BLACK DOG, book one in the Hellhound Chronicles, had some aspects I definitely was not a fan of. However,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
BLACK DOG, book one in the Hellhound Chronicles, had some aspects I definitely was not a fan of. However, for the most part, BLACK DOG is a dark urban fantasy, packed to the brim with characters, plot lines and action, and is a wild ride through a new world Kittredge has created.
I had a few problems with BLACK DOG. First off, and I've mentioned my dislike of scenes like this before, but there was a torture scene. I understand the logic behind it, but it also turns my stomach, and the fact that the characters maintained an association after the scene was bothersome to me. I feel like there should have been some other way of doing it that didn't involve one intentionally harming the other. My other issue was that there was a lot of plot smushed into the novel. There were multiple different story lines, and at times it felt like a bit too much. Ava's interactions with Lillith could have been enough. Instead, we also have Leo (the human necromancer) and his fight with his father, plus Clint's drama...it all got to be somewhat confusing. Any one of those stories alone would have made for a great book, but trying to shove as much as possible made it feel a little all over the place.
That being said, BLACK DOG did a lot well. It was intriguing, and very creative. The glimpses of creatures other than the hellhounds, like the shifters, leads me to believe that there's a lot more Kittredge can do with the world, and there's a lot of room for growth. Ava is a great character. She is both vulnerable and strong, and the fact that she's a hellhound makes her even more interesting. The secondary characters also were all really fun to try to unpack. You could never be sure of motives, and it left this on edge feeling that spilled over from Ava to me as I read. The combination of the world and the action kept me turning pages late into the night with this one.
I am curious to see where Kittredge goes with the Hellhound Chronicles next. While not every storyline was 100% tied up, there was some significant resolution at the end of BLACK DOG that although it opened the way for further adventures of Ava, it seems they'll be taking a totally different direction than the previous book. I, for one, can't wait to see what she comes up with!
ALL IN, the third Sin City Collector novella from Amanda Carlson, delivers just what I was looking for: aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
ALL IN, the third Sin City Collector novella from Amanda Carlson, delivers just what I was looking for: a sizzling romance, some magical action, and a hint of mystery to keep things even more interesting. With two super badass leads, the relationship is fun to watch - Ginger being as stubborn as Luke makes for some interesting clashes. Ginger is my kind of heroine, strong and successful, but just vulnerable enough to not have a huge problem letting a guy into her defenses. Luke is also spectacular, a clearly caring individual (we know from previous stories he cares for his brother on full moon nights) and someone who I ended up rooting for almost immediately.
Though the Sin City Collectors novels can be read individually, I would suggest reading all of Carlson's as a "series." If you don't, it isn't as if you'll be confused while reading ALL IN, but knowing the backstory between the characters is helpful and makes the short novella feel richer. Plus, you'll have more context around the Collectors and what they do, so that can be helpful.
One thing that is great about these novellas is that despite the fact they're self-published, you can't tell. They're written and edited just as well as Carlson's Jessica McClain series, which is traditionally published. From what I've read of the Sin City Collectors novellas, these are those self-published diamonds in the rough - the story flows nicely, dialogue isn't choppy or awkward, and there weren't any noticeable spelling or grammar issues at all.
Overall, ALL IN is a quick, enjoyable read, a great continuation of the Sin City Collectors series. It's a fun paranormal world that you'll want to dive completely in to! If anything, ALL IN is too short - I would definitely have kept on reading if I could have.
I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS lives up to its billing as a prequel novella to THE DANGERS OF DATINGReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS lives up to its billing as a prequel novella to THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE. Unfortunately, I must have missed that part before I read it, and as such, was expecting a complete romance story, like the other novellas in the Half Moon Hollow series.
If you're a fan of Half Moon Hollow and Molly Harper, there's no way you won't get at least some enjoyment out of I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS. All our favorite Half Moon Hollow residents are there, complete with inside jokes and the usual antics we've come to expect from this crew. It's zany and funny and a glimpse at a moment in time in the lives of the Half Moon Hollow residents, so in that regard, it was a lot of fun.
However, I was disappointed because I really was expecting a full story, and I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS is definitely not that. The beginnings of the romance doesn't start until nearly three-quarters of the way through the story, and most of it is focused on how Gigi is going to break up with her boyfriend - most decidedly not romantic.
I'd definitely recommend this as a prequel, but do yourself a favor, and buy it now when it's cheap, and read it right before THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE comes out in March - luckily that's only almost four months you have to wait.
