4.5 stars Here are the three things that can lift my mood any day of the week: 1. bacon; 2. Nutella; 3. anti-heroes written by Tim Marquitz… and not n
4.5 stars Here are the three things that can lift my mood any day of the week: 1. bacon; 2. Nutella; 3. anti-heroes written by Tim Marquitz… and not necessarily in that order of importance. The very simple truth is that no one writes foul-mouthed underdogs better than Tim. First came Frank, the charming bastard, and now there’s Theo, a doppelganger and a hot mess with a moral compass that points every which way but north and a dry, self-deprecating, wicked sense of humor.
But as interesting as he sounds, the thing you need to know about Theodor Crane is that he’s been dead for months, and he really wasn’t that great before his unfortunate demise. In his place is actually Z, a doppelganger from Aellisar and a spy for the Aellisarian Intelligence. Z has only one mission – to prevent the war between his people and the few humans aware of their existence. For that purpose, he will deceive, steal and kill. Thanks to Marquitz’s excellent writing and even better imagination, this character, like those before him, comes alive on the very first pages and makes you cheer for him even while you berate yourself for feeling that way.
We aren’t new to Z’s charms – we’ve met him before in Eyes Deep, the prequel novella released last year. I knew to expect a very dark, extremely conflicted character, but the depth of his development still took me by surprise. Z is a special creature, feared even by his own people. He can shapeshift into anyone at all (by killing them first and eating small pieces of their eyeballs), which makes him a formidable enemy and an excellent infiltrator. But most unfortunately, Z has a conscience, no matter how weak it may be, and it keeps him awake at night. The longer he lives the life of Theodor Crane, the more difficult it is for him to bury his emotions. Getting attached is the stupidest thing he can do, and yet it’s almost impossible to avoid it.
The short interludes between chapters offer us glimpses into Z’s past that gradually turn him into a somewhat more sympathetic character. He may be a killer and the worst kind of thief, but his redeeming qualities definitely count for something. While the plot can seem a bit episodic at times, the moral dilemmas and self-justifications more than make up for it. What’s more, the action scenes are graphic and very detailed, each one done with a movie-like quality. For someone who gets confused during action scenes more often than not, these were a true delight.
At this point, after several years of being his very enthusiastic fan, I can only say that Marquitz is consistently excellent. He has one of the strongest, clearest voices in genre fiction and his excellent sense of pacing serves to strengthen his narrative. Fans of urban fantasy, this is one you absolutely do not want to miss. I’d highly recommend starting with Eyes Deep, but even if you jump right into this one, you’ll soon find yourself completely immersed into Z’s story. ...more
A Murder of Mages is an excellent new fantasy novel with a distinct urban fantasy feel, a rich and imaginative police procedural that tries to do so
A Murder of Mages is an excellent new fantasy novel with a distinct urban fantasy feel, a rich and imaginative police procedural that tries to do so much and for the most part succeeds. It is a very dark novel set in Maradaine, a poverty-ridden city in which violence happens at every corner. We follow Satrine Rainey as she struggles to find her footing after an accident which leaves her husband unable to provide for their family.
It’s clear from the start that Satrine is a true mama bear, ready to do almost anything to feed her two daughters. She has no problem falsifying her letter or recommendation to become a police inspector, even if it means going back to her old neighborhood where she suffered terribly as a child.
Her partner there is Minox Welling, brilliant and misunderstood. He solves impossible cases, but he doesn’t play well with others and his fellow inspectors avoid and ridicule him. Welling soon realizes that Satrine is keeping secrets, but he also sees that she’s a great investigator and he decides to keep quiet. He has his fair share of secrets too, so why would he work against the first partner he’s liked in ages?
I enjoyed Satrine and Minox’s dynamic, especially since there was no possibility of romance. Satrine has a husband at home, and although he’s unable to walk or communicate, it’s clear that she loves him very much. With romance completely out of the picture, we are able to focus on what is truly important – the ritualistic murders of mages Satrine and Welling are working on.
As we learn more about the unforgiving city called Maradaine, we can’t help feeling grateful that we’re observing it from afar, and not actually living in it. It’s a dark and gritty place where poverty and crime rule the streets. It has a distinct historical feel, especially when it comes to women’s rights, and it’s vaguely reminiscent of Victorian London, at least the more unsavory parts of it. Maresca didn’t focus too much on worldbuilding in this first installment, choosing instead to give us only the information we absolutely need. His priority was always the mystery, and it was an excellent one. This is my first book by Maresca, but from what I understand, this isn’t his first series set in this world. It’s possible that the worldbuilding suffered because he counted on his old readers, the ones already familiar with it. But the setting was good enough even for us newbies and it provided a decent enough foundation that can be built upon in later installments.
There will be time for more details about Maradaine down the road. With two well-established characters and so much potential to work with, I predict an even better second installment. Like most series, this takes a while to really pick up, but it’s clear already that we have much to look forward to.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review. ...more
Could I leave just that in lieu of my review? Because in this unique case, it might just be enough. Ridiculous. And sort of wonder3.5 stars Ridiculous.
Could I leave just that in lieu of my review? Because in this unique case, it might just be enough. Ridiculous. And sort of wonderful, but that goes without saying – after all, we’re dealing with Janet Evanovich, the uncrowned queen of wicked humor and insane sexual tension.
We rejoin our heroes as they continue their search for Seven Stones of Power. The stones reflect seven deadly sins, and with two found in the previous books, it is now time to find the stone of avarice. Lizzy and Diesel are Unmentionables, people with special powers, and although he’s far more experienced (in more ways than one, ahem), Diesel doesn’t stand a chance of finding the stones without Lizzy, who can sense their proximity and authenticity.
The plot is much stronger in Wicked Charms than in the previous two books, but it’s still a far cry from a structured, serious novel. After all, only Janet Evanovich could combine wannabe medieval knights, wannabe pirates, wannabe witches and one very rude monkey into something even close to coherent. Although it’s better plotted, this is still very much reminiscent of Looney Tunes and all the characters are just spectacularly silly. Ridiculous, I tell you.
The sexual tension in this book is insane! We’ve been waiting so long to see Lizzy and Diesel together, but one or both of them could lose their powers if they ever get together. Diesel himself is charming and hilarious, but I find myself even more attracted to his evil cousin and their nemesis Wulf. Everyone loves a bad boy, right?
Aside from his name on the cover, I didn’t notice any differences now that Phoef Sutton joined as co-author, which means that he did so quite seamlessly. I’m not sure how much he’s contributing at this point, but he got the overall tone of Janet’s writing perfectly. And now that he’s here, maybe we won’t have to wait three years for the next book. That last paragraph left me screaming for more.
If you’re looking for something to brighten up your day, you can’t possibly go wrong with one of Janet’s books, and especially not with this series. As long as you don’t expect anything even remotely serious, you’ll find yourself enjoying every word. Also, laughing like a lunatic is good for your abs, soldier. Go for it.
