First, this book is told in alternating first-person POV. There are, apparently, character-specific symbols that mark the beginning of each section, but I’ll be honest and say that I never paid attention to these….
As you know we love urban fantasy but there seems to be a conspiracy within the genre to make the female protagonist as irritating and useless as possible. The following are a fair selection of protagonists who are: incapable of defending themselves, have master the art of making it about…
The other day, I nonchalantly asked a friend what he was reading (as I often do). He grinned sheepishly and replied, “I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I’m reading [A] Game of Thrones.” I was a little sad that he felt the need to respond with a cautionary caveat.
“Sorry!”—I have been quiet for far too long. Still reading just not sharing… So to deal with the backlog of gorgeous books I want to tell you about I’ll just be posting covers and a few words that come to mind. Hopefully pithy.
“It took a qualified wizard to detect a summoning in progress. It required only a half-literate idiot with a twitch of power and a dim idea of how to use it to attempt one. Before you knew it, a three-headed Slavonic god was wreaking havoc in downtown Atlanta, the skies were raining winged snakes, and SWAT was screaming for more ammo.”—Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (via winedarksky)
Review: With a title like this how could you go wrong?
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. Where to begin, where to begin… With that title? Perfect. With the cover? Divinely beautiful. With the genre? Steampunk fab. With the language? Playful, clever goodness. World building? Amazing. Plot? Tight. Protagonists? Super powered teens take on the world.
I think you get the picture. I was supposed to write this review months ago, but the minute I opened this book I realized I wanted to make it last. So I did, rationing out pages here and there and rereading whole chunks of the book. And I think it spoke to me because of the attention to detail by Ms Cross and, of course, because it is this amazing marriage between urban fantasy and historical romance, two genres I love but so rarely coexist in a satisfying way. All the amazing action combined with sinister class wars, the battle between man and machine, and a fantastic lead in Finley as she struggles with her Mr Hyde.
I think I can safely say this is the ONLY YA book I’ve read that I totally forgot was YA as I was reading it. And that, for me, is high praise. So really, all I have left to say is, my apologies for taking so long to review this because everyone should get their hands on a copy and demand a sequel ASAP.
Disclosure: I received a Advanced Reader’s Copy for review .
Review: Skills like you've never seen before In Blood Bound
I love it when fantasy authors create new worlds and idea by appropriating totally benign words and concepts without resorting to making up whole new languages. In Blood Bound, Ms Vincent ensure I’ll never think of ‘Skilled’ in quite the same way again. Or blood. Or tattoos. Or vows. Ok, back to the book…
For a YA writer, the author has created an incredibly dark adult world with the Unbound series debut. It really reminded me of the HBO series The Wire for many reasons, but instead of drugs they’re dealing in people and bodily fluids. Throw in a dash of Romeo and Juliet style star-crossed lovers from different ‘Families’ and you get a heady, veering-on-dark tale (if you like the Stacia Kane Downside books then give this a go).
Ms Vincent excels in keeping a tight pace and throwing a twist in here and there; it kept me nosing through the pages at a incredible rate to find out how on earth Liv and Sam were going to get their happy ending with the amount of strings attached to their lives. Which I’m very glad they got; if this had been a cliffhanger ending this review may have been very different.
Sort-of-Review: Para Ops with Heavy Dose of Paranormal
I like a good romance with my urban fantasy but this crosses over into paranormal romance (by the way, what are the genre boundaries for PR vs UF? Anyone?). Not that that is a minus, but I seriously felt like this book was less strong in that department compared to the potentially amazing story I almost, almost got sucked into 100%. But 80% is pretty damn good too!
Chosen by Blood is definitely the first in a series in that a lot of time is spent prepping us for book two. Again, not necessarily a minus, but I wanted more of the adventure!
So much potential which I hope book two brings out.
“He clearly wasn’t dissuaded, and stroked my jawline with his thumb. “You can run. You can keep running to the ends of the earth. But I won’t be far behind you.”
-Ethan Sullivan in Chloe Neill’s - Hard Bitten”—
seriously counting down to the next Merit book in November…
3-for-1 Review: The Amazingly Awesome Charlie Madigan Series
I have only praise for Kelly Gay and her books. She is one of my top four authors (including Chloe Neill, Ilona Andrews and Karen Chance). I counted down to book three of this series in a way that bordered on desperate.
I am so grateful that I have never even have had a twinge of ‘sigh. why am I reading this?’ with any of the books and fervently hope this continues in the books to come. She perfectly blends an incredible mystery and story with a nail-biting relationship between hero and heroine in every book and I think I should stop now before I just start fan-girling out and my brain pops.
Hour of Dust and Ashes is no exception. Seriously amazing story and character developments with world-building that is taken to a new level for the series. Insanely good. Period.
But start with Better Part of Darkness and enjoy the fact that you can gulp down three books in a row. Unlike me, who has to wait a whole year for book four.