The Magic Born series has been, so far, a very well done, consistently written series, and I was hoping foReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
The Magic Born series has been, so far, a very well done, consistently written series, and I was hoping for similar in FIREWALL. After Lizzie and Vadim, I wasn't sure if any couple could be better, or if there would be as much delving into the world. Luckily, FIREWALL delivered everything I hoped for.
I'll admit, I've been looking forward to Tuyet's story since we first meet her in the series. She's mysterious and pretty badass. I wanted to know all her secrets and find out all about her. And what better way than to have her old Ranger partner show up and be the romantic interest? We get glimpses of Tuyet's past and flashbacks to her childhood growing up in a different city's magic zone, which allows the reader to get to know her, and Hayes, in a different way than the previous couples didn't have. The history between Hayes and Tuyet gave another dimension to their relationship and didn't leave any insta-love feelings hanging around. We also get a chance to catch up with all our favorite characters from WITCHLIGHT and TRANCEHACK, but those cameos don't take over the story- it is still very much Tuyet and Hayes that take center stage in this one.
While Vadim and Lizzie remain my favorite couple, FIREWALL reaches beyond the relationship of Tuyet and Hayes into the politics of the world Clark created, which gives the whole story a depth that isn't necessarily felt as much in the first two books. The ending is beautiful and just what I would have wanted for all three couples. I'm sad to see the series end, but glad I got to go along for the ride.
Sexual content: Sex scenes, references to prostitution and pedophila ...more
Flirty and fun, ANTE UP is a great installment in the Sin City Collectors series. With badass witch Sofia,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Flirty and fun, ANTE UP is a great installment in the Sin City Collectors series. With badass witch Sofia, and superbly alpha Diesel, ANTE UP offers a combination of heroine and hero who are made for each other.
Though short, ANTE UP never sacrifices details. Diesel’s and Sofia’s back stories are both revealed, and though I would have liked to learn more about Sofia and how she became a master witch, I never felt left out or as if I was missing something. The secondary characters manage to be intriguing as well, even if they are not as fleshed out as they would be in a full length novel. I liked the glimpses we get of Neve and Jake, who were the main characters in ACES WILD, and also Luke and Ginger, who are clearly destined to be the next couple in Carlson’s installment of the Sin City Collectors.
There’s also never a lack of chemistry. Sofia and Diesel together make sparks fly, and their romance is hot. No skimping there, and there’s a few scenes which were definitely scorching! I loved the two of them together, both somehow sexy, but sweet at the same time. Diesel’s desire to protect Sofia, combined with the fact that Sofia can protect Diesel from himself, makes these two equal partners, and how they get to that partnership is fun to read about.
ANTE UP is a perfect continuation of Amanda Carlson’s storyline in the Sin City Collectors series. Short and sweet, while still offering the reader a full story experience, it’s a lovely little afternoon read. Don’t let the fact that this one is self-published scare you off- it’s just as good as Carlson’s Jessica McClain series, and lots of fun!
A creative take on a fairy tale retelling, PRINCESS OF THORNS follows the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, AurReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
A creative take on a fairy tale retelling, PRINCESS OF THORNS follows the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, as she treks through the kingdom to rescue her brother. With elements of other fairy tales brought in (Niklaas' curse comes to mind), PRINCESS OF THORNS is a wonderful continuation of a beloved fairy tale. Plus, the entire first half of the book has Aurora dressed up as and acting as a boy - a trope I can't resist - and in this case, it was done well.
Told from multiple points of view, PRINCESS OF THORNS could easily have been the kind of book where the author bit off more than they could chew. Luckily, the addition of the viewpoints other than Aurora's added a lot of depth to the story. Sometimes with multiple narrators, the story can get muddled, but that was not the case here. The multiple narrators offered a different take on the various events, and that gives the reader the opportunity to consider the repercussions of one character's actions from different points of view. For example, without Niklaas's viewpoint, I would not have found him as sympathetic a character as he turned out to be.
One thing that bothered me (and if you've read my reviews, you already know this about me) was the ogre queen's torturing of Jor - I don't think it was necessary to go into such detail, especially since the sexual content in this book was kept to a minimum. I generally consider both violence and sex when recommending books to readers, and while the sexual content seemed aimed at a younger YA audience, the torture/violence scenes seemed more for an older set of YA readers.