”Why can’t you save the world by yourself?” I asked Diesel. “Why do I have to go along?” “You have to do your touchy-feely thing. I’m big and strong and smokin’ hot, but I’m not touchy-feely.” This was all true.
“And I think he was taking pictures of us,” I said to the guard. “Up our skirts.” “You’re wearing jeans,” the guard said. “So we outsmarted him!” I said.
“I’m willing to trade this unpleasant monkey for the pieces of eight you’ve acquired and a small service from Ms. Tucker.” “Get serious,” Diesel said. “Keep the monkey.”
A blend of futuristic dystopia and urban fantasy, The Stars Never Rise follows in the famous footsteps of Downside Ghosts and Kate Daniels, at least gA blend of futuristic dystopia and urban fantasy, The Stars Never Rise follows in the famous footsteps of Downside Ghosts and Kate Daniels, at least genre-wise. In her new series, as of yet untitled, Vincent takes us to a world of demon possessions and fallen governments, where souls are a hot commodity and terrified people are ruled by the Church’s iron fist.
Rachel Vincent’s previous work wasn’t all that interesting to me, mostly because of all the love triangles she so loved to introduce, but here she abandons cheap tropes in favor of excellent plot development and a romance that is creepy and complicated all on its own, without any help from a third party.
We meet Nina as she struggles to keep her little sister clothed and fed, and we see right from the start that she is a heroine worth knowing, a resilient, strong young lady willing to do anything it takes to survive. Their mother is an addict who spends her days locked in her room, refusing to participate in life in general and spending most of the money Nina earns on drugs. Nina herself isn’t above stealing, lying, cheating and even using her body if it means her little sister will get food on her table. She is a heroine in the truest sense right from the start.
While Nina may be ready to become a member of the Church just to protect Melanie, destiny has other plans for her. In a single day, she becomes aware of her powers, which instantly turns her into the Church’s enemy number one. But her powers bring her backup as well, a group of young people with those same abilities and same fugitive status.
Although at times predictable, Vincent’s story is excellently paced and dark enough to satisfy even a more demanding reader. Most characters may be young adults, but the content is balancing a thin line between YA, NA and adult. I’m not a fan of shielding teens from the harsh realities of life and I admire Vincent for writing so honestly and openly, without barriers or concerns.
Unlike Vincent’s previous works, this series utterly captivated me, making me wonder how I’ll survive until next year, or more precisely June 2016, when The Flame Never Dies is set for release.
Dear world, please stop spinning for a while. You see, the new THIRDS book is out and people have far more interesting things to do than par
Dear world, please stop spinning for a while. You see, the new THIRDS book is out and people have far more interesting things to do than participate in normal, everyday activities. We’ll rejoin you shortly. Thank you. Sincerely, THIRDS Nerds.
It’s been just over a year since the first THIRD book was released, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t crazy about Sloane, Dex, Cael, Ash and the rest of Destructive Delta. The world Cochet created for us is one of the rare few that envelops completely in just a few pages, making us feel like we’ve just returned home from a very long trip.
Things are a tiny bit different in Against the Grain, but the overall feeling of comfort and happiness remains the same. For the very first time, Dex and Sloane are not in the center of the story – it’s time for Ash and Cael to get their happily ever after. The transition was a lot smoother than I thought it woud be. It must have been hard for Cochet to step away from Dex and Sloane after four books, but she was extremely successful. The fact that we’re seeing these events through Cael’s and Ash’s eyes doesn’t mean that we aren’t just as close to the rest of the THIRDS. Dex and Sloane are very much present, and so is the rest of Destructive Delta. In fact, we get to see Rosa and Letty more clearly, which I certainly appreciated.
We’ve seen some definite progress for Ash and Cael in Rise & Fall, and yet we find them very much apart. It has been clear for ages that the two love each other, and they both admit it freely, but Ash still has so many things to work through and their relationship simply has to wait. Going into this book, we’re already very familiar with both characters, but painful new things are still revealed on almost every page and their distance becomes far more understanable with each new revelation. I never expected Cael to have so much pain in his past, not with his father and brother, but Cochet subtly reminds that we’re all vulnerable and that even the best of us can end up in vicious cycles until we hit rock bottom.
The book doesn’t just focus on the relationship. There is a huge development for the overall story arc in the last part, a lot of danger and more action than we’ve seen in a while. I was genuinely scared for our team, which was a new and not entirely welcome feeling, but after a few jaw-dropping moments, I can see the direction the series is taking and I applaud Charlie for it.
Those of you who are new to the series, or even completely unfamiliar with it, please don’t judge it based on the genre, covers, relationships or anything else. I did that for months when it was first released, thinking I wouldn’t like the paranormal elements, but I missed out on so much because of my assumption. This series is at the very top of my favorites list, right up there with Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson, and I hope you’ll all at least give it a chance.
I vote that every one of Charlie Cochet’s release days be considered a worldwide holiday. Sorry, employers, we can’t come to work today. We have much better things to do.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review. ...more
As an urban fantasy author, Kristen Painter keeps exceeding my already high expectations. City of Eternal Night is undoubtedly a fabulous addition toAs an urban fantasy author, Kristen Painter keeps exceeding my already high expectations. City of Eternal Night is undoubtedly a fabulous addition to her Crescent City series – full of danger, excitement, intrigue and romance.
Painter has an infallible sense of pacing, it seems. The tension here builds slowly, gradually, until it finally drives us to the edge of our seats. The story is mostly told from Augustine and Harlow’s perspectives, although there are things we see through Giselle’s eyes. As the story progresses, the villain’s POV becomes more and more important, and the picture we get in the end is far from hopeful for our two heroes.
Augustine remains the absolute star of this series. His character has grown considerably since the beginning and now, as Guardian, he has a steady moral compass we can’t help but admire. If you add to that his boyish charm, his absolute integrity and strong sense of responsibility, you get a hero as lovable as Adam in Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, and just as appealing as Kate Daniels’ Curran.
Harlow is still somewhat difficult to like, although she certainly tries. I feel that her character really shows Painter’s remarkable skill. She is extremely vulnerable, which appeals to our protective instincts, but she can also be judgmental and rash. She does make significant progress in this novel, but there’s still a long way to go.
I loved how (slowly) the romance was developed in this book. At the beginning, Harlow was too afraid of her own kind to even think about trusting Augustine, who is so obviously fae. But as she learns more about the different kinds of fae and their abilities, and as Augustine keeps proving again and again how very dependable he is, her attitude starts to change until she is just as attracted to him as he is to her. There two dance a very slow dance, a playful, entertaining negotiation of sorts. Something is always between them, but the obstacles are genuine and not something fabricated to keep them apart. Trust is incredibly important between them – once things finally align, I have a feeling their romance will be epic.
