Flirty and fun, ANTE UP is a great installment in the Sin City Collectors series. With badass witch Sofia,...moreReview 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!
THE HOT ZONE was one of those books that sort of fits into two genres. Its a paranormal romance of sorts ye...moreReview 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.(less)
A fun, zany romance, HIS SECRET SUPERHEROINE gives the familiar “big secret” romance trope a superhero twist. With an underlying message about toleran...moreA 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.
While fun, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was an action packed smorgasbord of a novel, full of random plot ar...moreReview 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.
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 b...moreReview 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.(less)
Second books are always a little bit of a gamble, and if it’s a second books in a trilogy double that. So I st...moreReview Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
Second books are always a little bit of a gamble, and if it’s a second books in a trilogy double that. So I started DANGEROUS CALLING with a little trepidation but hopes for the best. I’m pleased to say that it more than met my expectations. In fact, it exceeded them.
Everything I loved about Twisted Miracles was back, and then some. The characters I loved, and even a few new ones that I really, really loved. Susannah is back in her full brash glory and there’s a new Guardian, Ian, who really takes the snarky, piss-off Guardian attitude to a whole new level. There’s another new character that I don’t want to say too much about for spoiler reasons, but I loved that she was allowed to be what she was rather than a prettified version of it.
The plotline for DANGEROUS CALLING is a strong one and drew me in from the very first. I was drawn in from the start by the action – and there is a lot of action, not all of it pretty. The heart of the story, though, is Cass’ fight against her newly discovered power. I liked the way it was written like an addiction and I really felt her struggle against the pull and sometimes what she can do with it is just a little scary. I also liked that it drew a parallel – that magic, whatever form it takes, comes with a price and that sometimes the price is worth paying.
I’m definitely on board for the third in the series and can’t wait to jump back into Cass and Shane’s world.(less)
Sucked in by the intriguing cover and blurb, I found myself captivated by STORM SIREN the minute I started...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Sucked in by the intriguing cover and blurb, I found myself captivated by STORM SIREN the minute I started reading. Though sometimes light on the world-building, in STORM SIREN, Weber creates a cast of fascinating characters, with lots of action, and tons of plot twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
Our main character, Nym, is a spectacular heroine. Unlike some other recent young adult fantasy starring female assassins, Nym is not a purposeful killer in the beginning of the book. She’s carrying a huge amount of guilt because of her past, and the way she works through that as the story goes on is very well done. The positions she’s put in and the choices she makes really emphasize her growth over the short period of time the book takes place during. The secondary characters are well fleshed out, as well. Eogan, the trainer, who makes Nym’s emotions pitter patter, and Colin, the other Elemental magic user, who sometimes feels like just a goofy teenage boy, are enjoyable to pass the time with. Adora, Nym’s owner, and Lord Myles, a member of the court, are so delightfully creepy I swear I shivered a few times while reading.
What was lacking was more in-depth world building. It came in bits and pieces, and frustratingly not enough for me. The plot took up so much of the book there just wasn’t much time for describing Nym’s world, and don’t get me wrong – I loved the action and the breathless intensity of it, but oh, I want so much more! There was a lot that could have been explained or explored that we didn’t get, unfortunately.
All in all, STORM SIREN is one of those books that you don’t put down once you’ve gotten into it. It is clever, original, young adult fantasy, that manages to take some familiar aspects (girl assassin/magic user – almost cliche) and turn them on their head. With the final plot twist at the end, I’m dying for book two, and can’t believe I have to wait until June 2015 for it to come out!
Sexual content: References to unwanted physical contact(less)
One of my favorite types of romance are the ones between old friends or acquaintances become lovers. SO I MA...moreReview courtesy of So I Married a Werewolf
One of my favorite types of romance are the ones between old friends or acquaintances become lovers. SO I MARRIED A WEREWOLF plays with this trope excellently though I was frustrated at Faith and Carter’s inner monologues proclaiming their attraction for eachother yet never actually verbalizing their feelings. These two oozed chemistry from every pore from their banter to their personalities which made me flip the pages faster to see when they get a clue and act on their unrequited love. Another type of romance story I love is one that is able to be a little bit silly. SO I MARRIED A WEREWOLF is able to balance the humor and sweetness of Faith and Carter’s romance really well through clever quips and amusing situations. There are serious bits to this story but what makes it shine is the humor especially the scenes with Faith’s tiny and very horny foster dog.
