Tag Archives: Paranormal Fantasy

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Overview
Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Title: Dead Heat
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega #4, Mercy-Verse #22
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Werewolves
Dates read: 19th – 30th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Ace Fantasy
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Unable to resist, she lent her song to his.

Synopsis

Transporting readers into the realm of mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham, Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega novels have been praised for being “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense, and paranormal.” Now a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…

For once, werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal. Or at least their visit starts out that way…

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The fae have started a cold war with humanity that’s about to heat up – and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

Thoughts

This is one of those series that I always wonder if it’s actually not quite as good as I remember. It is WAY better. Each and every time. I mean, the hype in my mind is nowhere near equivalent to the hype and the amazingness of reading one of these books. And, I’m finally at that point in my reread when I’m up to the books that I haven’t actually read yet. Which of course meant that even though I read the prologue and then put this aside, I ended up reading pretty much the whole book cover to cover in one night. It is THAT amazing.

Charles is a beautiful enigma – and I like that this book explores some more of his past. Particularly the fact that it brings forwards some of his past friendships and relationships. Ones that are rare and far between. Friendships are so important, and it always breaks my heart that Charles really doesn’t have any in the Mercyverse. There were moments of tragedy throughout that did pluck at your heartstrings (which is always good in a book), but it was also really sweet and endearing to see the past and some joy in Charles’ life.

It was incredibly interesting that this story starts with Anna trying to figure out why Charles is resistant to the idea of children. I happen to be pregnant while reading this, and they’re discussions that are somewhat familiar. I love that throughout all of the mayhem and magic in this story, Anna slowly starts to untangle his resistance and his feelings. Feelings that even Charles doesn’t know that he has. It’s such a familiar discussion and wonder. Such a familiar untangling of emotions that I was driven by this alongside the actual action to find out the resolution.

The stories I’ve always loved of the fae are those which feature the… less kindly… of the fae. I’ve never really enjoyed tales which try and portray them as benevolent. That’s never really happened in the Mercyverse, but it’s now been taken one step further – with the purposeful release of all the not-so-kindly things that go bump in the night. It perfectly describes and portrays the fae in the ways that I think of them. And, more than that, it is perfectly setting up the next looming war on the horizon.

<- Unappreciated GiftsBurn Bright ->

Image source: Goodreads

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Overview
Red Queen: Red Queen Book 1 eBook : Aveyard, Victoria: Amazon.com.au:  Kindle Store

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 5th – 18th September 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Orion
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Just bumbling officers who don’t know you.

Synopsis

This is a world divided by blood – Red or Silver

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

But Mare possesses a deadly talent of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of her potential, the Silvers hide Mare in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess. Knowing that one false move will mean her death, Mare must use her new position to bring down the regime – from the inside.

Now Mare has entered a game of betrayal and lies.

This is Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

Thoughts

This was one of those books that I felt really unsure of at the beginning. For starters, I’ve read a LOT of mixed reviews about this on the many online book clubs I’m a member of. And there was also the fact that at the beginning it all felt a little same same for YA dystopia stories. Having said that, once I got past the first 50 or so pages it stopped feeling so same same and really started to draw me in.

Mare wasn’t a painful protagonist, which, considering some of the YA books I’ve read, was a pleasant surprise. She wasn’t whiney and childish. Yet, she also wasn’t perfect. I like that she had all the insecurities of a fairly typical teenager – felt like a failure, the black sheep. And that all of this was underlined by an overwhelming love for family and Kilorn.

I knew that this story featured betrayal, but I wasn’t expecting the betrayal that actually happened. I kept flicking back and forth as to whom I thought the “bad” guy was. But I was still kind of seriously surprised when it all came out. Probably part of the reason that I ended up enjoying this book so much.

All in all this was a fantastic book. And the perfect beginning to a series. Now I’m intrigued as to where the story line is going to take me. There’s a sense of wonder and confusion in it all that I just can’t get away from.

<- Steel ScarsGlass Sword ->

Image source: Amazon

In the Future When All’s Well by Catherynne M. Valente

Overview
Image result for teeth ellen datlow terri windling book cover

Title: In the Future When All’s Well
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
In: Teeth: Vampire Tales (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 31st August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: It’s all random.

Synopsis

Vampirism has become a daily occurrence – there are those in the high risk, those who just break the rules… but eventually a whole lot of people get turned. The future is showing us a whole new reality.

Thoughts

I liked the idea of this future world in which vampires are running free. And that they’re just kind of the next, logical evolutionary step to the pyramid. The fact that it’s also written all around the perspective of a teenager just works all that much better. After all, all of the stories at the moment surrounding vampires seem to be very young adult centred.

One of the aspects I liked most about this story was the idea that those in the “high risk” category were considered different and amoral. It’s the same fear mongering that you see again and again throughout society. Which made me smile. A great reflection on society as we know it.

All in all, I really enjoyed this short story. It was a unique idea, but one that I felt kind of had merit. After all, there is definitely scientific support for the idea that we are all evolving into a new version of “humanity”, who’s to say it isn’t going to be as blood suckers?

<- BabyTransition ->

Image source: HarperCollins

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

Overview
The Grendel Affair (SPI Files, #1) by Lisa Shearin

Title: The Grendel Affair
Author: Lisa Shearin
Series: SPI Files #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 18th – 21st August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Ace Fantasy
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Because I’d failed.

Synopsis

We’re supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us…

When I moved to New York to become a world-famous jounralist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures, and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel – yes, that Grendel – shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him – and the organization behind him – by midnight, our secret’s out ad everyone’s time is up.

