One of the most common tropes in romantic literature and even romantic comedies is the couple who at firstReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
One of the most common tropes in romantic literature and even romantic comedies is the couple who at first absolutely hate each other and eventually fall in love after some trials and tribulations or hilarious hijinks. EVERNIGHT takes this type of relationship and starts right out the gate with Thorne seriously threatening to kill Holly. I was kind of surprised to see the death threats starting out so soon in the story so I was quite interested to see just how these two would go from wanting to commit homicide to love. The fact that this emotional transition makes sense and works within the plot is a testament to the superb writing as well as the fact that this very complex plot was so easy follow with out too much confusion. While it is okay to start the series with EVERNIGHT I’d recommend starting at the beginning of the series to get a better understanding of the main story arc.
In EVERNIGHT, both Holly and Thorne grow and evolve as people especially given the dire circumstances of the plot involving mysterious would be kidnappers and death threats. Thorne who in my opinion had the longest road to take in regards to a personality shift, came off as a self-centered jerk in the beginning. By the end he sort of grew on me especially as he slowly became more protective of Holly and all together an endearing character as I began to understand him better. Holly is a pretty tough character in regards to her magical abilities and intelligence which I admired as she didn’t need to be physically strong to hold her own in this magical world. I enjoyed the fact that she had the ability to stop Thorne from attacking her with a mere touch. Their growing romance is also helped by the fact that they have to stay close at all times which increases the sexual tension quite a bit. This situation leads to some very amusing situations and memorable sexual innuendos.
EVERNIGHT is the Darkest London series at its best with heightened suspense and danger lurking behind every corner and at its core is an emotional journey of reconciliation and a burgeoning romance between Thorne and Holly. I loved wrapping myself up in this phenomenal world and look forward to what comes next in this series....more
The best moments of DARKER DAYS, the first book in Jus Accardo’s The Darker Agency, are like an early episoReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The best moments of DARKER DAYS, the first book in Jus Accardo’s The Darker Agency, are like an early episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with snappy one-liners, balancing supernatural smackdowns with homework, and impossible romance. The weaker moments, however, are a little more prevalent and reveal Jessie’s grating immaturity and the worst case of insta-love I’ve read all year.
Mom and daughter supernatural P.I. business? Sounds like a mix between Buffy and Veronica Mars, how awesome would that be? DARKER DAYS may have the premise down, and even the particular case which involves tracking down and capturing the seven deadly sins that have possessed innocent people, but the characters and tone are miss. Jessie, in particular, was irritatingly bossy and flippant. She makes rash decisions and talks constantly, not the most appealing mix, but the romantic lead is immediately captivated. And when I say immediately, I mean it.
Insta-love. Does anyone like it? Why do we see it over and over again in YA? In this case, they are dropping the L word in four days! And these aren’t spend-all-day-talking-and-sharing-our-souls days. They are filled with school and sleuthing and fighting demons and learning HUGE secrets about each other. As the start of a series, why couldn’t this romance be given time to breath and develop gradually? If only.
There is some fun to be had in DARKER DAYS due to the entertaining premise and basic plot. This could have been a much better book if the romance was more realistically portrayed and Jessie’s personality toned down a notch or two. Hopefully, the next book in The Darker Agency series will find a better balance.
Lauren Oliver is one of the elite when it comes to YA fiction. She writes with a painful honesty that imbuReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Lauren Oliver is one of the elite when it comes to YA fiction. She writes with a painful honesty that imbues her characters with a life that lingers long after the last page. In her newest YA, PANIC, she steps away from the high concepts that distinguished BEFORE I FALL and the Delirium trilogy for a straightforward contemporary YA that unfortunately doesn’t come close to resonating emotionally the way her previous books have. The storyline is rather weak in PANIC. Kids compete in various panic inducing challenges in order to win money. It’s all very secret and dangerous, but the problem is that it’s really not handled well. There are tons on unexplained questions (like how does the prize money get secretly collected? If no one knows who is running Panic, than who continues it each year?). But mostly, the challenges are lame and unimaginative, and they feel like background stuff for the rather uninspiring characters. Poor, abused and/or neglected, it was all sad and pitiful but neither Heather nor Dodge (the two protagonists) made me really care about them in an active way. The romantic interests were even less interesting. All in all, PANIC doesn’t feel anything like a Lauren Oliver book. It’s not panic inducing on almost any level, it’s just rather dull and ultimately forgettable....more
As satisfying for the quiet interactions in the background as for the sweeping action or big character growth, THE UNDEAD POOL is The Hollows at it’sAs satisfying for the quiet interactions in the background as for the sweeping action or big character growth, THE UNDEAD POOL is The Hollows at it’s best. The paranormal world of Rachel Morgan is an intricate ecosystem of magic and normalcy, and never is that so apparent as here near the series’s end. Harrison has spun innumerable threads into this world, and THE UNDEAD POOL plucks each one in this penultimate book.
