the talking and standing around to have sex with Anita (she needs to power up with orgies apparently?) while the bad guy ran off and created havoc that I just skipped to the last few pages to see if they got around to catching the bad guy. I think they did and by golly I was rooting for him to get away with it too. JASON doesn't have to worry about silly things like a bad guy or the world ending or plot when there is overly detailed sexytime to be planned and had! I stuck with tradition and skipped to the last few pages to see if anything interesting happens. Guess what...nothing interesting happened....more
DEADLY PURSUIT is an excellent paranormal science fiction adventure. The world building is inspired with shReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DEADLY PURSUIT is an excellent paranormal science fiction adventure. The world building is inspired with shifters of various sorts, vampires, aliens, living under two powerful sources; The Collective (a large government agency) run by an immortal elite and the Church of Everlasting Life. I love the idea of having all of our familiar paranormal creatures having adventures in space. The plot gets pretty twisty very quickly and really has no dull moments. The romance is a different one especially since Alex is introduced posing as a young boy. It actually took me awhile to adjust to the fact that Alex is indeed an adult woman and that no Jon is not going after a child because I would have stopped reading if that were true. Age and gender confusion aside there are some pretty big hurdles these two have to get through before they actually start their romance. The frustrating part was that they kept getting interrupted any time they start to make some progress in their relationship. They both develop, grow, and learn about themselves and eachother pretty well. Its a slowly building romance with a ton of frustrating interruptions but worthwhile for their happily ever after. DEADLY PURSUIT is an entertaining addition to the genre of sci-fi that is equal parts adventure and romance....more
Though I had misgivings entering the Bishop/ Special Crimes Unit series with number fifteen, I found HAUNTED to be easy to pick up and follow. Some ofThough I had misgivings entering the Bishop/ Special Crimes Unit series with number fifteen, I found HAUNTED to be easy to pick up and follow. Some of the aspects that made HAUNTED accessible were positive , while others ultimately proved to be a narrative shortcoming.
On the positive side, there were the footnotes that indicated when characters were discussing events from prior books. Even for readers familiar with the series, this tool would provided much needed reminders of prior events. The characters discuss theory and past cases well enough that HAUNTED is easy to read as a standalone. Unfortunately, the same exposition that makes this book easy to follow bogged down the story for me very quickly. Characters spend an enormous amount of this book explaining things to each other. Almost all of the action revolves around these conversations, as pieces of this paranormal puzzle are pieced together and past experiences are used to try and formulate strategies for the current case. While I appreciated the lack of a secrecy between parties (supernatural abilities are very quickly acknowledged and openly discussed amongst the investigators), less talk and more action would have made for a faster pace. This wordy, methodical investigation had a hard time holding my attention.
While this slow style doesn’t have me interested in going back to read prior books, it is exciting to know that I could pick up any Bishop/ Special Crimes Unit book, past or future, and easily be oriented to the characters and storyline. Fans of thorough, grounded magical mechanics will enjoy this book more than I did, and I am willing to try another Bishop/ Special Crimes Unit book if it comes my way.
Sexual Content: References to sexual relationships....more
I always enjoy it when a book takes characters from history and puts a twist on them as GHOST PHOENIX doesReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I always enjoy it when a book takes characters from history and puts a twist on them as GHOST PHOENIX does with various famous figures from different points in time posing as immortals living in modern times. One issue I had with the story is the use of ‘California slang’ like ‘stellar’. I adored the fact that Richard Plantagenet is an immortal surfer dude but it just seemed so jarring and weird for him to be using slang terms that I am not certain are actually used. Other than that Richard’s story of being prodigal son of the immortal court was interesting albeit the issues he had with the court didn’t seem to be as big of a deal as they were made to be.