Faith is a wonderful character who is fun and clever though suffers from the “I think I’m too plain and will be a spinster forever” syndrome. I found it hilarious that she was a werewolf dog trainer who used her dog training skills to ‘train’ Carter. The idea of Carter having to get married for a job promotion rankled a bit and just didn’t make sense from a modern perspective but I went with it as another odd werewolf society thing. It was fun seeing all of Faith and Carter’s ploys and lies they had to create to get everyone to believe they were a couple. I found it highly amusing that they were unknowingly digging themselves in so deep that they were bound to make this sham of a relationship into a real one.
SO I MARRIED A WEREWOLF a fun, quick read and had me smiling the whole time. There was gravitas and emotional drama that was leveled out with the hilarious situations that only a fake relationship can create. This is a great stand alone book but I highly recommend the rest of the books in the Seattle Wolf Pack series.(less)
ZEUS IS DEAD: A MONSTROUSLY INCONVENIENT ADVENTURE by Michael G. Munz is like GOOD OMENS – if Pratchett and...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
ZEUS IS DEAD: A MONSTROUSLY INCONVENIENT ADVENTURE by Michael G. Munz is like GOOD OMENS – if Pratchett and Gaiman stopped after every paragraph to explain why their jokes were funny. There’s breaking the fourth wall, and then there’s demolishing the wall and reaching through the wreckage to punch the reader in the face. The book has the potential to be fun, and it’s clear that the author has a sense of humor, but unfortunately he fails to trust that his audience also has a sense of humor. Or a brain.
Munz has filled this book with plenty of clever ideas, but they’re buried in the over-written prose and aggressive mocking of narrative conventions. Reading this book, I kept thinking of a stand-up comedian who fires joke after joke into the crowd without waiting to see if any of the punchlines land, and never goes back to revise his set list. It’s very difficult to be completely irreverent á la Douglas Adams and try to tell an emotionally compelling story – something’s gonna give. In this case, the humor comes off as smug, and the characters fall flat.
And, unfortunately, while the premise enticed me – as I am a Greek mythology buff – that turned to frustration once I saw how Munz characterized the gods of Mount Olympus. Why bother to use established characters to kickstart your plot if you’re just going to change fundamental elements about them? Like it or not, the Greek pantheon are characters with backstory – either respect the source material, or start from scratch with your own deities. Picking and choosing which elements of a canon suit the story and ignoring the rest for the sake of a gag completely defeats the purpose of using the familiar archetypes. It confuses or upsets those who know the mythology, and completely bypasses those who don’t know their Iliad from their Odyssey. ZEUS IS DEAD reads like the brainchild of someone who actually Did Do the Research, then chucked most of it out for a series of cheap laughs.(less)
I picked up HER WILD PROTECTOR mainly due to the unique take on shifters being able to change into multipl...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I picked up HER WILD PROTECTOR mainly due to the unique take on shifters being able to change into multiple forms. I liked learning the origin of the Metamorphs and the conflicts the face. The plot was pretty interesting and moved at a steady pace with a lot of suspense and action scenes. While I understand the constraints of a short story I just felt like there was something lacking and it seemed to end rather abruptly. Perhaps this is a prelude to a much larger series?
I understand and even like stories with a clumsy protagonist who gets pulled into a world of supernatural beings by complete accident. Getting a bump on the head from a really, really silly mistake making Tara suddenly see supernaturals seems a bit unbelievable. I know this is coming from someone who reads books about vampires, werewolves, and fairies but it just was such a odd way to introduce a heroine to supernaturals that I kept thinking there has to be more to her ability than just a head injury. I might have been more accepting of this were the rest of the book filled with silly events and sassy one liners but the HER WILD PROTECTOR reads pretty serious.