From that first genetically engineered tomato, Harrison has walked us through so many links in this complex world. Demons versus elves, biological warfare versus magic, the coexistence of species and the nature of the soul. All of these elements turn together like gears, and in THE UNDEAD POOL, you see so many of these pieces spinning toward their natural conclusion. Many characters are satisfyingly on track, some have more potential than I could have hoped, and others near an inevitable fate that breaks my heart with just the barest hints. For many books, the partnership of Rachel and Jenks has far outweighed my interest in Ivy. THE UNDEAD POOL, however, had me reassessing that balance. So many of the early Hollows books laid the groundwork for the promises and threats of the present. If the prior eleven books were about building characters and relationships and a magical system, this book shows them all off to the fullest potential.
My enjoyment of THE UNDEAD POOL reached its peak with the action, laughing amid high stakes as everyone’s quirks and strengths come into play. By book’s end, however, I was a bit more somber. Rachel suffers real losses, and there is just as much heartbreak as happiness on the horizon. It is such an accomplishment that The Hollows still manages to be surprising in book twelve, and perhaps even more impressive is what the series promises for thirteen. This series is a masterpiece.
I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much I liked the first book in The Selection series, because I loaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much I liked the first book in The Selection series, because I loathe the entire concept of The Bachelor (and THE SELECTION was described as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games). I gave it a shot based on a few reviewers who likewise were surprised by how fun the debut was, and honestly, I couldn’t put it down once I started and I had a similar experience reading THE ELITE.
My hatred for The Bachelor still remains, but the whole concept of girls competing for one guy actually translates to a much more tolerable situation in this series (plus it actually reminded me more of the book of Esther from the Bible). Because The Selection is a traditional practice designed to elevate a ‘commoner’ to royal status and in a sense offer the people a sense of inclusion in the government, the whole concept takes on a different light.
But really, it’s the relationship between America and Prince Maxon that continues to keep me riveted. There are so many obstacles between them (and I’m not even talking about the other girls), and not one feels contrived. The friendship-turned-something-more is full of agonizing betrayal, juicy secrets, and heartbreaking sacrifices. We learn so much more about Maxon this time too. His crown isn’t quite as untarnished as we thought, but neither is America’s–regardless of her justifications.
And Ilea itself is so fascinating since it has its roots in the USA that we all know. I loved digging more into the radical transformation that created the world that America and Prince Maxon live in. From the origin of the caste system, the first King, the rebels, and so much more. The balance between the romantic developments, character growth, and worldbuilding was so well done. I’ll be be anxiously looking forward to the final book in The Selection series, THE ONE, when it’s published on May 6, 2014. It’s really too bad the the TV show didn’t get picked up. I would have loved to watch this story almost as much as I loved reading it.
Dante Walker is back with swagger for days. What is it about this cocky, brash, reformed player that makesReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Dante Walker is back with swagger for days. What is it about this cocky, brash, reformed player that makes me crave more and more of him? Or did I just answer my own question? In THE LIBERATOR, he’s everything I remember and a whole lot of stuff I thought I’d imagined in this follow up to Victoria Scott’s THE COLLECTOR.
If the description had you worried that we’d be getting a love triangle in THE LIBERATOR, fear not. There isn’t a glimmer, wayward thought, fleeting glance or anything that could even remotely be mistaken for attraction between Dante and Aspen. Dante is a complete one woman guy and the author when out of her way to make that fact abundantly clear (maybe almost too much). He is whipped with a capital ‘W’ when it comes to Charlie, and yet he doesn’t lose his innate Danteness–complete with audacious one-liners and cheesy/old school lingo.
As irresistible as Dante is, in a way, THE LIBERATOR feels like two novellas combined together. The first one deals with Dante getting his first assignment as a Liberator and trying to maintain his relationship with Charlie. The second one features the whole group at a Liberator training center called The Hive where Dante must learn to embrace his new abilities and prepare for the upcoming war between heaven and hell. The problem is that because the book feels largely divided, it isn’t as satisfying as I was expecting. Like eating snacks instead of a meal.
All three stars are for Dante this time out, as I was hoping for a stronger and more compelling story for this over the top yet somehow unbelievably addictive character. I never know if I want Charlie to smack or kiss the grin off his face (usually a little of both), but it’s impossible not to want more of him. And I do, just in a more worthy story (and maybe one that gives the object of his affection a little more personality). The Dante Walker series is a little less sizzling in this sequel, but Dante guarantees a good time, and I’m ready for round three whenever he is.
