Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy Book Reviews

Feast, by Merrie Destefano


From the Publishing Blurb:   Release date June 28th, 2011

ARC from Netgalley

Madeline MacFadden (“Mad Mac” to fans of her bestselling magical stories) spent blissful childhood summers in Ticonderoga Falls. And this is where she wants to be now that her adult life is falling apart. The dense surrounding forest holds many memories, some joyous, some tantalizingly only half-remembered. And she’s always believed there was something living in these wooded hills.

But Maddie doesn’t remember the dark parts — and knows nothing of the mountain legend that holds the area’s terrified residents captive. She has no recollection of Ash, the strange and magnificent creature who once saved her life as a child, even though it is the destiny of his kind to prey upon humanity. And soon it will be the Harvest. . . the time to feast.

Once again Maddie’s dreams — and her soul — are in grave danger. But magic runs deep during Harvest. Even a spinner of enchanted tales has wondrous powers of her own

 

Rating :  C –  or about 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Sounds good right?  It should be better, and I hope some more editing before the release will help.

I had a very hard time with this novel.  I’m not even sure how to start this review.

It was all so confusing.  First, I guess I’ll start with some questions for the author, then some points.

1) What is a Darkling?  How did they come to be, where do they come from, and what the freaking heck are they!!

~After reading this novel, I STILL HAVE NO IDEA!!! That is not good.  This novel needs tighter editing, more information available for the reader, and to plug the major plot holes that are pretty glaring.

2) What is a Guardian, why are they necessary, what exactly was this Curse, and what did it entail. The details were sketchy at best.  We really need more information.

~Ash is the Guardian of Ticonderoga Falls.  OK. Good for him.  What does this mean?  What is his job, why is he there, what does he do?

3) What is this legend Keeper Business?

~The term was just tossed out there, and we were expected to understand.  With no concept of what the Darklings even are, how can we fathom what a Legend Keeper is?  Also, When Joe is Telling Maddie the Legend, WHY did you do it off-screen?  That would have answered SO many questions for the reader!!

4) What exactly is FEASTING.  How do the Darklings harvest dreams?  This is not explained and the readers have to try to extrapolate the information between the lines, and it is difficult with so much conflicting information. 

~They are not vampires?  Why does the Sheriff point out the two holes on the neck, and a seemingly empty body that is ‘flat”.  OK, so these Darklings–do they use their fangs to drink the blood, and with the blood they also get dreams, hopes and aspirations from their victims?  The blood is incidental?  If so, it would be nice to know that. There was too much telling, and absolutely no showing of how this works.  It went like this “We harvest the dreams.”  “Mmm I am harvesting” “Oh, I harvested too much, now he/she is dead” 

5) Pretty much each chapter was in a different point of view.  From every character in the novel.  EVERY. ONE.  Maddie, Ash, Thane, River, Elspeth, Sage, Sienna, Joe, The sheriff, The dog, It was a revolving door of characters, and took away my interest. 

~ Since we had so many story lines being interwoven, it was hard to connect to any one character.

6) There really is no love in this novel.  I didn’t feel the romance.  At all.  I’m sorry, but it didn’t work for me.  It came out of left field, at the very end, and it wasn’t believable.  This aspect of the story needs work.  The interest needs to be throughout the novel. 

The writing style was nice, I liked how Merrie Destefano writes.  Her words are poetic, and lyrical.  She paints a vivid picture.  But this picture just didn’t work for me.

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“Waiting On” Wednesday ~ Magic Slays


  “Waiting On” Is a weekly Meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This weeks book I am waiting on is Magic Slays. This is book #5 in the Kate Daniels Series.

Release May 31

I choose this because it comes out next week 😆 On Tuesday May 31st, you will find me locked away reading feverishly on my kindle.  I might even wake up a midnight and see if is there, that is how much I am looking forward to reading Magic Slays.  I haven’t been able to read anything else the past week, nothing can seem to compare at the moment to Kateverse.  You can see my previous Love Fest of All Things Ilona Andrews

To buy Magic Slays

From the publishers blurb:

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price

She went there, she did.


