Tag: Urban Fantasy

Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Posted October 17, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #3
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9), Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
Published by Ace
Publication Date: March 31st 2009
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 310
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four-stars

When magic strikes and Atlanta goes to pieces, it’s a job for Kate Daniels…
Drafted to work for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems these days than she knows what to do with. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.
But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation-only, no-holds-barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community…

Magic Strikes is book 3 in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. This is a multi-layered story that progresses over many books. The series should definitely be read in order.

Reading these books back-to-back has really driven home the progression of the writing and story-arc. I really think this is the book where the series picks up steam and settles into itself. I really enjoyed it. The storyline is intense and I really loved the development of the main and secondary characters.

My heart broke for Derek and I really felt Kate’s rage and pain. Kate’s determination to take responsibility for every single thing that happens to her friends can be frustrating. She really skates that “becoming unbearable” line. She hasn’t quite crossed it, but her constant guilt and the quickness in which she claims responsibility for everything is frustrating at times.

The interesting world and character development has me hooked.

3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

Posted October 16, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri ArthurReviewer: Holly
Full Moon Rising (Riley Jenson Guardian #1) by Keri Arthur
Series: Riley Jenson Guardian #1
Published by Random House
Publication Date: December 26th 2006
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 372
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three-half-stars

In this exciting debut, author Keri Arthur explodes onto the supernatural scene with a sexy, sensuous tale of intrigue and suspense set in a world where legends walk and the shady paths of the underworld are far more sinister than anyone envisioned.

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne’s Directorate of Other Races, an organization created to police the supernatural races–and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, a.k.a. assassin, Riley is merely an office worker–until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn’t be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming.…

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she’s going to find her brother….Easier said than done as the city pulses with frenzied desire, and Riley is confronted with a very powerful–and delectably naked–vamp who raises her temperature like never before.

In matters carnal, Riley has met her match. But in matters criminal, she must follow her instincts not only to find her brother but to stop an unholy harvest. For someone is doing some shifty cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior–by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind–and just how much it needs her.

Full Moon Rising is the first book in Keri Arthur’s Rile Jenson Guardian series. I’m not really sure how I feel about this series. I read the first four books back-to-back and here are some observations:

1) Riley doesn’t seem to have a lot of common sense/street smarts. She’s intelligent, but she makes a lot of questionable decisions and trusts way too easily. There were giant red flags that came from the actions of many people in her life, yet she ignored them and merrily continued on her way. I would have liked to see her be a little less trusting and a little more wary.

2) There’s a lot of sex in this book, but I wouldn’t consider it an erotic romance. Most of it is off page. In this world, werewolves have to answer the moon’s call for one week every month (which means have sex non-stop). They burn with sexual fever and, if their needs aren’t met, they turn crazed. That’s the way this world is written and that’s fine, but the point was all but hammered into the reader. The Fever was mentioned every other page, I swear. I’d rather have had less focus on that and more on the suspense plot.

3) This speaks more to the four books as a whole, rather than this book in particular, but the storyline really seemed to drag on. What starts here isn’t resolved until book four, and even then there are loose ends that still need to be tied up. It may be because I read them back-to-back, but it ended up feeling like one, long drug out story, rather than a continuing story-arc I wanted to keep reading. The same goes for the romance angle. What seemed promising in book one was just tired by book four.

4) For all that, I do like Riley. I think she’s an interesting character facing some hard battles not of her making. She keeps a good attitude and does her best to power through, regardless of what life throws at her. I also really like the secondary characters. Especially her twin, Rhoan, and his sometimes boyfriend Liander.

After binge-reading four books, I’m not sure i want to continue the series. I may set it aside and come back to it after I read some other books.

Full Moon Rising has an interesting premise and characters, but it wasn’t as engaging as I thought it would be.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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DNF Review: Soul’s Blade by Eva Chase

Posted October 5, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

DNF Review: Soul’s Blade by Eva ChaseReviewer: Holly
Soul's Blade (Legends Reborn, #2) by Eva Chase
Series: Legends Reborn #2
Also in this series: Magic Waking (Legends Reborn, #1)
Published by Ink Spark Press
Publication Date: August 16th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 275
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dnf

Find the magic sword or die. Just another day in a reincarnated wizard's life...

After being chased across the country by a faerie mercenary, reborn wizard Emma Hale is shocked she's still alive. But victory doesn't mean she can slack off on her mission to protect the current incarnation of her liege and sometimes lover, the legendary King Arthur.

Now that Arthur's soul is awakening, every creature of darkness in a thousand-mile radius is slavering for a taste. Worse, a merciless adversary from Emma's past has reappeared, leaving Emma scrambling to save not only her king but all their loved ones as well.