Sexual Content: Sensuality. Non-graphic sex scenes. ...more
WHEN WE WAKE is a very political book, and, to a lesser degree, a very religious book. Those aren’t necessaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
WHEN WE WAKE is a very political book, and, to a lesser degree, a very religious book. Those aren’t necessarily bad things. But when the politics and religion are preachy, it becomes much harder to enjoy the story hiding underneath.
And the story underneath is intriguing, or at least the premise is. A girl who is brought back to life a hundred years after she dies must learn to adapt to a hostile and unfamiliar world. Everything from technology to language has changed to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable. Initially, Teegan was likeable enough with her Beatles obsession and free running hobby, but she ended up making a few too many temper driven choices that just struck me as stupid–though not as stupid as almost every adult in this book.
The problem arises when WHEN WE WAKE attempts to tackle almost every single potentially polarizing issue dividing people today: hyper environmentalism, vegetarianism, racism, homosexuality, sex change operations, Islam, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, cults, drugs, immigration, totalitarianism, and so many more. The author’s position on all this issues comes across loud and clear. The characters who hold opposing viewpoints are complete villains. The problem isn’t always the issues themselves, which I think most of us would agree the way they are portrayed, it’s just so heavy handed and relentless. The story, such as it was, felt like it was just a series of events strung together in order for the author to get on her soapbox.
I had a hard time finishing this one. Instead of raising issues and letting readers think for themselves, only one position is presented as acceptable in WHEN WE WAKE, not because it is morally or intellectually more tenable (even when it is) but because the opposing view is a caricature/straw man version of itself. Regardless of your political and religious ideologies, it struck me as deeply disrespectful to lampoon and deride opposing viewpoints as thoroughly and overwhelmingly as this book does. There is clearly a sequel planned based on the unresolved ending, WHEN WE RUN, but I won’t be reading it.
Another reviewer described Isaac Marion’s writing as “gruesome yet poetic.” That is the absolute perfect deReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Another reviewer described Isaac Marion’s writing as “gruesome yet poetic.” That is the absolute perfect description for THE NEW HUNGER, the prequel novella to WARM BODIES (the movie version hits theaters on February 1st). In it we follow R from the moment he becomes a zombie, a sixteen year old Nora trying to stay alive with her six year old brother, and a twelve year old Julie traveling on the literal road trip from hell with her increasingly hostile parents.
Unlike WARM BODIES, which is essentially a fairy tale, grim though it is in moments, THE NEW HUNGER is significantly more bleak. There are bursts of humor especially between Nora and her brother, but for the most part, this is a powerfully somber story full of death in all its ugly colors. It was wonderful to see all the familiar characters from WARM BODIES and see how they all began (M’s story was very unexpected) and crossed paths unaware. The story that resonated the most with me was Nora and Addis’s.
Scavenging for food while knowing it’s not enough to keep her little brother from growing more skeletal by the day, running out of excuses for the parents who deserted them, knowing that if she stops moving the zombies that are following will devour them. That is Nora’s life at sixteen. She’s young enough herself that she doesn’t see the need to coddle her brother and try and shield him from the harsh realities of the world they now live in. The way they tease and amuse each other feels hearbreakingly real and often shocking. Likewise, watching the demise of Julie’s parent’s marriage was equally fascinating in a voyeuristic way.
THE NEW HUNGER isn’t very long (it’s 128 pages), but every element from a zombie’s hunger pangs to the helpless terror of watching a loved one die is captured with such beauty, such simplistic language, that it feels immense. As much as I loved WARM BODIES and will be first in line to buy a movie ticket come February 1st, this is the story that will remain with me. This is writing at its absolute, gut-wrenching best.
There is a special excitement that comes around every time Patricia Briggs publishes a new book whether inReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There is a special excitement that comes around every time Patricia Briggs publishes a new book whether in her genre defining Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series, or more recently in her more romantic spin-off series, Alpha and Omega. Briggs is a master storyteller and her deft handling of mythology makes even the most fantastical supernatural worlds feel not just plausible, but every bit as real as our own.
It’s taken me a bit of time to warm up to Anna and Charles and not begrudge them for taking the place of a new Mercy book, but after FAIR GAME, this series has really distinguished itself—in a good way—from Mercy. While characters and certain large scale events do overlap between the two series, the Alpha and Omega series is really a paranormal procedural, and a good one at that. In FAIR GAME, by far my favorite installment to date, Anna and Charles join forces with the FBI to help track down a supernatural serial killer. The investigation is intelligent, and the hunt and mystery of the killer is both scary and gripping. Readers looking for a greater focus on the werewolf pack may be disappointed, but I actually preferred the subtle shift away from pack politics.