Overall, PRINCESS OF THORNS was a delightful fantasy that offered a completely different take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. With a sweet relationship, and fascinating mythology, coupled with constant action and danger, PRINCESS OF THORNS has something to offer every reader.
Sexual content: Brief references to characters having sex...more
While fun, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was an action packed smorgasbord of a novel, full of random plot arReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
While fun, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was an action packed smorgasbord of a novel, full of random plot arcs and frequently undeveloped characters. It was as if the authors didn’t know what they wanted to write – fantasy, romance, adventure – and tried to smash everything into one book. Though fast paced and never boring, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS nevertheless suffered for it.
My biggest issue with THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS was that a lot of time was spent discussing the problems, and how to resolve them. When it came down to it though, most issues were not resolved by action on Clarice’s part, but instead by action by an outside character. They were also generally resolved fairly quickly in proportion to how much page time they got. My other issue was that Clarice’s character didn’t grow much throughout the story. This would have been fine if the romance arc was more pronounced (in my opinion) but that was glossed over as well.
THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS had a generally upbeat, fun feel to it, and was an enjoyable read, it was just a little scattered. Though not as large a part of the plot as the description makes it out to be, the romance was sweet and fun to watch, and I did enjoy Clarice’s few sword fights. The fantasy aspect of the world was interesting, as it was very similar to our own, but with magic and different geography. It was therefore easy to build images in my head as I was reading, and that added to my enjoyment.
Overall, THE HOUSE OF THE FOUR WINDS wasn’t everything it was sold as, but it wasn’t a bad book, either. It reminded me of adventure books I read when I was younger, with magic, pirate ships and girls dressing up as boys, and that nostalgia factor probably kept me more interested than I may have been otherwise. However, depending on what the next book in the One Dozen Daughters series sounds like, I may give this series another try.
At slightly over 400 overwhelming pages, WHISPER THE DEAD took a few chapters for me to fully immerse mys Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
At slightly over 400 overwhelming pages, WHISPER THE DEAD took a few chapters for me to fully immerse myself. Once I did, however, I was rewarded with a mystery that managed to be consequential and yet a story that felt lighthearted, all at once.
Once I got back into the rhythm of The Lovegrove Legacy series, I recalled why I liked book one so much – the key here is the cousins and their relationships with each other. Their sarcastic quips and loving insults are fun to read, and make a reader feel right at home amongst the three of them. While at times I got a bit confused what with all the boys whose names ended in C, I still managed to eventually fall for the various paramours, as well. The characters in WHISPER THE DEAD are not completely unpredictable, but they’re also not caricatures or one-dimensional, either.
Though lengthy, WHISPER THE DEAD felt a little like a filler book, holding a place between books one and three (and with cliffhanger, to boot). This doesn’t diminish the excellent writing, but it definitely is something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a story with a nice tidy happy ending. Be prepared to groan in frustration when you finish WHISPER THE DEAD and quickly look up how long to wait until book three (my Google-fu says undetermined).
All in all, a lovely treat of a book. WHISPER THE DEAD is everything one could want from a paranormal regency – magic, high society, handsome young suitors, and three wonderfully headstrong young ladies. If you haven’t yet, pick up A BREATH OF FROST, and then treat yourself to WHISPER THE DEAD. You won’t be disappointed.
Sucked in by the intriguing cover and blurb, I found myself captivated by STORM SIREN the minute I startedReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Sucked in by the intriguing cover and blurb, I found myself captivated by STORM SIREN the minute I started reading. Though sometimes light on the world-building, in STORM SIREN, Weber creates a cast of fascinating characters, with lots of action, and tons of plot twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
Our main character, Nym, is a spectacular heroine. Unlike some other recent young adult fantasy starring female assassins, Nym is not a purposeful killer in the beginning of the book. She’s carrying a huge amount of guilt because of her past, and the way she works through that as the story goes on is very well done. The positions she’s put in and the choices she makes really emphasize her growth over the short period of time the book takes place during. The secondary characters are well fleshed out, as well. Eogan, the trainer, who makes Nym’s emotions pitter patter, and Colin, the other Elemental magic user, who sometimes feels like just a goofy teenage boy, are enjoyable to pass the time with. Adora, Nym’s owner, and Lord Myles, a member of the court, are so delightfully creepy I swear I shivered a few times while reading.