On the romance front, I didn’t really believe the connection between Tara and Marshall. They just seemed to be going through the motions with no really passion. Yes, there is a sex scene but it just felt obligatory since this is a romance there must be sex. HER WILD PROTECTOR had a good premise and has potential to be an interesting series but this story left me unsatisfied. (less)
At first glance, GODDESS AWAKENED had everything I could have wanted from a book – goddesses, magic, romance,...moreReview Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
At first glance, GODDESS AWAKENED had everything I could have wanted from a book – goddesses, magic, romance, a heroine that’s in her forties, and a dog that’s part Labrador. I was positive I’d be loving every word of it. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way.
On the surface, GODDESS AWAKENED is a good story. A widow’s attempt to put her life back together while she starts a new venture – renovating an old bed and breakfast. The widowed veterinarian across the street is not quite ready to do the same. Toss in some crazy relatives, and a lurking evil trying to get in the way. The problem is that it doesn’t come together in any sort of coherent way. The plot jumps around, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph and the point-of-view shifts happen so rapidly, I had to go back and reread to see if I’d missed something. Joss’ relationship with her son was cold and clinical to the point she only really thought about him for a few minutes at a time, and as for her relationship with Eric didn’t feel much warmer, even when they were having “mind-blowing” sex. Speaking of missing things, for a book with Goddess in its title, it seemed a long time coming for that part of the story to come into play.
All in all, the rough parts aren’t anything catastrophic, but GODDESS AWAKENED would have benefitted from a second pass by an editor to really tighten the flow. I don’t think I’ll be returning to the series for the second book, but someone without my high tolerance for mechanics and plot issues, might find it a fun read.(less)
If you’re looking for a quick dip into the werewolf pool, SILVER WOLF CLAN would fit the bill nicely, I think....moreReview Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
If you’re looking for a quick dip into the werewolf pool, SILVER WOLF CLAN would fit the bill nicely, I think. And I do mean quick – at just under 120 pages, it’s the perfect size for a rainy afternoon stuck inside with a little Alpha action.
I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the pacing in SILVER WOLF CLAN. In some respects, it was good pacing for a novella, but at the same time, it almost seemed to go too quickly. The initial meeting between Grey and Morgan, for all its import later in the story, goes by in the flash of a few paragraphs. I actually had to go back and reread the beginning because I thought I’d missed something. Grey’s transition from man to wolf was handled quickly as well, with a year passing after only a few chapters, and the speed of the relationship between Grey and Morgan felt rushed. I understand the reasons behind it, but it left the story a little anemic.
One thing I did like is the way the wolves were handled. Grey’s referring to his wolf side as a whole different personality and the brutality of the wolves themselves when they’re transformed. These wolves aren’t cuddly humans in wolf form – they’re wolves and they act like them. That gives some bonus points for me. The overarching plot of SILVER WOLF CLAN was another plus in its column. The exposition set up nicely and leaves me wondering just what’s in store for the wolves.
I will probably return to this universe for another dip into the pool, even with the rush and thin spots in the plot, it was a fun read and I wouldn’t mind heading back there again.(less)
In the vein of GRACELING or GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING offers a rich fantasy world...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
In the vein of GRACELING or GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING offers a rich fantasy world chock-full of political intrigue, heart-stopping moments, and an unconventional heroine who I fell in love with on page one.
THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING is one of those books that I’m happy I read before I read any online reviews. There are a lot of complaints about THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING, and I’m not saying that some of them aren’t valid, but it is a remarkably engaging book, and once I picked it up, I was barely able to set it back down again until I finished. It may seem similar to other books in the same genre, but it sets itself apart, with its older heroine, slightly more adult topics, and the setting, in a future world after some sort of apocalyptic event that caused the world’s population to lose their technology and gain magic.
