THE TURN takes Hollows fans back to where it all began, a world where witches, vampires, and all sorts ofReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE TURN takes Hollows fans back to where it all began, a world where witches, vampires, and all sorts of magic are hidden away behind the sexism, racism, and revolution of the 60's. Trisk Cambri, a brilliant young geneticist, has to work three times as hard as the slick, spoiled Trent Kalamack, and still racism and sexism slam doors in her face. The Good Girls' Revolt meets Urban Fantasy, THE TURN is an interesting glimpse of where the beloved characters of The Hollows all began.
Seeing all the links between this closed world and Rachel Morgan's Cincinnati was fascinating. An intricate clockwork of pride, circumstance, and folly clicking away towards the apocalypse Hollows fans know is coming. Unfortunately, watching dominoes fall isn't quite as satisfying when you know the characters you're falling in love with don't have much of a future. And while the confusingly named Trent Kalamack (called simply "Kal" to differentiate him from future, redeemed Trent Junior) does have emotional vulnerabilities, his spoiled, self-righteous, "Nice Guy" spite is an added dark spot on an already bleak ending.
Harrison leaves cookie crumbs of happiness for her characters, even those whose stories we eventually see alongside Rachel Morgan, but for the most part, THE TURN focuses on the elegant disaster that will recreate the world into one we know and love.
So here's the deal. I actually tend to really enjoy Swoon Reads books. They're generally light and fluffy,Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
So here's the deal. I actually tend to really enjoy Swoon Reads books. They're generally light and fluffy, offer some sweet romance, and are overall fast reads. And AMID STARS AND DARKNESS lives up to that exact description. Light and fluffy, with sweet romance and definitely a fast read.
While you really kind of have to suspend a lot of disbelief for the premise to work, once I did, it was a fun ride. Feener created a super adorable couple with Delaney and Ruckus, and I loved watching their romance grow. Ruckus was super sweet but also pretty badass, and I loved how dedicated he was to his job, even though most everybody hated Olena, the princess Delaney was imitating. Delaney is amusing and relatable, and well-fleshed out as a character.
The plot was fast and the pacing well done. There were a few slower moments, but nothing too distracting. My biggest complaint is what a jerk Trystan is, and the ending. The book could have been so perfect if not for the last few paragraphs. In fact, just skip the epilogue! You'll be better off.
While I'm looking forward to the next book in The Xenith Trilogy, I'm also a little unsure as to whether I'm going to enjoy the direction it seems it might be going. I'm not one for a love triangle but I could certainly see that come up. However, AMID STARS AND DARKNESS is a perfect afternoon read, something I didn't have to invest much in but still had good entertainment value.
BITE SOMEBODY ELSE is a hilarious and irreverent romp of a vampire romance story. The plot was pretty interesting, dealing with a Celia's unique vampire pregnancy and some twists in whose side everyone is really on. While there were some funny bits and quirky characters (my favorite kind of character) I found its main character to come off as a bit too juvenile at times. The plot, while fun at times seemed to meander and drag at certain points.
I enjoy off kilter and silly stories with characters who are a bit too rude and sassy for their own good. But sometimes there is a limit. I think I found mine with BITE SOMEBODY ELSE. While I was entertained by the silly plot and weirdness of the characters involved, I was put off a lot by Imogene's attitude. She's tough and loyal sure, but she comes off as obnoxious, childish, and pretty rude. I questioned so many times why her friends put up with her basically acting like a spoiled child especially since they are all dealing with a bizarre pregnancy. On the romance front, I got the whole opposites attract thing with the brassy, rude Imogene and the posh and proper Nicholas. Its just that I kept going back to the question of why are adults putting up with this mean and childish person.
BITE SOMEBODY ELSE has its charm in its wacky plot, wit, and quirky characters. Unfortunately, I felt myself having to push through the plot at times and grit my teeth dealing with an incredibly immature main character....more
In A FACE LIKE GLASS your face will freeze like that. Maybe it’ll be stuck in Face No. 456, Joyous RaptureReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
In A FACE LIKE GLASS your face will freeze like that. Maybe it’ll be stuck in Face No. 456, Joyous Rapture at Excellent Characters, or Face No. 943, Unbridled Excitement for Plot Development. Either way, you’ll be smiling throughout. In the world of Caverna facial expressions have to be taught. The poor only know a few expressions (happy and dutiful) while the rich learn all the intricacies. Neverfell has been raised in seclusion by a Cheesemaker, learning the secrets of his trade. But there’s something wrong with her face, something that the Cheesemaker tells her to keep hidden.
When Neverfell finds herself lost in Caverna, after falling through a literal rabbit hole, you learn how beautiful and dangerous it can be. Caverna is rich and complex. You don’t doubt that this is a world where cheeses can explode or wine can erase memories. It’s rare that a book can pull off a naive narrator and an unreliable one. The fact that they are the same character? Amazing. Neverfell is the best kind of naive: she’s sweet, kind, and utterly entranced with the world around her. I never grew tired of her optimism, even when I saw all the daggers poised to stab her in the back.
There are moments in A FACE LIKE GLASS where the perspective shifts and we see Neverfell through the eyes of other characters. These scenes become important, as we learn more about the power struggles and madness of Caverna, but I wanted to keep Neverfell for myself. There are almost no pauses in the novel, every time Neverfell finds her footing, there’s another stair, another new power, to yank her out of place. All these missteps are purposeful. Just when you think that perhaps the novel should have been shorter, or cut into two books, there’s payoff after payoff that makes the page count worth it.
