Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Funny and urban fantasy are not words that often go together, at least not intentionally, but HAP...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Funny and urban fantasy are not words that often go together, at least not intentionally, but HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA is the rare exception combining cool characters, witty dialogue, and laugh out loud moments in this Jane Austen channeled vampire romp.
Milangro had a strong voice and her outlook on life was hilarious in a Bridget Jones meets Charo kind of way, and there were several bitable vampires who pursued her, but it was the vampire matriarch, Edna who stole this book for me. She was prickly, condescending, and subtly insulting every time she spoke. I loved her.
And did I mention funny? I laughed so hard while reading HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA that I actually had to put the book down at one point because I was crying too hard to see the pages (it was the scene where Edna takes Milangro shopping for the second time).
Was it predictable? Yes. Was it groundbreaking in terms of world building? No. But it was smart, and clever, and great fun from beginning to end. If you’re feeling a little depressed by all the somber plotlines in most urban fantasy books, HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA is like a shot of margarita flavored sunshine in you tukis. I’m already planning my next visit to Casa Dracula.
Sexual Content: References to sex. A few mild sex scenes. A few mild scenes of sensuality. (less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
What do I want in an urban fantasy? A strong, likable protagonist with an as yet unrealized magic...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
What do I want in an urban fantasy? A strong, likable protagonist with an as yet unrealized magical potential, a richly layered paranormal world, a well matched love interest who holds their own, and the promise of a multi-book meta-narrative. DARKFEVER has all that and more.
Mackayla “Mac” Lane is a near perfect UF heroine, and she befriended me immediately. As is a Sidhe-seer, Mac is someone who can see past the disguises, or glamours, that the fey use to hide in our world. Tenacious in pursuit of her sister’s killer, Mac is thorough and smart. Yes, she's a bit cocky, which she glosses over with more than a hint of old fashioned Southern charm, but she's also resilient and quick on her feet. The first time she truly spots a fey and is in danger of being discovered, it’s her quick thinking and cool under pressure that save her life.
Speaking of the fey, in DARKFEVER they are divided into two courts. The fey from the Unseelie court are the stuff of nightmares: grotesque hulking monsters who can suck the life out of humans with a touch. The fey from the Seelie court are the stuff of fantasies: breathtakingly beautiful beings whose very presence can send a human into an all-consuming erotic frenzy.
And this is Karen Marie Moning, so you know to expect romance, but it’s far from conventional. The enigmatic Barrons is Mac’s unwilling teacher/protector. He is harsh and demanding, bordering on cruel through out DARKFEVER, and yet, there are flashes of something more, mere glimpses of a different man beneath the brusque demeanor. The slow, smoldering attraction that builds between these too was palpable.
Overall, DARKFEVER is a near perfect urban fantasy (and yes, it is more urban fantasy than paranormal romance). A chilling mystery, a darkly seductive enigmatic love interest with questionable character, in a terrifying yet alluring world full of both scary and seductive fey. I am dying to devour the other books in the Fever series and be devoured in return.
Sexual Content: References to sex. References to masturbation. Two scenes of graphic sensuality.(less)
GENERATION 18 is the middle book in the Spook Squad series and it valiantly escapes the classic second book...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
GENERATION 18 is the middle book in the Spook Squad series and it valiantly escapes the classic second book syndrome of not living up to the expectations of the previous book and being a dull set up to the expected major events of the third and last book. Its exciting, fun, and attention grabbing with mysteries wrapped around yet more mystery. There is a frentic pacing to GENERATION 18 considering Sam’s supposed connection to the victims and her mysterious origins. Sam is in a constant search for answers to just who she is and as she moves closer to the answer, three more come up.
While I would say a book leans more towards one genre or another this one solidly treads the line between urban fantasy and science fiction with shifters and other magically abled people alongside secret government projects messing around with human genes creating super powered people. The intriguing mysteries of some truly horrid murders and just who and what Sam is are what keeps the plot rolling. I mainly kept reading this book just to figure out what the mystery of Sam’s past is and about all of the secret government projects that seem to keep popping up in this story.