While the blurb compares this book to THE HUNGER GAMES, I wouldn’t necessarily put the two together. I would recommend THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING to an older teenage reader, since the main character is 19, and some of the descriptions of violence and sexual violence can be quite graphic, which may be disturbing to some people (younger and older alike). Kelsea is a wonderful heroine though, embodying the coming of age storyline, as she goes from being isolated in a forest, with only her foster parents for company, to growing into a queen of a country and all that entails. She was frequently focused on the world around her, sees the flaws, and pushes hard for improvement. By doing that, she earns the respect of those around her, and that was satisfying to see, from the beginning to the end, the growth in relationships.
I did have a few complaints however. First, I would say that the world building was a bit sparse. The events which led to the various kingdoms being created were nebulous, they was little to explain how civilization got to the point it did where the people were living in a feudal existence. Also, Kelsea tended to get on my nerves whenever she started talking about her appearance, and that was frustrating – mentioning it once is fine, twice is even okay, but after that and it started to become unclear why she was so focused on how she looked when she had so many other concerns to worry about.
Sexual content: Multiple references to rape and pedophelia(less)
Ever find yourself wondering about a loved-book’s backstory reference and thinking “hey, I wish I could read t...moreReview courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
Ever find yourself wondering about a loved-book’s backstory reference and thinking “hey, I wish I could read that”? I did when I first read Cursed. I loved Emma and Zach from the start with the references to their first case, I kept going back to Goodreads, wondering if I’d missed one.
I hadn’t. It wasn’t out yet. But it is now. And CAPTURED is everything I’d hoped to find when I was looking in vain for their first case together.
A quick read, at just under 150 pages, CAPTURED does a great job showing what Zach and Emma were like at first meeting – and I’m thrilled to announce that Zach’s wit and charm are just as adorable as they were in Cursed. The story itself focuses more on the pair solving a case and setting up their dynamic as co-investigators, but the sparks are there. Emma’s a little more distant than she was in Cursed, and for good reason. In CAPTURED, she hasn’t had months and months to think about Zach. She’s determined to do her job and go home – like she always did.
Even for a novella, the case is surprisingly complex and doesn’t feel like something just thrown together. The twists and false leads made for a compelling read and made me all the more thirsty for Reckoning.(less)
THE MERMAN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE was one of those books that captured me with the beautiful cover and f...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE MERMAN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE was one of those books that captured me with the beautiful cover and failed to live up to the expectation it set. Though intriguing, THE MERMAN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE felt shallow and lacking in development.
The main character, Raef, narrated the story and that was part of my complaint. His voice felt so young and naive – partly, I understand, because he was encountering humans for the first time, but he still seemed to lack any kind of common sense at times. His never-ending narration was cloying and there was the definite tendency to tell, not show, which was frustrating.
The storyline itself was fun, and action packed, but not much could make up for the negative feelings I had toward Raef, even the pirate falling in love plotline, which is one of my favorites. It was at least never dull, as Raef was always getting into some sort of trouble, and seeing how he extricated helped me keep reading.
THE MERMEN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE may appeal to some readers, but others may find that the action and interesting world Berrisford created can’t make up for an irritating main character. This is one I would definitely recommend reading an excerpt before buying.
Sexual content: Sex scenes, references to rape(less)
CRIMSON HEART marks the first time I’ve read a book in a series without having read the ones that came before...moreReview Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
CRIMSON HEART marks the first time I’ve read a book in a series without having read the ones that came before – but kilts and magic? Then adding in the bonus of a historical bent? Come on. It’s a complete home-run, book wise. For me, anyway.
Truth told, if I were reading this for my personal collection, I’d probably have rated it higher, but since the focus of ATUF is urban fantasy and paranormal works, I have to factor that into the review. Don’t get me wrong, there is a paranormal aspect to the story through the gifts bestowed on Searc and his family, and it plays an integral part of the plot. The majority of the story, though, is a historical romance focusing on the time of Mary Queen of Scots and the unrest in Scotland at the time.
Full disclosure aside, I truly enjoyed CRIMSON HEART and can’t wait to read the others in the series before it. There’s just enough history, humor, drama, romance, mystery and history without it feeling bogged down by any of those. The mystery kept me guessing, the romance had me smiling, and I laughed out loud several times. Not to mention all the tugging on my heartstrings from Searc, and his wonderful family.