My only real gripe with FAIR GAME is that it feels like the relationship with Anna and Charles is stuck on repeat. They don’t seem to grow as a couple, and any progress they may make in one book doesn’t carry over into the next. Anna is still relying on her wolf to allow intimacy with her husband, Charles is still shutting down their bond in order to protect Anna from his problems…The serial killer plot and an epically powerful ending that’s going to affect the Mercy Thompson series just as much as this one, was strong enough to mostly compensate for this romantic shortcoming, but I’ll be hoping for some serious developments between these two in the next book. There is no info yet about the next Alpha and Omega book, but based on the previous publishing schedule which alternates one Mercy book with one A&O; book each year, we can expect it sometime in 2014.
Sexual Content: A couple of brief sex scenes. References to rape, sodomy, molestation & torture ...more
The H&W Investigations series has evolved over the past five books. In a way it’s become lighter, moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The H&W Investigations series has evolved over the past five books. In a way it’s become lighter, more wacky. The focus in FORSAKEN BY THE OTHERS is less on the relationships and mythology, and more on the mystery of a black mage raising zombies in LA. There’s a lot of foot work as Shia and Sara question seemingly half the city in their investigation. I could have done with a little less chatting and a little more action, but considering this is the first book since Shia lost her super powered belt, it does make sense.
What remains strong is the humorous dialog and wry observations from Shia. She has a healthy fear of the Others which comes in handy quite often since they usually want to kill her for one reason or another. There are some personal storylines that carry over for Shia and Sara, but for the most part, this feels like a self contained plot this time out.
My biggest criticism is the same one I had last time. Apart from the very beginning, Royce is a no show and Arnold is regulated to a few brief phone call scenes. The sexy/funny elements that they both bring respectively were missing for me again. Since the success of this series has always been built on this truly fantastic ensemble cast, the books are strongest when they are all featured.
That being said, the expected cliffhanger has done it’s job of ensuring I’ll be back for more. After three books with significantly fewer page time for some of my favorite characters, I’m really hoping for a full reunion for the next H&W Investigations book.
I wasn’t always a zombie fan. It’s taken shows like The Walking Dead and emotionally intelligent books likeReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I wasn’t always a zombie fan. It’s taken shows like The Walking Dead and emotionally intelligent books like Sophie Littlefield’s Aftermath series to bring me around to the reality that zombies don’t have to just be about gore and horror (two things that don’t especially appeal to me). CONTAMINATED is a book about tragedy, determination, and devotion in the wake of an epidemic that just happened to turn a large portion of the population into zombies.
Unlike many stories involving zombies, CONTAMINATED is really focused on the human reaction after the zombie outbreak. How does the world go on? How do the children survive? Em Garner’s hauntingly imagined world is one where zombies are gathered up and kenneled like stray dogs. They are essentially lobotomized and outfitted with behavioral correcting shock collars and sent home to families that claim them. Velvet is one of the lucky ones. She finds her mother and brings her home. What follows is often excruciatingly painful as this girl, only seventeen herself, is forced to care for a mother who is a shell, and care for her ten year old sister.
The writing is simple and poignant whether describing the quiet agony of a neighbor bringing home her three year old boy from the kennels or the panicked confusion of a wife witnessing the feral transformation of her husband in the produce section of a grocery store. It’s not about gore and savagery, although the human reactions are often every bit as savage as the zombies. CONTAMINATED is more tender, more bleak, and ultimately more beautiful than I’ ever thought a zombie book could be.
The ending is hopeful and ominous at once, so I’m all the more relieved to learn that the author has already finished writing a sequel. Publication is expected in 2014.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Vague references to attempted assault ...more
SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is the first full length novel in the Fangborn series, but it's not the first story setReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is the first full length novel in the Fangborn series, but it's not the first story set in this world. I've read and reviewed two short stories set in the Fangborn universe (there have been four--see the series tab below for links) and was thrilled to get to jump into a more expansive novel featuring an archaeologist no less (possibly my favorite literary profession), along with the Stueben siblings from the short stories. I'm sorry to say I was less thrilled by the somewhat staid story and rather bland characters.
I normally love when short stories lead to full novels. In this case, the Fangborn mythology is so cool that it really should have leant itself to a great book. The Fangborn, or Pandora's Orphans, are the hope that was left when the mythical box was opened and evil escaped into the world. Werewolves, vampires, and snake shifters are the superheroes of this world, able to detect and destroy evil. Vampires, for example, don't feed on human blood, they literally suck evil out of people. There are all kinds of new twists on these creatures that I found fascinating. I was even glad to see the characters from the short stories pop up to help in SEVEN KINDS OF HELL. The problem was with everything else.
