Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

Review: Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

There can only be one alpha.

Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack—or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were. With threats—old and new—looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone.

Bryn faces both the costs, and the rewards, of love and loyalty, in this thrilling sequel to Raised by Wolves.

Trial by Fire (Raised by Wolves #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release Date: 2 August 2011
Read Date: 8 October 2011
Rating:

I’m disappointed by this sequel. I don’t feel I should be. Objectively speaking, the plot is a good one. It’s based on an ethical dilemma with no obvious answer and where gaining advice is problematic. The struggle, Bryn’s journey as alpha is what this is about but I just couldn’t seem to care. It was slow for the most part and I became bored.

Despite Lucas’s situation being a sympathetic one, I didn’t like him. I didn’t necessarily want to see him dead but I needed a reason other than his ultimate death to care about Bryn helping him at the possible detriment of her pack.

I’m also disappointed that Barnes didn’t use this sequel as an opportunity to bring depth to certain characters, Chase in particular. He was the main reason I didn’t give Raised By Wolves a higher rating i.e. 5 stars, simply because he was an unknown. We knew nothing about him and I was hoping his story would unfold here. It didn’t. I know little time has passed between books and Bryn is busy caring for the pack but they still spend time together, mostly in silence which was maddening.

The part of the book that I found intriguing was the ending simply because it meant Bryn was forced to make a life and death decision, and she chose death. It was the right choice but it was a painful one which resulted in the loss of a valuable pack member.

Callum’s warning in the form of a horse carving meant nothing until the end so I understood Bryn’s frustration with him even though his hands were tied by fate and politics to do more than he did to help.

I am glad the Bryn has acknowledged the need to one day become wolf because even though she is strong as human, she’s vulnerable, too.

Overall, I believe the writing lets this book down. Trial By Fire could’ve easily been a five star read if the writing had been tighter, faster paced with more character development. I’m not eager to read the next book but if my library order it I probably will in the vain hope these problems will be addressed.

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Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne

Release Date: 3 May 2011
Read Date: 18 October 2011
Rating: [Did Not Finish]

I jinxed myself. I read the first 5 pages and thought I might actually like it after procrastinating over the decision of: to read, or not to read? I blame myself for attempting to as many have compared it to Jim Butcher’s writing. Me and that dude do not get on. We are chalk and cheese.

The humour is unfunny, it’s forced. The info-dump is off-putting, too much too fast. Dialogue-overload. Not enough description.

Atticus claims to be 2,100 or just 21 to humans. He lies to everyone but the humans. He ain’t two thousand years old. There’s no way. He brags about the famous historical events he’s witnessed, the powerful and dangerous gods he knows and thinks his physical prowess is that of a ninja. He sounds like an immature boy. Show me you’ve lived longer than most, don’t just tell me. He also feels too modern and “down with the kids”.

These gods care enough to warn Atticus of an impending threat on his life but he doesn’t take them seriously. Even after he is attacked. I don’t understand why they care if he never listens to them.

One of said gods, has promised not to let Atticus die. So if he’s in terrible agony from multiple wounds, he won’t die. That’s awful. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, and this woman is supposed to be an ally. Some ally. No thanks.

I wasn’t impressed with the gods we met in the beginning. Not much intelligence or wisdom to be found in them. They were only concerned with petty grievances and vengeance.

I hear Oberon is a hoot and an adorable sidekick. Well, I met him but he doesn’t seem terribly dog-like.

I’ve never given up after so few pages read before but I can’t force myself to read any more.

Not for me.

36/292 pages read.

View all my reviews

Cover Reveal ~ Doubletake by Rob Thurman

Doubletake (Cal Leandros #7) by Rob Thurman

Rob shared her love for the newest Cal Leandros cover created by artist, Chris McGrath.

Chris is the cover artist for many of our favorite series, in addition to Rob’s Nightlife series.

Release date: 6 March 2012 | Publisher: Roc

Pre-order your copy @ Amazon | Book Depository | B&N

“This is a New War” ~ Underworld: Awakening in 2012

“This is a new war…”

Underworld: Awakening, starring the beautiful Kate Beckinsale, will air in US theaters on 20 January 2012. In this edition of Underworld, Selene wakes up to a “new world” where the humans are at war with vampires and lycans. From the preview clip, Selene is on the hunt for Michael (played by Scott Speedman), the vamp-lycan hybrid from Underworld: Evolution. Read ShockTillYouDrop.com’s report on their visit to the set.