This is a series I cannot recommend highly enough. Painter has already successfully concluded one UF series, and her experience is clear from everything she writes. Even though I loved House of Comarré, this story is obviously more controlled, and I have no doubt there are plently more fabulous things to come.
Night Shift is an anthology comprised of four stories by two urban fantasy and two paranormal romance authors. I’ve only read the urban fantasy partsNight Shift is an anthology comprised of four stories by two urban fantasy and two paranormal romance authors. I’ve only read the urban fantasy parts since paranormal romance still gives me severe allergies, but the two stories I have read, Magic Steals by Ilona Andrews and Lucky Charms by Lisa Shearin are completely worth the price of this book.
Magic Steals by Ilona Andrews: I expect nothing short of perfection from Ilona and Gordon, and rightfully so. Magic Steals focuses on Jim and Dali, during the time Kate and Curran had spent chasing the panacea in Europe. This is not the first Jim and Dali novella so the two are already a couple, but they are weighed down by Dali’s insecurities and Jim’s position with the pack.
There were times when I intensely disliked Jim and some of the choices he’s made along the way, but Magic Steals shows us a whole new side of him. I didn’t think the man had a romantic bone in his body, but he is a completely different person with Dali, someone who actually knows how to relax and have fun. He is also a very smart guy, which is no news to us, and he has to be to attract someone like Dali. For her part, Dali is portrayed like a real badass in this novella, not so much physically, but certainly magically. Her exact role was previously unclear, but as we learn more, our respect for her grows significantly.
In short, this novella is not to be missed by Kate Daniels fans. Kate and Curran are completely absent, but Jim and Dali are worthy replacement. The action and mythological background are extraordinary, as one would expect from this writing pair. The anthology is worth buying for this story alone.
Lucky Charms by Lisa Shearin is a prequel of sorts to her SPI Files series. I read The Grendel Affair earlier this year and loved it, which made this story even more entertaining to read. We see Makenna Frazier on her first day working for the SPI as a seer. She and her reluctant partner/bodyguard Ian, along with a team of SPI agents, have to locate a leprechaun prince who doesn’t want to be found and prevent a conflict with the goblins while doing it. Mac is given no time to adjust to her new job. The mission is extremely important and since she’s the only one who can recognize the leprechauns even under glamour, her participation is essential.
Shearin’s worldbuilding relies on very familiar creatures and myths. These days, I like to be exposed to something new and unexplored. In this, all urban fantasy authors should take lessons from Ilona Andrews. But even with dragons and leprechauns, goblins and werewolves, Shearin built a full picture that is wildly entertaining. This series is extremely promising and this story makes it even more so, but I’ll reserve my final judgment for January 2015, when the second book comes out.
Overall, Kate Daniels fans, Nalini Singh fans, you know you won’t be able to resist. I’ll probably read Nalini Singh’s story at some point, even with my allergies to paranormal romance.
I'm enjoying the series itself: the plots are great, writing is even better, and the audio narrator does an excellent job. My issue is that I dislikeI'm enjoying the series itself: the plots are great, writing is even better, and the audio narrator does an excellent job. My issue is that I dislike Rachel so much. Hopefully that will change. ...more
4.5 stars What is one of the best things that can happen to urban fantasy enthusiasts? Tim Marquitz starting a new series and creating a new anti-hero,4.5 stars What is one of the best things that can happen to urban fantasy enthusiasts? Tim Marquitz starting a new series and creating a new anti-hero, that’s what! So now that that’s happened, please join me in this happy dance I’m doing all over my house.
Eyes Deep reads like a prequel novella to Tim’s new Clandestine Daze series. I usually hold off on reading prequels until the first book is released, but I strongly advise you to make an exception in this case. Eyes Deep is fairly long (although not a full lenght novel), and the story is strong enough all on its own. In addition, even though this series signifies a more conventional route for Marquitz, his trademark sense of humor still manages to shine through, which makes this a wildly entertaining read.
Theo isn’t one of those anti-heroes whose actions you can rationalize and justify to make them seem better. For one, Theo is not even his real name – Theodor Crane is actually someone he killed in order to assume his identity and spy on humans for his world, Aellisar. And he’s not the only one, there is a trail of bodies in our doppelganger’s wake, bodies that conveniently disappear thanks to his associates, while he only keeps the eyeballs he must consume in order to change shape. Gross, right? Sure, but also kind of awesome.
While the doppelganger doesn’t hesitate to kill when the need arises, he has some scruples when it comes to Theo’s original family, for which I was grateful. It is, as far as I can tell, his only redeeming quality so far. There is a heart under that treacherous body and I’m curious to see how things will develop from here.
The story isn’t just haphazardly thrown together, as is often the case with novellas. While the plot does take a back seat in favor of character development, it’s not underdeveloped in the least. I was fully invested in the events, and more than a bit curious to learn how things would end.
As usual, Marquitz knows exactly what he’s doing. Eyes Deep is yet another proof that this is an author with a sure hand and a strong voice. The advantage of this novella (and the upcoming novels, I’m sure) is that it will make him more accessible to a much wider audience due to a more traditional approach. Since he’s an author whose work I’ve been following for years, I can’t wait for the rest of you to jump on board. Hurry up, will you? There’s so much fun to be had.
You can read Tim's thoughts on his new series HERE, and there's still some time to enter to win a copy of Eyes Deep. ...more
This being the seventh installment in the Charley Davidson series, there really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already. Fans of the seriThis being the seventh installment in the Charley Davidson series, there really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already. Fans of the series already know what they’re signing up for, and those of you who have yet to meet Charley and Reyes… who are you and what are you even doing here, folks?
When First Grave on the Left (or Right, I can never remember that) first came out, I didn’t think Darynda’s wonderful sense of humor would last. Sometimes things that are funny in the beginning end getting old and exhausting pretty darn fast. And yet here we are, seven books later, and the Charley Davidson books are still just as fresh, just as entertaining as they were when her story started. What’s more, the more we know these characters, the longer they are a constant in our lives, the more we crave their company and the laughs they inevitably bring.
While Seventh Grave isn’t my favorite of the series, Darynda gave us exactly what we’ve learned to expect: hilarious Charley at her best and at her worst, a marvelous set of secondary characters, multiple plotlines to follow and Reyes to swoon over. Honestly, what more can a reader possibly need?
In Seventh Grave, Charley, Reyes and their many ridiculous sidekicks prepare to fight the Twelve, twelve hellhounds sent after Charley by some yet undiscovered foe. Scared for Charley and the treasure she carries around with her, Reyes decides to follow her every step and ensure her safety himself. Now really, does that sound like something Charley would endure quietly? No. No, it doesn’t.