The moment I finished reading, I wanted to read A FACE LIKE GLASS again. The ending is perfect and complete. It so refreshing to have a novel that ties up all the loose ends. While I want more of the world, I’m happy with how the characters are settled. Pick up this book immediately. Don’t let the fact that it can be classified as Middle-Grade fiction dissuade you. I could give you reasons like the carefully crafted writing or the fully-developed characters. Instead, pick up this book if you want to experience Face No. 864, Satisfaction of a Well-Written Book....more
With legitimately crazy bridezillas, amusing incident reports, and a dab of romance, HEROINE WORSHIP managReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
With legitimately crazy bridezillas, amusing incident reports, and a dab of romance, HEROINE WORSHIP manages to follow in the footsteps of HEROINE COMPLEX nicely. Clever and entertaining, HEROINE WORSHIP is an excellent entry in the urban fantasy genre.
My biggest complaint about HEROINE WORSHIP was the switch in narrators from Evie to Aveda/Annie was mildly annoying. Evie was less narcissistic, and at times Aveda's inner monologue got repetitive and grating. I do understand that she was working through some changes in her life, but sometimes it felt the author was dragging it out a bit much. However, because of the switch in narrators, it felt more like a stand-alone novel instead of the second in the series, making it easier for somebody to pick HEROINE WORSHIP up without reading HEROINE COMPLEX.
As the book went on though, I became more used to Aveda's narration and got into the story. The plot line was more interesting in this installment, I felt, with a mystery and some very interesting things happening around the group. And the dynamics of the friend group again were a highlight for me. I liked how the women interacted with each other - how they felt so real and authentic. The changes Aveda went through felt as real as they could as well, being that we're talking about superheroes. She dealt with family issues, relationship confusion, and jealousy of her friend - all things that most people can relate to. So, while she was a bit over the top about most things, in the end, I really felt like I understood her and where she was coming from.
Also, I love how HEROINE WORSHIP has a diverse cast of characters without it feeling forced. There's different ethnicities, different sexual orientations, and different superpowers. 😉 It's refreshing in a world of urban fantasy where a lot of time the heroine is a straight white girl surrounded by sexy men. HEROINE WORSHIP gives us a glimpse into a world that looks a lot more like ours and definitely benefits from this representation.
All in all, HEROINE WORSHIP is a welcome addition to my library and well worth the read.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex, closed-door sex scenes ...more
Sometimes it’s fun to escape. Sometimes you want to read something that will make you smile, laugh, and feReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
Sometimes it’s fun to escape. Sometimes you want to read something that will make you smile, laugh, and feel warm and fuzzy inside. CUTIE AND THE BEAST is one of the super fuzzy books! If you love it when our world clashes with the world of fairies, dragons and magic, this book is for you.
There are so many fun characters to love in CUTIE AND THE BEAST. Alun, the deformed psychiatrist “beast” , is a grumpy cursed fae warrior who helps supernatural creatures adapt to our world, even though he is only partially fitting in himself. When David arrives and adds much needed life to Alun’s grey office, he can no longer hide in the dark corners he’s made for himself. David brings cute vases, colourful coasters and his almost aggressively-bubbly personality. Alun’s clients love him and Alun starts to cave in too.
With a mix of mythological characters, both good and evil, there is a lot to take in for both David and the readers. The book does a good job of keeping up though, with David even voicing the frustration with not knowing all the rules just before the reader gets too lost.
"David glared at him, fists clenched at his sides so he wouldn’t give in to the urge to pop Alun one right in the schol. “That’s because nobody will fricking tell me the story. How many times do I have to say it? Ignorance does not equal safety. Ignorance equals ignorance, and that can get you just as dead.”"
I’m so glad someone said it! There is always a place for secrets so dark they cannot be told in paranormal romance, but they do tend to drag on. Alun has two brothers who play a large role in the story and are super interesting characters. I was pleased to hear we’ll catch up with them in THE DRUID NEXT DOOR and BAD BOY’S BARD later this year. I haven’t had this much fun with a PNR in a while....more
Retellings of King Arthur's tale were my first introduction to fantasy as a kid, and it was pleasant cominReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Retellings of King Arthur's tale were my first introduction to fantasy as a kid, and it was pleasant coming back to them in a very modern, sexy, gender bending way. Morgan le Fae is briefly introduced in MOONSHADOW, but SPELLBINDER wastes no time establishing him as a hero doing his best under torturous circumstances.
SPELLBINDER intertwines several rather tricky elements, any of which may be a deal breaker for a reader with personal experience, but I liked how Harrison tried to ground what overcomes centuries old magic in the human, mundane world. Sid's lifelong struggle with OCD has given her coping methods that she applied during her captivity. Morgan's lifetime of magical enslavement was a consistent battle of wills and semantics, as he searches for every inch of freedom within his bonds. There is a lot of exploration of consent and free will, though sometimes the issue feels like it is brought up just so the characters can brush it aside.
Don't take any of these quibbles to mean that I didn't thoroughly enjoy reading SPELLBINDER. While the reality of Morgan's enslavement was repugnant, that gave his arc emotional weight. Sid was my main interest in the story, as her very human abilities made her triumphs all the more relateable and impressive. Harrison's excellent characters and attention to detail in her plot are apparent in this quick, sexy read.