Sam is a very strong character and I liked her determination and will to keep going forward even when she hits a roadblock. Her relationship with Gabriel is an odd one. I can’t really figure it out. I think they work well together but I just don’t see them getting together as love interests which I assume will occur in the next book as Sam seems determined for it to happen. With GENERATION 18 there are mysteries to untwist, bad guys to fight, and brilliant new powers to discover. This story is a wonderfully exciting build up to the last book in this trilogy, PENUMBRA.(less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Kim Harrison - Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel - I had a bit of a falling out with Rachel Morgan's T...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
Kim Harrison - Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel - I had a bit of a falling out with Rachel Morgan's The Hollows series after book four. I've long maintained that Ivy is in need of some serious staking, and as her relationship with Rachel increasingly became more of the focus of the series my enjoyment decreased (if a guy pulled half the possessive, needy, territorial garbage that Ivy does Rachel would never have put up with it). Plus after what happened with Kisten...But after reading Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel, I remembered why I loved this series so much to begin with. Nobody, and I mean nobody does better world building than Kim Harrison. I loved getting to read about Rachel as a teenager brimming with excitement about following in her late father's footsteps as a runner for Inderland Security (basically the paranormal police). But Rachel nearly died as a child, and at this point in her life she is still struggling with chronic fatigue and weakness from any type of physical activity, a fact her older brother uses to encourage her to pursue an alternative career as an earth witch. When the two strike a bargain to decide the issue, Rachel accidentally calls forth the ghost of a murdered witch (handsome Peirce) who has some unfinished business with the dead vampire who condemned him centuries before. Together he and Rachel hope to save not only Peirce's soul, but the soul of the young girl the vampire is about to condemn as well. This is a fun quick read sprinkled with holiday magic that will entertain both new and familiar readers, and might even re-hook those of us who had given up on this series for one reason or another. (plus no Ivy!)
Sexual Content: None
Run, Run, Rudolph by Lynsay Sands - I haven’t read anything by Lynsay Sands before, but I’m a little surprised that her story was included in this anthology because its basically a typical contemporary romance with an added sci-fi element. Jill gets struck with a destabilizing ray by an evil scientist and goes on the run through a parade and Christmas party with her longtime crush Nick. Jill new superpowers include being able to take on the appearance of anyone or thing (remember the title?) that she sees. Of course while on the run, Jill and Nick take a few breaks for a steamy make out session, and a near coupling in the parking lot. For a story that was only 90 pages long, the sexual content felt abruptly introduced and overly emphasized.
Sexual Content: A scene of heavy petting, a graphic sex scene that isn’t quite consummated.
"The Harvest" by Vicki Pettersson. Vicki's story focuses on Zoe, the mother of the main character Joanna in her Signs of the Zodiac series as she tries to rescue her infant granddaughter from the evil Shadow agents during Thanksgiving. The Zodiac series has an extremely complex and unusual paranormal world involving an endless battle between good and evil personified in comic book-like heroes of the Light and Shadow. I wouldn't recommend starting this series with this prequel novella as the paranormal elements will likely be confusing (and there are a few spoilers from the main series in here). But if you have at least read Scent of Shadows already, you should enjoy the back-story this provides and a deeper look at the inner workings of both sides of the Zodiac.
Sexual Content: A reference to a rape. A non-graphic sex scene (less)
Confession time: This is my first ever Charles de Lint book. And yes, I’m suitably embarrassed that I run a...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Confession time: This is my first ever Charles de Lint book. And yes, I’m suitably embarrassed that I run a blog called All Things Urban Fantasy and haven’t read the Father of Urban Fantasy. In my defense, I discovered the genre through Buffy, and it was quite a while before I even heard about Charles de Lint. My ignorance excuse ran out a long time ago, but I still shied away because once I understood exactly who de Lint was and what he means to this genre, I was terribly afraid I wouldn’t like his books and that would mean my UF love was really a sham.
My fear was 100% unfounded.
As I said, PROMISES TO KEEP was my first visit to Newford, but I never once felt like I’d missed something. Jilly Coppercorn, "the heart and soul of Newford” according to her creator, has been working hard at keeping her life together and putting a past that included physical and sexual abuse, drugs, and prostitution behind her. De Lint weaves episodes from Jilly’s past throughout the narrative at the exact moments I began to wonder. He gave me every piece of the puzzle I needed precisely when I needed it to understand Jill and the journey that brought her to where she was. Jilly is the perfect example of a character who you root for. One of the most damaged characters I’ve ever encountered, yet I was completely engaged in her story.
Glancing over de Lint’s website, I learned just how numerous and varied the creatures who populate Newford are, but in PROMISES TO KEEP, there really aren’t any. As one reviewer on Goodreads put it, “there seemed to be less of that whisper of magic that brings Newford alive and fills me with joy.” Instead, it’s the place that is the fantasy, and I’m not even talking about Newford, which comes off as nearly completely mundane. Mireya is the magical city in this book, but in a very subtle way. In fact, I would describe it as more lucky than magical.
For my first foray into Newford, I found PROMISES TO KEEP to be a strong character driven tale with the barest hint of magic, but with an easy going narrative style that forced the pages to fly and made me long for my next visit. If you have yet to try a Charles de Lint book, now’s the time. He’s the father of urban fantasy for a reason.