Richard’s relationship with Marian is that of the insta-love variety at least on Richard’s part and while its not my favorite trope their relationship evolution was really sweet. Richard’s nickname for Marian upon first seeing her ghost-walking ability was absolutely adorable. I enjoyed Marian’s ability to ghost-walk and how she used it in her family business. I would have actually liked to have a whole book with her using her ability to phase through walls but alas this was not that book.
The story is fast paced starting out as a simple madcapped heist to find the body of Rasputin, only to become a more complex race against time with massive deadly roadblocks in store for Richard and Marian. The conflict with Rasputin was very entertaining and suspenseful. The way in which they incorporated Marian’s ability into the quest to get Rasputin’s DNA was genius. GHOST PHOENIX is a thrilling science fiction adventure story with a sweet romance that doesn’t overwhelm the exciting plot....more
The Magic Born series has been, so far, a very well done, consistently written series, and I was hoping foReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
The Magic Born series has been, so far, a very well done, consistently written series, and I was hoping for similar in FIREWALL. After Lizzie and Vadim, I wasn't sure if any couple could be better, or if there would be as much delving into the world. Luckily, FIREWALL delivered everything I hoped for.
I'll admit, I've been looking forward to Tuyet's story since we first meet her in the series. She's mysterious and pretty badass. I wanted to know all her secrets and find out all about her. And what better way than to have her old Ranger partner show up and be the romantic interest? We get glimpses of Tuyet's past and flashbacks to her childhood growing up in a different city's magic zone, which allows the reader to get to know her, and Hayes, in a different way than the previous couples didn't have. The history between Hayes and Tuyet gave another dimension to their relationship and didn't leave any insta-love feelings hanging around. We also get a chance to catch up with all our favorite characters from WITCHLIGHT and TRANCEHACK, but those cameos don't take over the story- it is still very much Tuyet and Hayes that take center stage in this one.
While Vadim and Lizzie remain my favorite couple, FIREWALL reaches beyond the relationship of Tuyet and Hayes into the politics of the world Clark created, which gives the whole story a depth that isn't necessarily felt as much in the first two books. The ending is beautiful and just what I would have wanted for all three couples. I'm sad to see the series end, but glad I got to go along for the ride.
Sexual content: Sex scenes, references to prostitution and pedophila ...more
I was attracted to the premise of 'TIL DRAGONS DO US PART with a thief trying to rob a dragon's house durinReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I was attracted to the premise of 'TIL DRAGONS DO US PART with a thief trying to rob a dragon's house during a dragon wedding. Basically I was excited to see some dragon or dragon shifter action as they I have not been reading enough books with dragons in them lately. Savannah being a dragonmorph thief let to some really unique ways she used her abilities to steal objects. I liked seeing Savannah try and figure out just how she was going to rob Lord Relobu's house during a wedding. The plot moved pretty well and has some amusing moments though I probably would have enjoyed the world better if I had read the previous books in the series.
While I liked the premise I was not feeling the romance between Cameron and Savannah. Perhaps it was due to the shorter length of the book but they seemed to go from just meeting to falling in love with absolutely no build up in between. This wasn't the magical insta-love that happens in paranormal romances which I accept and understand if its explained logically. This was completely random and I felt no connection between these two at all especially since they don't spend all that much time together in the story.
The side characters were pretty amusing and quirky in their own rights. I was a bit confused as to the actual size of the dragons in comparison to the humans though. Dragon scale and romance issues aside, 'TIL DRAGONS DO US PART was a satisfying light dragon romance for the dragon shifter lover in your life....more
f you’ve ever found yourself wishing you had more demi-gods and Vikings in your life, then picking up PROPHECYReview courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
f you’ve ever found yourself wishing you had more demi-gods and Vikings in your life, then picking up PROPHECY would be a perfect cure. Especially if battles between good and evil that don’t pull punches, twists and turns, and keep you up reading until the wee hours of the night are your thing.