Nalini Singh describes SILVER SILENCE as the start of a "second arc or season" for the Psy-Changeling series and that description feels very correct. Like the previous books, SILVER SILENCE carries with it the history of this world, the compelling characters, passionate romances, and fascinating plot while forging its own path into a new world. I loved seeing the way in which the fall of Silence and the following Trinity Accord has effected all of the races and their interactions with each other. Also, getting to see new changeling groups was a smart thing to do as it not only helps to expand the universe but keeps the series fresh with new character stories.
In the midst of a brave new world, humans, psy, and changelings have formed an uneasy alliance (the Trinity Accord) and terrorists threaten that alliance. Silver Mercant is wrapped up in the politics with the Trinity Accord and through clever plot mechanics, brings the Stone Water bear clan into situation. By having Silver- a name we've run across before in the series- be one half of the main couple of this story we have a link to between the first arc and the second arc. Silver is a wonderfully serious foil to the bears and Valentin, the bear alpha (Sidenote: I love the bears! They're hilarious, loving, loyal, and powerful. Quite possibly my new favorite changlings!). Singh excels at writing emotionally-layered and compelling characters and with Valentin and Silver that skill shines through. It's an odd sort of thought to think of Valentin, the bear alpha as both sexy and absolutely adorable but he is both. His strength is balanced with his gentleness which is what makes him perfect to break through to the icy Silver Mercant. Their relationship goes through some serious challenges that almost had me wondering if they weren't going to actually stay together. I was not ready for sad, adorable bears and luckily that was not the case in the end.
SILVER SILENCE sets up the foundation of the conflicts coming with this arc and tells another wonderful and charming romance. While the overall plan for the rest of this arc is unclear I am happy to continue along the ride with this series....more
In THE HUSH, there’s music and there’s Music. One is magical, there other isn’t. Untrained Musicians (capiReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
In THE HUSH, there’s music and there’s Music. One is magical, there other isn’t. Untrained Musicians (capital M) are considered blasphemers. They are hunted down and executed since the only people that should harness the Song are Songshapers. So much of THE HUSH is balanced on the world-building. If you're not completely enthralled then the ending of the novel loses its impact. The book is full of description but I never got a real sense of the world. Towns seem to be in a western, frontier setting. There are farms, cattle barons, sugar barons, trains, and guns. There was real potential for mixing a growing industrial society with a magic system. Unfortunately, neither the world nor the magic system were well-developed enough for that kind of payoff.
Chester is on the road looking for his father. When he performs in a village and is sentenced to death for playing Music, he’s saved by a band of thieves who need his help. Chester is a likeable enough main character but I wish there had been more exploration of his backstory. Knowing more about Chester’s rural home, his exposure to cruel cattle barons, and his father’s life as a soldier, would have added so much. Susanna seems like a competent leader for the Nightfall Gang but doesn't act ruthless, or cunning enough, to be committing these grand exploits. Something goes wrong on every mission we see. I wanted Susanna to commit large-scale crime without missing a beat. Even though Susanna’s tragic past is tied to the plot, and is what drives her to thievery, there’s no real sense of repercussion.
It’s always fun to read about a heist. Even when each character is a stereotype, it’s still enjoyable because you know the bones of the adventure that you’re tucking yourself into. The world building is what lets the story down. There’s no personal investment in the world. It’s not clear how important it is that this gang is ignoring a religious rite until the end of the novel. Answers that should have been asked throughout the novel are smushed together into the villain's monologue. The prose of the novel is good but it excels when describing music and sounds. You definitely get a sense of the author’s love for music and instruments. Overall THE HUSH is a fun story but it lacks the depth it needs to be the twisty, revolutionary novel it wants to be.
BITCH PLANET: PRESIDENT BITCH takes place in a future where outspoken women are forced to wear red overallReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
BITCH PLANET: PRESIDENT BITCH takes place in a future where outspoken women are forced to wear red overalls emblazoned with NC for Non-Compliant, and the “worst” of them are sent to an off-world prison. This graphic novel pulls no punches, dealing with issues like rape, equal rights and the treatment of prisoners.
I especially appreciated the rape content warning at the beginning of the book. There was a full page warning about the reason one of the inmates was sent to the prison from the first issue. It was a flashback and isn’t strictly required reading to make sense of the rest of the book. It was cleverly done, facing tough issues while giving a graceful out to people who can’t handle it.
The book weaves together the private stories and struggles of the prisoners along with the overall political upheaval that inevitably comes when 50% of the population is worth less than the other. With the contrasting storylines of the current president on Earth and the ex-president up in the off-world prison, the future and the past meet with a dramatic clash.
With colourful, violent characters clashing, often to the death, BITCH PLANET: PRESIDENT BITCH is a gory, disturbing and thought-provoking ride for mature audiences. I can’t wait for the next one....more
Clones can be an overdone concept in sci-fi but MORE OF ME offers a fresh perspective with its teenage proReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
Clones can be an overdone concept in sci-fi but MORE OF ME offers a fresh perspective with its teenage protagonist. Teva is sixteen years old and the sixteenth Teva in her family. On each birthday, her body splits and a new Teva emerges. This new Teva gets to go to school, see friends, lives a life, but the other Teva’s are stuck at home, in hiding. The crises that teens face (do they really like me for me, does anyone notice that I changed, what will happen when I grow up) become nuanced when Teva realizes that she’ll be forever stuck at sixteen, inside her house. It’s unbearable and she’s desperate to break the cycle.