I am an admittedly emotional reviewer, and this book really pissed me off.  I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, and I have no ill will towards the author, Ms. Neill.  I mostly enjoy these novels, but I cannot get behind cliffhangers.  I know that if you read this review Ms. Neill, that you will take this personally, because you are human, and you are the creator of this universe in Merit Land, but I ask you to put aside your personal feelings, and know that I don’t know you personally.  I’m sure you are the nicest human being ever, and maybe you help old people cross the street, pick up garbage on the side of the roads when your not writing, and donate all your money to charity.  Still?  This book pissed me off.  I’m sorry.  It’s not you.  It’s me.

Really? You went there? Seriously? Have you been talking with Karen Moning? Didn’t you read any reviews, blogs or pissy conversations about how fans truly HATE cliffhangers and this type of plot device? Or maybe you have been talking with Kim Harrison? She did a similar thing with Kistan. You ask us to trust you, why should we? Because you have a grand plan?

I lose faith in authors who do this, and I hope that it is not just for Shock value that you went there.

Now then, I have some ideas on where I think you might be going, and what you did, and with whom. I’m interested to see if my brain is heading in the right direction, but really feel like I should tell you that I didn’t need this type of ending to make me want to read your next novel. I was already invested in Merit, Ethan and the gang.

Oh, and Death to the GP!!! Bunch of wankers.

I debated ranting and raving like a book reading lunatic, but I just can’t summon the energy.  I seem to be zapped and tapped.

I really hate cliffhangers. Have I mentioned that?

Kate Daniels #5 Signed Edition by Ilona Andrews – Powell’s Books


In Stores 5-31-2011

Last year, Powell’s Book Store in Portland, Oregon hosted Ilona and Gordon’s signing of Magic Bleeds.  They (Powell’s)  talked a lot of smack, and the fans brought it.  The fans blew the numbers out of the river, and this year, Powell’s thinks they are ready.  They ordered 150 copies.  I think us fans can totally hit that number!  Don’t you?  Magic Slays promises to be a sure fire hit for 2011, and Urban Fantasy.  Kate is going to kick ass and take names!  Let’s prove how loyal us fans are!  Pre-order your copy of Magic Slays now!!  Don’t forget!

Hexed Anthology as well, which features our favorite Spy Master ruffian and Vegetarian Blind Tiger.  Jim and Dali.  I can’t wait to read about Jim and Dali!  Then Kate can give him shit even more! I love it.  Smack talk will commence in 3 – 2 – 1… Bring it!

Kate Daniels #5 Signed Edition by Ilona Andrews – Powell’s Books.

I am not a suck up!, authors Ilona Andrews


But today, I want to talk about one of my favorite author duo’s.  Ilona Andrews.  A husband and wife writing team of Urban Fantasy, which I think is just all kinds of awesome.  I would love if my husband shared my love of books and wanted to write with me, but alas, twas not meant to be.

There could be minor spoilers, but I tried to keep it spoiler free!

So, onto the goods.  Well, first I should point out that I don’t personally know Ilona and Gordon, aside from being a blog stalker obsessed fan reader {OK facebook stalker, twitterpatted, and goodreads too!}, and loyal book buyer {audio, ebook and paperback}.

I read the first Kate Daniels book, then immediately drove all the way to Barnes and Noble with the kids (I think I had two at the time and was pregnant with my third) and bought the next ones.  It was love at first read.  The unique writing voice, the protagonist, the world building, the characters–it hooked me and hasn’t let go since.

Laugh along with me here: Kate to Curran

“How much are you lifting?”
“Seven hundred.”
Alrighty then. I will just stand over here, out of your way, and hope you don’t remember to kick my ass.
He grinned. “Wanna spot me?”
“No thanks. How about I just scream verbal encouragements at you?” I took a deep breath and barked, “No pain, no gain! That pain is just weakness leaving your body! Come on! Push! Push! Make that weight your bitch!”