Even though part of a series, CRIMSON HEART is complete in itself with no cliffhangers left behind. Searc and Elena are richly developed characters and I loved reading their journey together. The supporting characters, especially Marie de Guise, made their story even better and one I wouldn’t mind revisiting.All Things Urban Fantasy(less)
BEVERLY HILLS DEMON SLAYER is a fun book with some wacky dialogue, wonky magic, and weird creatures. This w...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
BEVERLY HILLS DEMON SLAYER is a fun book with some wacky dialogue, wonky magic, and weird creatures. This was yet another series that I am starting six books in but luckily it can be read as a standalone. The plot is pretty straightforward and even at its darkest moments it is able to keep things pretty light with a witty comment or two. I liked the interesting demon slayer magic that is used by Lizzie and how it is linked to goodness and light in opposition to evil and dark magic. The pacing is fast and I was actually surprised at how quickly I breezed through this book.
BEVERLY HILLS DEMON SLAYER not only has some exciting demon slayer action scenes, it also is absolutely hilarious especially with a cast of characters that include a talking dog, a guard dragon, and a half-human, half-succubus with a pet hellhound. Some of my favorite characters are Lizzie’s grandma and her biker witches. Yes, these are a group of ladies of varying ages who ride motorcycles and practice witchcraft while being generally awesome and badass. My only complaint is that they weren’t in the story more.
This story is thrilling and hilarious with a most excellent kick ass heroine surrounded by a super quirky motley crew of misfits I fell in love with immediately. Now I have to go back to the beginning of this series and read it all the way through. I gladly accept this endeavor and await for more from Lizzie and company.(less)
There’s something to be said for a good novella. With so many series out there, or Long Epic Reads that, no ma...moreReview courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
There’s something to be said for a good novella. With so many series out there, or Long Epic Reads that, no matter how engaging, seem to go on forever without any set resolution, it’s nice to have a book you can sit down with and polish off on a rainy afternoon. It’s like the literary equivalent of a bag of chips, if you will.
EVER MINE, however, didn’t feel so much like a novella, though. It felt more like a story that could have been, maybe should have been, longer. The last novella I read – Anchored by AJ Larrieu, had that bag of chips feel. It was just enough – the world building was solid and the story unfolded well within that universe and time frame. EVER MINE felt way too rushed. I don’t want to say it was a bad story at all, because it wasn’t, but I was left wishing there was more to it. I wanted to know more about Nathan’s family – even his crazy aunt. I wanted to know more about Katenia’s world, and more about magic in ours and how Nathan got twisted up with a witch. And I really wanted more time with Nathan and Katen together because…wow. They had some serious steam that lead to lovely hot sex.
Yes, that steam was very much insta-lust, but when I’m in novella land, I tend to not mind so much because without it, we’d be at the end of the story before anyone got past first base. I had a few issues with Katenia not understanding human idioms but then describing something as “way cool” but that’s the Picky English Major in me.
If you’re looking for a quick, trip into a world of pointy-eared fairies and seriously hot sex? EVER MINE might be just the way to spend an afternoon. It certainly was for me, even if it did leave me wishing the author had spent a little more time and slowed the rushed pace just a little to flesh out the story.(less)
SUMMONED CHAOS bears similarities to other books like The Dresden Files series with rogue wizards battling...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SUMMONED CHAOS bears similarities to other books like The Dresden Files series with rogue wizards battling evil with a can-do attitude and badass fighting skills. While following in the shadows of great wizards like Harry Dresden can be tough and make the storyline feel redundant or boring, Marcus Shifter makes his own footprint in the urban fantasy genre. Beyond his ability to do awesome magic. I adore his sarcasm as even in the direst of situations he can be counted on to say something utterly hilarious to bring a sense of levity to the story. I enjoy that he isn’t jaded by everything he’s seen and done. While he does feel guilt for past misdeeds he keeps on going to fight the good fight like the Energizer Bunny with a Glock and a smart-ass attitude.