How Teva manages her condition and interacts with her other selves is fascinating and well-written. While she can be moody and self-involved but it’s never without merit. Teva is equally worried about her future, her boyfriend, and her best friend. She’s not sure what she wants and isn’t even sure she wants what she has. Even though we only get glimpses of the other ages, all of those versions feel authentic. I really wanted more of those other clones. Though reading Teva’s attempts to gain control over her body and find someone to help her is enjoyable, you can’t help but wish there had been a little more plot to pad out the story.
The story barrels forward in the last couple chapters as Teva forces her mother to answer questions, but there needed to be more. The ending of MORE OF ME is lovely but ultimately unsatisfying. What does it mean to be a girl who is always 13 years old? Six year old Teva still needs help using the bathroom even though she’s technically the oldest. What is it like to live with that? Always seeing the person you used to be, never realizing the person that you are. An epilogue attempts to tie up loose ends but doesn’t address the more complex questions of the novel. MORE OF ME is very much a story about growing up, it’s so easy to identify with Teva’s worries about her body and concern for the future. A little more digging into the uglier aspects of Teva’s home life would have resolved any lingering issues with the plot. If you’re interested in clones and want a story that accurately addresses teenage neuroses, this is the book to pick up.
MARK OF TRUTH hits every expected beat in an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. There’s the loyal teammatesReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
MARK OF TRUTH hits every expected beat in an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. There’s the loyal teammates, the hunky love interest that she kinda hates, the adopted pets, the adopted child. The world of MARK OF TRUTH is expansive (sometimes to its detriment) and features several rival fae factions. Heroine, Ever McElva, is a leath cine, meaning half breed. She’s part elf and is pretty sure that she’s also part-human. As a half breed, Ever and her team were raised by, and work for, the Magic Enforcement and Containment Agency within the human realm. Ever might know how to handle herself in a fight but she’s off-balance when it comes to actually dealing with the fae courts. Unfortunately, MARK OF TRUTH’s complex world building doesn't quite explain the intricacies of the different factions of elves, fae, and goblins. The reader never gets the full scope of the long-standing history and bad blood.
The writing definitely feels a little stilted. The prologue was written in a high-fantasy style, which was interesting and well-done, but the rest of the book embraces the ‘urban fantasy voice’. There’s a lot of declarative sentences. A lot of telling instead of showing. Ever tells us a lot about herself, but I don’t think I ever truly knew her as a character. She’s sounds like every urban fantasy character ever. It clear Knox is aiming for a sprawling, complex world, but the sameness of the characters just turns complex into confusing. This sameness means that it isn't important to remember who is half-human, or half-elf, or half-goblin since all the characters are all beautiful ass-kickers.
Knox’s writing is best during the sex scenes. There’s more focus on touch and emotions, rather than telling us how aloof and cool our protagonist is. There’s tons of romantic and sexual tension between Ever and Dare. When Ever gets over the customary “oh no we can’t be together/I think I hate you” mindset, their chemistry is amazing. MARK OF TRUTH really needs to to relax, not stick so close to the urban fantasy voice and plot beats. I think once the author finds her voice the formulaic nature of the plot will be less apparent. There’s the potential for a great series buried underneath all those declarative sentences.
A villain becoming a hero and love interest in a later book doesn’t always work, but NEW MOON manages to mReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
A villain becoming a hero and love interest in a later book doesn’t always work, but NEW MOON manages to make its hero likeable without wiping the slate clean. Sebastian has done some truly terrible things, but redemption, and maybe true love, is well within reach.
This was the final book in the series, and it predictably suffered because of it; it felt overcrowded, both character- and plot-wise. The paranormal romance genre almost needs a new couple each book, but that meant a lot of people were involved in the final book. It was more than I could keep track of as the characters moved from pack to pack. There were also lots of plot threads to tie off, and although the end was satisfying, I was sometimes keen to get on with the story.
One little thing I really loved was the differences between wolf and jaguar shifters: knowing your mate as soon as you see them only happens to wolves. It takes some convincing for Sebastian to accept that fate may have thrown them together.
Certain phrases were used throughout the book and I wished the author had found different ways of saying that there were two sides to each story. A cool analogy loses its power when it’s mentioned by the narrator and the characters over and over again.
Overall, NEW MOON was a fitting end to the series. Not everything is peachy keen, but you wouldn’t expect it to be when things have been messed up for so long. But in the same way that Sebastian and Isabelle are able to look beyond the past and to the future, there is hope for the world of the book....more
In ACCIDENTAL SIRE, Harper brings the Half Moon Hollow series back to Half Moon Hollow, and with it, bringReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
In ACCIDENTAL SIRE, Harper brings the Half Moon Hollow series back to Half Moon Hollow, and with it, brings in many favorite characters from throughout the series, with nearly everybody making at least a small cameo. I wouldn't say that the description of the book is completely accurate, though, as it makes it sound like Ben is the focus, not even mentioning Megan, the main character of the book (the one who accidentally gets turned into a vampire).
First of all, Ben and Megan aren't even boyfriend and girlfriend when she gets turned (and this is in the first 30 pages of the book, so no spoilers here). They'd just met at a party and chatted a bit. The first half of the book is mostly dealing with the consequences that come from being turned, and then the second half deals with a relatively lukewarm mystery that I could have done without.