I’ll admit freely that at the beginning of PROPHECY, I kept having the recurring thought that the author was trying for a Twilight clone. Liam had all the Edward earmarks of broody mystery guy, complete with the “you need to stay away from me” vibe. That feeling didn’t last past about the 20% mark. PROPHECY is very much its own story and the characters are strong in their own right. Liam’s burden of leadership, Oliver’s carefree wit, Kirk being a consistent jerk and then there’s Callie. There aren’t many words for how much I loved her. Strong, outspoken, she starts out a little on the meek side, but still not afraid to speak her mind. Half the reason I loved PROPHECY so much is watching Callie come into her own as the story progresses – even before story’s climax.
I also seriously loved the way mythology was worked into this – both Norse and Greek – and had as much fun following the story as trying to figure out what would happen next. I have a few lingering fears that the Dreaded Triangle will rear its ugly head, but I’m hoping that will be unfounded. Regardless, I will be in full pounce mode for the next book in this series....more
Flirty and fun, ANTE UP is a great installment in the Sin City Collectors series. With badass witch Sofia,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Flirty and fun, ANTE UP is a great installment in the Sin City Collectors series. With badass witch Sofia, and superbly alpha Diesel, ANTE UP offers a combination of heroine and hero who are made for each other.
Though short, ANTE UP never sacrifices details. Diesel’s and Sofia’s back stories are both revealed, and though I would have liked to learn more about Sofia and how she became a master witch, I never felt left out or as if I was missing something. The secondary characters manage to be intriguing as well, even if they are not as fleshed out as they would be in a full length novel. I liked the glimpses we get of Neve and Jake, who were the main characters in ACES WILD, and also Luke and Ginger, who are clearly destined to be the next couple in Carlson’s installment of the Sin City Collectors.
There’s also never a lack of chemistry. Sofia and Diesel together make sparks fly, and their romance is hot. No skimping there, and there’s a few scenes which were definitely scorching! I loved the two of them together, both somehow sexy, but sweet at the same time. Diesel’s desire to protect Sofia, combined with the fact that Sofia can protect Diesel from himself, makes these two equal partners, and how they get to that partnership is fun to read about.
ANTE UP is a perfect continuation of Amanda Carlson’s storyline in the Sin City Collectors series. Short and sweet, while still offering the reader a full story experience, it’s a lovely little afternoon read. Don’t let the fact that this one is self-published scare you off- it’s just as good as Carlson’s Jessica McClain series, and lots of fun!
A creative take on a fairy tale retelling, PRINCESS OF THORNS follows the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, AurReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
A creative take on a fairy tale retelling, PRINCESS OF THORNS follows the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, as she treks through the kingdom to rescue her brother. With elements of other fairy tales brought in (Niklaas' curse comes to mind), PRINCESS OF THORNS is a wonderful continuation of a beloved fairy tale. Plus, the entire first half of the book has Aurora dressed up as and acting as a boy - a trope I can't resist - and in this case, it was done well.
Told from multiple points of view, PRINCESS OF THORNS could easily have been the kind of book where the author bit off more than they could chew. Luckily, the addition of the viewpoints other than Aurora's added a lot of depth to the story. Sometimes with multiple narrators, the story can get muddled, but that was not the case here. The multiple narrators offered a different take on the various events, and that gives the reader the opportunity to consider the repercussions of one character's actions from different points of view. For example, without Niklaas's viewpoint, I would not have found him as sympathetic a character as he turned out to be.
One thing that bothered me (and if you've read my reviews, you already know this about me) was the ogre queen's torturing of Jor - I don't think it was necessary to go into such detail, especially since the sexual content in this book was kept to a minimum. I generally consider both violence and sex when recommending books to readers, and while the sexual content seemed aimed at a younger YA audience, the torture/violence scenes seemed more for an older set of YA readers.
Overall, PRINCESS OF THORNS was a delightful fantasy that offered a completely different take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. With a sweet relationship, and fascinating mythology, coupled with constant action and danger, PRINCESS OF THORNS has something to offer every reader.