Along with Marcus being a genuine delight and excellent wizard and marksman with a heart of gold, there are some wonderfully fleshed out secondary characters that I also enjoyed learning more about like his girlfriend and sorceress, Quinn. She’s not damsel-in-distress material and can hold her own in a battle alongside Marcus. Every character is wonderful in his or her own way especially Marcus’s Minotaur roommate, Steve. Everything that comes from this guy’s mouth is hilarious and clever. He is a revelation and I want, no need a short story or two involving him. What I love about all of these characters and this book in general is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. While this is by no means a light-hearted jaunt I appreciated the moments of humor and wit woven into the story.
The storyline is a great mystery with some shocking twists and betrayals. The world building in this series is really interesting and well developed. I also like that while SUMMONED CHAOS is the second book in the Shifter Chonicles it can be read first without feeling lost though that would mean missing out on more Marcus, Steve and everyone else from the first book, UNDEAD CHAOS.(less)
Full of action, a captivating couple, and some very mean vampyres, VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES was everyth...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Full of action, a captivating couple, and some very mean vampyres, VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES was everything I wished for and more. Harlow completely brought her A-game for this one, and it shows in how much fun to read this book is. When I finished it, I had a moment of “is it possible for a book to be too good?”
We review a lot of books on this blog with female main characters, usually with some sort of supernatural power or feature. Verity, by these standards, is pretty normal, which sometimes means boring. Except she isn’t, and that is what makes her so awesome. She’s brilliant, fierce, loyal, sarcastic, but also a bit melancholy, too stubborn for her own good, and scared of heights. She’s logical and analytical, and will likely be able to wipe the table with you in a poker game. In other words, I kind of want to be Verity Hart. Sometimes, when I felt like she was almost too perfect a heroine, she would do something risky or stupid, but always completely within what I expected of her character. She felt like a real person, which made her enjoyable to read.
And Jamie McQueen, oh dear. Even if I wasn’t such a fan of Verity, I’d want to be her just so spend some time with him. With his hot and cold attitude, his too-informal way of addressing Verity, his American vulgarity, and his hot-as-hell kisses, he was the perfect counterpart to the high society Lady Verity. Since we weren’t in his head like we were in Verity’s, we were left as confused as she sometimes was at his actions, and watching his transformation, both in how he perceived Verity, and how she perceived him, was thrilling. He’s quick enough to hold his own against Verity and though he gets to know her weaknesses, he never holds them against her, and eventually comes around to some of her ways of thinking.
Besides the relationship between the two main characters that you just can’t help rooting for, which would be enough for a book on its own, VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES features a trip across England, Wales and Ireland, some seriously scary vampyres (even the good guys were a little creepy and terrifying) and crazy steampunk inventions. Plus, we’ve got a crotchety old lady who helps save the day and the dear brother who, though absent most of the book, wins the reader’s hearts through the stories Verity tells of him. This book flew by, entrancing me into staying up too late and reading every free minute. And although it was released as a serial, the last section has now been published, so you if that’s not your style, you don’t even have to wait between the sections.
Creepy and yet hauntingly beautiful, Emily Carroll’s debut graphic novel, THROUGH THE WOODS marks her as a...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Creepy and yet hauntingly beautiful, Emily Carroll’s debut graphic novel, THROUGH THE WOODS marks her as an amazing artistic talent who clearly has great things in her future.
The five stories in THROUGH THE WOODS have the feel of fairy tales or the Scary Stories series I used to read when I was a kid. Though creations of Carroll’s imagination, they have a timeless feel to them, which is only amplified by the gorgeous artwork attached to the narrative. And though this book is meant for a slightly younger age group, I feel it can be enjoyed by anybody, if not for the chills you’ll feel up your spine as you read the stories, but for the visual accompaniment. The stories by themselves would stand alone just fine, but it is the art that really turns them into something terrifying. The five stories all fit together well, and the flow of the book is just right. The whole thing can probably be read in one sitting, but I would suggest taking time to savor it.
