Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega Graphic Novel, Vol 1) is aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy Click to see full review with images
Alpha and Omega: Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega Graphic Novel, Vol 1) is a collection of the first four Alpha and Omega comic adaptations of the CRY WOLF novel by Patrica Briggs. In addition to the stunning cover by Dan Dos Santos, there are four issue covers inside by Jenny Frison that are just gorgeous:
The majority of the art is by Todd Herman and it captures the action of Briggs’ story nicely and does a decent job of conveying conveys the numerous flashback moments. The characters themselves are also well drawn (although Anna pulls a few very odd and distracting faces).
I don’t think you can fully grasp the story if you haven’t read the novel since characterization and plotlines are necessarily condensed, but if you have read CRY WOLF, it is so much fun to see Anna and Charles and the rest of the wolves (Mercy even shows up). I’m twice as invested in the Alpha and Omega series now and will look forward to the next graphic novel volume as well as the next novel.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Implied assault. Brief sex scene ...more
Reminiscent of Charles de Lint and Patricia Briggs, WRITTEN IN RED is urban fantasy the way it should be wrReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Reminiscent of Charles de Lint and Patricia Briggs, WRITTEN IN RED is urban fantasy the way it should be written. There is nowhere near enough space here to describe everything that I loved about this book, so I’ll just touch on a few. From the moment Meg stumbled into the Others land, half frozen, and sighed with relief at the H.L.D.N.A sign (Human Law Does Not Apply), I was intrigued. When the terra indigene (shifters, vampires, and elementals) she met spoke quite candidly about how they regularly ate humans for infractions as minor as trespassing or failing to leave a store the second it closed, I was hooked. That same sense of wonder and delight only increased as I learned about Meg and the cassandra sangue (blood prophets) who were treated like property by their Controllers.
As a protagonist, I’ve never encountered a character quite like Meg. Kept locked up and educated only in ways that would help her describe her prophecies, she’s only ever seen pictures and small videos of life, never experienced them for herself, until she escapes and discovers a different kind of danger with the Others. And yet, unlike most humans, she’s not paralyzed with fear and hatred by the terra indigene. She shows them kindness because it had been the one thing she’d always been denied, and in return, they don’t eat her. Gradually, they begin to rely on one another and Meg even befriends some of the most lethal of their kind.
WRITTEN IN RED isn’t just the best urban fantasy of this year, it may be one of the best ever. The Others are not softened or even humanized in any way. They don’t pursue romantic relationships with their food and they make no apologies for the way they live. There is an awe inspiring sense of pride and protectiveness that they posses, almost a code that brought to mind the wolf packs in Patricia Briggs books. The characters are brilliantly realized with flaws and strengths uniquely theirs, and the writing is textured and inviting. The worldbuilding, though, is the true star of the story, just as it should be in urban fantasy.
WRITTEN IN RED is my favorite urban fantasy since Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews wooed me into a forever love affair with this genre. From the gorgeous and frightening world that is similar but deliciously other from ours, to the tightly written suspense plot, and the characters who are so primal and wild and so very not human. I can’t gush enough. I plan to devour Ms. Bishop’s backlist while I endure the wait for the next book in The Others series.
There is always a challenge when it comes to characters who suffer from amnesia. It can feel like the readeReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There is always a challenge when it comes to characters who suffer from amnesia. It can feel like the reader is just as confused as they are. In CONJURED, Sarah Beth Durst handles this conundrum better than most by creating a hazy but still intriguing reality for her short-term memory challenged protagonist with surprising bursts of information well paced throughout the book. Oh and the literally magical kisses didn’t hurt.
If you aren’t already a fan of Sarah Beth Durst (and you should be) she’s deft at handling both irreverent humor and tender drama, the later of which shines in CONJURED. Eve is so lost in the beginning, literally, she will suddenly become aware in the middle of breakfast and have no idea how much time she’s lost, who she can trust, and what parts of her life are real. It’s fascinating in a teen Momento kind of way.
On the downside, the depth of plot and character that seemed necessary for this kind of story never really manifested fully. Neither Eve, Zach, Adrian, Marcus, or Lou felt as rich or as real as they should have (Aunt Nikki was the one character who did have real depth). The concept–once it was fully explained–fell short in taking advantage of how cool it really was–and it was very cool. I wanted more information about the intricacies of the Witness Protection Program (WPP) and how the paranormal branch functioned, because it’s such a fascinating premise. Likewise, as sweet and adorable as Zach was, I wanted a little more authentic reaction from him when he learned about Eve. He was way too easy going and accepting. And I wanted the romance that developed to be more swoon-worthy than it ended up being.