Sexual Content: References to child molestation and prostitution.(less)
I’m such a snob. I avoided this book for a long time primarily because I didn’t like the cover. That’s pret...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m such a snob. I avoided this book for a long time primarily because I didn’t like the cover. That’s pretty much it. But the moment they repackaged it with a pretty new cover and I’m sold (well that and the fact that I loved Richelle’s Vampire Academy series. Plus the $4.79 Kindle price didn’t hurt either). Stupid, shallow, and thrifty. That’s me. Every time I write a review like this one, I swear I’ll never again judge a book by its cover because I might miss out on another fun and sexy read like SUCCUBUS BLUES.
Georgina is an excellent UF protagonist torn between what she needs to survive as a succubus: sex, and what she craves as a human: love. The problem being that any one she actually cares about she can’t even touch because her succubus nature would steal away part of their life. Whoever thought being a succubus would suck so much?
I was surprised by the lighter tone of SUCCUBUS BLUES compared to most books in the urban fantasy genre. It’s almost like a cross between a traditional urban fantasy and a paranormal chick-lit title. Light and funny in moments, smoldering and sexy the next, and dark and dangerous too. Somehow they all work together and the result is a blast to read. There are currently five books in the Georgina Kincaid series so far with number six, SUCCUBUS REVEALED, releasing on August 30, 2011, after only one book, I can tell that so many books to look forward to is a very good thing.
Alpha and Omega is the novella that preceded Patricia Briggs’ Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Book 1). Part of the On The Prowl anthology, A&O is less its own story and more the introduction to Cry Wolf. It almost feels like someone decided to cut the first few chapters of Cry Wolf and publish them separately. Having read Cry Wolf previously, I already knew the basic plot of this novella as most of it is rehashed in that book. But what makes A&O worth reading is the character insight revealed through the alternating POV of Anna and Charles. And I actually found Anna to be a much stronger character this time around, despite the ongoing abuse she is enduring in A&O. She shows some spine and resourcefulness that I was proud to see. In Cry Wolf she almost seemed to take a step backwards in that sense. As a heads up, there is a lot of romance in this story. I would say the vast majority involves exploring feelings and attraction. So in that sense, A&O is very much a romance with paranormal elements and not the other way around. But even though the romance is the focus here, because this is Patricia Briggs we're talking about, the paranormal elements are top notch. The werewolf pack dynamic is fascinating and I particularly enjoyed how the wolves in this world have there own distinct personality that is not always in agreement with their human counterparts. I just wish there was more of them, especially regarding the origin of the Omega wolf. Perhaps Briggs is planning on doling out more of those details in future books. If you are reading this story first, be sure to have Cry Wolf on hand as the story does not conclude in this novella.
Sexual Content: Sexual abuse and rape is alluded to in the past tense.
Inhuman by Eileen Wilks:
This is the third book set in the compelling World of the Lupi, but it was my first visit, and right off the bat this book struck a nerve with me when the author resorted to writing two of my pet peeves: In the first chapter alone Christians and Republicans are stereotypically dismissed as evil, ignorant hate mongers. I mean how cliché can you get? And the second pet peeve is the info dump. Instead of gradually drawing her audience in to a world unlike our own, we get an entire history crammed into the first chapter. Starting chapter two, I was prepared to groan through the rest of this book for the purpose of this review, but after those initial turn offs (and basically a worthless first chapter full of irrelevant characters), not to mention the whole power wind concept which I found clear as mud, I ended up really liking this book, more to the point, I liked Nathan. His chapters are by far the most interesting (as is the revelation of what he really is). Kai, on the other hand, was pretty vanilla. Yes, she is Gifted (in some undefined way that we only get hints about initially), and yes, she does become more interesting towards the end, but Nathan is why I kept reading and why I was so disappointed to learn that nothing further has been, or is going to be written about him. Eileen had this to say on her website: '’10-05-2009 08:02 am …when I wrote about Kai & nathan I hoped to continue their story in books or novellas. But for now, my editor wants Rule & Lily stories from me, so no Kai & Nathan books--yet. This may change.’ Maybe we should start a letter campaign to Eileen Wilks’ Editor to write more books about Nathan (and Kai if she wants to)? In the mean time, I’m already planning my next visit to the World of the Lupi.