SEVEN KINDS OF HELL is, at it's heart, an archaeological thriller. But it's less Indian Jones and more whatever the boring equivalent of that is. Zoe was pretty sleepy for me from the start, and as she traversed the globe to rescue her kidnapped friend, retrieve artifacts, and avoid Fangborn politics, she never became any more exciting for me. In fact none of the characters captured my attention--not even George and Claudia who I enjoyed in short form. The whole book was slow even during fang filled action scenes. It all just felt bland.
I'm really baffled by my reaction to SEVEN KINDS OF HELL. It had everything that would normally equal a great urban fantasy for me: Eye catching art from Chris McGrath, fascinating mythology that I was anxious to see expanded, and even an archaeologist protagonist! The writing itself is fine, but I really had to push through the last 2/3 of the book due to the meh story and dull characters. There are two more full length novels planned in the Fangborn series, but I think I'll be passing.
There is a wonderful sense of mystery and intrigue throughout EARTHBOUND that perfectly compliments the uttReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There is a wonderful sense of mystery and intrigue throughout EARTHBOUND that perfectly compliments the utterly unique mythology that Aprilynne Pike has created. It is a complex story with a robust supernatural world that is as elusive to readers as it is Tavia for most of the book, but even though my head was spinning with questions while reading, all the answers were provided by the end.
As far as protagonists go, it isn’t often that we get one who is recovering from traumatic brain damage along with severe physical injuries. It added such an interesting layer to Tavia and provided real credibility to her fears that she may be loosing her mind when she first begins seeing things. I also really appreciated that Tavia’s injuries and limitations were dealt with in such a realistic way, even when she learned more about her supernatural abilities, she wasn’t able to ‘fix’ herself. It’s who she is.
The romance was the one element that was a little underwhelming for me. I thought Tavia’s crush on the cute librarian who was helping her catch up on on the school she missed was initially really sweet, but once they started looking into Tavia’s abilities, the romance stumbled. Feelings and huge declarations came fast and free and there were a lot of make-out scenes at really inopportune moments.
Overall, EARTHBOUND is delightfully surprising from beginning to end and packed with inventive mythology and tons of action laced danger. The setup up for the next book in the Earthbound series actually has me more excited for that story than I even was for this one. I’m looking for more twisty-turny fun and the promise of a romance that has epic potential.
One of the more unique things about the Mystwalker series is Leigh Evans writing style which is part streamReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
One of the more unique things about the Mystwalker series is Leigh Evans writing style which is part stream of consciousness, part lyrical. On the plus side, it gives readers almost unparalleled access to Heidi’s mind and thoughts. On the down side, Heidi’s mind is often a pretty chaotic place. In the opening chapters, Heidi’s voice tends to ramble a bit and it contributed to a slow start similar to the debut. Once the action started, however, the pace jumped into hyperdrive for the remainder of THE THING ABOUT WERES.
Once again the highlight of this series is the relationship between Heidi and Trowbridge. It is consuming to the point that I resented every scene that didn’t have the two of them facing off. They do everything full out: fight, mourn, love. The intensity is riveting. Less riveting is the mythology this time out. It was confusing most of the time and overwhelmed the story even when I did understand everything. It’s challenging to blend fae and werewolf mythology let alone add in something totally new with mystwalkers and dream/soul realms. It ended up being too much for me.
The Mystwalker series really is distinct from most of the other UF/PNR series on the market, and that’s both it’s strength and it’s weakness. The romance is dynamite and brighter than some of my favorite UF couples, but until the mythology becomes a little more accessible–and the pacing a lot more balanced–this is a series that will remain in the good category. The next Mystwalker book, THE PROBLEM WITH PROMISES, hits shelves on February 25, 2014
Sexual Content: References to rape, a graphic sex scene ...more
In this trio of Delirium stories, Lauren Oliver has pulled back the current even further revealing tantalizReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
In this trio of Delirium stories, Lauren Oliver has pulled back the current even further revealing tantalizing details about her characters and this dizzily addictive series.
HANA follows Lena’s best friend during the second half of DELIRIUM as she gets caught up in the Underground of illicit parties, music, and interactions with the opposite sex. Since Hana’s story is half of REQUIEM, I highly recommend you read HANA before finishing the trilogy. I understood her so much better after seeing her first ‘date’ with Fred, her first kisses and more with Steve, and riotous emotions during her scenes with Lena that led her to make the choices she made.