I’ve already bought a copy to give away and I anticipate THROUGH THE WOODS is one I’ll recommend in the future. I can’t wait to see what Carroll comes up with next, after such an amazing debut, I’m confident that whatever it is, it will be worth the wait.
Of the many, classic Urban Fantasy books of the 90′s, the Vicki Nelson series holds extremely well. This strong source material lends itself well to r...moreOf the many, classic Urban Fantasy books of the 90′s, the Vicki Nelson series holds extremely well. This strong source material lends itself well to revival, from the Canadian TV show “Blood Ties” to the recent reissues of the books themselves. Re-reading Victoria Nelson now, every description of Vicki brings to mind the strong jaw and dry sense of humor of her televised incarnation, adding to the experience of the re-read.
BLOOD PACT is an anomaly in the Vicki Nelson series, as there is very little Vicki to drive the story forward. Dealing with sudden death of her mother, and then the theft of her mother’s body, Vicki is understandably remote. Celluci and Henry are jarred out of their “time share” arrangement and forced to work together as they try to help Vicki, leading to some new and interesting interactions… and a definite sense that Vicki’s love life is about to change. Between this man show, the eclectic villains, and the often heartbreaking glimpses of the “monsters” point of view, BLOOD PACT manages to compensate for the emotionally absent main character.
The satisfying structure of this story, however, is almost completely overshadowed by the game change at the end. BLOOD PACT offers significant character growth throughout the book, but nothing can compare to the electric events at this book’s ending. As much as I enjoyed this story over all, I was breathlessly anticipating the end… and I now can’t wait to continue on to BLOOD DEBT to see how everything falls out.
ACES WILD is, in my opinion, a perfect start to the new Sin City Collectors series, which features an inte...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
ACES WILD is, in my opinion, a perfect start to the new Sin City Collectors series, which features an interesting premise in that the installments will be written by different authors. Since I already like Amanda Carlson’s other series, I was excited to see what she would bring to a totally different setting and characters. I was not disappointed. Though short, ACES WILD manages to pack in action and romance and enough of a hook to bring me back for the next story.
In ACES WILD, Carlson manages to introduce us to the idea of the Collectors, plus the supernatural world they inhabit, all without being too heavy-handed about it. This includes such paranormal beings like vampires, dhampirs, nymphs, witches, hellhounds, and more. The Collectors themselves, with the mysterious boss, and weekly assignments, are also fascinating , and since we’re introduced to the organization through Neve’s, and to some extent, Jake’s eyes, we get just enough detail to pique curiosity, leaving lots to be discovered in the future while still giving the basics so the story makes sense.
At the beginning prickly Neve and sexy Jake don’t seem like they’re right for each other (I know I was rooting for Jake to find somebody sweeter) but by the end, I was convinced. Sparks fly when these two get together, and though the time period of the story is short, they have a clear back-story, which makes their romance more believable than if they had just magically fallen in love over the course of a few hours. I was actually surprised at how much I felt I knew the characters by the end of the novella, since it wasn’t very long (my only complaint – I would not have minded a longer story). They’re well written and multidimensional, and their interactions felt effortless.
Like I said, I’m definitely going to be back for more of the Sin City Collectors. The whole idea of a series being written by different authors – including Kristin Painter, Angie Fox and Shawntelle Madison (all authors we’ve reviewed and enjoyed here at All Things Urban Fantasy) – is fun, plus the concept is creative and leaves a lot to be explored. If this first installment is any indication, the whole series will be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see who we get to meet next.
When you read as much as I do, you come to understand pretty quickly that some authors get it, some try, and s...moreReview Courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
When you read as much as I do, you come to understand pretty quickly that some authors get it, some try, and some give it a shot but don’t really care if they hit the mark or not. VEILED TARGET, I’m pleased to say, is one of the first ones. Alpha males, shifters, badass humans, all mix together in a great story that was very hard to put down.