What was lacking was more in-depth world building. It came in bits and pieces, and frustratingly not enough for me. The plot took up so much of the book there just wasn’t much time for describing Nym’s world, and don’t get me wrong – I loved the action and the breathless intensity of it, but oh, I want so much more! There was a lot that could have been explained or explored that we didn’t get, unfortunately.
All in all, STORM SIREN is one of those books that you don’t put down once you’ve gotten into it. It is clever, original, young adult fantasy, that manages to take some familiar aspects (girl assassin/magic user – almost cliche) and turn them on their head. With the final plot twist at the end, I’m dying for book two, and can’t believe I have to wait until June 2015 for it to come out!
Sexual content: References to unwanted physical contact...more
In the vein of GRACELING or GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING offers a rich fantasy worldReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
In the vein of GRACELING or GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING offers a rich fantasy world chock-full of political intrigue, heart-stopping moments, and an unconventional heroine who I fell in love with on page one.
THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING is one of those books that I’m happy I read before I read any online reviews. There are a lot of complaints about THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING, and I’m not saying that some of them aren’t valid, but it is a remarkably engaging book, and once I picked it up, I was barely able to set it back down again until I finished. It may seem similar to other books in the same genre, but it sets itself apart, with its older heroine, slightly more adult topics, and the setting, in a future world after some sort of apocalyptic event that caused the world’s population to lose their technology and gain magic.
While the blurb compares this book to THE HUNGER GAMES, I wouldn’t necessarily put the two together. I would recommend THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING to an older teenage reader, since the main character is 19, and some of the descriptions of violence and sexual violence can be quite graphic, which may be disturbing to some people (younger and older alike). Kelsea is a wonderful heroine though, embodying the coming of age storyline, as she goes from being isolated in a forest, with only her foster parents for company, to growing into a queen of a country and all that entails. She was frequently focused on the world around her, sees the flaws, and pushes hard for improvement. By doing that, she earns the respect of those around her, and that was satisfying to see, from the beginning to the end, the growth in relationships.
I did have a few complaints however. First, I would say that the world building was a bit sparse. The events which led to the various kingdoms being created were nebulous, they was little to explain how civilization got to the point it did where the people were living in a feudal existence. Also, Kelsea tended to get on my nerves whenever she started talking about her appearance, and that was frustrating – mentioning it once is fine, twice is even okay, but after that and it started to become unclear why she was so focused on how she looked when she had so many other concerns to worry about.
Sexual content: Multiple references to rape and pedophelia...more
THE MERMAN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE was one of those books that captured me with the beautiful cover and fReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
THE MERMAN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE was one of those books that captured me with the beautiful cover and failed to live up to the expectation it set. Though intriguing, THE MERMAN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE felt shallow and lacking in development.
The main character, Raef, narrated the story and that was part of my complaint. His voice felt so young and naive – partly, I understand, because he was encountering humans for the first time, but he still seemed to lack any kind of common sense at times. His never-ending narration was cloying and there was the definite tendency to tell, not show, which was frustrating.
The storyline itself was fun, and action packed, but not much could make up for the negative feelings I had toward Raef, even the pirate falling in love plotline, which is one of my favorites. It was at least never dull, as Raef was always getting into some sort of trouble, and seeing how he extricated helped me keep reading.
THE MERMEN AND THE BARBARIAN PIRATE may appeal to some readers, but others may find that the action and interesting world Berrisford created can’t make up for an irritating main character. This is one I would definitely recommend reading an excerpt before buying.
Sexual content: Sex scenes, references to rape...more
Full of action, a captivating couple, and some very mean vampyres, VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES was everythReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Full of action, a captivating couple, and some very mean vampyres, VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES was everything I wished for and more. Harlow completely brought her A-game for this one, and it shows in how much fun to read this book is. When I finished it, I had a moment of “is it possible for a book to be too good?”
We review a lot of books on this blog with female main characters, usually with some sort of supernatural power or feature. Verity, by these standards, is pretty normal, which sometimes means boring. Except she isn’t, and that is what makes her so awesome. She’s brilliant, fierce, loyal, sarcastic, but also a bit melancholy, too stubborn for her own good, and scared of heights. She’s logical and analytical, and will likely be able to wipe the table with you in a poker game. In other words, I kind of want to be Verity Hart. Sometimes, when I felt like she was almost too perfect a heroine, she would do something risky or stupid, but always completely within what I expected of her character. She felt like a real person, which made her enjoyable to read.