ANNABEL is the story fans of this series must read. In it we get to see the world as it first began to change and identify love as a disease. We get to meet Lena’s mother as a teenager and see her later as a prisoner leading up to her escape after eleven years in a cell. It was a little like Shawshank Redemption mixed with Lauren Oliver’s immersive writing. Her story might be the most tragic of all the characters we’ve met in this series, and that makes her strength, her determination, all the more amazing.
RAVEN was the story that surprised me the most, since Raven as a character, keeps so much of her thoughts and feels to herself. Seeing her laid bare like this was a revelation. From her first days joining up with the rebellion as a young teen with the tiny, barely alive baby Blue, we see how that little life was nearly snuffed out. We also meet Tack and learn how her and Raven got together. It’s really a beautiful and quiet love story with a bright burst at the end that made me smile as I cried.
If you love this series, DELIRIUM STORIES is a must read. Not only does it include three gripping and emotional stories, but a ton of extras too. There is a massive excerpt from REQUIEM, a list of banned books and poems, but even a quiz to help you determine your role in the world of Delirium.
VIRAL NATION is a startling dystopian featuring a protagonist with autism who travels through time. It’s aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
VIRAL NATION is a startling dystopian featuring a protagonist with autism who travels through time. It’s a tantalizing mix of Revolution and Minority Report with writing that makes you understand what it’s like to share Clover’s autism, and a story that sinks into your bones from the very first chilling page.
Creating unique characters in YA is becoming a harder and harder job for authors, but Shanta Grimes has done exactly that with Clover. It was utterly fascinating to slip into her head and experience the world the way she does, understand the uncontrollable tendencies that spring up when she’s overwhelmed or anxious, and see the bluntness and missed social cues that all contribute to how real she felt.
Clover’s brother West was no less interesting. He’s had to be mother and father and therapist to Clover. Guardian and friend even at the expense of his own desires. It was so real watching him love her and want to shake her at the same time. The sibling relationship was every bit as authentic as it would have been without Clover’s autism added to the mix, but her autism provides an extra layer of often uncomfortable reality to their situation.
And this world…it’s really going to thrill fans of dystopian fiction. There is corruption and secrets and entire populations who have no idea what’s really going on. It made reading VIRAL NATION an almost desperate experience because I could barely stand to see the way everything started to unfold. And that element of time travel never dominated the story or took it in a deep sci-fi direction, rather it was just a part of the world. VIRAL NATION is pretty thrilling and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Every genre has its pitfalls, its tropes that get repeated all too often. In YA, it’s an overdose of angstReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Every genre has its pitfalls, its tropes that get repeated all too often. In YA, it’s an overdose of angst and the dreaded insta-love. SOME QUIET PLACE has a premise that not only eliminates even the possibility of those annoyances, but creates a protagonist that is utterly distinct–and all the more compelling for her uniqueness–from any other heroine the genre has produced.
SOME QUIET PLACE creates unbelievably strong emotions for readers all while telling a story about a girl who has none. Writing a character who doesn’t feel is a huge challenge. There has to be a real finesse that makes her plight realistic without turning her into a robot, and Kelsey Sutton does that beautifully with her accessibly lyrical and subtly seductive writing. I empathized deeply with Elizabeth all while truly experiencing her lack of emotional response.
The beautiful contrast to Elizabeth’s emotionless state was the personification of the Emotions around her, Fear being the most prominent. Wow was he a twisty and irresistible character. His goal is to get Elizabeth to feel him, so he’s constantly throwing her into scenarios designed to incite terror. And yet, he cares for her in a way that goes against his nature, and it’s heartbreaking to watch him watch her inability to reciprocate in any way.
And I’m barely touching on the mystery which was completely unpredictable and yet all the threads tied together in the end perfectly. In the end though, SOME QUIET PLACE is a lovely and creepy story with characters as unusual as they are unforgettable. I can’t wait to get my hands on the follow up book ’set in the same world of personified emotions’ and will feature Forgiveness and Revenge in July 2014.
Sexual Content: Kissing, sensuality, references to sex
SILENT WARRIOR is the prequel novella in the upcoming Dragon Kings series which debuts with its first fullReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SILENT WARRIOR is the prequel novella in the upcoming Dragon Kings series which debuts with its first full length novel, CAGED WARRIOR, on June 26, 2013. The series name is somewhat misleading since there aren’t any actual dragons in this series. But the promised ferocity and sensuality? Oh, yeah, is that blistering and brutal.
The Dragon Kings are actually a race of warrior demons (I think). There are different clans within this race and each one is ‘gifted’ with a different ability. In SILENT WARRIOR, the leads are both from a clan known disparagingly as thieves since their ability allows them to absorb the abilities of others for a short time. When they first meet, they are literally trying to beat each other to death in a gladiatorial bar fight (think the fight scene between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr. & Mrs. Smith). It’s crazy violent as neither one holds back. But since this is a romance, respect and admiration grows quickly even while landing potential lethal blows.