Sexual content: Brief references to characters having sex...more
When a wicked bishop starts a witch hunt in Bavaria, orphan Rune finds herself targeted - but unlike***Review Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy***
When a wicked bishop starts a witch hunt in Bavaria, orphan Rune finds herself targeted - but unlike most of the so-called witches caught in the net of hysteria, Rune really does have powers, and a reason to fear for her life. She also has an ally in the son of the local magistrate (called the Electorate), after he nearly tramples her with his horse and finds himself 'bewitched.' What follows in FOREST OF WHISPERS by Jennifer Murgia is a young adult romance, but, more importantly, a story about confronting the past, accepting where you come from, and embracing your strength.
The book got off to a slow start for me, and Rune's voice seemed unsteady - sometimes sounding older than her sixteen years, sometimes younger. But as the world outside of the cottage in the woods was built, I was drawn deeper into the story. The son of the Electorate, Laurentz, added another dimension to the book, though some aspects of his tragic backstory felt shoe-horned in, used to form a bond with Rune and then forgotten. The switch between their point of views largely works, minus some abrupt transitions.
The strongest scenes in the novel are the scenes of suffering - when Rune loses the only mother she has ever known, and when she's sent to Drudenhaus, the witch prison, and tortured for a confession. She draws on her inner strength, and the reader knows despite how gentle and delicate she seems, she's a survivor. The magic of this book is pretty vague - no real spells or elements, no rules. Ordinarily I'd find that frustrating, but in many ways FOREST OF WHISPERS is an extended fairy tale wherein we're told there's magic, and that's just the way it is. Try not to think about the 'how' of it too hard, or risk breaking the spell....more
PENUMBRA continues the quick pacing and action of the previous two books in this series. I liked figuring oReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
PENUMBRA continues the quick pacing and action of the previous two books in this series. I liked figuring out just exactly what Sam is and how she fits into the vast network of government clones running amok around the world. I loved discovering Sam's powers along with her and how she learns about them was fascinating. This series storyline with an almost never ending rabbit hole of discoveries about just what the government has been doing in regards to human cloning reminded me of the television show Orphan Black which is all about clones and government cover ups. Since I adore Orphan Black you can bet I loved the premise of this series and had fun figuring out where the story was going and what new types of government craziness was going to be uncovered.
The characters are all fun and very well developed. The relationship between Gabriel and Sam as I understand was supposed to be a romance of some sort yet I really didn't feel anything romantic between them. They kept butting heads with Gabriel pushing Sam away and acting like a jerk as Sam attempts to flirt with him unsuccessfully. It got to the point that it became really annoying to have to read. I kind of didn't want them to get together and really they didn't which worked out for my hopes I guess.
The big issue I had with PENUMBRA was the fact that the ending just fizzled out. From what I understand there was supposed to be a fourth book that didn't happen for some reason which explains the random ending to this series. I loved the worldbuilding and storyline of PENUMBRA. The ending and the relationship between Sam and Gabriel were unfortunate downsides to an otherwise great book....more
Don't be fooled into expecting the usual YA ghostly love story, SUBLIME will entrap those tender expectatiReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Don't be fooled into expecting the usual YA ghostly love story, SUBLIME will entrap those tender expectations and twist them into horror. While the characters are as charismatic as expected from the expert romance duo Christina Lauren, most of the ghostly promise of the plot ultimately fell flat.
An avid fan of Christina Lauren's contemporary romances, I started SUBLIME with high hopes. While SUBLIME help my full attention for several chapters, by book's end, my overwhelming feeling was "disappointment". The characters in SUBLIME are captivating (even Lucy with her amnesia has depth and intrigue), but the hints and paranormal quirks of this world never felt satisfactorily explained. Ghosts are both expected and unexplained in this little pocket of reality, enough so that I was primed to expect this ghost story taking place outside our world. Ultimately, SUBLIME says very little satisfying about these events, leaving both the world building and the romance in a lurch.