Still love Sarah Beth Durst. Still wildly intrigued by the premise and ultimate resolution of CONJURED. Still applauding the way Eve’s amnesia was handled in such a way that readers can experience her confusion without having to be frustrated by uncertainty within the story itself. Wish it was the start of a series about the paranormal WPP. Wish all the characters were as three-dimensional as they should have been. Wish the overall story had been as robust as it could have been and almost was. Wish more books had truly magical kisses.
Readers who are looking for a change of pace from the numerous hardcore and gritty urban fantasy series onReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Readers who are looking for a change of pace from the numerous hardcore and gritty urban fantasy series on the shelves will find a decidedly lighter, more fun series in Linda Grimes’ In a Fix books. Both IN A FIX and QUICK FIX are a bit wacky, a lot sexy, and very much in the vein of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.
Rather than devote copious amounts of time explaining the worldbuilding that produces individuals who can assume the appearance (or aura) of others, QUICK FIX states the fact and a couple little references to genetics and plunges right into the action. In this case it involves absconding from the zoo with baby orangutans, wrangling said baby orangutan and trying to get it to revert back into the little girl it started out as, staying sane at the annual aura adapter ball that her mother hosts, fending off amorous guys while impersonating one brother and busting out of prison while impersonating the other. Mix in murder, cheaters, and two guys who refuse to share her, and you’ve got the fun and fizzy QUICK FIX.
Back to the two guys. Yowza was the romantic tension fun. We’ve got Billy, the notorious flirt and childhood-tormentor-turned-suitor determined to win her using all of the skills he’s spent a lifetime perfecting. Then there’s Mark, the guy she always wanted and can’t seem to say no to even while doubting the reasons behind his sudden intense and bold attraction. It’s enough to spin any girl’s head and it’s a blast to read.
Apart from the romance, the zany plot twists were a little crazy and the numerous characters a little challenging to keep straight. The main trio are so appealing that the other characters can feel in the way more often than not. And while the straightforward worldbuilding is a snap to comprehend, I’d love to see it get a little juicier in book three to match the killer romance that just keeps getting better.
Sexual Content: Moderately graphic sex. References to M/M/F sex...more
Did you see the 80′s comedy Weird Science? It was about a couple of teen guys who used a computer to createReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Did you see the 80′s comedy Weird Science? It was about a couple of teen guys who used a computer to create the perfect woman. EVE AND ADAM is kind of the classier version flipped on its head. Eve in this story isn’t a sex crazed teen goofing off, she’s a bright, funny girl whose mother happens to be a premier geneticist with a mega research company at her disposal. The creation of Adam is a thoughtful, methodical process that Eve undertakes at her mother’s behest in order to try out a new consumer friendly interface. Eve has no idea that the program she is using is capable of bringing Adam to life.
Dual narrators for an audio book make me almost as nervous as dual authors do. EVE AND ADAM has both and yet in both areas–the narration and the writing–the teamwork created something much stronger than an individual effort would have. Eve’s voice is very strong both in print and audibly. She has a clear, but reserved sense of humor that made her eminently likeable. Her approach to designing Adam was both appropriately youthful yet respectful. The male point of views including Solo, the guy who works at her mother’s facility, and Adam were both just as fun to read. Adam in particular had a fascinating voice given his programmed personality but total lack of life experience I could have read an entire book just about him. He was a little Kyle XY, if you ever saw the short lived TV series.
The ending was a tad chaotic, but not enough to hurt my enjoyment of this fun and thought provoking sci-fi YA. I highly recommend experiencing this story in audiobook format even above the print version since Jenna and Holter bring these characters to life in a way that makes then even more real than the written word.
Whereas UNRAVELING was a character driven story dealing with family heartache and the blissful agony of firReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Whereas UNRAVELING was a character driven story dealing with family heartache and the blissful agony of first love mixed up with plenty of mystery and sleuthing, UNBREAKABLE is a nonstop action adventure that downplays character for the sake of adrenaline. The sci-fi elements that were revealed at the end of debut dominate the sequel to such a degree I probably wouldn’t have thought it was the sequel to UNRAVELING if the names hadn’t been the same.