Sexual Content: There is a sex scene that is not overly graphic
Buying Trouble by Karen Chance:
I liked this story from page one. Claire is a Null (or something more), someone who can nullify magic, a rarity that her 'family' wants to cash in on by selling her to the highest bidder. Heidar, a Light Elf, lends a hand in her rescue sending the two on the lam through the Faeire realm where, of course, romance and action ensue. There isn't any explanation for the world in this story (I didn’t even realize that I was in the same world as in the Cassandra Palmer series until afterwards, which, considering how I reviewed the first Cassie book is probably a good thing); its like ours in most respects, except that it is populated with fey, weres, vampires, mages, trolls and even dragons. Some hardcore UF lovers might not enjoy this story as much as I did as the majority of the story takes place in the decidedly un-urban faeire realm, and in that sense feels more like straight fantasy. The characters, however, are strong with very modern mindsets. Claire specifically was sharp and witty with just the right amount of cynicism for my taste. Another nice thing about this story is, that unlike a lot of anthology selections, this one actually has an ending. None of that, 'read the rest of the story in the next book...' And it feels like a complete story, something not all novellas do. I hope Ms. Chance plans on writing more about Claire and Heidar in the near future.
Sexual Content: One semi graphic sex scene. (less)
It’s impossible to read Lords of the Underworld series and not compare it to J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brot...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
It’s impossible to read Lords of the Underworld series and not compare it to J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Both feature an immortal brotherhood of violent, passionate, and seductive warriors, each with their own demons—literally in Gena Showalter’s series—and even have names/nicknames that describe them like Wrath, as they find, seduce, and fall in love. But that’s really where the similarities end.
The Lords of the Underworld series is based around the Greek Myth of Pandora’s box. When it was opened, demons (Violence, Pain, Death, Disease, Disaster, Misery, Doubt, Promiscuity, Defeat, Lies, Secrets, and Wrath) were released and imprisoned inside each of the warriors who opened it as an eternal cure by the gods. Already I have some favorites who I can’t wait to read more about, but in THE DARKEST NIGHT, we focus on Maddox aka Violence. He is a Prometheus figure, forced to die brutally every night as penance for a crime he committed long ago.
The romance was developed rather more quickly than I would have liked and the female characters (both Ashlyn and two others who will no doubt be leads in future books) suffered a bit for lack of development, and while Maddox had a tendency to be boorish in a way that should have put Ashlyn off, I still found his constant battle with the demon inside him to be fascinating to watch. But overall, The Greek Mythology was a fantastic foundation to build on and the tortured band of brothers each promise to deliver unique and satisfying romances.
I’m giving this a 4/5 probably based more on potential than the actual book. If I had a 3.5 rating, that would be perfect. The Lords of the Underworld has the potential to be an amazing series in the long haul. I’ve been hunting for a solid Paranormal Romance series to sink into and I’m thinking I just found it. There are seven books available now (all of which I bought along with the prequel based on my enjoyment of THE DARKEST NIGHT) with the eighth book, THE DARKEST SEDUCTION, due out in 2012. Something tells me I won’t need nearly that long to catch up.
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
BEASTLY is a modern retelling of the classic Beauty and The Beast fairy tale, but told from the p...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
BEASTLY is a modern retelling of the classic Beauty and The Beast fairy tale, but told from the perspective of the Beast. It was the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation hitting theaters on July 30, 2010(see trailer below) that sparked my interest in this story.
Unfortunately, the inevitable HEA for the couple was almost totally bereft of romance. They share several sweet moments together, but Kyle has this raging insecurity about his appearance (FYI Kyle looks like a wookie in the book compared to the much cooler scarred look in the movie) coupled with his desperation to break the curse that he is always painfully tentative with his prospective Beauty. Beauty, on the other hand, displays some admirable feistiness when she is first sent to the Beast (but the whole concept of her captivity didn't work in this modern setting), but she acclimates way too quickly and settles into a one note personality that Stepford would approve of.
Kyle's blind tutor Will (played by Neil Patrick Harris in the movie) who was funny and observant, and the cook/housekeeper Magda who was endearing and unassuming were great supporting characters, especially before Beauty arrives. In fact, I actually liked BEASTLY much better before the romance started (never thought I'd say that).
BEASTLY is an extremely faithful modernization of the fairy tale, almost too faithful. As it is, if you've ever seen the Disney version, you already know nearly every plot point in BEASTLY. I still really want to see the movie version. I'm hopeful that they will be able to inject some much needed romance into the story and take the overall plot risks that could have elevated the book into something special.
Sexual Content: References to sex. References to Rape. Kissing.(less)
Faythe Sanders is a fiercely independent urban fantasy heroine, very reminiscent of Elena Michaels (the onl...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Faythe Sanders is a fiercely independent urban fantasy heroine, very reminiscent of Elena Michaels (the only female werewolf in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series) in fact STRAY was in many ways similar to Elena’s first book BITTEN: The prodigal daughter, a rare female shifter, is forced to return home and reunite with her Pack and former Love while hunting down some stray shifters. But the similarities didn’t bother me in the slightest. Both BITTEN and STRAY are excellent books with enough differences to be more than worthwhile reads on their own.