SUBLIME's tagline could be "The Lengths Teenagers Will Go to to Get Laid", a sentiment I type with both cynical laughter and emotional pain. Isolated, uncanny, and a little bit horrific, as a romance SUBLIME will put your emotions through the ringer. For a haunting, inexplicable ghost story, however, you've come to the right place.
THE HOT ZONE was one of those books that sort of fits into two genres. Its a paranormal romance of sorts yeReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE HOT ZONE was one of those books that sort of fits into two genres. Its a paranormal romance of sorts yet it is also a sci-fi story set on a futuristic Earth colony. I had some trouble understanding exactly where Harmony was located. Are they on a moon once inhabited by aliens or some random planet far away from Earth? I really couldn’t figure it out but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this strange new world. The really neat thing about this book and series is that it is an off shoot of a much larger series about Harmony ranging from books set in modern times on Earth to the future on Harmony. You actually can pick up THE HOT ZONE and not feel like you are missing out on anything which is especially good for people like me who tend to start reading books mid-series.
Rich world building aside; THE HOT ZONE starts off with our heroine, Sedona Snow breaking out of an evil mad scientist’s layer and soon finding out just what his experiments did to her which leads to a twisty plot involving double crossing, intense chases and fun explosions of said mad scientist’s secret layer. What I love about this character is just how practical, level-headed, and competent she is especially when much of her life has been spent being cast aside and essentially screwed over by family and her job. I applauded when she eventually takes matters into her own hands and manage to live her life on her own terms especially in regards to her family and Cyrus, her new Guild boss.
Now the paranormal romance aspect of this story revolving around Sedona and Cyrus was interesting. Cyrus is your typical alpha male yet he didn’t really push himself onto Sedona, allowing her to grow to trust him and figure out what she wants from their relationship. Their relationship grows out of a mutual trust and respect growing into love in the end and while I am not a huge fan of the magical insta-love trope; Sedona and Cyrus’s quick romance actually made sense and worked. Both of the are strong in their own right and compliment themselves very well.
Aside from my love for the world building I feel I must mention my favorite secondary character who is Sedona’s dust bunny, Lyle. I want, no need a dust bunny of my own. These creatures are adorable, highly intelligent and crafty balls of fluff who apparently reside on Harmony. But like most cute creatures in science fiction they are deadly when they need to be. Lyle’s scenes brought a lightness and humor to the story as balls of fluff who like to collect gemstones and obsessively organize them tend to do. My love for Lyle the dust bunny aside,THE HOT ZONE is a fun book filled to the brim with mystery, danger, and intrigue....more
Sword and sorcery with a kickass heroine that would do any urban fantasy proud, THE BLOODBOUND offers romaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Sword and sorcery with a kickass heroine that would do any urban fantasy proud, THE BLOODBOUND offers romance, intrigue, and a fast moving plot that will immerse readers in this new world. I’ve read quite a few fantasy novels in my day, and Erin Lindsey’s mix of historical noble houses with a modern sense of gender equality was an enjoyable surprise.
Perhaps what makes THE BLOODBOUND such a light, enjoyable adventure is Lindsey’s deft touch with familiar tropes. Though the nobility bears a less gendered burden of fidelity than usual, after flirtation actual marriage is still dictated more by duty and politics than love. And while this familiar problem creates more than one love triangle in THE BLOODBOUND, these thwarted lovers are never bogged down with melodrama. Even familiar Urban Fantasy tropes are sprinkled in with just enough vigor to offer spice, but not distraction. Alix’s impulsive nature, as evident on the battlefield as it is in the bedroom, often lands her in peril but never tips into Too-Stupid-To-Live territory. While this light touch is generally a positive, it also creates a little less emotional weight in the dramatic moments, but that trade off that didn’t detract much from my enjoyment.
Blending all the hallmarks of sword and sorcery with the modern, romantic feel of urban fantasy, THE BLOODBOUND is an effortless adventure that will sweep readers away. I only hope that Lindsey brings us back to this world for more happily-ever-afters.