And Jamie McQueen, oh dear. Even if I wasn’t such a fan of Verity, I’d want to be her just so spend some time with him. With his hot and cold attitude, his too-informal way of addressing Verity, his American vulgarity, and his hot-as-hell kisses, he was the perfect counterpart to the high society Lady Verity. Since we weren’t in his head like we were in Verity’s, we were left as confused as she sometimes was at his actions, and watching his transformation, both in how he perceived Verity, and how she perceived him, was thrilling. He’s quick enough to hold his own against Verity and though he gets to know her weaknesses, he never holds them against her, and eventually comes around to some of her ways of thinking.
Besides the relationship between the two main characters that you just can’t help rooting for, which would be enough for a book on its own, VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES features a trip across England, Wales and Ireland, some seriously scary vampyres (even the good guys were a little creepy and terrifying) and crazy steampunk inventions. Plus, we’ve got a crotchety old lady who helps save the day and the dear brother who, though absent most of the book, wins the reader’s hearts through the stories Verity tells of him. This book flew by, entrancing me into staying up too late and reading every free minute. And although it was released as a serial, the last section has now been published, so you if that’s not your style, you don’t even have to wait between the sections.
Creepy and yet hauntingly beautiful, Emily Carroll’s debut graphic novel, THROUGH THE WOODS marks her as aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Creepy and yet hauntingly beautiful, Emily Carroll’s debut graphic novel, THROUGH THE WOODS marks her as an amazing artistic talent who clearly has great things in her future.
The five stories in THROUGH THE WOODS have the feel of fairy tales or the Scary Stories series I used to read when I was a kid. Though creations of Carroll’s imagination, they have a timeless feel to them, which is only amplified by the gorgeous artwork attached to the narrative. And though this book is meant for a slightly younger age group, I feel it can be enjoyed by anybody, if not for the chills you’ll feel up your spine as you read the stories, but for the visual accompaniment. The stories by themselves would stand alone just fine, but it is the art that really turns them into something terrifying. The five stories all fit together well, and the flow of the book is just right. The whole thing can probably be read in one sitting, but I would suggest taking time to savor it.
I’ve already bought a copy to give away and I anticipate THROUGH THE WOODS is one I’ll recommend in the future. I can’t wait to see what Carroll comes up with next, after such an amazing debut, I’m confident that whatever it is, it will be worth the wait.
ACES WILD is, in my opinion, a perfect start to the new Sin City Collectors series, which features an inteReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
ACES WILD is, in my opinion, a perfect start to the new Sin City Collectors series, which features an interesting premise in that the installments will be written by different authors. Since I already like Amanda Carlson’s other series, I was excited to see what she would bring to a totally different setting and characters. I was not disappointed. Though short, ACES WILD manages to pack in action and romance and enough of a hook to bring me back for the next story.
In ACES WILD, Carlson manages to introduce us to the idea of the Collectors, plus the supernatural world they inhabit, all without being too heavy-handed about it. This includes such paranormal beings like vampires, dhampirs, nymphs, witches, hellhounds, and more. The Collectors themselves, with the mysterious boss, and weekly assignments, are also fascinating , and since we’re introduced to the organization through Neve’s, and to some extent, Jake’s eyes, we get just enough detail to pique curiosity, leaving lots to be discovered in the future while still giving the basics so the story makes sense.
At the beginning prickly Neve and sexy Jake don’t seem like they’re right for each other (I know I was rooting for Jake to find somebody sweeter) but by the end, I was convinced. Sparks fly when these two get together, and though the time period of the story is short, they have a clear back-story, which makes their romance more believable than if they had just magically fallen in love over the course of a few hours. I was actually surprised at how much I felt I knew the characters by the end of the novella, since it wasn’t very long (my only complaint – I would not have minded a longer story). They’re well written and multidimensional, and their interactions felt effortless.
Like I said, I’m definitely going to be back for more of the Sin City Collectors. The whole idea of a series being written by different authors – including Kristin Painter, Angie Fox and Shawntelle Madison (all authors we’ve reviewed and enjoyed here at All Things Urban Fantasy) – is fun, plus the concept is creative and leaves a lot to be explored. If this first installment is any indication, the whole series will be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see who we get to meet next.