So Charley is busy dodging Reyes’s constant attention, solving a multiple murder case for the FBI, trying to find her missing father, dealing with a dead former BFF, messing with other people’s love lives and keeping a goldfish alive. In other words, it’s just another day at Davidson Investigations.
Seventh Grave leaves quite a few things open, which is understandable now that we’re finally getting the big picture. Darynda is uncovering the overall story arc slowly and skillfully, with a fabulous sense of timing. Eighth Grave After Dark will inevitably bring more changes for the gang, but we’ll have to wait until May 19th to learn what they are.
It’s pretty safe to say that the meaty, old-school urban fantasy Susan Krinard writes isn’t for everyone. This series is the epitome of its genre, heaIt’s pretty safe to say that the meaty, old-school urban fantasy Susan Krinard writes isn’t for everyone. This series is the epitome of its genre, heavily based in Norse mythology, with plenty of action but not a whole lot of romance to speak of. The upside, of course, is the abundance of information on Norse mythology, which is both entertaining and very educational. But at the same time, things like character development and humor suffer for it, and there is very little lightness to make this a more pleasurable reading experience for those who are not dedicated fans of the genre itself.
Trying to see Black Ice through the eyes of someone who doesn’t adore the genre itself was sometimes very hard. There is certainly more accessible urban fantasy to be found, and Krinard’s work is far more appropriate for urban fantasy purists. There are, believe it or not, people who prefer their UF free of humor, romance, and other things that serve to dilute and soften the narrative. I myself am not one of them, but I can appreciate what I like to call high urban fantasy on occasion.
Generally, Krinard’s sense of humor leaves a lot to be desired. I was disappointed by it in the first book, and this time it’s even more pronounced: this is an author who seems to be wholly unfamiliar with the concept of comic relief. In a narrative so heavily burdened with mythology, ancient weapons, gods and goddesses, a humorous remark here and there would have made a world of difference. As it is, there are parts that seem a bit dry and hard to get through.
Truth be told, this book also needed more in the way of character development. Mist’s powers continue to grow rapidly, reflecting the fact that she’s not just a regular Valkyrie, but daughter of the goddess Freya herself. While her powers grow almost beyond control, Mist remains the same. She is the quiet, stoic heroine, almost to the point of being bland. She has very few defining qualities and no faults to speak of, which makes it very hard for us to see her as an actual person and sympathize with her.
It needs to be said that the worldbuilding here is quite spectacular. Admittedly, it relies heavily on Norse mythology, but I was impressed both by Krinard’s research and by her use of mythological figures. Loki, of course, causes mayhem on every turn (try reading this without picturing Tom Hiddleston as Loki, I dare you), and Freya, a silent threat so very distant but so present at the same time, was even more impressive.
My emotional investment starts and ends with Loki’s son Danny, an autistic boy too powerful not to be considered a threat to gods. Krinard was very smart to include him in this installment, not only because he makes us feel protective, but because he makes Loki a far more interesting villain.
Overall, I will be reading the next book, despite the flaws mentioned. There are things that could have been better, but there’s also plenty to admire. This series may not be for everyone, but I’m already deeply invested in it.
Yes, it’s finally that time of the year – Charley Davidson is back with us, in all her glory, to amuse and entertain, to make us laugh and even breakYes, it’s finally that time of the year – Charley Davidson is back with us, in all her glory, to amuse and entertain, to make us laugh and even break our hearts.
Charley’s world is becoming more complicated by the second. Eighth Grave finally offers some answers, but with them come even more questions and uncertainties. Darynda Jones knows how to give us just enough, intrigue us even more, and leave us begging for the next installment.
Eighth Grave is more static than the previous book due to Charley and Reyes being geographically limited. Instead of running all over the place and jumping from one case to the next, Charley is closed up in a convent, unable to leave the premises. This limits her ability to investigate, but she wouldn’t be Charley if she didn’t find ways around her. Mystery follows our girl everywhere, why should an abandoned convent be any different?
Eighth Grave may be a slower book, but it’s a game changer nevertheless. It’s one of the most emotionally charged Charley Davidson books to date and as usual, you can expect laughs and tears both. Most of us who read Seventh Grave already suspected that things would never be the same, but none of us could have predicted where Jones would choose to take it all in the end. The changes are scary for Charley and they’re very scary for us fans. For the first time since the beginning, even after all the hardship, the injuries and the losses, we don’t know how our beloved character might change.
The ending is not a cliffhanger as such, but it’s wide open and it gives us a clear idea of what to expect in the next book, which will undoubtedly be very emotional for all of us. However, the set up, the brand new situation our heroes find themselves in, will likely be a source of hilarity too. Things usually are where Charley’s involved. The release of Ninth Grave has been pushed to 2016, which I’m none too thrilled about, but I’d wait forever for Charley and Reyes. What’s nine months between friends?
Nothing like a good anti-hero to brighten up one’s day! And in the army of anti-heroes I’ve met in my life, Ethan Banning is, without doubt, one of thNothing like a good anti-hero to brighten up one’s day! And in the army of anti-heroes I’ve met in my life, Ethan Banning is, without doubt, one of the very best. He is private detective who constantly struggles with what he calls the Voice and what is in fact a demon that possessed him during one of his cases.
The Voice isn’t taking it easy on Ethan. It constantly whispers into his ear, telling him to hurt people and even kill them. The two are in a constant battle and make no mistake, Ethan is not winning. There are times when his plight is so terrible, so utterly humiliating, that we get a sudden ad strong urge to step in and put him out of his misery. Just imagine and evil creature living inside of you, able to use you as its mouthpiece and speak impossibly vile things with your very own lips. Poor Ethan, is he not? There is just enough shame and regret in him to make our guts clench in sympathy, although Ethan sometimes makes even that extremely hard.
But even demon-possessed and miserable, Ethan must do his job to survive, and his strength lies in finding missing persons. When a case lands on his table, a sort of quid-pro-quo arrangement, Ethan sets out to find a missing college professor. The investigation takes Ethan to Beacon’s Point, a small town by the ocean with a very xenophobic population. Beacon’s Point makes an extremely claustrophobic setting, and even though Ethan finds a sidekick of sorts (not counting his dog Mutt, of course), all doors are closed to him and his investigation is extremely difficult.
There are two prequel novellas you can read before going into this book – one before Ethan was possessed and one after – but it’s not necessary to read them in order to enjoy this novel. Ethan will tell you all you need to know, and truth be told, you don’t really need to know much. And anyway, the Voice will tell you more than you ever wanted to hear.
Naomi Clark is an experienced author, and it shows. This is dark urban fantasy folks, dark and depressing, but certainly worth your time.
The Weird Girls series has been a constant favorite ever since the prequel novella was released, but The Cursed Bloodline, its fourth (and hopefully nThe Weird Girls series has been a constant favorite ever since the prequel novella was released, but The Cursed Bloodline, its fourth (and hopefully not final) installment left something to be desired. Apparently there’s such a thing as too much violence, even in urban fantasy, because there came a point in the second half of this book where I just felt that enough was enough.