Surviving the week may depend on a blade only Arthur can wield. Too bad Emma lost it centuries ago on the other side of an ocean. And any quest to retrieve it will unearth secrets Emma isn't yet prepared to face—secrets that could destroy her and her king before their enemies even have the chance.

Soul’s Blade picks up right where Magic Waking left off. Emma Hale (the current reincarnation of the great wizard Merlin) was able to defeat the dark fae mercenary who was after her leige, the reincarnation of King Arthur, but just barely. Now, with Arthur’s soul waking up, creatures of darkness are swarming, ready to steal his soul for themselves (though why they’re so eager for it Emma still hasn’t figured out). Plus, one of her greatest enemies seems to be waking. Trying to protect Arthur turns out to be an even worse job than usual, since it seems this time he’s determined to save her….which normally wouldn’t be a problem except she wields magic and he doesn’t. Something he’ll need to defeat the dark creatures who keep popping up after him. If only she hadn’t lost his magically imbued sword some 1000 years past.

I started this right after finishing the first book in the series, hoping the story would take off. Sadly, that didn’t happen. If anything, Soul’s Blade seemed to move even slower than Magic Waking. For a wizard who’s been reborn every few decades for 1500 years, Emma isn’t very sharp. She keeps making the same mistakes again and again. She doesn’t seem to have grown or changed at all from the first time she lived as the great wizard Merlin. If there’d been some discussion about things she’d tried in the past that hadn’t worked, or her quest to find answers to why dark forces are after Arthur, I probably would have enjoyed this more.

As it is, it’s mostly filled with Emma’s internal angst over Arthur not wanting a sexual relationship with her when she’s reborn as a man (something she has no control over and seems to happen at least half the time). If that had been a central theme in the first book, I could have overlooked it here, but it seems to crop up out of nowhere.

It’s explained that Emma always wakes knowing who she is and what her purpose is, but Arthur is oblivious until he comes into direct skin-to-skin contact with Emma. Then, as his soul starts to reawaken, he regains his memories of their previous lives. That being the case, I would have thought both Emma and Art would deal better with each other. Instead they’re secretive and don’t communicate with each other. As they’re both in their early twenties I guess I could understand their lack of maturity..if not for the fact that they’re supposedly both 1500+ years in the making.

All that aside, I really like the flashbacks to their first life together as Arthur and Merlin. I would probably have continued reading just for that, but I can see the writing on the wall that this will end in another cliffhanger. Since book 3 isn’t out yet, I’m going to set this aside for now. I’ll come back to the series when the next book is available (Dragon of Destiny, coming November 2017). Hopefully both Emma and Art will grow up a little in the meantime.

DNF

The series:

dnf


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Guest Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Posted October 5, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #10
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10)
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
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five-stars

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

Holly was brutalized by a psychotic archangel, forced to drink his tainted blood and had to watch her friends die in the most horrific way.  She survived, however, and now it’s four years later and Uram’s blood is turning Holly into…something.  When angels turn humans the humans turn into vampires.  Not so with Holly.  She’s part vampire and needs blood but she also needs food to survive. She has strange powers and her bite is poisonous.  Holly has been hiding from her friends and mentors all of the changes that have been taking place in her and the powers that are getting stronger and changing all the time.  She’s scared of what they all mean.  Now that Venom is back, however, she can’t hide any longer as he sees her for who she is.

Venom has been at the Refuge for the past two years and only mentoring Holly via phone calls once a week.  Now that he’s back he sees that that hasn’t been enough.  She’s learned a lot from Janvier and Ashwini but Venom sees the changes in Holly that others might not have noticed. He sees that she’s a lot like him and he tries to teach her how to deal with those changes. When he heads out with Holly to see who has a bounty on her head he gets to know her even more.  Though he tries to ignore the attraction between them and the admiration he has for her he soon realizes that she’s the one he needs in his life – permanently.

Wow.  Venom and Holly’s story was SO good!  I wasn’t sure how this was all going to play out as Venom has been nothing but stoic in the previous books.  I wondered if he could fall in love and what that would look like.  I now know and it was beautiful!

I loved the banter between Venom and Holly.  Even when they fell in love it didn’t end and that was nice to see.  Just because they fell in love didn’t turn them into mushy baby talkers. Lol  Of course Singh would never do that with her characters, but I still appreciated it. 😊

The story revolved around Holly and the strange thing that was growing/awakening in her. Not only was she freaking out over that but then something new and different gets added to the mix when Holly meets another of Uram’s survivors.  I couldn’t believe how strong Holly was to put up with what was going on inside her.  Sure, she was physically strong but her mental strength was incredible.  She went through some amazing situations that would break a normal person but she got through them like a champ.  I was so impressed by Holly, can you tell?

