The first novel in Victoria Scott’s new YA series is CATCHING FIRE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, and The Amazing Rac...moreReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The first novel in Victoria Scott’s new YA series is CATCHING FIRE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, and The Amazing Race all rolled into one. But imagine if Katniss couldn’t hunt, or Lyra couldn’t communicate with Pantalaimon. Now imagine that they were still determined to do whatever it took to save those they loved and you’ll understand Tella Holloway’s dilemma in FIRE & FLOOD.
The comparisons to THE HUNGER GAMES will fly fast and furious, so let me get that out of the way. I’m sure Victoria Scott is going to get very tired of hearing it, but the similarities are inescapable, right down to having an Effie-esque woman greet Tella aboard the train. The Brimstone Bleed is a winner-take-all competition, and while killing one’s opponents doesn’t seem to be a requirement, it’s hardly frowned upon. Fortunately, these days what matters in story-telling is the telling, and the further she gets from home, the less Tella’s story resembles that of the girl from District 12. They start out with a nice difference, too: Tella, though physically fit, is more of a Girly Girl than an Action Girl. She worries about her appearance, and instead of focusing on ruthless practicality, she takes time to be sarcastic.
Unlike THE HUNGER GAMES or HIS DARK MATERIALS, FIRE & FLOOD seems to take place in our modern world. Tella thinks like a girl from the present day and references Greek salads, mascara, and digital music players – which makes the Brimstone Bleed race itself seem like something from another planet. Even accepting desperation as the reason behind her willingness to join the race, it’s hard to accept that any modern, tech-savvy girl would automatically believe mysterious benefactors behind an uber-secret three-month global race will have a cure to an equally mysterious illness, without wanting to see some proof. If she lived in the sort of world where that could happen, the way the Hunger Games and Capitol shenanigans are a part of Katniss’s life, fine. But Tella seems to live in our world, so her entry into the race seems like an artificial set up, and everyone’s blind acceptance of the Pandoras (genetically engineered animals with special powers that hatch from eggs), is just weird.
Once the race begins, however, you’ll get swept up in the adventure, and likely forget all about that. Tella toughens over time, but her strength is in her allies, both the human and the Pandora. I’m a soft touch where animals are concerned, and when the fates of several Pandoras become crucial in the last quarter of the book, there were tears in my eyes. I was only slightly less emotional when Tella’s tribe fractures; Scott does a great job of pulling together interesting characters of a variety of ages and backgrounds. The first book ends in the middle of the race, and I kept turning pages, hoping for more. Nobody is safe, and I just want to scoop them all up into a hug, humans and Pandoras alike.(less)
Sometimes when I finish a book, I lean back, close my eyes and revel in the memories. After finishing RAIN...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Sometimes when I finish a book, I lean back, close my eyes and revel in the memories. After finishing RAIN OF THE GHOSTS, this wasn’t one of those times. Rather than revealing, I think I looked more like a dog after hearing a high-pitched whistle; the dog is trying to figure out what it heard, and I am trying to figure out what I read.
There isn’t an easy way to sum up RAIN OF THE GHOSTS. It’s told in the first person, but not Rain’s, or even her best friend Charlie’s. In fact, most of the story is told in what appears to be third person omniscient. The first person voice only turns up every now and then, like when the characters cross the narrator’s path, and its so rarely used it’s easy to forget that there’s a narrator until first person is used again. The first few times this happened, I had to stop reading because I thought it was an author error.
I won’t spoil and reveal who the narrator is, but I will say that I can only hope that as the Rain Cacique series progresses it’s explained further because I was head-scratching a lot once the reveal happened. On that note, there are a few elements of the story that would have done with a little more explanation, even if it is just the first in a series. A little mystery is good. Too much and it starts to be a frustrating read.
What I loved about RAIN OF THE GHOSTS was its characters. Rain was a very well-written young woman – on the eve of starting eighth grade – and one I very much wanted to spend more time getting to know. I especially liked her best friend, Charlie. His crush on Rain is adorable as is his ability to roll with the strange things happening around him because of it.
It will take a lot for this series to pull me back in for a second round. I’ve read other series where the first is the weakest link of them all and there is a certain joy in reading along as a writer develops his or her craft, but in this instance there was just too much confusion and too many moments of “wait…what?” going on to leave a lasting enough impression to carry me forward.
RAIN OF THE GHOSTS had me had a definite The Percy Jackson Olympians vibe going – primarily because of the protagonists’ ages, but also because the plot that’s put into motion feels more like a quest than a mystery. Unfortunately the story itself wasn’t as strong or as well-crafted.
Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series takes familiar romance and paranormal tropes to a level unparalleled in the genre, and DRAGOS TAKES A HOLIDAY is a...moreThea Harrison’s Elder Races series takes familiar romance and paranormal tropes to a level unparalleled in the genre, and DRAGOS TAKES A HOLIDAY is a great example of her prowess. This story shows us a glimpse behind the Happily-Ever-After curtain, after Pia marries the powerful, sexy billionaire, after her child is born, after her ordinary life is exposed to the limelight. This story takes place after all of the familiar “end of story” bookmarkers, yet the continuing romance of Pia and Dragos is as nuanced, electric, and entertaining as ever.
Though I love the paranormal details sprinkled throughout this story, like the challenges of raising a shifter toddler or Dragos using his magic to search for treasure, at it’s heart this story is about young parents and the reality of life after marry the ultra-rich, famous heartthrob of your dreams. Pia’s relationship with the greater shifter community is hampered by the need to keep her nature secret. With the introduction of the Peanut, her precocious, powerful son, those secrets look like they’ll be harder and harder to keep. I found myself at the edge of my seat, imagining not only how this young family will grow and change, but also how Pia’s relationship with her peers will develop. All of her secrets are interwoven through Liam’s nature, how can they remain hidden?
There are a few authors who offer novellas that are as intriguing and satisfying as their full length novels. Patricia Briggs, Meljean Brook, and Ilona Andrews all come to mind in this category. With this novella, Thea Harrison joins this list, offering a satisfying glimpse of the Elder Races world and whetting my appetite for the next full length novel. KINKED may tide me over for a bit, another re-read will also buy me some time, but eventually, nothing but Elder Races #7 will satisfy me.
With many anthologies it tends to be hit or miss depending on which short story I am reading in it. DARK D...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
With many anthologies it tends to be hit or miss depending on which short story I am reading in it. DARK DUETS has an excellent idea with authors pairing up to write some seriously dark urban fantasy tales. This anthology is mostly mediocre with stories that ranged from pretty good to unreadable. My top favorites included TRIP TRAP which was a cute story about a troll living under a bridge which has an cool idea for why this troll and any troll in stories lives under bridges. It wasn’t that dark compared to the rest of the stories which made it a nice introduction into the general dark theme of this anthology. DARK WITNESS, T. RHYMER, and SHE, DOOMED GIRL were the types of stories I expected in this anthology with their dark, haunting tone and compelling plots. T. RHYMER was especially enjoyable with a really interesting elf mythology. I would love to read a full length novel version of this story. Unfortunately there were some stories that weren’t just not good but over the top gross and at times offensive. REPLACING MAX was absolutely disgusting and creepy. Eventually I ended up skimming through it to get to the end. Unfortunately there were a few in this anthology that like REPLACING MAX I either didn’t get due to the writing style or couldn’t finish due to the grossness.(less)
Along with a wonderfully compelling and intriguing plot AVENGER’S HEAT also brings new meaning to sexual te...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Along with a wonderfully compelling and intriguing plot AVENGER’S HEAT also brings new meaning to sexual tension when it comes to Erin and Noah’s burgeoning relationship. With all of that tension building up every small emotional revelation and tender moment was made all the more powerful and poignant. Aside from my mental shouting at these characters to just talk already I really enjoyed seeing their relationship evolve from friends to lovers. Both Erin and Noah have their dark pasts and I enjoyed seeing how the worked through their pasts together. They work amazingly well together when investigating and in a fight which highlighted the fact that they were meant to be together. I felt really bad for Erin and what she went through before AVENGER’S HEAT and admired her ability to in a way keep on going especially in regards to the plot which hits Erin very close to home.
The plot was pretty dark and twisted with exciting suprieses that had me unable to put AVENGER’S HEAT down. I enjoyed not only learning more about werewolves but also learning more about how the vampires in this world function. The difference between bitten and bloodborn vampires was great to learn about and played a big role in the plot. I also enjoyed the fact that we got to go off the pack ranch to New Orleans which helped make the Moon Shifter world feel bigger.
The one small issue I had with AVENGER’S HEAT was the fact that Brianna’s relationship story which cut into Erin and Noah’s story. I loved reading more about Brianna (the resident fae) and wished she had her own full length book so we could spend more quality time with her and learn more about the fae world.
The Moon Shifter world keeps on getting bigger and better with each book. AVENGER’S HEAT contains off the charts sexual tension and chemistry, with a richly detailed plot filled with action and heavy emotion.(less)