Ben and Megan are cute together. Despite the circumstances which have thrown them together, and their love/hate vibe, they have excellent chemistry. If the whole book had focused on the growth of their relationship and Megan getting used to being a vampire, it would have been fine. Harper is great with the snarky zingers and the dialogue between the characters is amusing without sounding too scripted. My complaint is with the half-hearted mystery aspect that was brought in to the second half. Sure, it gave the whole thing a bit of suspense, but it felt like it was thrown in there to make the book longer. I liked the added interesting aspect, but all in all, I didn't feel it was necessary.
Overall, ACCIDENTAL SIRE made me want to go back and read all the Jane Jameson and Half Moon Hollow books, and I really enjoyed myself. While it isn't as good as my favorite in the series (THE CARE AND FEEDING OF STRAY VAMPIRES, and at a close second, DRIVING MR. DEAD) it still is nowhere near the level of THE SINGLE UNDEAD MOMS CLUB. So, if you like Harper's writing and you like the Half Moon Hollow crowd, definitely pick this one up.
HEART OF MALICE was a great introduction to what could be a pretty amazing new urban fantasy series. It ticks every box for a classic urban fantasy story: tough as nails heroine escaping from a murky past, fun magical abilities, and interesting enough plot complexities to last multiple books. The plot is fast-paced and revolves around an excellent magical mystery with earth shattering consequences should something go askew. I loved the attention to details in the world building and more specifically the main story in HEART OF MALICE. I really got a feel for the tone and history of the world as well as who the characters were. Please note: there are some pretty gory moments in HEART OF MALICE that might be hard to get through for the squeamish.
Alice is a pretty badass heroine who has potential to be one of my favorite in the genre. She takes a beating, heals herself, and goes back into the fray. I loved how determined she was to help someone else and do so with skill and intelligence. It becomes a bit disconcerting just how much she allows her body to be worn down so much. She blacks out a lot! Perhaps her recklessness will be a plot point in future books? I think Alice's recklessness might be linked to her fascinating past. I kept hoping we'd get more flashbacks to her escape from the cabal. I hope we get more as what we do get gives some interesting insights to Alice's rather determined and stubborn personality.
HEART OF MALICE was a decent start to what looks like a pretty classic urban fantasy series. I loved Alice's backstory and learning how this world works. I look forward to seeing what is in store for Alice in the next book....more
COUGAR BAIT, the second in the Cougarville series expanded on the series' complex and fascinating world with a unique take on shifters that I hadn't come across before. Interesting world-building decently paced plot aside, there were issues of consent that gave a sour tone to what would have been a pretty fun romance story.
With many shifter romances I have a slightly higher tolerance for alpha males who force themselves on women (physically and emotionally) due to the characters being part predatory animal and thus carry the traits of their animals. In COUGAR BAIT my tolerance was stretched almost to its breaking point. Liam comes of as too predatory in his behavior towards Samantha. He stalks her in a way that comes off as creepy. The things he says to her about his stalking of her and their relationship come off as creepy and controlling, not overly protective in a charming yet respectful way. During the first sex scene he essentially coerces her into sex. There is an important plot specific reason for it that makes total sense. But what he says and the way the scene is structured, I felt like Samantha was given no choice. For that matter she is given little choice in any other sex scene.
I don't want to say Samantha didn't have any agency in this story as she does handle herself pretty well at times. Her persistent shouts of not wanting anything to do with shifters or mating fall on deaf ears so many times I didn't really want her to get together with Liam in the end as I kept thinking she'd be miserable. Also, the sheer amount of times she is nearly raped and beaten or forced to do something that she has absolutely no control over did not sit well with me at all.
COUGAR BAIT has a unique shifter mythology and a solidly written plot. Unfortunately, I was put off by issues of consent and agency between Liam and Samantha and Samantha's constant state of peril that led me to not enjoy the book as much as I wanted to....more
Being a collection of short stories, THE SHADOW OMNIBUS was a pretty quick and fun read with five haunting tales of horror and adventure. I was clued in to the fact that this was a collection of short stories by one author and not five after wondering at the similarities of the writing styles and lack of author list. Silly oversight aside the stories in this series were pretty eerie and ranged from a story about urban myths to creepy buildings and steampunk adventures.
In BRIGHT BUTTERFLY there is a battle between old urban legends and new. Maybe I'm showing my age but I was confused about the new urban legends and spent part of this story trying to figure out how many new urban legends there were featured. I thought the author was using three different names for the same legend. Some quick Google searches cleared that up. I enjoyed how the legends continue to live in different people taking on the mantle over the years. This story is pretty gruesome especially considering who the new legends are.
CALL FROM THE CRAVE felt like a classic urban fantasy story featuring a necromancer. The story involving a mob boss and a murderous ghost was pretty fun, graphic, and fast-paced. I liked the main character and how her necromancer powers work. I would actually love to see this as a part of a series as I think there is a lot of potential material here regardless of the finality of the ending.
HOTEL HELL kind of had me thinking of the beginning of Rocky Horror Picture Show with the character approaching a strange house, meeting the weird butler, and asking for a phone to call for help but not getting it. That's where my very random comparison ends. The rest of the story was really spooky and the revel of what was really going on was pretty cool. This was the creepiest of the stories for me.