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time with Celia – I honestly did. Being so familiar with a set of characters has its advantages, the most important being the easiness with which we rejoin them every time. Spending time with them is extremely comfortable, and I’m always eager to learn more about their lives. Emme’s heartbreaking story was particularly important in this installment and her quiet strength and elegance provoked a deep sense of admiration in me. Being someone’s second choice, even when that someone holds no blame whatsoever, would break even the strongest of hearts, but Emme held her head high and her dignity intact.
The thing this book sorely lacks, however, that the others had in spades, is structure. There is simply too much of everything – too much violence, too much drama, too many tragedies and far too many miscommunications – to the point where it all became a heavy burden for the narrative that ended up resembling a too vivid patchwork quilt, but without a solid binding to hold it all together. It was quite overwhelming at times, and unnecessarily difficult throughout.
Another very odd move on Robson’s part was that she didn’t give us a chance to witness the big villain’s demise. Since Celia wasn’t completely present for it, we missed it as well, and it was horribly anticlimactic and disappointing. I felt that this huge, important villain, the strongest of them all so far, tortured, killed and maimed, did irreparable damage to both Celia and Aric, only to disappear from one sentence to the next. Disappointing? Why yes, it certainly was.
However, please don’t make the mistake of giving up on this series before you even started. One weak(er) installment aside, this is really good urban fantasy, and definitely worth your time. Make sure to give it a try or you’ll really be missing out.
A Curse Awakened is another prequel novella in Cecy Robson's Weird Girls series (one was released before the first novel). It takes place right beforeA Curse Awakened is another prequel novella in Cecy Robson's Weird Girls series (one was released before the first novel). It takes place right before the girls gained their full powers, which I thought was very interesting. The curse that was placed on them by a distant relative remained more on less a mystery until now, and it was great to learn more about it. The curse, it seems, actually backfired, but while the girls didn’t die like they should have, they didn’t reach their full potential either. So when Celia’s first boyfriend Danny (fans of the series undoubtedly know and love the shy geek) comes to her for help because the vampires kidnapped his father, the girls have to find a way to deal with the curse and become stronger before they run to his rescue.
I never thought I’d say this, but it was nice to see the girls when it was just the four of them, before all the romantic drama that follows. Cecy writes her action scenes very well and in this novella the focus is firmly on that. On the other hand, I was reminded of Taran’s excessive rudeness which made me glad that she mellowed out later in the story. Celia's role as the protector of her family was even more important before their entanglement with weres and vampires. I loved being reminded of her strength.
A Curse Awakened is great for those already familiar with the series, but it can be a great introduction for someone still on the fence about reading it. It will give you a great feel of these characters and Cecy’s writing, and I have a feeling it will push you in the right direction, i.e. towards these books. After all, what’s not to like?
After more than ten books in her Night Huntress world, Jeaniene Frost bravely decided to do something else entirely. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy transiAfter more than ten books in her Night Huntress world, Jeaniene Frost bravely decided to do something else entirely. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy transition for her just like it isn’t easy for us readers to adapt, but was it successful? I’d say the jury’s still out.
The world of Broken Destiny is not an original one. We’ve read about angels and demons battling it out far too many times to count. Yet Jeaniene Frost somehow managed to put a slightly different spin on this never-ending battle which I enjoyed immensely. Her worldbuilding was detailed and gorgeously described, the dark and violent realms depicted in finest detail. Ivy’s world and its many creatures are this book’s biggest strength and I can’t wait to see them developed even further.
The same, however, cannot be said about the romance. Just like the battle of angels and demons, he star-crossed lovers trope has been done one too many times, and there’s nothing to make Ivy and Adrian stand out. The amount of instalove and insta-trust was just creepy and the whole reason for staying apart not convincing at all. To make matters worse, Adrian is the epitome of tortured hero, without a shred of charm to soften the blow.
I’ll continue the series simply because Jeaniene Frost is writing it. If Ivy and Adrian manage to find a sense of humor in time for the next book, all the better. There’s definitely hope for Ivy, but Adrian and humor were never officially introduced.
4.5 stars The Oversight is Charlie Fletcher’s first foray into adult fiction, but the control he has over his complex narrative is astonishing. Told fr4.5 stars The Oversight is Charlie Fletcher’s first foray into adult fiction, but the control he has over his complex narrative is astonishing. Told from multiple perspectives, The Oversight is a complicated web of episodes that combine perfectly into a breathtaking and well-executed story. Admittedly, due to its complexity, the beginning might be a bit slower for some, but once the pieces start coming together, The Oversight becomes practically unputdownable.
Set in a version of Victorian London in which the supranaturals secretly rule the foggy streets, The Oversight is deeply atmospheric and gorgeous. One can almost feel the humidity of those nights, smell the houses, shops and dark corners our heroes police. The Oversight, you see, is short for Free Company for the Regulation and Oversight of Recondite Exigency and Supranatural Lore, a group of supranaturals that watches the shadows and keeps other supranaturals in line.
Once upon a time, the Oversight had numerous members, hundreds of people dedicated to keeping London safe. But the Oversight Fletcher introduces us to has gone through serious changes and disasters. With only five members, they can’t afford to lose anyone else. Five need to remain together to make a Hand, or the Oversight ceases to exist.
When young Lucy Harker is brought to Sara Falk’s house, it’s clear from the start that she is supranaturally gifted. In her, Sara sees an opportunity to strengthen the Oversight, but she could very well be send by their enemies as some sort of elaborate trap. Sara and the others are forced to decide whether she’s worth the risk.
As the Oversight battles various enemies, their own moral ambiguity is brought to light. Fletcher doesn’t deliver absolutes – the more of this story we read, the clearer it becomes that everything exist in a gray area and new questions and turns keep taking us by surprise.
Overall, The Oversight is a pretty spectacular historical urban fantasy, not to be missed by fans of the genre, fans of atmospheric books, fans of Victorian London, or fans of great literature in general. Fortunately for me, it’s a trilogy. I have so much to look forward to.
Stop by the blog tomorrow for my second ever Nocturnal Quote, chosen from this book.
Just recently Chloe Neill announced that she’ll be ending her Chicagoland Vampires series with book 13. While I’ll be very sad to say goodbye to theseJust recently Chloe Neill announced that she’ll be ending her Chicagoland Vampires series with book 13. While I’ll be very sad to say goodbye to these characters, I feel that she’s made the right decision. The series has been noticeably losing steam and the last few books have become just a tiny bit repetitive and predictable. However, predictable can be as comfortable as a warm blanket, and when you add to that a bunch of characters you’re very familiar with, you get a recipe for a very pleasant afternoon.