Part of what I think makes the series so awesome, is the world building.  It’s very complex, fresh, and totally interesting.  It’s not a cliche, or half-assed world.  It’s fully fleshed and thought out.  It’s also pretty dark.  I like dark books.  But they make me laugh too. Kate makes me laugh.  I love her inner wittyness.

She is snark personified.

“I gave him my best cryptic smile. He did not fall down to his feet, kiss my shoes, and promise me the world. I must be getting rusty.”

I love that she doesn’t always think before she speaks, because sometimes I have that problem too, and part of creating lead characters is making them relateable on some level to the reader.  You need to be able to identify with the characters you read about in order to stay involved in the story, and care what happens to them.  I care about Kate.  Sometimes I will tell my husband about a scene I read; he just rolls his eyes at me along with the look of “why are you telling me this, don’t you know these aren’t real people?”   To which I reply, “they are real to me!” and storm off, usually laughing.  He just doesn’t get it.  That’s OK.  Not everyone is a reader or enjoys reading, but personally if I didn’t have a book with me wherever I go, I tend to get panicky  My kindle, Nook or a paperback can be found on me somewhere at all times.  You just never know when you will get the chance to read a few more pages!

Good authors will do that to you.  Force you to tote that book around with you, just so you can sneak time to read a bit more.  While sitting at the doctors office, while making supper (Kindle comes in handy here :lol:) while waiting at a red light {don’t go calling the cops on me, it’s only if I’m at a pivotal point, or a dire moment!  As a side note, I never read while actually driving.  THAT would be dangerous.  But I have incurred a few horn honks because I missed the light turning green. Woops!

Moving on.  Before I find myself on the verge of a D.S.S call.  Plotting.  I enjoy the plots of the Kate Daniels series.  I love that I don’t know who the Villain is.  Book one, Magic Bites I had no idea who the bad person was.  Then I laughed when it was revealed.  In a good way.  The second novel, Magic Burns I was completely intrigued in the Mythos Ilona and Gordon brought to the table.  The third book, Magic Strikes is what cemented Ilona Andrews awesomeness in my brain permanently.  Magic Strikes is such an amazing book.  I laughed more in that book than I had in a long time.  The telephone conversation alone keeps me in giggles whenever I think about it.  The climax was fan-freaking-tastic.  The bloody battle in the arena was just ROCK ON!!  Magic Bleeds was an emotional book for me, and for Kate.  I was lucky to win an Advanced Reader Copy from the contest on their blog, and I was simply blown away and humbled by it.  The villain in Magic Bleeds was wicked.  The conversation between the Villain and Kate at the table in her apartments was just… there are no words for the coolness of it.  The battle in that book was just off the hook.  Don’t even get me started on the ending.  Her and Curran at the end.  I was glued to my seat, riveted reading the words on the page as fast as I could so I would know how they fared.  It was fantastic stuff.

Magic Bleeds: 

“Ready to put your claws where your mouth is, or are you going to cringe behind the big boys and yip all day?”
His eyes flared yellow “Is that a challenge?”
“Yes it is.”

I simply cannot wait for Magic Slays, which should hit stores at the end of May.

Now, you can’t talk about Ilona and Gordon without talking about the EDGE series.  The Edge is soooooo different from the Kate Daniels series.  The voice is different.  First off, it’s third person instead of first person.  Second, the world building in the Edge series just KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF.  I have no idea how on earth a mind comes up with some of the characters and situations that arise in this series.  There are two books out currently,  “On the Edge” and “Bayou Moon“.  For those of you not familiar, the Edge is a magical place set between the Broken and the Weird.  The broken is like how we live now in real life.  The Weird is a Magical Realm, and the Edge is in between, people who live there have some magic.  Too much to live in the Broken, but not enough to be welcomed by the Weird.   Bayou Moon was one of the most horrific books that could make you laugh.  It sounds odd, but the combo really works for me.  I can laugh while I cringe, and that is totally freaking awesomsauce writing right there!