LOST SKY and ENGINEERED DECEIT are both connected to Amy Braun's Dark Sky series. Both of these were more adventurous steampunk than horror. As the description notes the former is the idea that sparked the series and the latter is a prequel, so there is a lot of set up and world-building. I really liked this world and would like to learn more, which is why this series is now on my ever expanding TBR pile....more
THE CITYBORN is fueled by its dystopian society. In a place only known as ‘The City’, there are clear lineReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
THE CITYBORN is fueled by its dystopian society. In a place only known as ‘The City’, there are clear lines between the rich and the poor. There can be so much intrigue to a class-ruled dystopia. It’s always fun learn about how these strange societies are built, and it’s even better to watch them fall. Unfortunately, the City was a cipher for too much of the book. If you want the reader to root for the demolition of society, you need the nitty-gritty details. It took too long to confirm where the City was, how it originated, or why it was there. In the City, the Officers are the ruling class, and have been maintaining power and money for generations. The rest of the population is spread out on lower levels. Some are simply poor, others essentially live in a Mad Max style dump.
Stolen as children, Alania and Danyl have been raised in totally different class spheres. Alania, protected and sheltered, with the upper crust. Danyl, scavenging and fighting, in a garbage level. When they turn 20, everything changes. The relationship between Alania and Danyl was...strange. They snipe, argue, and slowly respect each other. But, even when they learn about their shared personal history, there's a lot of longing looks and awkward feelings that never go away. It was almost like the first draft of the novel had them written as lovers and the subsequent drafts never erased that tension.
THE CITYBORN is oddly weighted to the point where it felt like I was reading two different novels. The first chapters follow the protagonists at different ages, but the time jumps are pure set-up. We explore the protagonist’s surroundings but ignore the more interesting aspects of the society. The plot didn’t start until Danyl and Alania turned 20. Conversely, the last few chapters are completely different. Characters die, plots speed by, settings are replaced over and over. It’s almost impossible to take a breath. But --just when it seems that the book is coming to fruition-- the plot stalls. Needless obstacles are thrown in Danyl and Alania’s escape. It seemed like only purpose for yet another sabotage was to pad out the ending.
THE CITYBORN also suffers from tonal whiplash. Some plot elements are needlessly grim: forced sterilization, infanticide, graphic deaths, hidden cameras. It’s a rebellion, and it should be bloody, but it’s a little much for YA, especially since these issues are never properly investigated. The ending itself also shies away from making hard choices. When monumental, world-changing, information is discovered, it’s shrugged away. Radical changes are made, but the book ends before the City’s population (and the reader) feels the effects. Overall, THE CITYBORN is a frustrating book. Some sections are intriguing and fast-paced, but others are slow and meandering. Danyl and Alania may be the protagonists but they’re also the least interesting characters. The robots, clones, and amazing side-characters easily steal the focus from Alania and Danyl. A dystopian fan with a special love for class-division and clones may forgive THE CITYBORN’s flaws, but I found it hard to focus on the shiny metal buried under the debris. ...more
WAKING FOR WINTER is a ton of mixed-mythological fun, with heroes you can really care about and a city worReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
WAKING FOR WINTER is a ton of mixed-mythological fun, with heroes you can really care about and a city worth defending. From fairy-folk to necromancers, with a pass by every sort of witch imaginable, there is a lot of magic being thrown around Philadelphia.
It’s refreshing to follow characters who actually fall asleep after a harrowing trial, instead of falling in bed with each other before the fires are even out. I guess there is a certain dramatic appeal to a couple banging to get the adrenalyn out of their system after a big fight, but I appreciate the minor realism of crashing on a couch for a few hours when you’ve just come back from another realm where you were fighting for your life.
The multiple different settings makes it feel longer than it is - in a good way. Unlike books that drag on, the timing in WAKING FOR WINTER is really spot on and each locale feels necessary and interesting. Whether they are in an impossible Otherworld forest or in the rough streets of an inner city neighbourhood, each setting has enough description to get you there and on with the action.
This book is a fun look at what makes a person. Can a mother’s love make up for being what many call a monster? Can a man from a rough neighbourhood full of violence and drugs ever be able to care for a city and for a woman who might be the only one to save him? WAKING FOR WINTER is a satisfying end to the PHILADELPHIA COVEN CHRONICLES. These are going into the “to re-read” pile....more
SHARP TEETH is one of the best books of poetry I have ever read and one of the most enchanting books aboutReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
SHARP TEETH is one of the best books of poetry I have ever read and one of the most enchanting books about werewolves ever. It is a story about dogs and homeless people. It’s about living on the beach in LA. It’s about picking up strays, both the canine and the human kind. SHARP TEETH is also a mystery about drugs and control, with meth labs and police officers and chases.
Because it is a poem, the sex is not romance novel sex and the gore is not horror novel gore. In a poem you can describe dogs sleeping in a pile, chasing after something in their dreams and it can be beautiful. You can explain hunger using more colourful language than a restaurant review. You can write about cute moments where someone does dishes and is hugged from behind, without it seeming dumb.
It’s still partially prose, but it reads more like song lyrics than a regular book. The story tumbles and trips, pulling you along as you discover rival gangs of werewolves, living in a world both magical and terrible, where life can end with the snap of sharp teeth. This is a beautiful book for lit and fantasy lovers alike....more
DATING THE UNDEAD introduces a world where vampires are “out” and don’t need blood to survive. It’s also aReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
DATING THE UNDEAD introduces a world where vampires are “out” and don’t need blood to survive. It’s also a world where vampires need a website to find dates though, which is a bit strange.