Synopsis from Comingsoon.net:

“Underworld Awakening” brings a stunning new dimension to the epic battle between Vampires and Lycans, as the first film in the franchise to shoot in 3D.

Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.






Wishing Well Wednesday ~ You Spin Me Right ‘Round

Wishing Well Wednesday is a weekly feature showcasing the books we have on our wish lists and those we’re looking forward to being published.


“You spin me right ’round, baby, right ’round…” ~ Dead or Alive

When an author spins off a series you love, the excitement to read that new series increases.


Darkness Unbound (Dark Angels #1) by Keri Arthur

Release Date: 7 September 2011

Risa Jones is as extraordinary as her heritage. Born from a lab-enhanced clone mother and an Aedh father, she can not only talk to the souls of the dying and the dead, but she can see the reapers and walk the gray fields that divide this world from the next.

They are skill she rarely uses, however, preferring to concentrate on the business she shares with her two best friends. But when her mother asks her to help the parents of a little girl locked in a coma, she reluctantly agrees. What she discovers scares the hell out of her. Because the little girl’s soul no longer resides in her body, and it wasn’t death and the reapers that took her.

Someone had ripped her soul from her flesh.

As it turns out, a creature consuming the souls of the innocent–and not so innocent–is the least of her problems.

Because someone wants to rip open the gates that divided hell from earth, and Risa is a key component in their plans.

And the only person standing between her and disaster is a reaper who isn’t exactly on her side.


*Book #2, Darkness Rising is due the following month on 25 October!

Happy Reading!


Manic Monday | Drive-By Reviews ~ Things That Make Ya Go, Hmmm

MM-DBR

Manic Monday | Drive-By Reviews is a weekly feature where we’ll share some mini-reviews Alice-style.


Iron Crowned (Dark Swan #3) by Richelle Mead

I like this UK cover better than the US version

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land’s queen, she’s fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear…

Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown’s ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation–one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril…




“Curiouser and curiouser!” ~ Alice

Opening Line: Don’t confuse fairy queens with fairy princesses. {Eugenie}
Closing Line: I looked away, not meeting his eyes—because I had a crazy feeling he was right. {Eugenie}


“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you’re at.” ~ Mad Hatter

We pick up where Thorn Queen left off. Dorian and Eugenie are united in their fight against the Rowan Queen. Eugenie sets out on a quest to find the Iron Crown in an attempt to end the war. That’s where the story starts to get … odd. I was happily surprised to find I was actually beginning to like Genie’s sister, Jasmine. Dorian remains my favorite character throughout this series. He is who he is and you know what to expect from him. Genie on the other hand was all over the place in this installment. She was frustrated with her “unwanted powers”, but equally paraded it about shouting how powerful she is as the Thorn Queen. There was also a lot of back and forth between the two worlds. While I enjoy a pop-in to check on the roomie, business, etc, this one had me wishing she’d stick to the fae realm.

Rating:


“What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations” ~ Alice

Richelle Mead is not a New2Me author.


“That’s just it. If you don’t think, then you shouldn’t talk.” ~ The Hare

Kiyo is back and boy, are the fans a roar. Not in a good way though. This book has definitely ruffled some readers’ feathers. While I didn’t hop on the “I hate Eugenie” bandwagon, I was stumped by her decisions. I’m holding out faith that the next installment, Shadow Heir will reunite us with the Genie we first fell in love with in Storm Born. This book did one thing extremely well, it got the fans talking and spreading the word about the series.
Honestly, I am not quite sure how to rate it. Since I’m undecided on 2.5 or 3 demons, I’ll round up to 3 since I haven’t fully given up hope for Eugenie.


“Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves” ~ The Dutchess

This quote is Eugenie’s Iron Crowned experience in a nutshell.


“I told you that long ago, that the Oak King’s own agenda will always come first. As will the kitsune’s. But, unsurprisingly, my mistress chooses to ignore the only sound advice given to her and instead listens to those who use affection for their own purposes.” {Eugenie’s demon, Volusian}


“We are all mad here.” ~ The Cheshire Cat

This book almost got the Queen of Hearts award, but I am planning on continuing the series.
So, this book receives the Cheshire Cat award for characters who evoke such strong reactions from fans – whether good or bad.




Until Next Week ~ Happy Reading!


Wishing Well Wednesday ~ Anthologies

Wishing Well Wednesday is a weekly feature showcasing the books we have on our wish lists and those we’re looking forward to being published.


I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies.