Quarter Square by David Bridger is going to be a difficult book to review. Not because I’m ambivalent or want to temper my response, but because of the beautiful way this book is crafted. Anything I comment on specifically will only spoil the tale for the reader. It is seriously one of those books, the first twist comes in the first chapter and I really don’t want to give anything away. It’s a slippery slope to stand on in terms of reviewing.
I actually can’t believe how short the book was in relation to how much ground it covered. Amazing pace and tension all the way through and it feels more like an old school fantasy than an urban fantasy book.
Suffice to say, I wholeheartedly recommend this, in many ways it reminds me of the magical English children’s books I grew up but with a gorgeous urban fantasy twist. Worlds piled upon worlds and history so thick you can see it. Joe, our hero, is as clueless as the reader and it makes for a page-turner of a book. A great male lead (right after I was bemoaning the lack of male protagonists in the urban fantasy genre as well!) from Mr Bridger and I’m looking forward to the next in the Wild Times series just to watch him find even more of himself and the world he’s in.
I will stop being so vague at this point and just let you go get a copy. It’s worth it.And yes, I did get my review copy for free but I honestly wasn’t influenced by that at all. No qualifications in this review.
Do you have an ‘A’ list of books and a ‘B’ list? My wishlists always have books from the ‘B’ list on it. Reminders in case I’m ever hard up for a book and need something that isn’t going to be a complete disaster but then again isn’t an auto-buy. Unfortunately, despite having this on my to-read list (oh boy, I have waaaaaayyy too many lists. I apologize!) for over a year, the Red Headed Stepchild and the rest of the series is going on the ‘B’ list. I just couldn’t get into it, couldn’t fall in love, no matter how much I wanted to! I’m always looking for a new series to adore to fill in the gaps between books and dull the pain of waiting (drama!) but this isn’t it.
What is wrong, you ask? Or maybe you just want me to get to the point, NOW! Our heroine just isn’t believable. She is this assassin extraordinaire who just can’t quite convince me that she is ‘all that’. Too weak at strange moments and instead of revealing her vulnerable humanity, this just creates an odd frustration for the reader. It felt like this book was just step one in ‘how to set up a UF series’ and unfortunately it missed the all-too-important step of ‘make reader fall in like with protagonist’. And to be honest, I have forgotten huge chunks of the story already. But it could just be me, so go ahead and check it out for yourself. I will probably even give the second book a go because I so badly want to like more series.
“But, look, it is good to have a dream so long as you do not let it gnaw at the substance of your present. I have seen men consumed by their dreams, and it is a sour business. If you cling too tightly to a dream—a poodle bitch or a personal sausage chef or whatever—then you miss the felicity of your heart beating and the smell of the grass growing and the sounds lizards make when you run through the neighborhood with our friend. Your dream should be like a favorite old bone that you savor and cherish and chew upon gently. Then, rather than stealing from you a wasted sigh or the life of an idle hour, it nourishes you, and you become strangely contented by nostalgia for a possible future, so juicy with possibility and redolent of sautéed garlic and decadent slabs of bacon that you feel full when you’ve eaten nothing. And then, one fine day when the sun smiles upon your snout, then the time is right, you bite down hard. The dream is yours. And then you chew on the next one.”—Kevin Hearne, Hammered (Goodreads)
Refreshing. That is the dominant ‘taste’ I was left with after reading Hounded by Kevin Hearne. Not just because of the male protagonist (seriously, why are there so few??), but because of the general lack of angst and baggage Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, was carrying around. Impressive, considering he’s been around for 2,000 years and spends a lot of time jumping in and out of negotiations and trysts with insane and ancient deities with not a lot of humanity left in them.
Teamed with a good (and I mean GOOD) story, it was a breeze to read. The again, maybe the angst has its place. I will definitely pick up the next two books in the Iron Druid Chronicles, but was it a ‘its2amandIneedthenextbooksobadithurts’ thing in the vein of the Ilona Andrews or Chloe Neill series? No. I’m not clutching the edge of my chair in suspense, but maybe that will come with future books. For now, the funny one-liners, flow, talking dogs, and crazy gods and goddesses are a brilliant breath of fresh air in the UF universe.
And a bonus- no “leather-clad and tramp stamp female torso with dark hair and weapons” cover! (side note- designers, please stop copy pasting!).
Avalon Revisted by O.M. Grey was on my to-read list for a while with good reviews and an intriguing steampunk world with vampires and spinsters.
And it started off strong, with a interesting and different male voice completely unapologetic for his lifestyle with a fantastic backstory. And then he met the girl. And instead of being something that took the story to the next level it actually put a dampener on the whole thing.
That said I did finish it and the action and pace was great to the end. Just a shame about the eponymous Miss Avalon and her rather unfortunate effect on the hero…
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly…
Paranormal novelist Charlaine Harris will be closing the coffin on her Southern Vampire series. Harris told PopcornBiz that she intends to end Sookie Stackhouse‘s story on book thirteen.
Harris explained: “I think it’ll be total closure. I don’t go back to things once I’ve finished them. That’s kind of what I do. I don’t want to write Sookie after I get stale. Yeah, I’ll miss them, I’m sure, because I have lived with them for quite a long time – 12 years now. And it did take two years to sell the first book. But I think writers like to do different things. At least this writer does.”