Faythe, in particular, was a consistent high note throughout STRAY. She was gutsy and brave, with a clear, often sarcastic, voice, that made sense since she grew up as the only girl in a house full of boys. Her unwavering insistence on independence was at times foolish, but she was quick to acknowledge her mistakes and that her stubbornness was a weakness that she constantly battled.
The romance was equally good as Faythe struggled not just with her ex Marc, but also with the childhood friend Jace, whom she’d always considered as a brother until now. The heated flirtation between Faythe and Jace added to the romantic tension and realistically fueled the doubt that Faythe experienced with her emotions for two very different men.
And all that romantic tension was only heightened by the dynamics of Pride life in STRAY which were fascinating in their complexity, specifically the role of females. Rachel Vincent does an admirable job of communicating all the intricacies of life as a Shifter without bogging her readers down with boring details.
All in all, STRAY was an excellent start to what promises to be an excellent series. This is the perfect time to jump into this series as the sixth and final book in the series came out last year which means you can read Faye’s full story with no waiting!
WARNING: This book deals heavily with the subject of rape both from the side of the victims and the rapists. Although there aren’t any rape scenes in the book, it is alluded to and attempted many times, one failed attempt in particular is somewhat graphic and disturbing.
Sexual Content: A scene of mild sensuality. A semi graphic sex scene. Multiple references to rape. Several attempted rape scenes one of which is graphic. (less)
A light, fun, fantastic street view of comic book heroes, I enjoyed KARMA GIRL immensely. Carmen Cole is a heroine after any bookworm's heart, leverag...moreA light, fun, fantastic street view of comic book heroes, I enjoyed KARMA GIRL immensely. Carmen Cole is a heroine after any bookworm's heart, leveraging her organizational skills with intuitive leaps to make one heck of a reference librarian (though no librarian would travel with garbage bags full of Xerox copies, Carmen could benefit from the data-savvy of a few actual library science classes). Ultimately, Carmen learns that even without super powers, one must be careful to work for the side of good, and I enjoyed watching this most human of characters hold her own with the superhero/ubervillain big boys.
I definitely picked the word "light" to describe KARMA GIRL for a reason, this book requires a certain amount of suspended disbelief. You will be repaid ten-fold, however, in a heroine who personifies grace under pressure (even amidst a nervous breakdown), a fun, well balanced look under the cape at some of the less convenient aspects of a world with super powers, and characters that entertain as they grow. KARMA GIRL borrows freely from common romantic and comic book tropes, but these plot elements are never an excuse to skip on character development for the heroine. While the people in her life are a little larger than life and two dimensional, Carmen has enough nuance to carry this book without a missed step.
A much simpler read than Carolyn Crane's Disillusionist Trilogy (which can be good and bad), I also found KARMA GIRL to be easier to enjoy straight out of the gate. For anyone who likes to play in the superhero sandbox but was looking for a bit more fun and romance, Estep has written a admirable Gal Friday who teeters on the line between good and bad without ever losing her cool (or my attention). I was thoroughly engaged, waiting to see if Carmen would given in to despair or step up and embrace her inner superhero, and amidst all the spandex and radioactive mutations, it was Carmen's puzzle-solving mojo that saved the day for me.
A skinny fashionista that eats everything in sight? An only child who doesn't play well with others? A name dropping insider to the world of superhero...moreA skinny fashionista that eats everything in sight? An only child who doesn't play well with others? A name dropping insider to the world of superheros? I was worried that over-the-top, in-your-face Fiona Fine was going to be a hard sell as a sympathetic heroine, but Fiona’s loyalties and vulnerabilities won me over very early in the book.
On top of learning to love Fiona, Estep matches her up with Johnny Bulluci, a flashy hero with “heartthrob playboy” written all over him. Rather than dampen Fiona’s personality, he compliments it, and I enjoyed watching these two go head to head. Johnny’s grief over his father’s murder allows Fiona to demonstrate how much she’s grown since KARMA GIRL, further cementing my girl crush. Though my concerns about Fiona as a sympathetic heroine turned out to be unwarranted, her narration of the story ultimately didn’t work for me. The switch from an outsider narrator in KARMA GIRL to Fiona's “superhero born and bred” perspective led to a deluge of Bigtime name dropping, which amped up the silliness of the novel over all. That humor was, unfortunately, hit or miss for me. Add to that some obvious (and acknowledged) misses on the "Who's got a secret identity?" question, and HOT MAMA wasn’t able to stand up to KARMA GIRL in my estimation (though to Fiona’s defense, you’d go nuts assuming *everyone* has a cape and a secret identity).