The vampire mythology was interesting: the elder vampires cannot be killed - even decapitation is only temporary! - but the vampires are much more like traditional vamps with weaknesses. Learning about these weaknesses is why Silver, and the London Police Department start spying on vampires using the V-Dates.com website. Silver
Silver and Logan are hot together, and their romance goes through many typical PNR tropes: keeping secrets, trying to stay apart to protect each other, scorching hot sex. But I was also super confused as to why they like each other. Their meeting was pretty random, and apart from the fact that they “can’t stop thinking about each other”, I never felt like they had that much in common.
DATING THE UNDEAD is a book with really sexy love scenes and a few surprises that kept things interesting, but it failed to be either super corny or super dark. It was constantly toeing the line which left it a bit bland. Not bad, but bland....more
While I enjoyed THE RED LILY, it just didn't quite live up to the first book in the series. Nikolai and SiReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
While I enjoyed THE RED LILY, it just didn't quite live up to the first book in the series. Nikolai and Sienna are a wonderful couple and the chemistry between them is scorching, but the story just felt like it lacked a little something.
My main complaint was that there was a lot going on in this installment of the Vampire Blood series. There was a lot of development, and not everything was always explained. Since the relationship between Nikolai and Sienna took center stage (as it should in a paranormal romance), this sometimes meant that other events felt rushed or consolidated. Things which had enormous impacts on the story happened in fewer pages than a romantic scene between Nikolai and Sienna, basically, which had the effect of making the story feel a little rough. One minute we were happy for Nikolai and Sienna, and the next unhappy, and then happy, and... you get the idea. (I would go into more detail but I don't want to reveal any spoilers!)
Luckily, Nikolai and Sienna more than made up for the back and forth of my emotions. I loved Sienna so much as a character. She's compassionate and brave, and I liked the way she was doing what she could for the rebellion. As for Nikolai, he was at times a bit too protective (at least his thoughts were) but he was sweet with Sienna and romantic. They just fit together, and I really liked the development of their relationship.
Overall, THE RED LILY works as a romance if you can suspend some disbelief about what's going on around Sienna and Nikolai. All in all, I would have liked a little more plot, but I really enjoyed this book, and cannot wait to see who the next book in the Vampire Blood series focuses on.
I mainly decided to read this book because the title, THE LAST DEATH WORM OF THE APOCALYPSE sounded like an awesome name for a death metal band. Upon completion of the book, was not disappointed in my rash decision. There is a ton going on in this story and it would probably be a good idea to read the previous two books which have equally metal sounding titles.
The plot continues with Kelly Driscoll acting as interim manager of Amenity Towers and attempting to stave off the apocalypse. I loved the wackiness of the residents and various complications that involve trying to house monsters in a condominium. While their issues are at times petty, I really did start to sympathize with them at times. My favorite parts involved any part dealing with the death worms. I had a bit of a hard time trying to figure out how big they were considering their owners could ride them. Are they the size of small ponies? Does that really matter when you have fallen angels acting as the condo board, a death worm talent show, and complaints about occupants leaving their molted skin everywhere? No, no it does not.
As a secondary story, Kelly's boyfriend, Af, goes on a pretty crazy road trip with a demon to get back his $5,000 he lost to a guru. Af gets into his own hilarious situations in his story and while I liked what happens with him, I was more interested in Kelly's situation at Amenity Towers. There are also a few fun smaller stories involving residents that are pretty funny and really help to bring the environment of Amenity Towers and its occupants alive.
THE LAST DEATH WORM OF THE APOCALYPSE brings the crazy, zaniness of dealing with a Home Owner's Association up to eleven. I absolutely love books that are just so utterly wacky, and fun yet have a compelling and strong core story-line.
If you are looking for a book that satirizes religion without getting too damn dark, THE MANAGEMENT STYLEReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
If you are looking for a book that satirizes religion without getting too damn dark, THE MANAGEMENT STYLE OF THE SUPREME BEINGS is perfect for you. It makes you think without drowning the reader in morality. It is such a fun read that the 400 pages fly by.
Our hero is Jersey Thorpe, an Indiana Jones type character who is a bit full of himself but quite good at discovering the biggest secrets left behind by previous civilizations. Unfortunately for him, the question of “is there a God?” is answered pretty clearly when God sells the planet to the Venturi brothers, who value money over actual right and wrong. They don’t want your soul, they just want your checkbook.
This book has a great HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY vibe, with just enough nonsense and planet hopping to keep things interesting. Despite the uncertainty and silliness, there is never confusion, and I never had to re-read in order to figure out how we had gotten where we were.
This book is timely and fun, with characters that range from hyper-intelligent fish to God himself, and everything in between. THE MANAGEMENT STYLE OF THE SUPREME BEINGS is easily the funniest book I’ve read all year....more
RUINS & REVENGE picks up right where TREASURE & TREASON ended. The two together make for a satisfyReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
RUINS & REVENGE picks up right where TREASURE & TREASON ended. The two together make for a satisfying duology within the Raine Benares series, offering adventure, danger and even some hints of romance. With a cast of characters that outshines the slightly repetitive nature of the storyline, RUINS & REVENGE is a perfect conclusion to Tam's adventure.