I’ve been with this series from the start, through excitement, disappointment and everything in between. I’ve loved Merit and Ethan and I’ve suffered with them. I feel like I know them inside and out, which is the absolute best, especially in my favorite genre.
This time around, the vampire that created (and tormented) Ethan, a vampire supposedly dead for centuries, is suddenly in Chicago threatening everything Ethan and Merit have created. To make matters worse, Merit’s ex-boyfriend and leader of the Navarre house, Morgan, is neck-deep in trouble and asking Cadogan for help.
This installment was very emotional for the usually unflappable Merit. She’s always so confident, so sure of her place in the world, but everything was thoroughly shaken this time around and her struggles were extremely hard. I loved seeing the supportive side of Ethan, who remained by her side the entire time. These two have become such a wonderful, mature couple. They’ve finally started communicating openly and completely honestly, and now that there’s nothing between them, I’m enjoying every moment we see them together.
The main thing that bothers me, that has always bothered me in this series is its very short time span. We’ve spent years with these characters, but for them, a lot less time has passed, which makes everything that’s happened to them all the more stressful and far too unlikely. The short time affects the romance as well – it’s much harder for me to believe in its strength when it’s only been a year and a half or so, and Ethan and Merit have had maybe two peaceful days during that time.
Aside from that, though, this is undoubtedly one of my UF favorites, a series I keep going back to whenever I need something familiar and comfortable, and yet exciting at the same time. Neill certainly knows what she’s doing, and I hope that her new series will be just as good.
When this book first came my way, I didn’t recognize the name Rachel Aaron and was surprised when a friend talked about her like she’s someone I’m supWhen this book first came my way, I didn’t recognize the name Rachel Aaron and was surprised when a friend talked about her like she’s someone I’m supposed to be very familiar with. The joke’s on me though, guys, because Rachel Aaron is Rachel Bach, author of the Paradox trilogy, published by Orbit, which I’m currently enjoying in audio format.
For reasons I can only assume, Aaron/Bach chose to take the self-published route with her new Heartstrikers series, and while I’m sure promoting it will be more difficult, I have a feeling traditional publishers would have tried to tame this book, change it to make it fit into the usual genre confines and definitions. Trying to turn a book like Nice Dragons Finish Last into something less than it actually is would be akin to cold-blooded murder.
Nice Dragons Finish Last has elements of urban fantasy, science fiction and futuristic dystopia, combined in a way that works splendidly. The story takes place in a futuristic version of Detroit called Detroit Free Zone, where magic came back with a bang after a comet strike in 2035. It is the only place where dragons are absolutely illegal and it’s where Julius’s mother decided to dump him, bound in his human form, with merely a month to prove himself as a worthy dragon.
According to his family, Julius is a poor excuse for a dragon. He has very little ambition and no violent tendencies whatsoever. He’s in no hurry to outsmart anyone and he doesn’t much care about collecting treasure. From a dragon’s perspective he is essentially useless and his numerous family members don’t hesitate to tell him so loudly and as often as possible. Even with merely a month to impress them, Julius can’t quite force himself to be the dragon his mother wants him to be. While certainly resourceful, he is soft-hearted and kind, and very reluctant to step on anyone’s toes.
The real fun starts when Julius teams up with a young witch from Nevada. After that, it’s one hilarious adventure after another for the two of them. Aaron did an excellent job with these characters as well as several secondary ones, especially Julius’s brother Bob who is a constant source of amusement.
I hesitate to reveal any plot points since I feel that it's best to go into this blindly. Urban fantasy fans, fans of dragons and especially fans of good humor will find plenty to love about Rachel Aaron’s new series. I certainly did.
After the pivotal 7th installment, I spent about 0.236 seconds worrying about this book and wondering whether the series would successfully find a ne
After the pivotal 7th installment, I spent about 0.236 seconds worrying about this book and wondering whether the series would successfully find a new direction. It didn’t take me long to remember who I was dealing with – Ilona and Gordon have never failed me before, and they keep proving themselves over and over again. No downturns for Kate, and certainly none for this fabulous husband-and-wife writing team.
Magic Shifts opens up a new chapter for Kate and Curran. It’s a different one, but no less scary and adventure-filled. Some of the dangers they face are the same, and some are completely new and challenging. We see them in a completely different situation, removed from everything we used to take for granted, but the newness of it all isn’t uncomfortable. In fact, only thirty pages in, it was time to recognize that Ilona and Gordon made the right choice for their characters and the series.
Stepping away from the Pack doesn’t necessarily mean losing some of our favorite secondary characters, which was my biggest fear going in. Kate and Curran might be magnets for trouble, but they are also magnets for violent, deranged and insanely loyal shapeshifters. Most of the usual suspects are back in full force, and the humor they bring with them is stronger than ever.
As usual, Gordon and Ilona don’t recycle their mythology. It’s my very favorite thing about Kate Daniels – the opportunity to learn something new and admire the amount of research each and every time. This time, the story is centered around lesser known Islamic myths and as usual, it is accurate, precise and done tastefully. These two always do their homework very thoroughly, and it’s what makes their series the very best urban fantasy has to offer.
Surprisingly, aside from being a constant rollercoaster of action and banter, this book pushes the limits of emotionality by giving us moments of profound sadness and genuine fear, unlike anything we’ve seen before. The messes Kate tends to find herself in are always challenging and alarming to a point, but up until now, we’ve always known that things would turn out well in the end. In Magic Shifts, that certainty is finally removed and we’re left with this heavy feeling in our chests that refuses to go away. There were parts of this book that were heartbreaking for me, more so because they were unexpected, and in the end, with some distance, I concluded that these authors keep growing and taking us in unexpected directions, and instead of going stale, they just keep getting better every single time.
By now, Ilona Andrews spoiled us for all other urban fantasy author. We’ve learned to expect perfection because it’s pretty much what we always get from them and we won’t settle for anything less. But it’s all right. They write, we read, and the world keeps spinning.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review....more
A whole lot of time has passed between books three and four in Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, and yet most of us haven’t forgotten a single thing aA whole lot of time has passed between books three and four in Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, and yet most of us haven’t forgotten a single thing about Fair Game or any of the previous books. The explanation is rather simple: it’s all due to the quality of Briggs’ writing. She is, and always was, incredible. I dare say she’s the reigning queen of urban fantasy.
Dead Heat is not her best book to date, though, not even close, but Briggs at her weakest is still better than 90% other authors. It read at times like a filler book, and it was, on occasion, more an ode to horses than anything else. Patty loves her horses and she knows them well – understanding their behavior has influenced her writing greatly, and in fact, the way she writes her werewolves is heavily influenced by her knowledge of animal psychology. She raises horses and spends every day around them, which makes her books truly special. In this installment, however, she took things just a tiny bit too far, offering a lot more information on breeding and raising horses than her story actually needed.