I love to read anything related to my favorite series and I love finding new series to read. In those regards, anthologies are my salve and savior. They give me a bit more or a behind the scenes looks at my favorite characters. They also provide a short introduction to series I would like to check out. Then, there’s the hate side of the coin. Anthologies are by definition a collection of short stories. Sometimes those shorts are a bit too short, leaving me more anxious for the next in series book than I was before I started. Others are just not that great. Some authors, in my opinion, are better at writing short stories than others. All that being said, I lust after any PNR/UF anthology that shows up on the upcoming lists. Here are a few that Ames & I have on our wishlists.



Kitty’s Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn
Release Date: 16 Aug 2011

The first-ever story collection featuring Kitty Norville and her companions from New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn, including two all-new works.





Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions by Melissa Marr (editor), Kelley Armstrong (editor), Rachel Vincent, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jeri Smith-Ready, Mary E. Pearson, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Jessica Verday, Claudia Gray, Jackson Pearce, Carrie Ryan, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Ally Condie and Kimberly Derting
Release Date: 20 Sep 2011

Sixteen of today’s most popular writers of paranormal tales present stories with the common theme of journeys. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new landscapes and characters.

Whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.


Supernatural by Larissa Ione, Alexandra Ivy, Jacquelyn Frank and G.A. Aiken
Release Date: 30 Aug 2011

In this tantalizing collection, four New York Times bestselling authors invite you into the alluring worlds they’ve created in the Demonica, Guardians of Eternity, Nightwalkers, and Dragon Kin series. Each mesmerizing page will leave you craving more…

“Vampire Fight Club ” by Larissa Ione

When a wave of violence forces shapeshifter Vladlena to go undercover, her first stop is a haven of vice—with a dangerously sexy vamp in charge. Both Vladlena and Nathan are hiding something, but they can’t conceal the lust that simmers between them…

“Darkness Eternal ” by Alexandra Ivy

After being held captive by one vampire for four centuries, Kata had no intention of taking another one to the underworld with her. Yet even in the pits of hell, there’s no ignoring the intoxicating desire awakened by his touch…

“Kane ” by Jacquelyn Frank

Kane knows Corrine was meant to be his. . . just as he knows that truly possessing the lovely human is forbidden. But on the night of the Samhain moon, the beast in every demon is stronger than reason, and Kane’s hunger is more powerful than any punishment…

“Dragon on Top ” by G.A. Aiken

Escorting the highborn Bram through deadly Sand Dragon territory will try Ghleanna’s patience. . . and her resolve. For Bram is determined to enhance the journey with a seduction no female could resist…


Home Improvement: Undead Edition by Charlaine Harris (editor), Toni L.P. Kelner (editor), Patricia Briggs, James Grady, Heather Graham and Melissa Marr
Release Date: 2 Aug 2011

The editors of the New York Times bestselling Death’s Excellent Vacation bring home a new collection…with a never-before- published Sookie Stackhouse story!

There’s nothing like home renovation for finding skeletons in the closet or otherwordly portals in the attic. Now, for any homeowner who’s ever wondered, “What’s that creaking sound?” or fans of “how to” television who’d like a little unreality mixed in with their reality shows, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner return with an all-new collection of the paranormal perils of Do-It-Yourself.

Sookie Stackhouse resides in these pages, in a never-before-published story by #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris. And New York Times bestselling authors Patricia Briggs, James Grady, Heather Graham, Melissa Marr, and nine other outstanding writers have constructed more frightening and funny fixer-upper tales guaranteed to shake foundations and rattle readers’ pipes.


The Wild Side by Mark L. Van Name, Diana Rowland, Tanya Huff, Caitlin Kittredge, Gina Massel-Castater, Toni L.P. Kelner, Sarah A. Hoyt, Ticia Drake Isom, Dana Cameron and John Lambshead
Release Date: 2 Aug 2011

Take a walk on the “wild side” of urban fantasy. When the werewolf cubs are asleep and the baby vamps are tucked into their coffins, the adults come out to play! Feeling a bit undead and dying to shuffle off your toil and troubles and get it on? You’ve come to the right place! Spend some quality time lolling in the moonlight shadows with a love that only comes out at night. From light-spirited romps to black-hearted noir, from steampunk London to the bleeding edge of the present, tales of love, eros, betrayal and seduction in a beguiling vein. Best-sellers Tanya Huff, Caitlin Kittredge and Toni L.P. Kelner join Dana Cameron, Sarah A. Hoyt, John Lambshead, Diana Rowland and editor Mark L. Van Name create a dazzling cast of vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies, oh my. Oh my.