Funny Quote from “On the Edge”  and why I love Ilona Andrews:

Rose to her brother:

“Yes, I’m too mad to punish you right now. We’ll talk about it when we get home. Go brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on dry clothes, and get the guns. We’re going to Wal-Mart”

Rose to Declan from “On the Edge”

“It’s awful to be rich and mind-boggingly handsome and have women fawn over you. My heart bleeds for you. Poor dear, how do you manage?

Bayou Moon, William to Cerise:

“William leaned forward and pointed at the river. “I don’t know why you rolled in spaghetti sauce,” he said in a confidential voice. “I don’t really care. But that water over there won’t hurt you. Try washing it off.”
She stuck her tongue out.
“Maybe after you’re clean,” he said.
Her eyes widened. She stared at him for a long moment. A little crazy spark lit up in her dark irises.
She raised her finger, licked it, and rubbed some dirt off her forehead.
Now what?
The girl showed him her stained finger and reached toward him slowly, aiming for his face.
“No,” William said. “Bad hobo.”

So, what on earth are you waiting for?  If you haven’t already picked up an Ilona Andrews book, run out and get one!  Or download one, here let me help you to the Amazon Ilona Andrews Page, or at Barnes and Noble.

So, continuing on, another facet of Ilona Andrews is their accessibility to the fans.  They have an extremely funny blog, a forum, and they answer emails!  I love that they are real people.  Sometimes I think J.D Robb/Nora Roberts is a robot (I  mean Come on!  How can you write like 10 books a year!) Gordon writes amazing little Curran tidbits and Points of View, which he doesn’t have to do, but does because the fans demand beg ask for it.

Oh.My.God! I went this whole post so far without talking about CURRAN!  How could I let that happen?  Curran is the Beast Lord, and hello?  He’s a LION! Rawr!  Ruler of thousands of Shape Shifters in the Atlanta area.  As alpha as they come, crazy to boot, and in love with Kate (Of course, the readers aren’t privy to his crazy love, except through Gordon’s Curran Point’s of view) and until Magic Strikes, he keeps his feelings mostly to himself, with subtle hints here and there.

Alpha Curran to Mercenary Kate: Magic Bites

“I turned to leave and paused before the gap in the ruined wall. “One last thing, Your Majesty. I’d like a name I can put into my report, something shorter than typing out ‘The Leader of the Southern Shapechanger Faction.’ What should I call you?”
“Lord.”
I rolled my eyes.
He shrugged. “It’s short.”

Curran to Kate:

“I’ve had a lot of practice. The Pack contains thirty-two species in seven tribes, each with their own hang-up. Jackals and coyotes pick fights with wolves, because they have an inferiority complex and think they’ve got something to prove.
Wolves believe themselves to be superior, marry the wrong people, and then refuse to divorce them because they cling to their ‘mating for life’ idiocy.
Hyenas listen to nobody, screw everything, and break out in berserk rages at some perceived slight against one of their own.
Cats randomly refuse to follow orders to prove they can.
That’s my life. I’ve been at this for fifteen years now.
You’re easy by comparison.”

Before I wind this post down, I wanted to point out that Ilona Andrews has some Novella’s and Short story books as well.  A little bit of Sci-fi, a little bit of magic and very cool.  You can see the list here, be sure to check them out.

And just because I find this hysterical, and Ilona is so fantastically funny: Ilona made this as a parody for Magic Slays.  See what I mean?  Funny Authors!~

So, come out of lurkdom yon blog readers, and tell me why you love Ilona Andrews!

Hunting Human, by Amanda E. Alvarez


Release date: March 28th, 2011

What a great Debut Novel! Very promising shifter series. It had a few FBOS (First book of series) issues, but they were minor.

We start out in the past by a few years.

Our heroine Elizabeth, has a spine built of steel. While on a vacation with her best friend Rachel in Europe, they find themselves kidnapped and at the mercy of monsters. Literally. Men who turn into wolves, and force them to run for their lives through the woods while they hunt human instead of deer.

Flash forward to present day.