Having enjoyed TRANCEHACK, I was really looking forward to WITCHLIGHT. With its fascinating world, awesomeReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Having enjoyed TRANCEHACK, I was really looking forward to WITCHLIGHT. With its fascinating world, awesome romance, and great characters, WITCHLIGHT lived up to my expectations and more. Though it is the second book in the Magic Born series, nothing about WITCHLIGHT says sophomore slump – if anything, it’s even better than the first!
There are multiple great aspects to WITCHLIGHT. First off, we have our hero and heroine. Though their relationship starts out a bit rocky – after all, Vadim is trying to blackmail Lizzie – it quickly moves to smoking hot. Vadim is the consummate bad boy, with his addictions and his various enterprises, but he also is a good person, too, and having those two seemingly contradictory personalities together make him a character with a lot of depth. Lizzie is magnificent, an excellent partner for Vadim. She has a backbone of steel and is willing to take risks and do what needs to be done.
Another thing I enjoyed quite a bit about WITCHLIGHT were the frank discussions Lizzie and Vadim had about sex. It isn’t often that this happens in straight up romance novels, where the main characters have discussions about sex, and not just have it. In this case, since there were some kinky aspects to the sex that Lizzie and Vadim had, it was crucial there was communication, and I really appreciated that was present in the story.
As with TRANCEHACK, my complaint is that the world could have been explored some more. We get a different picture this time, since we see the political machinations, as Lizzie is in politics, but I would have loved more details.
Since we get to see some glimpses of Nate and Calla to see how their relationship is, I have no doubts that regardless who Clark pairs up next, we’ll get to see where Vadim and Lizzie end up, as well. This series is a treat, and I’m already impatient for book three, FIREWALL.
he description for LEGALLY UNDEAD was what originally drew me in (it certainly wasn’t the cover). I was i Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
he description for LEGALLY UNDEAD was what originally drew me in (it certainly wasn’t the cover). I was intrigued by the idea of a plain-jane girl all of a sudden discovering the world of vampires, and not in a romantic way. LEGALLY DEAD is most definitely urban fantasy, and follows a similar track as many other UF novels, but it manages to still be somewhat unique and distinguish itself from the pack.
One of the ways that LEGALLY UNDEAD is different than most UF, and what I liked most, is that even though the vampire underworld suddenly appears in Elle’s life, the rest of the story is very real. It’s clear she’s got a life that doesn’t magically disappear the minute she starts to hunt some vampires. She has school, and friends who get concerned for her once she stops going outside at night. And beyond that, she tries to avoid the vampires at first. There’s no rushing toward danger for Elle. She’s got a smart head on her shoulders and until she figures out that it is pretty much inevitable, going after her ex-fiance, she tries to stay out of it.
Another thing is the vampires in LEGALLY UNDEAD are super creepy. These are not your standard sex-appeal exuding, bad-boy vibe emitting vampires that every guy wants to be and every girl wants to be with. The vampires were one of the most interesting parts of the story, but they also were the part that was least developed – partially because since Elle didn’t know much, or couldn’t find out much, neither could the reader. It was a tad disappointing, since I would have loved to learn more.
There are still aspects of your typical urban fantasy novel, though. We’ve got a heroine who can, with no training, suddenly kill vampires just because she gets angry. There’s the vampire hunting team that already knows about the secret vampire underworld. But through all of it, there’s a great sense of humor and the writing is good, and like I said, LEGALLY UNDEAD manages to take some typical features of urban fantasy and make them its own.
While the book doesn’t end in a SHADOW HUNTER level of cliffhanger, it ends in a cliffhanger nonetheless, and left me desperate for the next chapter in Elle’s story. I’ll be curious to see where Collins takes the Vampirarchy series next!
A fitting end to the Spellmason Chronicles, INCARNATE wraps up all my issues from STONECAST and surprises Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
A fitting end to the Spellmason Chronicles, INCARNATE wraps up all my issues from STONECAST and surprises me with an ending I didn’t even know I wanted. Full of great characters, lots of action, and even some touching moments, INCARNATE has everything a good urban fantasy novel should have.
One of my favorite parts of the Spellmason Chronicles has always been Lexi’s relationships with her friends. Rory and Marshall are well developed characters, not just cut-out best friends. Their genuine caring for Lexi, and the bond all three of them have is something that makes this series stand out. Marshall’s geeky references and Rory’s sarcastic quips don’t hurt, either.