A fun, zany romance, HIS SECRET SUPERHEROINE gives the familiar “big secret” romance trope a superhero twist. With an underlying message about toleranA fun, zany romance, HIS SECRET SUPERHEROINE gives the familiar “big secret” romance trope a superhero twist. With an underlying message about tolerance and risk, the surface of this story zips along with funny dialog and don’t-need-super-sight-to-see-it-coming conflicts.
Peyton’s initial “big secret”, her alter ego as Fantastigirl, doesn’t detract too much from the initial storyline. Or at least, having it out in the open that she’s a superhero “sympathizer” while Dylan belongs to a right wing organization that wants supers registered gives page time to their essential conflict. Unfortunately, there were a few too many additional conflicts included that began to muddy the waters halfway through. His and hers matching ex spouses, blackmail, Superhero and Supervillian councils, professional ethics… all of these elements tangled together like clumsy constructs rather than well developed parts of the world or plot, and often raised distracting questions that were not answered. As a romance, Peyton and Dylan have great initial chemistry, but no payoff. As a superhero story, the world building is thin and hard to believe in. As a thriller, the action doesn’t do much better than the romance. While I enjoyed the characters and their dialog, there was no framework to support them.
Ultimately, however, my biggest disappointment was the relationship between Peyton and Dylan. Peyton has to become a victim before Dylan has a change in heart, and while she doesn’t take him back easily, her sass re asserted itself a little for my tastes. A quick, funny read, HIS SECRET SUPERHEROINE is charming, but not without flaws.
Simon R. Green’s stories tend to have a dark twisted humor to them that makes the at times graphic horror oReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Simon R. Green’s stories tend to have a dark twisted humor to them that makes the at times graphic horror of what is happening more manageable. VOICES FROM BEYOND definitely is classic Simon R. Green with the difference being that these protagonists have slightly less super powers than his other books. I liked that as it made the story feel more intense and their victory even more earned.
Now that isn’t to say there are no paranormal abilities in the motley crew that makes up the Ghost Finders. We have Happy, the pill addicted telepath who I adored as he was the source of most of the wit and cheekiness of this story. JC and his ghost girlfriend Kim are probably the most serious of the group and Melody is the science/tech girl of the team.
The main mystery in VOICES FROM BEYOND is set in a radio station called Radio Free Albion where voices are being heard over the broadcast. The Ghost Finders come in to help and they find out what their future holds for them in the aftermath of this case through a series of ghastly warnings and images of their future selves. There is a very heavy horror element here as much of the imagery and descriptions of the evil the characters face is really, really disturbing and gory.
VOICES FROM BEYOND is a fun mystery, heavy on the horror element and kept me entertained throughout. If you enjoy Simon R. Green’s other series you’ll find the Ghost Finder series right up your alley....more
While fun, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was an action packed smorgasbord of a novel, full of random plot arReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
While fun, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was an action packed smorgasbord of a novel, full of random plot arcs and frequently undeveloped characters. It was as if the authors didn’t know what they wanted to write – fantasy, romance, adventure – and tried to smash everything into one book. Though fast paced and never boring, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS nevertheless suffered for it.
My biggest issue with THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was that a lot of time was spent discussing the problems, and how to resolve them. When it came down to it though, most issues were not resolved by action on Clarice’s part, but instead by action by an outside character. They were also generally resolved fairly quickly in proportion to how much page time they got. My other issue was that Clarice’s character didn’t grow much throughout the story. This would have been fine if the romance arc was more pronounced (in my opinion) but that was glossed over as well.
THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS had a generally upbeat, fun feel to it, and was an enjoyable read, it was just a little scattered. Though not as large a part of the plot as the description makes it out to be, the romance was sweet and fun to watch, and I did enjoy Clarice’s few sword fights. The fantasy aspect of the world was interesting, as it was very similar to our own, but with magic and different geography. It was therefore easy to build images in my head as I was reading, and that added to my enjoyment.