While those few shortcomings knocked the book down a bat for me, I found Fiona and her Johnny charming enough to carry me through to the end (and their chemistry is noteworthy enough to warrant a look if you’re on the fence). I’ll leave it up to book three in the series, JINX, to see if the Bigtime series overall works for me. Maybe a heroine born to a superhero family without the useful powers will be the perfect mix of insider/outsider narration for me.
Book Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
I'd heard other readers make the Bones/Spike comparison but I didn't dare hope they could be...moreBook Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
I'd heard other readers make the Bones/Spike comparison but I didn't dare hope they could be right. But Spike was my absolute favorite thing about the excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer show, so even the small chance that a Spike-like character lived within these pages was enough to have me eagerly looking forward to Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. And wonder of wonders, (and despite Ms. Frost's denial) Bones is Spike.
I didn’t have a particular person in mind when I described Bones. He’s a blend of (younger versions of) Jude Law, Ethan Hawke, Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen, Billy Idol, Bruce Campbell (younger, like when he was in Army of Darkness), and James Franco, with a healthy dose of my own imagination to boot. I’ve loved vampires since I was a child, and as as a teen, I had a Billy Idol crush, so that probably explains my love of English accents and blond hair. Although I understand the Spike comparisons (I wrote a blond English vampire, I knew they’d be coming), Spike isn’t the image of how I see Bones. If another person sees him that way, however, it’s fine by me. Whatever makes a reader happy when they flip pages. - Jeaniene Frost
Cat Crawford hunts vampires. It's the only way she can reconcile the illegitimacy of her birth to both herself and her mother. In addition to deep seeded hatred for his kind, the vampire who assaulted Cat's mother also left her part of his supernatural abilities. But Cat gets more than she bargained for when she hunts the wrong vampire. Bones is nothing like the monsters her mother has taught her about, and when he captures her she expects to be killed. Instead, he offers her the chance to improve her skills and knowledge about the undead if she'll agree to work with him. Cat soon finds herself allied with a vampire who hunts his own kind and wrestling with her long held beliefs about herself and what she thought she knew about true evil.
If like many of us, you long ago succumbed to the charms of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love the character of Bones. Spike, I mean Bones, is a platinum blond British vampire with chiseled cheekbones and an insulting sarcasm that drips with sexuality. And like Spike, Bones is man enough to admit he's "love's bitch" when it comes to Cat.
My only complaint about this book is the high sexual content. The main sex scene is anything but brief and it's quite graphic. Also the 'training' that Cat undergoes to become the most irresistible vampire bait half alive includes being able to not only withstand the crudest of crude sexual dialogue but also to reply in kind. And then after being outfitted from Sluts-R-Us, Bones tells Cat that she needs to go out sans panties so that the vampires can scent her. Yeah. It's pretty over the top. And in a story with weaker characters or a lackluster plot it would be enough to dissuade me from continuing the series, but...there is so much to like in this book that I'll be back for more.
Sexual Content: References to sex trafficking and date rape. Crude sexual dialogue. One very graphic sex scene, one brief mildly graphic sex scene, several implied sex scenes. (less)
JINX had the misfortune of running afoul of one of my personal pet peeves, a negative heroine. Despite all of the color and flash of Bigtime, Bella Be...moreJINX had the misfortune of running afoul of one of my personal pet peeves, a negative heroine. Despite all of the color and flash of Bigtime, Bella Belluci is trapped in her own little world of resentment and anxiety. Even her delightful beta hero, Debonair, wasn’t enough to salvage my opinion. If nothing else, by book’s end I was ready to steal Debonair for myself and leave Bella to her own devices.
There was no one straw that broke the relationship’s back but rather the same straw over and over. Debonair would declare his love, Bella would tell him why they couldn’t be together. Debonair would offer a compromise, Bella would tell him why they couldn’t be together. It won’t come as a spoiler to know that the two eventually find a happily-ever-after, but it seemed arbitrary when Bella finally changed her mind (considering all the other reasonable alternatives she’s snubbed). Bella’s superpower is fun, both when it works and when it spectacularly fails, but those cinematic, slapstick moments couldn’t keep me going after awhile. Despite an action filled plot of heroes and ubervillains, the only thing keeping Bella from happiness is herself. Even worse, the only thing keeping the utterly charming Debonair from happiness is the heroine that keeps stringing him along.
Though I was excited to return to Bigtime for some more over the top, superhero silliness, I couldn’t get around Bella enough to enjoy the book. If you like Bigtime and don’t mind heroines with lots of neurosis (for example, Carolyn Crane's Justine Jones in MIND GAMES), you'll probably enjoy JINX more than I did. There’s certainly some neat technology, a unique super power, and lots of that Bigtime goofiness in ready supply.