With two more books to go and HBO’s True Blood series, fans don’t have to say goodbye to Sookie just yet.
Harris is currently working on the twelfth book of the series and the Cemetery Girl graphic novel with writer Christopher Golden. Golden has written original novels for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television franchise and several of his own original titles. Harris has also released a comic book adaptation of the first book in the Harper Connelly series, Grave Sight.
The Urban Fantasy genre has really had a boom in the last couple of years. Urban Fantasy was first thought of as a sub-genre in the 1980s, with works by authors such as Charles DeLint and Emma Bull. One of my new favorite authors, Seanan McGuire, opined that Fairy Tales were the Urban Fantasy of their day, so the genre has been around quite awhile. Still, it is most definitely on the upswing at the moment, and I am more than okay with that!
One of the main, accepted elements of Urban Fantasy is that it’s a fantasy set in a city, though there are certainly urban fantasies set in rural towns (Sookie Stackhouse, anyone?). It’s more a flavor of modernism, city or not, rather than fantasy set in a more medieval-esque setting. Magic and the supernatural meet the modern world, and hi-jinks ensue. Some Urban Fantasy leans more toward the horror genre, some towards mystery, some more humorous, some with strong links to the myths of Faerie or other pantheons, some with an emphasis on romance and some are even a little (or a lot) naughty (the latter often falling more under the heading of Paranormal Romance). I myself enjoy Urban Fantasy that incorporates a strong sense of place, some humor, some suspense, and maybe a fine romance if it suits the story.
There are, of course, too many books to for even a voracious reader to keep up with, so here are my current top 3 favorite Urban Fantasy series:
First on my list is Greywalker, by Kat Richardson. Part of my enjoyment was the setting in Seattle, as I was somewhat familiar with some of the places mentioned. Harper is a Private Investigator, who in the first gripping chapter, is beaten and actually dies for two minutes. This leads to her being able to see “The Grey”, a sort of spirit world not visible to most people. This first book does have a lot of set-up, and the main character, Harper, is disoriented a lot, as she tries to come to terms with her new-found abilities, but I found that perfectly reasonable given the circumstances. The book has a strong element of mystery, as Harper tries to figure out who killed her, and why she is seeing strange things. I don’t want to give any more away, but I found the premise and setting quite intriguing. I enjoy seeing characters grow and learn, and this series is a great example. I’m now up to book 5, and still really enjoying them!
Second, I would like to call your attention to Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy. This series is also set in Seattle and the surrounding areas. JoAnn Walker (aka Siobhan Walkingstick) is a police officer more comfortable fixing cars than dealing with people. She is quite put out when a run in with an ancient god calls forth her dormant powers and leaves her a reluctant hero. Her magic is based on a mix of Native American and Celtic origins due to her parents, which I found very interesting. I love her sense of humor, and her mixture of “why me” and “with great power comes great responsibility”. This is another series where you really see the growth of the main character, and I am looking forward to reading book 6.
Third but certainly not least is Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. This is my favorite Urban Fantasy find so far this year, and I eagerly devoured all of the books in print! October “Toby” Daye is a changeling, part human and part Faerie, living in San Francisco. She is also a private eye, and definitely has that mix of humor and determination I find so fun. The setting also lent itself well to the book, and made me want to visit San Francisco again! I greatly enjoyed the elements of Faerie, and how the mythology (and the mystery) is revealed bit by bit throughout the books. Another thing I appreciated about this book, besides the kick-butt story telling and great characters, was the attention to detail. I really felt like the author had done her homework, and she even took the time to put together a glossary of the denizens of Faery and their main traits and how to pronounce their names (which often looks nothing like the Celtic spelling!). Book five is due out in September, and I’m practically counting the days!
Fantastic, fabulous freshness right here! I haven’t been this enamored or energized by a book in a while and (as usual with new series) my only complaint is that I can’t find any information anywhere on when we can expect book two.
Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay is the first adult UF this author has done, although she seems to be quite prolific in the YA section. I can imagine some of her YA readers will experience culture-shock if they graduate to this book with its raw subject matter.
Dead on the Delta introduces an incredible world of poisonous fairies and murder set in the Deep South where "Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dreams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death. Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t."
Annabelle is a beautifully flawed character, with just the right balance of real and super-real to make you fall head over heels in like with her. She’s so human it hurts. Ms Jay keeps the tension high in this tale, both in Annabelle’s personal life and the murder she’s trying to solve, despite really only being trained to scoop up fairy crap for analysis. Going with Annabelle as she develops her potential despite her best efforts at avoiding change and challenge makes for an amazing read.
It wouldn’t be a good UF book without a delectable love interest and in this case we get two. The love triangle is a tried and true hook, but this is probably one of the best ones I’ve ever come across. Both her men are deliciously written and I can see Ms Jay will have us all on tenterhooks in the future. I could go on at length here but I won’t spoil it for you.
I’m so glad I stumbled on this thanks to a random post somewhere. Hope I find some more this year just like this.