Picking up four months after the end of UNRAVELING, UNBREAKABLE opens with an unrecognizable world. Janelle’s intriguing yet tragic relationship with her parents is gone, she and her brother now live in the ruins of what once was California. Supplies are low, martial law rules, and high school has been left behind for an internship with the FBI. Instead of a girl trying to solve a string of bizarre murders, she gets recruited to stop an interverse human trafficking ring and rescue Ben.
Janelle was a character who leapt of the page in the debut, but in UNBREAKABLE, she feels a little less vivid. We are told that she possesses various personality traits, but I never really saw them manifested in her. Granted, she has little time to breathe between all the running, world hopping, and prison breaks, but I missed the girl from the debut.
More so than Janelle’s dimmed character, the real casualty of the newly emphasized action adventure tone of this sequel is the romance that was the heart of the debut. It was a struggle to remember why Ben worth all this effort since we see very little interaction between these two for most of the book apart from a few tiny flashbacks. In fact, I had no problem getting on board with the fluttering awareness that sprang up between Janelle and Barclay as they hopped from world to world in search of Ben.
I described UNRAVELING as mash up of the TV shows Veronica Mars and Roswell if they were written by Lauren Oliver. UNBREAKABLE is more like the Total Recall remake mixed with The X-Files and Julie Cross’s Tempest series. I think to enjoy this one, you really need to divorce it from the debut as they really share very little in common. Once I let go of my expectations, I found this thrill ride exciting if not as deep as I would have preferred. The ending had one big heartbreaking moment that still hurts when I think about it, and, as there are no more books planned for this series, a tidy resolution for the characters.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to rape ...more
A vampire dominated post apocalyptic world is hard to top as a setting for a book series. In THE IMMORTAL RReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
A vampire dominated post apocalyptic world is hard to top as a setting for a book series. In THE IMMORTAL RULES we followed a street smart teen turned vamp on her quest to safeguard a group of humans to the fabled city of Eden and locate a cure to a devastating plague. In THE ETERNITY CURE, she’s forced into an unlikely alliance in her continued search for a cure and to rescue her maker.
Zeke was a character who displayed a quite strength in the debut and it was unbelievably compelling to watch the impossible romance develop between him and Allie. In THE ETERNITY CURE, however, he was on the bland side. In theory it was interesting to see a relationship role reversal were the girl was the vampire and the guy was the human, but in this case, Zeke came off as rather feminine and timid and Allie took on the dominant role. Allie’s role would have been fine if there had been someone strong enough to match her, Zeke just didn’t cut it. In fact, I was much more intrigued by the other man in Allie’s life.
Jackal. I really loved him in THE ETERNITY CURE (and not just because Julie Kagawa said she based him on my favorite vampire–Spike from Buffy–though I totally imagined James Marsters saying every one of his lines). His smaller role in the previous book has expanded to a lead in the sequel. Mocking, arrogant, self serving, pretty much a jerk but so funny you almost don’t care. And yeah, so he’s basically a ruthless vampire who eats people from time to time, but he was so much like Spike that I loved even his gleeful evilness.
The worldbuilding wasn’t as complex this time out, and the romance failed to sizzle, but Jackal was a fantastically fun character thanks to his moral ambiguity and biting wit. I didn’t need the cliffhanger ending to want see how the Blood of Eden plays out, but it does add extra incentive especially for the romance.
Why isn’t this series a TV show yet? The CW? ABC Family? The Morganville Vampires is perfect for primetime.Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Why isn’t this series a TV show yet? The CW? ABC Family? The Morganville Vampires is perfect for primetime. The cast of characters has expanded over the series without loosing focus on the core relationships, the setting of a vampire run college town is the perfect blend of chills and intrigue, and the storylines that Rachel Caine continues to spin are even hotter at book fourteen then they were at book one!
In FALL OF NIGHT, the series takes it’s biggest shift ever by moving outside the borders of Morganville. Claire is such a smart girl that I loved seeing her navigate the tricky waters of college life on her own at MIT including flirty guys, creepy professors, OCD roomates, and her mixed up feelings about Shane and Morganville. Not that it’s possible to ever truly leave Morganville behind.
Claire and Shane trade off telling the story and I really appreciated the paired down POV switches compared to previous books. Plus Shane makes great strides towards manning up. This is the most I’ve liked him in along time. Myrnin also reveals some new sides to his personality, one that is beyond terrifying and one that is pitifully vulnerable. I’m all the more drawn to him for the balance between the two.