Venom was awesome.  I loved him in this book.  He was strong and capable, understanding and compassionate, caring and loving, and sexy as hell.  Could you ask for a better hero?  I also loved how he let Holly do her thing and didn’t try to control the situations.  I want a Venom of my own, oh yes, I do. Lol.

Singh’s writing, storytelling ability and world-building were once again AMAZING.  I don’t know how she does it time after time but all of it combined blows my mind…every time.  I picked this one up and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down.  If you’ve been reading the series you won’t want to miss this one.  If you haven’t read the series?  You’re seriously missing something wonderful.

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Retro-Review: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

Posted October 4, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Retro-Review: Lover Mine by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #8
Also in this series: Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen
Published by NAL
Publication Date: April 27th 2010
Pages: 528
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John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.
Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: I can’t believe this book was released in 2010 and the series is still going. Crazycakes.

This review was originally published June 4, 2010

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.
This is the first book that I’ve really liked since Lover Eternal. As I’ve said numerous times, I loved Dark Lover, really liked Lover Eternal and was so-so with Lover Awakened. I read the rest of the books in the series b/c I’m a glutton for punishment I suppose. I just couldn’t quit (though I went the library route). John Matthew is probably the only character besides Tohr that still interests me. I wonder at the fact that this book was so much better than her previous books. I believe that JRW saw the negative feedback and reversed direction a little. Or maybe we were just long overdue for a good one in the series after the wrecks that were Lover Enshrined and Lover R. ::shrug::

The previous book ended with Xhex being taken by Lash. Lash is the Omega’s son, blahblahblah. He’s still as boring as he was from the first book. He’s not scary, he’s not villainous, he’s just pathetic. First Lash took Xhex to get back at John Matthew, then he “fell in love” with her, which basically means that he wants to own her and thinks that she’s his mate.

For Xhex, her time with Lash is eerily reminiscent of the time she got taken by the sympaths. Her situation really makes you think about how many bad things can really happen to one person.  I know she’s not a person exactly, but Xhex has gone through more than any person (or vampire) should go through.  I never thought that I would think Xhex was anything but bad ass.  Lover Mine showed a whole different side to her and that was before she even got rescued.  One thing that remains clear about Xhex is that she’s a survivor.

John Matthew turned into a total man-whore in the last book.  It was ridiculous.  The guy was fucked up enough as it was.  He’s mute, he was raped, he lost the only mother he ever knew, then he lost the father as well.  Let’s add in man-whore on top of that.  John Matthew’s road was never going to be easy.  That was always clear.  So having him change so drastically over the course of one book was just stoopid.

Everyone should know by now that John Matthew is Darius reincarnated.  It was a little boring when reading Darius’ journals, but there was a point to everything.  Everything comes full circle.  Darius and Tohr were very close and it becomes clear exactly how close.  Darius was a father figure to Tohr in the same way Tohr was to John Matthew.  Tohr gets his head out of his ass in this book too.  Look, I obviously felt horrible when Wellsie died.  The fact that Tohr wasn’t there when John Matthew went through his transition was unforgivable to me.  Tohr finally realizes that staying away really hurt John Matthew.

John Matthew and Xhex were perfect for each other.  I never doubted it.  A lot of readers wanted to see John Matthew and Layla together, which would have been booooo-rrrrrring.  Xhex and JM complimented each other.  I loved how Xhex let John see her softer side.  I also loved how aware John was about that.  He never took anything Xhex said or did for granted.  He was grateful for her for every single second.

Of everything in the book, what Xhex said to John on page 300 was my favorite.  In a few short sentences, she nailed it.

“No, you’ve got it all wrong, John.” Reading his emotions, she shook her head. “You’re not half the male you could be because of what was done to you.  You’re twice what anyone else is because you survived.”

I was pretty impressed that JRW managed to keep it down to less than twenty pov’s. The whole Blay and Qhuinn story didn’t get resolved like I thought it would. I distinctly remembered in one of the chats that she said that something would be resolved. It wasn’t their relationship, that’s for sure. Everything was just as up in the air at the end of the book as it was at the beginning.

I was extremely happy with this book.

4 out of 5.

This book is available from NAL. You can buy it here.

The series:

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1)Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 2)Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 3)Lover Revealed: A Novel of the Black Dagger BrotherhoodLover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5)Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6)Lover Avenged: A Novel of the Black Dagger BrotherhoodLover Mine: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood


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