My other favorite aspect of the series is the originality. Gargoyles and alchemy are not common urban fantasy elements, and the combination of the too is interesting. The aftermath of the creation of so many gargoyles around Manhattan is a great subject for the book to deal with, even bringing in police. We don’t often see the moment that magic is revealed to the world in books – usually we see it hidden or we see after the revelation. Strout’s imagining of how it would be if magic was revealed is a fun mental exercise.
Overall, INCARNATE is a great way to end the Spellmason Chronicles. Action-packed and never slowing down for a moment, the conclusion will satisfy readers who have been with Lexi since the beginning. Though the romance storyline falters near the middle, the final match-up is surprising and just what Lexi needs. All in all, a great series closer.
When I finished with TAINTED BLOOD, all I could think was "Brennan did it again!" TAINTED BLOOD is that spReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
When I finished with TAINTED BLOOD, all I could think was "Brennan did it again!" TAINTED BLOOD is that spectacular combination of great characters, action, and sexual tension that makes a reader keep flipping the pages, desperate to know what comes next.
One thing I particularly enjoy about Brennan's writing is her ability to write such complex characters. Certain characters manage to be both repulsive and sympathetic, and the dichotomy is done really well. Prudence, for example - I want her to be my bestie on a few occasions, except when I remember that she's kind of a sociopath who has no problems killing anybody who bothers her. Plus, the vampires continue to be different than any other I've read in any urban fantasy, and though sometimes repulsive, they're also fascinating. We continue to be introduced to other characters and creatures in the world, as well, and it's always fun to learn more about the world.
I also love the tension between Suzume and Fort. The romance between the two is anything but typical, and Suzume's pranks are a highlight of the story. Suzume's (and the other kitsune's) antics offer an outright sense of humor, balancing the action and drama from the mystery.
TAINTED BLOOD is an excellent third book in a series, and it only left me eager for more. If Fort's growth throughout books one through three is any indication of the masterful transitions that Brennan can take her characters through, then I can't wait to see where she takes him in book four, scheduled to come out in 2015.
While anthologies aren't normally my thing, the draw of the Kate Daniels and SPI Investigations stories weReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
While anthologies aren't normally my thing, the draw of the Kate Daniels and SPI Investigations stories were just too much for me to pass up in the case of NIGHT SHIFT. Luckily, the whole anthology was high caliber and well worth the read, with four outstanding stories that, though part of series in three of the four cases, manage to stand on their own.
Secrets at Midnight, a story from the Psy-Changling world by Nalini Singh, is probably the most standard paranormal romance story in the bunch. Featuring an alpha male, and an adorably cute mate, Secrets at Midnight is both amusing and romantic all at once. I think the hero, Bastien's, family dynamics would have been even more fun for me if I had been familiar with the series, but I was able to jump in without any prior knowledge, and I still enjoyed the story.
Magic Steals, a story from the Kate Daniels universe by Ilona Andrews, was a fun little mystery with some romance as well. For Kate Daniels' fans, it offered the rare opportunity to learn more about Jim, and see a different side of him than the rather scary side we get in the Kate books, and also the opportunity to get to know another character, Dali, and about her magic. Though it had its humorous moments, it was definitely more focused on the mystery and the romance aspect. This one also wouldn't require the reader to be a Kate Daniels fan already, but I'm guessing if you aren't this story may turn you.
Lucky Charms, from the SPI Investigations series by Lisa Shearin, is likely the story that made me laugh out loud the most. Take Mac's first day at work, add in five horny leprechauns destined to wreck havoc across New York City, and throw in some goblins, Mac's partner Ian, and the werewolf driver, Yasha for good measure, and you've got a lot of fun. Shearin's signature sarcastic style was present in Mac's narration, and this would be a great introduction (since it's a prequel) to the SPI Investigation series, especially since the second book is about to be released.
The Beast of Blackmoor was a bit different from the other three stories in the book in that it took place in a more fictional fantasy world, but that didn't diminish it's appeal. It took a little to get into, and because it didn't fit the typical urban fantasy mold, could likely have benefited from a more lengthy treatment, but it was enjoyable all the same. The chemistry between the leads was hot and the world was interesting and well crafted. This is a place I'd like to explore further, hopefully we'll get the chance!
All in all, the four stories of NIGHT SHIFT are an excellent compilation, even for readers who aren't fans of the series they come from. It's rare that all the stories will be a hit, but in my opinion, NIGHT SHIFT manages to do it!