I’ll admit to some trepidation when I heard “Alpha Male” in a description of the book’s hero because for many authors out there, Alpha tends to equate to sex-crazed douchenozzle. Don’t get me wrong, Hugh has his sex-crazed moments, even his Alpha male ordering around moments. What makes the difference in VEILED TARGET is that Tess usually tells him to go to hell when he tries the ordering around, or she agrees and does as she wishes in spite of it. Tess is very much her own person, granted she’s a little on the broken side, and knows her own mind. Watching these two very strong personalities clash, meld, and find a way to work together made for a great story.
Which leads me to the story itself. Okay, you have alphas, and two driven people who are drawn to each other like an out of control chemistry experiment, but there’s so much more to the story than sex. Murder, betrayal, deceptions abound as do heartbreak, soul searching, and the desires to do what’s right rather than let personal wants enter into the mix.
I’m very definitely on board for the second in this series and can’t wait to find out how the aftermath of VEILED TARGET‘s climax play out in this world.(less)
SCORCHED by Erica Hayes: wherein a young woman by the name of Verity Fortune is a telekinetic Batgirl in a city with a rogues’ gallery to rival Gotham’s. Appropriately nicknamed the Gallery – part mafia, part supervillain cabal – its members wage a never-ending war against the ‘augmented’ Fortunes, who run the multinational Fortune Corp by day, and masquerade at night in various superhero guises. It’s Verity who gives this novel its Christopher Nolan-esque grit right from the start, after she escapes an asylum where she was held and tortured for nine months, with a shattered memory and little control over her powers.
What I particularly enjoyed about SCORCHED is that for most of the book, Verity isn’t a hero. She’s not a nice person, driven by a thirst for revenge rather than a sense of duty. Yet, her reasons for being this way are perfectly justified (at least in her mind), rather than simply there as part of an Anti-Hero character trope. She’s not necessarily likeable, but she’s understandable. She’s been brutalized and disfigured, and comes out of the asylum with only one mantra: I’m not a bad person. But as she continually compares herself to her new friend and righteous do-gooder Glimmer, she starts to have her doubts. It doesn’t help that she’s convinced a member of her family sold her out and went over to the dark side.
Of course, the deep glimpse we get into Verity’s fractured psyche does make it a little hard to believe that certain characters would try so hard to help her, or find themselves so attracted to her. There’s one character in particular who seems to come out of nowhere to form an intense bond with Verity, behind the mask, as it were – but the reveal on that is very good, and very twisted. I did see the biggest twist of the book coming, but I was still eager to get there with Verity – even if she was putting the pieces together a bit slowly. Whether you figure it out or not, there’s plenty of adrenaline, which is only a slight problem when the book ends abruptly. It might as well have had the words ‘to be continued,’ printed on the last page, so I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of Sapphire City and its heroes.(less)
I’ll fully admit to being in a sucker-for-a-kilt stage in my reading tastes, which is why I decided to read th...moreReview courtesy All Things Urban Fantasy
I’ll fully admit to being in a sucker-for-a-kilt stage in my reading tastes, which is why I decided to read this one just on the cover alone. Apart from issues with occasional sketchy choices with accent-writing for their Scottish burr, I was mostly satisfied on that front.
The rest of LOVE POTIONS was a little more jumbled. I’m not one to discount a good dose of kilt-lifter erotica, but there were times when it just felt like too much focus on sex for the wrong reasons. And by wrong reasons I mean insta-lust to hook the reader. I understand that shortcuts have to be taken in a shorter book, but the heroine drenching her jeans after hearing the man say hello and then nearly giving him head in the forest right after they talk for the first time because “a spell went wrong” didn’t sit well with me.
I think that’s what kept me from loving LOVE POTIONS and why it took me so long to read it. For all the fun I had with the MacGregors, and they are a fun, pranking bunch, they seem to get magic wrong quite a lot for immortal warlocks, and always for plot reasons. Then there’s Erik’s shape-shifting ability – used twice for plot and then never mentioned again. I did like Lydia, though. She’s a strong character and not about to be pushed around by the stubborn Scot, or his family.
Overall, LOVE POTIONS is a good mix of erotica, magic, and all things kilt. I might delve back into the world if Charlotte’s story is told, because I like her and I wouldn’t mind another trip down this rabbit hole.(less)