The Urban Fantasy Anthology by Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Joe R. Lansdale (Editor), Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint
Release Date: 15 Aug 2011

Star-studded and comprehensive, this imaginative anthology brings a myriad of modern fantasy voices under one roof. Previously difficult for readers to discover in its new modes, urban fantasy is represented here in all three of its distinct styles—playful new mythologies, sexy paranormal romances, and gritty urban noir. Whether they feature tattooed demon-hunters, angst-ridden vampires, supernatural gumshoes, or pixelated pixies, these authors—including Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint—mash-up traditional fare with pop culture, creating iconic characters, conflicted moralities, and complex settings. The result is starkly original fiction that has broad-based appeal and is immensely entertaining.



Happy Reading!


Wishing Well Wednesday ~ Witchy Ways

Wishing Well Wednesday is a weekly feature showcasing the books we have on our wish lists and those we’re looking forward to being published.


“It’s a Kinda Magic” ~ Queen

Right about now, Ames & I are both wishing we had time to read!
Here’s a book which has managed to stay on our TBR list for a while, though not because of a lack of interest, and book #2 was just released July 5th.


Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1) by Kalayna Price
Release Date: December 2010

Not even death can save her now.

As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she’s even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she’s seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she’s raising a “shade” involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn’t want her to know what the dead have to say, and she’ll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why…







Grave Dance (Alex Craft #2) by Kalayna Price
Release Date: 5 July 2011

After a month of down time, Grave Witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But when her new case forces her to overuse her magic, it might be the last mystery the Grave Witch ever gets to solve…











Happy Reading!


Manic Monday | Drive-By Reviews ~ Vamp Noir

MM-DBR

Manic Monday | Drive-By Reviews is a weekly feature where we’ll share some mini-reviews Alice-style.


Bloodshot (Cheshire Red Reports #1) by Cherie Priest

VAMPIRE FOR HIRE

Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.


“Curiouser and curiouser!” ~ Alice

Opening Line: “You wouldn’t believe some of the weird shit people pay me to steal.” {Raylene}
Closing Line: “I couldn’t help but smile. Life was getting back to normal again … God help us all.” {Raylene}


“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you’re at.” ~ Mad Hatter

I had the best time listening to this book! The narrator, Natalie Ross, sounded so familiar to me. Then, I realized she’s Mac from Moning’s Fever series.

Raylene is an absolute hoot! She’s a vamp for hire and, up until recently, has spent her time hunting for people’s odd missing items. She’s also a thief extraordinaire. She meets Ian, a blind vampire (she was surprised that was possible too), who wants her help retrieving a government document. Along the way, she meets a former Navy Seal turned drag queen. Together they hunt down the document, learn about some scary supe experiments and become friends.


Rating:


“What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” ~ Alice

Cherie Priest was a new2me author.


“That’s just it. If you don’t think, then you shouldn’t talk.” ~ The Hare

There wasn’t a single thing about this book I didn’t enjoy. It is one of my 2011 favorites. The series can go anywhere – so many possibilities! I cannot wait to see what’s in store for Raylene next.


“Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves.” ~ The Duchess

There were a TON of LOL lines throughout this book. Here are just a few of my favorites.
And, whenever a book references “The Princess Bride”, it gets extra points.


“I hadn’t heard him come inside, but that’s no surprise.
I wouldn’t have heard an air horn up my ass while I was feeding.”
{Raylene}

“I wanted to pin him down and demand that he say, ‘My name is Inigo Montoya-you killed my father, prepare to die.’ But, I suspect that would’ve been deeply inappropriate in any number of ways….” {Raylene re: Adrian}

“Vampirism is like Photoshop for the flesh – it fills out, rounds off, smooths over, and brightens up everything.” {Raylene}


“We’re all mad here.” ~ The Cheshire Cat

This book receives the Cheshire Cat award for it’s superbness! 🙂
I am desperately awaiting book #2, Hellbent, which is due out August 30th.




Until Next Week ~ Happy Reading


Wishing Well Wednesday ~ Demon Delight

Wishing Well Wednesday is a weekly feature showcasing the books we have on our wish lists and those we’re looking forward to being published.


What girl doesn’t want to take a walk on the demonic side?


The Demon Trapper’s Daughter [US] / Forsaken [UK] (The Demon Trappers #1) by Jana Oliver
Release Date: February 2011












Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?


Happy Hunting!