That aside, it’s always a pleasure to see how her characters develop and behave. Charles and Anna have progressed so much, and while it’s more obvious on her, his changes seem a lot more significant. I didn’t understand the need to bring in another woman as Charles’ former love interest, but while it bothered me as these things usually do, it also showed how much more confident Anna has become and how firmly she believes in her marriage.
The mystery elements were very nicely done and that part of the story progressed at an excellent pace. This is where Patty’s experience really comes to light – she weaves her stories expertly and smoothly, balancing romance, creepy moments, dreadful monsters and character development with seeming ease. She is the absolute best at what she does and I hope she’ll keep writing stories in this universe for many more years to come.
Her next book will be in the Mercy Thompson series and as far as I know, the next Alpha & Omega book has yet to be announced, but things happen on a firm timeline and, with each new installment, the two series are brought closer and closer together. I feel that they’ll collide at some point, especially now that war with the fae seems more or less inevitable.
4.5 stars. Wow. Those of us who are familiar with Kristen Painter House of Comarré series knew to expect great things from her new urban fantasy advent4.5 stars. Wow. Those of us who are familiar with Kristen Painter House of Comarré series knew to expect great things from her new urban fantasy adventure. However, I don’t think any of us expected this level of improvement over her previous work. As good as House of Comarre was, the Crescent City series is urban fantasy at its best, a shining star that promises to be even brighter in future installments. The two series are even vaguely linked, but rest assured, once can be fully enjoyed and understood without the other.
House of the Rising Sun is mostly told from two points of view: those of Augustine Rabelais and Harlow Goodwin. I connection with the two protagonists, Augustine especially, is instant and very strong. The prologue reveals a single scene from Augistine’s dreadful childhood which immediately causes us to develop protective feelings toward him, feelings that only strengthen once we discover what kind of man he’s become. The amount of strength and resolve he must have needed to outgrow such horrendous circumstances and become a charming, upstanding man is admiration worthy and quite staggering.
Harlow is a bit more difficult to understand and like, at least at first. While Augustine learned kindness from those who were kind to him – namely his benefactor Olivia Goodwin – Harlow had no such opportunities. The Harlow we meet is closed and self-centered, focused on her own needs and careless of other people’s feelings. She’s a bit spoiled and so afraid of everything, and she constantly hides behind her computer screen, preferring a life online to actual human contact. But as Harlow starts caring about those around her, our own affection for her grows stronger, and by the time we finish the story, she is just as dear to us as Augustine.
Augustine and Harlow are complete opposites in everything, but their attraction is undeniable. This being a real urban fantasy novel and not a paranormal romance disguised as one, the focus is primarily on the war between the fae and vampires, a war in which our Augustine, as fae Guardian of New Orleans, has a lead position. The romance, however, is a constant subtle presence in the background, and only Harlow’s reluctance to trust keeps things from progressing too fast. As it is, the slow burn of their feelings is a true delight and we’re left with so much to look forward to in future installments.
House of the Risings Sun is without question the best new urban fantasy I’ve come across in a very long time. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Well, it’s official: when it comes to urban fantasy, Amanda Carlson can do no wrong. Her fourth book in the Jessica McClain series is her fourth succeWell, it’s official: when it comes to urban fantasy, Amanda Carlson can do no wrong. Her fourth book in the Jessica McClain series is her fourth success in a row, which is no small feat. Admittedly, it might be my least favorite of the four, but that’s only because the competition is so strong. All things considered, this is one of the strongest, most consistent urban fantasy series still being published.
Red Blooded takes Jessica McClain to the demon realm in search of her twin Tyler, who was taken from her at the very end of the previous book. Instead of going with a group of paranormals and friends, Jessica ends up there alone through a series of unfortunate events, and she wanders around quite a bit before reuniting with the others. Instead of bringing a new freshness to the series as I’m sure it was supposed to, the complete change of setting succeeded in alienating us from the secondary characters we’ve grown to love. In addition, the entire demon realm adventure seemed directionless and it was difficult to understand why Carlson chose to make such a move.
On the other hand, the demon realm itself was a very vivid and imaginative setting. I loved She’ol, the demon capital, and all the different kinds of demons there. Their social structure was described fairly well and untangling the rules of their society provided a lot of entertainment. That’s the sort of thing urban fantasy readers usually enjoy, and here it was done very well.
As always, I found Jessica’s relationship with her wolf and their rather odd dynamic quite fascinating. She’s not a regular shapeshifter like the ones we’re used to. Jessica and her wolf are two completely separate entities that share a body, and they communicate directly, especially when in danger. On the down side, Jessica is slowly turning into one of those all-powerful urban fantasy heroines, the ones that have no limits whatsoever, and it’s slowly becoming too much. The line isn’t far, though, and Carlson’s going to have to be very careful not to cross it.
Right now, however, this is a very strong, very reliable series and I hope it stays that way. With all the cross-genre novels that are currently being published, true urban fantasy books are increasingly difficult to find, and Jessica McClain series is UF in its purest form. That fact alone makes it special and worth your time.
After the brilliant Magic Breaks, Burn for Me further proves that Ilona and Gordon can do whatever the hell they want and it will always be gloriouslyAfter the brilliant Magic Breaks, Burn for Me further proves that Ilona and Gordon can do whatever the hell they want and it will always be gloriously entertaining!
Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and good UF from Ilona Andrews. There aren’t many authors who can be counted upon to always deliver the best, but Ilona and Gordon are among them. Burn for Me is just another in a long string of successes for this husband-and-wife writing team.
Please don’t let the cover and the title mislead you. Burn for Me is not paranormal romance. In fact, it’s urban fantasy in its purest form, with only a hint of romantic development to keep things even more entertaining. Ilona and Gordon once again did what they do best – they created a compelling world and filled it with fascinating characters and plenty of danger and action.
Nevada Baylor is a heroine with a backbone of steel, just the way I like them. She carries some heavy burdens and makes some hard decisions along the way, but she’s never indecisive or weak. Her family is also very colorful, starting with her grandma Frida and ending with her young cousin with a man-crush on Mad Rogan.
And then there’s Mad Rogan himself (and yes, he actually answers to that name). He has the looks, the money and the unimaginable power. In short, he has everything but Nevada Baylor’s trust, and he’s determined to get it (and consequently her) at any cost. Their relationship starts with a kidnapping, involves things like snipers and duct tape, and ends with a juicy promise and lots of pent-up passion. Lots and lots of pent-up heat and unfulfilled desires. Their interactions are hilarious, the dialogue witty and quick, Ilona-Andrews-style, and the promise of things to come is more than enough to keep us fully invested and desperate for the next installment.