As you can imagine, if they fight so violently, they do other things with equal ferocity. This is definitively a super hot read and the sexual undercurrents run strong throughout the novella. The language and descriptions are right on the edge of pushing this into erotica territory. As for the characters, both have equal strength and cunning, but where he is brash and wild, she is cool and stoic. It’s an unusual pairing, but it worked really well.
There are a lot of layers to this series that SILENT WARRIOR only grazes the surface of. The history and pending extinction of the Dragon Kings, the cartels that own and restrict the Dragons, the life and death cage matches. I can’t wait to see this world expand and leap into another dark and sensual romance when CAGED WARRIOR is published on June 26, 2013
Sexual Content: Two graphic sex scenes. References to rape. A man attempts to sodomize a boy
Like many fans of this genre, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my gateway drReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy See site review for similar titles
Like many fans of this genre, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my gateway drug to the world of urban fantasy. So whenever I come across a book that is reminiscent of Buffy, or pays homage to the series, I get happy, happy, happy. Paige Cucarro’s Hellsbane series does both, and it does them well.
In this prequel novella, set five years before HELLSBANE, the first full length novel in the series, empath Emma Jane is a young college student with a genius best friend Mihir (think Buffy’s Giles combined with Willow–he’s in love with her so add Zander into the mix too). Emma has had to learn to block her empathic abilities, but strong emotions still leak through like when her soccer star boyfriend starts feeling homicidal towards her. A when bodies start pilling up on campus, Emma has to embrace the gift she’s spent her life blocking.
In just 50 pages, Cucarro packed more character development and plot into this novella than many other authors do will full novels. COMMENCEMENT read like a lost episode of Buffy with clever dialog, metaphorical mythology, big bad villains and even bigger heroines. This looks like a series to watch. The first full novel in the Hellsbane series is called HELLSBANE and was just released. It’s already on my kindle.
IMPOSTOR, the first book in Suzanne Winnacker’s Variant series, is kind of like a teenage Sydney Bristow frReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
IMPOSTOR, the first book in Suzanne Winnacker’s Variant series, is kind of like a teenage Sydney Bristow from Alias meets X-Men‘s Mystique. Tessa has been recruited to the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities) branch of the FBI. She’s been training for two years and honing her chameleon-like ability to take on the appearance of anyone she touches. At sixteen she gets her first mission tracking a serial killer.
The premise is really strong and the investigation takes a number of cool turns, not the least of which is the whole Variant concept which includes all kinds of abilities from invisibility to mind reading. The Variant idea isn’t groundbreaking, nor is Veronica Mars-esque teen investigator, but what made IMPOSTOR work was the mystery/thriller plot which, apart from an uneven start, kept me guessing and engaged until the very end.
While the story and concept were solid, there were a couple significant weaknesses. The writing isn’t quite as good as I was hoping. It’s very melodramatic, and the pacing was rushed. And Tessa as a character was really immature for someone in her situation. She was thoughtless and childish and realistically would never have been given as much control in a HUGE investigation based on her behavior. Which brings me to my second gripe with this book: the romance. It never came close to working for me. Alec, Tessa’s slightly older trainer, is her longtime crush. He’s got a girlfriend (who is a catty, vicious, witch–but a great guy like Alec is still into her), but he still has cuddling movie dates with Tessa and tons of almost-kissing moments. It made no sense that he would be interested in a girl as immature as Tessa despite their shared love of horror films.
Despite the flaws, the strength of the story carried me easily to the very last page of IMPOSTOR. Hopefully, Tessa will grow by the next book in the Variant series since I’d kinda like to see where her story goes.
Sexual content: Kissing. References to sex....more
NOTES FROM A GHOST TOWN by Kate Ellison is the second book I’ve reviewed this year about a girl who was hauReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
NOTES FROM A GHOST TOWN by Kate Ellison is the second book I’ve reviewed this year about a girl who was haunted by the ghost of her best friend and urged to solve a murder. Both took place in a sweltering hot small town, had a precocious little sister, a well meaning step parent, and a disreputable bad boy who may or may not be redeemable. But those similarities aren’t the most striking ones. What’s shocking to me is that I’m giving both books a 5/5 rating.
The other book I was talking about is PAPER VALENTINE by Brenna Yovanoff, one of my favorite YA books written by one of my favorite authors today. After reading NOTES FROM A GHOST TOWN, I’m going to have to add Kate Ellison to that very short list. Her writing is atmospheric, moody, and completely seductive. Of the two, this is the darker story. Olivia is a desperately broken character. She’s made a lot of damaging choices for a girl so young. Her mother’s schizophrenia has slowly chipped away at all the happiness in her life leaving it totally devoid of color–literally.