Sexual Content: Several sex scenes and public displays of affection.(less)
In the follow up to Magic Strikes, mercenary Kate Daniels is once again thrown into the path of The Pack (shapeshifters) and asked to retrieve some vital maps that were stolen by a mischievous man who has a tendency to vanish into mist (and steal a kiss or two). Professionally, Kate is saddled with protecting a lovesick teenage girl whose missing mother is involved with a Coven intent on ushering in a malevolent Celtic god to rain destruction on first Atlanta and then the world. Her personal life is no less harrowing as Kate must watch her ex almost-could-have-been boyfriend move on in a big way, and face the possibilities of a suitor that both terrifies and confuses her.
In addition to stellar storytelling, the world building in this series in phenomenal, and, no offense to Kim Harrison, quite possibly the best out there in urban fantasy. Every aspect of life in alternate Atlanta is colored with breathable –sometimes uncomfortably so--paranormal details. The concept of the magic/tech pendulum is a key feature of the Kate Daniels world:
The world has suffered a magic apocalypse. We pushed the technological progress too far, and now magic returned with a vengeance. It comes in waves, without warning, and vanishes as suddenly as it appears. When magic is up, planes drop out of the sky, cars stall, electricity dies. When magic is down, guns work and spells fail. It’s a volatile, screwed-up world. Magic feeds on technology, gnawing down on skyscrapers until most of them topple and fall, leaving only skeletal husks behind.-Ilona-Andrews.com
All the usual otherworldly creatures are present: weres, vamps, witches etc. but each is given fresh life and rules. Vampires, for example, are mindless starving fiends. Forever caught in a limbo between vitality and decay, they are monsters in every sense of the word. Lacking even a shred of humanity, those injected with the Immortuus pathogen are 'piloted' by The People, necromancers of extraordinary magical power. These are not your usual romantic heroes, in Kate’s world, they are the stuff of nightmares.
Shapshifters, on the other hand, are slightly more familiar but no less interesting. There is your standard pack hierarchy, dominants, and alphas. Fans of Laurel K. Hamilton will recognize some of the were dynamics between the wererats, werebears, werehyienas, etc. One pleasant distinction is the Beast Lord, Curren, the uncontested king of the shapshifterrs who is, what else, a werelion. He and Kate have somewhat of a tenuous relationship. Translation: Kate doesn't take kindly to orders and tends to speak first and think later; Curren, not being accustomed to anything but instant and total obedience, sometimes lets his temper get the better of him. Mutual respect is hard won with these two, and of course it is all the more valuable for it.
I’m left with one overriding thought as I finish this review: Kate Daniels is second only to Mercy Thompson in my opinion, and, as Magic Burns can attest, she is rapidly closing that gap.
Sexual Content: A woman explains sex to a teenage girl
“Kate's world is an interesting place…Magic comes and goes as it pleases, as if somewhere a child is playing with a switch. It's a very unpredictable, volatile world, full of dangerous people: shape shifters, necromancers, mages, knights... Everyone has an agenda and everyone is ready to rip the competition to shreds. In this world lives Kate. She was raised from birth by a man of extraordinary martial skill, who employed all of his expertise to make her into a lethal fighter. To this end, he took her all over the continent to let her train with different experts and he subjected her to grueling training. He made her into a living weapon and gave her a mission. And then he died. Now Kate is alone. She has her mission, but she is smart enough to recognize that she will need a lot more experience and power before she can embark on it. She didn't have much of a childhood. If you really think about it, she doesn't even know how to be a girl - her mother died when she was very young. For now she just tries to make sense of who she is and what she is doing. She is learning how to make friends. And she might be falling in love.” –Ilona Andrews (courtesy of AAR After Hours interview). (less)
KEEPING IT REAL was reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, ON THE ROAD, and DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? all rolled into one, though the way th...moreKEEPING IT REAL was reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, ON THE ROAD, and DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? all rolled into one, though the way these elements came together is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Magical and lyric and lovely, this book sweeps from page to page like breathing, wrapping you in the world building so completely it is both foreign and utterly encompassing. Like learning a language through immersion, the music of what you read carries you along until the meaning emerges, and even now I’m still trying to put together the pieces into a greater whole.