The worldbuilding is considerably different from their other series, and it’s where this fabulous duo shines. I loved their version of Houston, and the quality of their writing made the short world-establishing prologue almost unnecessary. They have a way of including just enough information for the story to function smoothly, never overwhelming the reader, never creating confusion and never ever info-dumping.
I don’t give five stars often, nor do I do it lightly, but this book deserves more praise than I can possibly give. All I can say after this is ‘more, please’.
4.5 stars Bloggers and journalists have discussed at length the sudden popularity of serial novels, and not succeeded in finding a reason for it. Seria4.5 stars Bloggers and journalists have discussed at length the sudden popularity of serial novels, and not succeeded in finding a reason for it. Serial novels have a long tradition, but for a time it seemed that they were almost forgotten. Dating all the way from 19th century, they played a monumental part in creating the so called popular literature. In other words, they helped books find their place in popular culture.
From what I've been able to find out, Penguin and St. Martin's in particular seem determined to give serial novels a new life. But it wasn't until both Ilona Andrews and Seanan McGuire wrote theirs that I started believing this project would actually succeed.
Indexing was first published in a serial format on Amazon. The readers paid for the whole thing right away and downloaded a new part when it became available. Since it wasn’t available to international readers at first, I had to wait for the completed novel to be published, for which I ended up being thankful, since I’m not known for my patience, and the story is very compelling.
Don't mistake Indexing for a fairy tale. That's not at all what it is. Instead, it's a story about sentient, malevolent narratives. As for the characters, McGuire took the whole concept of archetypes and built upon it, using her vast knowledge on fairy tales (and literary theory) and combining it with extraordinary imagination to turn old stories into something we've never seen before. Whatever Seanan McGuire writes (be it under her own name or as Mira Grant), has her trademark combination of extensive research and wicked sense of humor. Worldbuilding-wise, Indexing is perhaps one of the most interesting things I've ever read.
Like most of McGuire’s novels, Indexing is cleverly subversive, serving a healthy helping of social activism with the already interesting story. McGuire always makes her point, but never in a way that could make her readers uncomfortable. Her messages are subtle, but clear, whether they’re allegories, or straightforward (in this case, the point was made through a very sympathetic transgender character).
Indexing is a product of superb intelligence and vast imagination, and as such, it’s worthy of your time. It pushes the boundaries of its genre, and it certainly pushes readers to expect more from genre fiction.
Thanks to a lucky streak, I've discovered a few fantastic indie reads lately, and Nameless by Mercedes Yardley is a shiny star among them. It is a darThanks to a lucky streak, I've discovered a few fantastic indie reads lately, and Nameless by Mercedes Yardley is a shiny star among them. It is a dark and edgy mix of genres, a novelty both in urban fantasy and in horror. As an author, Yardley makes her own way, leaving behind all well-worn paths and familiar tropes. If you think we've seen it all, think again. With Nameless, surprises are around every corner.
Nameless came to my hands entirely by accident. I so rarely accept random review requests these days, but I've heard a great many wonderful things about Ragnarok Publications and I was determined to give them a chance. After reading Nameless, I'll never hesitate to buy one of their titles again.
Luna Masterson has been seeing demons since she was a little girl. She inherited the horrible ability from her father, a wonderful, yet tortured man who killed himself years ago. Luna and her brother are all alone, and they live together in Seth's house and raise Seth's baby daughter all on their own. Luna is far from your average heroine. She is headstrong, prickly and extremely difficult, but the amount of sympathy she provokes makes all her faults instantly forgivable. Despite being a bit hard to like at times, Luna is a character I had no trouble understanding. Her awful temper and solitary ways are a direct consequence of her ability, and she's always quick to hurt those she cares about before they get a chance to hurt her.
The secondary characters are every bit as strong and well-developed as Luna herself. The moment Luna meets Reed Taylor, it's clear how important he'll become in the overall storyline and his character is developed accordingly from the start. Their relationship did feel a bit like instalove, but it was so multi-layered and messed up that the term simply didn't apply. My favorite character by far, though, was Mouth, a demon determined to help Luna in any way he can, even if said help was less than welcome. In order to accept and even befriend Mouth, Luna had to overcome years of ingrained prejudices, but she did it in her usual prickly and obnoxious manner.
It should be said that the elements of horror become stronger as the story progresses and that the final part is especially gruesome and disgusting. But even if you're not a fan, trust me when I say it's worth it. The emotional impact this book had on me is a rare and beautiful thing and I doubt it would fail to touch any of you.
There were a few minor problems I cannot talk about for fear of spoiling the delightfully unpredictable plot. Some very important moments felt rushed and not properly explained, and the choices some characters made (one character in particular) seemed far too extreme. There was also the small matter of Luna referring to Reed Taylor as 'Reed Taylor', name and last name, every single time*, which certainly took away from my reading enjoyment and threatened to drive me bonkers. That said, Nameless is a read not to be missed at any cost and Mercedes Yardley an author who will surely give us many more exciting reads.
*I call this an estepism after Jennifer Estep, who used to do the exact same thing with her character Donovan Caine.
There’s something to be said about a series that’s reliably good even after ten installments. Chicagoland Vampires may not be my favorite urban fantasThere’s something to be said about a series that’s reliably good even after ten installments. Chicagoland Vampires may not be my favorite urban fantasy ever, but it’s certainly on my list of favorites. And as other series disappoint me and the list gets shorter, Chloe Neill can be counted on to deliver. That’s not to say that the series didn’t have its ups and downs. There was a low point a few books back that’s pretty much forgiven and forgotten. The last few books have been excellent and the next few will likely be fabulous as well.
In Blood Games, Merit, Ethan and Jonah investigate the death of an ally. The son of a detective, a well-known friend of vampires no less, has been brutally murdered. The manner of his death blatantly points to vampires themselves, which can be taken as a warning to those who help them, or as a direct move against Merit’s kind.
On top of that, Ethan is right in the middle of a major political battle, and the story arc about GP is finally brought to its boiling point. I have to say I was a bit surprised, but very happy with how it was resolved. The alternative had the potential to ruin the series, not to mention Ethan and Merit’s relationship.
Ethan Sullivan, I’m afraid, is his usual stubborn self. No matter how many times he gets burned for being stubborn and difficult in his relationship with Merit, the man just never learns. Honestly, by now Merit should have thought of some sort of cruel and unusual punishment for this type of behavior, preferably something that includes Ethan on display with very little clothes on. Or you know, none. Through it all, though, Merit was consistently mature. She handled the situation with her usual calmness and grace. She, apparently, learned a lot, while Ethan remained frustratingly oblivious.
The secondary characters remain just as strong. I’m surprised by how much I’ve warmed up to Jonah, considering my initial feelings about him. But I like discovering his character, finding out details that further convince me of his intelligence and integrity. Neill has had a lot of time to develop his personality, and she’s done an amazing job of it.
I love these guys so much by now and I can’t wait to continue their adventure.