There is a real beauty the the language in NOTES FROM A GHOST TOWN. Olivia’s emotions are so vivid and raw and expressed so completely that, as a reader, I slipped completely into her skin and story. And it is a sad story, bereft of all but the briefest glimpses of levity. Even Olivia’s humorous sarcasm hides pain. In a lot of ways, she reminded me of a much darker Veronica Mars. Heavy though it was, I could not put this book down. Full of such lovely despair and tinged with the slightest bit of hope. This is a must read.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Sensuality. References to sex. Extremely vague references to sexual misconduct...more
Urban fantasy has seen a handful of promising new series in the past year or so, aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy See site review for more
Urban fantasy has seen a handful of promising new series in the past year or so, and the Arcadia Bell series is one of the best. Even in this bite sized novella (just the right length during the busy holidays), Bennett perfectly conveys her super cool demon and magic infused world, the smart and playful relationship between her trio of main characters, and a fun twisty mystery with plenty of action.
While I highly encourage new readers to start with the first book, LEASHING THE TEMPEST is extremely accessible to newbies without boring fans with info dumps. Arcadia is one of the more relatable heroines in this genre. She’s street smart without being jaded, dauntless without being reckless, and mature enough to catch the eye of the much older (*cough* Johnny Depp*cough*) Lon while still bonding with his heartbreaker-in-training son Jupe.
You can’t go wrong with this quick but thoroughly satisfying novella. If you’re an urban fantasy fan and you haven’t picked up this series, grab LEASHING THE TEMPEST and get ready to get hooked. If you’re already a fan it’ll help tide you over until the next full length Arcadia Bell novel, BINDING THE SHADOWS, hits shelves on May 28, 2013.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex ...more
I was a tad disappointing by decidedly less dark story in A KISS OF BLOOD. Part of what made A BLOOD SEDUCTReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I was a tad disappointing by decidedly less dark story in A KISS OF BLOOD. Part of what made A BLOOD SEDUCTION so intoxicating was the unbridled ferocity of it’s characters and world. Vamp City is literally a place were vampires rule, and these vampires feed on more than just blood. Emotions like fear, pain, and pleasure are sought after with equal abandon. The result was terrifying and tantalizing in turn. In A KISS OF BLOOD, all those depraved and delicious moments are somewhat sanitized.
The Arturo from the first book was half villain, half hero, and I don’t think he always knew which side of him would prevail in any situation. He was the kind of character who evoked equal parts lust and loathing (a trembling combination). I was a little let down by the decidedly more noble vampire in this sequel. Instead of taking what he wanted and making no apologies fore his baser desires, he spends the whole book trying to prove himself to Quinn. I still liked him, but he became much more like a standard PNR hero than the intoxicating bastard from the debut.
On the plus side, Vamp City is still one brutal place. Vampires, werewolves, demons, and fae are all pretty terrifying most of the time (especially fear vampire Cristoff and pleasure vampire Fabian). Nothing that happens here is safe or easy. These vampires know no restraint and the consequences are sometimes shocking. Don’t expect an HEA in this one (is that even possible in Vamp City?), but Pamela Palmer says there will be at least two, possibly three more books in the Vamp City series. I’ll certainly be back, hoping for a darker story next time, but all the same excitement and danger that I’ve enjoyed so far.
Sexual Content: Sex scenes, a briefly described orgy, attempted rape...more
High concept YAs are everywhere. In my experience they either work really well (DELIRIUM, THE PROGRAM) or rReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
High concept YAs are everywhere. In my experience they either work really well (DELIRIUM, THE PROGRAM) or really not (PULSE, THE WARD). REBOOT surprising falls somewhere in the middle. There is a very cool world where resurrected teens are enslaved and forced to police humans. They have heightened senses but a lack of emotion that correlates to the length of time they were dead before rebooting.
All the the details about the Reboots are fascinating and seamlessly communicated without heavy info dumps. Wren 178 is the strongest, least human among the Reboots. Her emotions–or lack there of–were consistently interesting even as she began to relearn what it meant to feel thanks to her new trainee, Callum who as a 22 is almost shockingly human-like. I kind of loved the romance that developed between them. It was surprisingly tender and totally unconventional.
On the average side, however, the story lost momentum towards the end as it progressed in several predictable and tired directions. A few arbitrary obstacles fell into place to in order to make things more dire and add unnecessary complications. Still Wren’s story has a lot to recommend it. Great dystopian worldbuilding, scary cool concept, and a role reversal romance. The next book in the Reboot series will be published in 2014. I’ll be checking it out.