Overall, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS wasn’t everything it was sold as, but it wasn’t a bad book, either. It reminded me of adventure books I read when I was younger, with magic, pirate ships and girls dressing up as boys, and that nostalgia factor probably kept me more interested than I may have been otherwise. However, depending on what the next book in the One Dozen Daughters series sounds like, I may give this series another try.
In this retelling of 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,' Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed have mixReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
In this retelling of 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,' Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed have mixed a little machinery with magic while delving into the Arabian culture, and bringing us a protagonist whose heroism is in his dedication - dedication to his craft, his family, and his desire to to what's right. BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN is a breath of fresh desert wind, and if the book suffers from some plotting and pacing missteps, it's still a charming oasis for fantasy lovers looking to enjoy something a little less Western.
Ali bin-Massoud is in England working as an apprentice to famed mechanical engineer Charles Babbage, when he receives a mysterious puzzle box, delivered by a clockwork falcon, which is supposed to help him reclaim his family's honor. Shortly thereafter, word reaches Ali that his father has died, and his elder, jealous brother Kassim has summoned him home. While the addition of Babbage as a character adds color and amusement to the beginning of the book, his existence becomes a distraction when he's no longer relevant to the plot. Babbage trails after Ali in order to warn him about dangers on his travels, but doesn't actually catch up to him until near the end of the book, by which point Ali's been attacked so many times, he's used to it. Instead of being a useful ally, or co-protagonist, Babbage disappears for chapters at a time, and his absence doesn't make much of a difference, except to be noted. Once Ali leaves England, Babbage and his scientific friends cease to impact the story.
This is Ali's book, and he proves himself more than capable of handling things on his own, like his One Thousand and One Nights namesake. Ali works hard, dedicates himself to doing what's right, doing Allah's will, and manages to out think or out maneuver most of his opponents. The greatest strengths of this novel are in the details - the day to day life and customs of a Muslim family from this time, the well-managed use of time itself when travel was much slower than today, and the clever parallels to the original tale. In some ways BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN reads like a simple fairy tale, magical, but close to the surface. There are glimmers of jewels to be mined, however, that makes me wish the book were unpacked a little more. The romance, for instance, comes on very quickly, especially in contrast to Ali's family drama. That's hardly unusual for a fairy tale, but it seems like an easy way to a happily ever after....more
This is one of those times I have to step back from a book that had me chair-dancing in glee and not rate it bReview Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
This is one of those times I have to step back from a book that had me chair-dancing in glee and not rate it based on the end-of-book squeeage I felt, but to search for a little objectivity in my review. Reaction alone, this would be a five plus. Plus a few more.
I’ll admit that there were times THE WINTER PEOPLE frustrated me to nearly growling because it used one of my least favorite tropes – the one that involves not telling the main character anything, then yell at them for making wrong choices. If not for the strong plot, the mystery and the characters I loved, I might have been tempted to nope out. When the reason behind the secrecy was finally revealed, I understood a little better and the trope didn’t bother me as much.
There were a few plot holes in THE WINTER PEOPLE, namely what happens with Salome’s father, but I’m holding out hope that there might be a sequel that picks that little nugget up and runs with it. But even that one little dangling thread wasn’t enough to deter away from how much I loved THE WINTER PEOPLE. The mystery of what was going on around Salome pulled me in but the characters held me there. Salome, Nevin, Colton, Gareth, even shallow Kadie. They all kept me guessing, trying to figure out motivations. I guessed right a few times, but I guessed wrong, too. I have my favorite character – but if I said who, I would probably spoil something big time.
I’m not sure if there’s another book planned in this universe, but I seriously hope there is because I would be thrilled to see these characters again. Who am I kidding, I’ve already gone back and reread a few scenes. Leery as I usually am of all things fae, I’d happily read more from this universe, or this author....more