Our hero Braden is strong and sexy, and a more beta than alpha Werewolf. While visiting his friends mom at her coffee shop, he is immediately drawn to the new employee, and he and Beth begin dating.

They both have secrets. Secrets they should have shared, but didn’t and boy do they come and taser the shit out of them both.

I loved all the characters, and the way they were all written and interacted with each other. I didn’t find any shallowly written characters, which was refreshing.

I thought the villain(s) were terrific monsters, and uber creeptastic.

The climax was done well; aside from one TSTL moment, on the part of Braden. I understand why this particular too stupid to live (TSTL) moment occurred, but Braden was written smarter than this, and it felt like perhaps it could have been written differently. However the story was still good.

I hope Amanda Alvaraz continues on with this world she created, and with this group of wolves in particular. I would love to see Chase, Lucy, Caleb, and even Mike, get HEA’s (Happily Ever afters)

Green Eyed Demon, by Jaye Wells


This is the third novel in the Sabina Kane series and it was…stilted. The book started out well, minus a few too many “Bitches” and other words that were used far too often.

This is not a stand alone novel, and you need to read the previous book to figure out what on earth is going on.

Sabina, Adam and Gigi are on a mission to find and rescue Maisie from the clutches of Lavinia.

It was good in the beginning, really slow in the middle, and really fast at the end.

I did get a little teary at the end, with what happens to Adam, Maisie and Sabina.

The end was open, not exactly a cliffhanger, but it means there are more books planned now I guess. I originally thought this was a trilogy.

For most of this novel, I didn’t like Sabina. She yelled at everyone, bitched at everyone, and still kept everyone at arms length. She finally figures her shit out at the end, but by then, it’s pretty much too little too late.

Interested to see where this goes in the future, but this is being taken off my “Must buy the day the book comes out”, shelf

The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross


Review Below!

From the Publisher: Release Date May 24th, 2011

She thought there was something wrong with her. She was right.
Finley Jayne has known for quite some time that she isn’t ‘normal,’ but when she beats up the son of her employer and is forced to flee, she stumbles into a world where there are bigger freaks than her. They take her in, treat her like family and demand her trust. How can Finley trust them when she can’t trust herself? And why is she drawn to the powerful Griffin as well as the dangerous Jack? She has to get herself under control before she gets into trouble she can’t get out of.

Griffin King is one of the most powerful men in Britain but he couldn’t save his best friend from almost dying. He is determined to save Finley and help her become the person he knows she can be, but there’s evil afoot in London. Machines have attacked humans under the orders of a nefarious criminal called The Machinist. He has sworn to protect his country against such a threat, but he’s never faced any foe like this. However, when he discovers The Machinist’s connection to his past, Griffin vows to end the villain once and for all — but he’ll need the help of all his friends, including the beautiful Finley Jayne – the girl in the steel corset

********************************************************************************************************************

3.5/5 (I downgraded after thinking about this novel some more)
This book was totally cool, interesting and compelling. The steam punk aspects were fantastic, integrated well, and weren’t trite.

However, there were a lot of inconsistencies. Historical inconsistencies and character interaction inconsistencies. One such example would be Finley running around town (1800’s) alone and unchaperoned wearing pants and riding a motorcycle like object, sparring with a shirtless man, but when Griff shows her his tattoo, and wants to tattoo her she is all a flutter about impropriety and indecency!

One of my qualms? No romance. Not even a kiss between our Hero or Heroine. They did think about kissing though, so I guess that counts =)

Also, the characters were all in their teens and I think Griff may have been 20, but they all talked really old. I don’t think we are told Finley’s age either. That bugs me now.

However, I don’t think this novel has exactly ONE hero or ONE heroine. All the characters were pretty darn fantastic! A metal man, a genius, a dual natured ass kicking chic, a telepath, and an aether wielder = AWESOME!

So, if you are a fan of steam punk and YA, put this on your buy list!
If you are a fan of awesome characters who remind you of X-men, the League of Extraordinary Gentleman and the Wild, Wild West, then put this on your buy list!

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