FALL OF NIGHT is so different from anything the previous books have shown us, but it’s no less exciting for the new locale and new faces. Plus, Caine sets in motion a HUGE twist involving Shane that is going to have massive fallout for the next book (potentially the final book in The Morganville Vampires series). Not to mention a cliffhanger bombshell that may finally bump the vampires from the top of the food chain. We’ll find out when DAYLIGHTERS is published on November 5th 2013 by NAL Hardcover.
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex ...more
The final book in Sarah Crossan’s Breathe duology ends with more than a few gasps and even more POVs. QuinnReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The final book in Sarah Crossan’s Breathe duology ends with more than a few gasps and even more POVs. Quinn, Bea, and Alina are once again the protagonists, and joining them is Ronan. The multiple POVs worked in BREATHE since the group was together for most of the book, but in RESIST, not so much. One storyline was inevitably much more interesting than the others (Ronan’s was particularly dull), and it was at times rather jarring and frustrating to get thrown from one to the other just when things were starting to pick up.
And while I felt like I got to know the trio in BREATHE, the opposite couldn’t be more true in RESIST. I actually forgot who was who (and there really aren’t many reminders) and what their relationships were. It made it challenging to care about any of them. On the plus side, the anemic romance that I complained about in BREATHE is fortunately even less of a factor in RESIST. The couples are separated from each other for most of the book and far too concerned with securing air, rescuing friends, and preventing a truly despicable plan from being carried out.
Apart from the thin characters and multiple POVs, RESIST does have several shocking twists that dystopian fans will–in a good way–rage over. There are numerous gasp inducing injustices and corrupt authority figures that you’ll love to hate. I had no trouble keeping the pages turning as the horrific picture came together and the nefarious plans of the villains was finally exposed (although I could have done without the gynecological exam scene). It’s not as thrilling as the debut, but taken as a whole, the Breathe duology offers a worthwhile story for dystopian fans.
Three stories feature couples facing the end of the world in the form of zombie-like vampires, ruthless leaReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Three stories feature couples facing the end of the world in the form of zombie-like vampires, ruthless leaders in post-apocalyptic worlds, and environmental disasters that imbue some with super powers while condemning others to cannibalistic insanity. All three feature prominent romances, though only one delivers a story that will leave readers hoping for survival.
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa
There were several things that bothered me about this story including cliche characters, insta-love, and several continuity issues. One of the bigger issues was that this story is very adult. The characters are in their mid twenties and there is a pretty graphic sex scene. Wouldn’t be a big deal except that this is a prequel to Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series which is very YA. Are they really marketing this to the same audience? That issue aside, this story pals in comparison to the first book. The writing is poor especially in the beginning which involves a lot of medical discussion that feels as inauthentic as anything I’ve ever read. As a fan of THE IMMORTAL RULES, it was fun to see some of the characters before the Red lung virus took over, but most of this prequel is a mess. Several lines made me cringe including this gem:
“…you’re awfully young and pretty to be running a clinic alone…” Absurdly, I blushed at the compliment.
Rating: 2/5 Sexual Content: One graphic sex scene
Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre
Ann Aguirre is a favorite author of mine no matter what she’s writing. In this world that is reminiscent of the one in Escape from New York, life is kill or be killed. As always in Aguirre’s stories, the characters take center stage. A young, resourceful thief, and a vengeful assassin team up to overthrow a tyrant. The romance in this story is super subtle with hints of promised sensuality. Both characters as 100% focused on the task a head of them, so a romance rightly takes a back seat. The pacing is excellent and the payoff and the end is super satisfying, if not a complete resolution. I’m hoping that’s because Aguirre plans to write more about Thorne and Thistle. Both are such fascinating characters that they deserve to have their story told.
Rating: 5/5 Sexual Content: A brief, non graphic rape
Sun Storm by Karen Duvall
This story has a very similar structure to Kagawa’s Dawn of Eden. A doctor in a clinic fighting an incurable ailment meets a mysterious guy with secrets about the ailment, and goes on a perilous trip with him. The writing and characterizations are slightly stronger, but even the idea of crazy environmental upheaval creating supernatural abilities isn’t enough to elevate this story beyond average.
Rating: 3/5 Sexual Content: Kissing. Mild sensuality....more