RUINS & REVENGE is not the place for a casual reader to jump into the Raine Benares series. It is clearly the second half of TREASURE & TREASON, and at times I wish they could have been one book. While I understand why they were broken into two books, it also made for some actions scenes feeling a bit superfluous - after all, how many obstacles could the team really run into? But it made for some great edge of the seat, suspenseful reading, so I wasn't too sorry about it.
Tam is a great main character, though his internal monologue got to be a bit fatalistic and slightly overdramatic. However, I had similar complaints about the narration in TREASURE & TREASON, so I was mostly prepared and it wasn't as distracting or annoying as it could have been. Overall, the story is full of Shearin's trademark wit and snark, and the characters make up for any negatives I found. While Tam has always been a favorite of mine - with Phaelan a close second - the rest of the characters are multi-dimensional and wonderful to get to know.
Overall, RUINS & REVENGE is definitely one worth picking up if you've read TREASURE & TREASON, and if you haven't, now's the perfect time to pick up TREASURE & TREASON, since you won't have to wait for the sequel! I can't wait to see what Shearin has in store for the crew next, and I can only hope that it involves more of Tam.
There is so much to love in WOLF IN KING’S CLOTHING, it’s hard to decide which part of this m/m Victorian-Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
There is so much to love in WOLF IN KING’S CLOTHING, it’s hard to decide which part of this m/m Victorian-y werewolf paranormal romance novel I enjoyed the best. Wait, no, I loved Kent. He’s a rough character who has been magically collared, his tail and ears docked. He’s the driving force behind this novel.
This world is grimy and sticky, filled with dirty locales and even dirtier people. Hadrian, the alpha Kent is sent to fetch, doesn’t fit into that world. Kent does fit; he is barefoot most of the time, wears clothes that are little more than rags and lives in a room in a boarding house.
There’s a great deal of attention given to the smells in this book, something I always enjoy with werewolf novels. It helps to convey the animal nature of the characters. Haidan smells like seawater and home to Kent, which is the only thing that keeps him from attacking him when he goes into a berserker rage. Kent nuzzles into Haidan’s neck and inhales him to calm down, to find himself. Despite them knowing each other for a short amount of time, the characters had a believable bond built through experience and fate. I’m so over the “fated mate” trope. Without trial, that motif is no longer enough for me.
I do wish there had been another 100-200 pages of WOLF IN KING’S CLOTHING. Although Kent and Hadrian find each other, there are still unanswered questions about why Haidan was trapped up north and who wanted him released. Is it someone from his own pack setting him up to fail? He is a non-traditional alpha werewolf, being strong in magic instead of brute force - it’s a fun twist, and one that makes him unpopular within his pack. I would have loved to see these two interacting with the pack more, see what they could build together. This is still a solid, fast-paced novella, with characters you can’t help but want to follow....more
SWEET TEA & SPIRITS is another fun installment of the cozy mystery series, Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries. I liked having a nice quick, light read as a break from some of the pretty heavy emotionally books I've been reading recently. In this story we get Verity trying to deal more directly with the Sugarland society ladies while trying to solve the puzzle of strange happenings in their historical society building involving mannequins and murder There were also a lot of surprising twists and developments in this fast paced plot.
I really enjoyed seeing Verity get comfortable with her ghost seeing/hunting abilities and with Sugarland and its small town qualities which includes the super fast gossip mill. I felt bad for Verity having to deal with so much cattiness from these ladies who were pretty petty especially to someone trying to help figure out why there are strange hauntings and murders happening in the historical society. Luckily, as usual, Verity rises above them and solves the case, with her wonderfully hilarious ghost gangster sidekick and her awesome boyfriend, Ellis. Verity's gangster ghost, Frankie has a pretty funny and even sweet storyline in this book.
With SWEET TEA & SPIRITS, Angie Fox has written another funny and well written story with quirky characters you'll love to root for and even ones you'll love to hate....more
The vibe one gets from the cover of THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC is that the contents within will be lighthearteReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.
The vibe one gets from the cover of THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC is that the contents within will be lighthearted and cutesy. The story delivers exactly that - an excellent example of a time a cover is perfect for the book. Unfortunately, while lighthearted and fun, I do have a few complaints about THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC.
Overall, THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC is fluff. It's fun and a quick read, but there were some issues. My primary issue with the book is that the author has a terrible habit of telling, not showing. There was a lot of information given to the reader just from Amber's internal monologue - things that didn't make sense for her to be telling herself. Overall, that tended to get a little tedious.
My other complaint is that there's a little bit much going on. There's the main mystery of Charlie's father's missing girlfriend, but there's subplots involving Amber's best friend, her mother's coven, plus the romance aspect! It all gets a little blurred together, instead of having a clear direction the story is going. Then, when it comes time for the main plot line to be tied up, it seems to end way too easily and quickly.
One thing I enjoyed about THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC was the characters. They all felt like they could be real people, and they acted in relatively age appropriate ways. For example, Charlie seemed like an awkward teenager, the type that a real person would encounter in a high school, not one of these fictional paranormal romance heroes who are super intense and/or immortal.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed THE BEST KIND OF MAGIC once I appreciated it for what it was - a light, fun, romantic read, akin to many young adult contemporary novels, but with a side helping of magic. Definitely pick this one up if you're a fan of stories set in Chicago (like myself) or if you're looking for a light dose of paranormal with your teen angst.