Sexual content: The Beast of Blackmoor - Graphic sex scenes Secrets at Midnight and Magic Steals - Sex scenes Lucky Charms - Discussion of implied sexual activity...more
DON’T BLACKMAIL THE VAMPIRE was exactly what I would’ve expected as a sequel to DON’T BITE THE BRIDESMAID:Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
DON’T BLACKMAIL THE VAMPIRE was exactly what I would’ve expected as a sequel to DON’T BITE THE BRIDESMAID: cute, sweet romance with a dash of intrigue thrown in. It was a perfect length story for me to enjoy on one of those rainy April afternoons when I was cooped up inside.
Rachel and Charles were an adorable couple. Rachel was a bit frustrating in her insecurities, but her willingness to do anything to keep her sister happy (even something I maybe didn’t approve of) made her a remarkably deep character for such a short story. I liked seeing her move past her issues to help make it work with Charles. Charles was great, obviously. A sexy vampire will always keep me involved, and he was definitely of the sexy variety. I enjoyed the way that Charles changed over the course of the story, from giving the reader the impression that he’s this cool playboy type, to really caring for Rachel and wanting to make her happy.
I did have a few small issues. I thought that the resolution to the mystery was a bit weak and anti-climactic. After the mystery was used as a plot point to pull Rachel and Charles together, it should have been stronger, in my opinion. And due to the length of the story, I’m guessing, there wasn’t much recap about book one. Though it wasn’t super necessary to know what happened in book one, it does help with some of the character motivations and I feel like without that background some actions may not make a ton of sense. That doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyable if you haven’t read book one – after all, how frequently do most romance novels make complete sense? ;) Besides, with less recap, there was more time to dive straight into Charles and Rachel’s story.
Well plotted and paced, DON’T BLACKMAIL THE VAMPIRE is a fun, quick and entertaining read. While there are a few flaws, for the most part it’s easy to get into the story and ignore the issues – mostly I didn’t notice the few things I mentioned until after I had finished the book, so I don’t feel they detract from the reading experience. Definitely pick it up if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted vampire/human romance with some skiing and blackmail thrown in. I can’t wait for the next book in the Sons of Kane series- DON’T BLACKMAIL THE VAMPIRE only made me more curious about these vampire brothers.
While I’d have to go back and read all of Karen Chance’s books again to be sure, I am pretty sure MASKS isReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
While I’d have to go back and read all of Karen Chance’s books again to be sure, I am pretty sure MASKS is my favorite. I always loved Mircea as a character and been disappointed when he was fairly absent in the last Cassandra Palmer book, and the opportunity to have a book devoted all to him was pretty awesome.
To be perfectly honest, it took me a while to really get into Karen Chance’s writing. I started with Cassie’s series, but it took Dory’s series and a second try at Cassie before I really started to enjoy them, so I was a little worried about the possibility that I wasn’t going to enjoy MASKS. Sure, it stars Mircea, a character who appears in both series, but MASKS is also a historical paranormal, and stars Mircea from way back before he’s a master (which for me was a large part of his appeal, the power) – it could have fallen really flat. Not to mention the idea started out as a freebie novella. Luckily, MASKS totally worked for me. Now, I’m just upset that we don’t have more to read about Mircea’s back story.
My one complaint was that at times, the sheer number of characters was a bit overwhelming. I suppose I should be used to it, since it’s not as if Cassie’s books ever skimp on people, but since this is a stand-alone, there obviously isn’t going to be the investment in each individual that you’ll get in a series. Otherwise, I loved reading about the vampire politics, and Mircea as a newly created vampire was a wonder. His thinking seemed so much different than his thinking now, and it was fascinating to get inside his head, since that’s one place I always want to be in the Cassie series. Not to mention the action, mystery, and relationships (Mircea’s friendships especially) that keep the plot moving along and make sure the reader is always occupied.
For a fan of the Cassandra Palmer and Dorina Basarab series, MASKS is a must-read. While not perfect, it is an awesome addition to the world, and gives some great back-story of a main character and vampire politics as we know them from their modern day counterparts. Even if you aren’t a fan, I think MASKS offers plenty for you. Since it’s back-story, this isn’t like jumping in at the middle of the series, and like I said, the story moves along at quite a clip, so readers not familiar with Mircea should find it interesting while they’re getting to know him. If you’re curious, I would definitely try it out – and have Dory’s books on order, because I’m confident you’ll want to move directly to them.
Sexual Content: Several sex scenes, scenes with sexual actions and dubious consent...more