This immersion style affects both world building and characters. Both Lila and Zal are presented as inscrutable and larger than life, but as events unfold their secrets start to dribble out on to the page. Not that this makes them any more predictable, nor their happily-ever-after even remotely certain, but the romance aspects of KEEPING IT REAL were the raft that kept me afloat in this complex story. There were definitely parts of the story where losing sight of Lila and Zal had my attention wandering from the book, but never to the point where I lost the thread of the plot. The world building in KEEPING IT REAL is fascinating, and despite an opening primer called “Common Knowledge”, much of what Robson teaches readers comes on the fly, woven into the action of the story. I particularly enjoyed how drastically Lila’s perception of elves changes over the course of the novel, either her growing understanding of elves’ formal, stilted speech or her complicated relationship with the elf who’s torture was the reason Lila had lost so much of herself.
Like classic fantasy and science fiction, KEEPING IT REAL is not light reading in and of itself, and it’s the start of a series that promises to be a serious (if rewarding) time investment. Despite my five bats, I still recommend readers check out the excerpt linked above before buying, the style of KEEPING IT REAL is very different from the usual Urban Fantasy fare (to the point where I don’t think that genre label really applies). Dole this book out to yourself when you’re willing to be immersed and swept away and you won’t be disappointed.
Sexual Content: Sex scenes and references to sex.(less)
I get more recommendations from other bloggers to read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series than all other b...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I get more recommendations from other bloggers to read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series than all other books combined. I was promised brutally hot vampires, fascinating mythology, classic romance, and a keep you up all night story. It was a lot to live up to, and DARK LOVER didn’t disappoint.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood are a group of lethal vampires who protect their kind from lessers, humans who have traded their souls to Omega in exchange for immortality. Humans don’t really enter into the equation usually except as collateral damage, and contrary to popular myth, vampires only feed from each other.
The leader of the BDB is Wrath. He’s big, bad, and ruthless. He cares about no one except his brothers, until he meets Beth, a half human about to go through her Transition into a vampire. She awakens a protective side of himself he never knew. I honestly was expecting Wrath to be actually a little evil. Despite all his threats and everyone else’s warnings, I found him to be more bark than bite. I was a little let down by that (I’m hoping some of the other brothers will prove to be more wicked—at least initially). And I would have preferred a more gradual romance, but as far as instant attraction goes, the futon scene when Wrath and Beth first meet is crazy hot.
For once the hype was right. The BDB series looks to become a new favorite for me. We meet all the Black Dagger Brothers in DARK LOVER, some more briefly than others, but underneath all the smoldering sexuality and gruff exterior, they each hold the promise of redemption. I already know I’m dying to read Zsadist’s story (#3 LOVER AWAKENED). I plan to be fully caught up by the time the ninth book in this series, LOVER UNLEASHED, comes out on March 29, 2011.
Several graphic sex scenes. Attempted rape with semi graphic details. (less)
Review courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE picks up four years after the events in Halfway to the Grave. After accepti...moreReview courtesy of AllThingsUrbanFantasy.blogspot.com
ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE picks up four years after the events in Halfway to the Grave. After accepting a deal from the FBI that would ensure the safety of her vampire lover Bones, Cat is now leading a team of agents working as a branch of Homeland Security specializing in hunting down vampires. She’s worked hard to try and forget Bones, and its a constant battle to remind herself that running away from him was the only way to save him. But when a hit gets taken out for the Little Red Reaper (aka Cat), Bones is the only one who can help save her.
Jeaniene Frost skirts the PNR/UF line beautifully in ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE. There is a strong romantic theme throughout with Cat and Bones, but that doesn’t diminish the solid urban fantasy plot either. Cat fully has her own story here involving chasing down her own personal history and finding out more about both her human and vampire halves. Also balancing the openly hostile humans in her life with the vampires and ghouls she’s come to depend on.
This is the one time where I’m afraid that the sexual content breakdown of a story could possibly be longer than the actual review. I mean this is the book that contains the infamous Chapter 32. And if you’re familiar with my reviews, you know I typically don’t love to read extremely graphic sex scenes, but at least I was prepared this time (On a side note if you don’t want to read super graphic sex described, you can easily skip over Ch. 32 without missing any plot developments). Prepared or not, Ch. 32 deserves its fame (or infamy, depending on your perspective). I will say that about halfway through the chapter, for me it took a decidedly unsexy turn.
Aside from Ch. 32, I enjoyed the story of ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE. I appreciated the maturity of Cat and the time the author gave her between books to acquire skills and friendships apart from Bones. And of course Bones is still the walking, talking personification of sex. He still is Spike (from Buffy) for me, so of course every scene he’s in makes my heart go pitter pat. There is something so sexy about how fiercely he wants Cat, and not just sexually. His love for her is completely believable. And for me, that’s more than enough to keep me reading this series.
Sexual Content: A scene of sensuality. A brief non-graphic sex scene. References to sex, rape, oral sex, bisexuality, ménage à trois +. *Chapter 32* one long, extremely graphic sex scene (including graphic oral & anal sex).(less)