Thoughts

I read the novella Lucky Charms a very long time ago. By the time I got this book, I’d honestly forgotten how much I liked the story and idea of Mac the seer and special agent. It didn’t take me many pages to regain that sense of happiness and intrigue inspired by my first taste of Lisa Shearin.

I always love stories that just drop you straight into the drama. The Grendel Affair does this – it starts with Mac hunting a gnome creature with booze. So yeah, it also started with a good, fun dose of humour. Nothing like some sass and off kilter hunting humour to start a novel and truly pull you in.

As the story unfolds, you can feel the partnership between Mac and Ian strengthen. It was really nice starting the tale with Mac being seriously insecure and a little uncomfortable around her partner. Then slowly building that trust between them. It makes me ridiculously keen to dig into the next book in this series so I can see how their relationship and partnership continues to grow.

I’ll admit, I’ve never read Beowulf (it’s on my very long list). But I immediately recognised the name Grendel. And I knew that it was Scandinavian. The way that Shearin uses this mythos and literature is incredibly fun and a perfect blending of lore and contemporary reality. I seriously loved this mix and can’t wait to see what happens next (although I might miss the mad Scandinavian Rolf in The Dragon Conspiracy).

<- Lucky CharmsThe Dragon Conspiracy ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Scarlet Woman: A Gemma Doyle Story by Libba Bray

Overview
A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Scarlet Woman
Author: Libba Bray
Series: Gemma Doyle Companion
In: A Universe of Wishes (Dhonielle Clayton)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 17th August 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Crown
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: The bulk of my correspondence comes from my grandmama, who, in between complaining about various ailments, never misses an opportunity to remind me that, at nineteen, if I don’t find a husband soon, I will become unmarriageable – though, she remarks, she isn’t sure that I am marriageable at all.

Synopsis

Gemma Doyle feels like she’s finally moving on from the magic and mayhem of her past. But, then a confusing note sends everything crashing back down on her head.

Thoughts

I remember buying A Great and Terrible Beauty a while ago, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. This short story based in the world of Gemma Doyle has certainly made me feel tempted though.

I found a lot fo this story hard to understand and follow. Probably because I haven’t read the greater series and so I don’t have a lot of backstory. But, it was still a great adventure.

A good short story can have a seriously open ended ending. This is like that. It makes me think this takes place between books in the Gemma Doyle series… otherwise it is just way too… unsolved for my liking.

<- The Silk BladeCristal Y Ceniza ->

Image source: Goodreads

Sunbleached by Nathan Ballingrud

Overview
Image result for teeth ellen datlow terri windling book cover

Title: Sunbleached
Author: Nathan Ballingrud
In: Teeth: Vampire Tales (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: That’s why it’s so easy for us to seduce.

Synopsis

Josh thinks he has the perfect plan – he’s got a vampire trapped, he’s going to be immortal and he’s going to get rid of his mum’s annoying boyfriend. But, as with all teenage plans, things just don’t quite go to plan.

Thoughts

I always want to yell at the silly children in vampire stories who make a deal with, well, a vampire… I mean, come on! Haven’t you read the stories? Don’t you understand that it NEVER TURNS OUT WELL?!?!?

This story was no different. I spent the whole time metaphoriy banging my head against an imaginary wall… I mean, seriously Josh? You expected any of this to end in any other way? Silly, silly boy…

Alright, even though I was constantly finding Josh frustrating and seriously silly in this… I did also enjoy the story. It was one of those that you knew things would end bad, but you kind of wanted to see HOW they would end badly…

<- Sit the DeadBaby ->

Image source: HarperCollins

Sky of Ash by Rachel Madbury

Overview
Sky Of Ash - By Rachel Madbury (paperback) : Target

Title: Sky of Ash
Author: Rachel Madbury
Series: The Sevens #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance, Witches
Dates read: 27th July – 8th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: ARC, eBook, Novel
Publisher: Rachel Madbury
Year: 2021
5th sentence, 74th page: I’m not going to make you uncomfortable.

Synopsis

Time heals nothing.

Rose Bishop has been dead for forty years, but her blood has never left Colin Finch’s hands. As a warrior of the Seven he’s charged with protecting the most powerful witches on earth, but he failed the one that mattered most to him.

Or so he thought.

When the case of a missing witch brings Finch back to Savannah, where his mistakes cost him everything, he comes face-to-face with his most painful regret – but she’s not dead at all. In a world where lies run thicker than blood, can Finch find the information he came for and keep Rose safe at the same time?

Rose never thought she’d see Finch again, but when she learns the reason for his return, she’s drawn into the darkness of his world and offered a chance at her own redemption; save this missing witch, and free herself from the ghosts that have haunted her for forty years.

The more Rose becomes entangled in Finch’s case, the more old sparks threaten to reignite, and Finch will be torn between his duty to his brothers and the woman he never meant to leave behind.

Thoughts

After the first book in this series, I was wondering how the search for Penny and have a whole new couple as lead. I have expected Penny to be the female interest, but then the big story line wouldn’t really continue all that well… Madbury managed to have an entirely new focus for the lead couple, but still managed to keep the hunt for Penny alive.

I love how Finch’s past builds on the hunt for Penny and pulls in Rose. In fact, unlike many of the romances I’ve read, there is no Meet Cute or a bit of an understanding. The past between Finch and Rose is incredibly painful and tragic. Meaning that most of this story involves both of them trying to move on from past hurts and scars to a new future.

It turns out that the villain (for me) in this story was one who you could completely sympathise with. Even though his actions were abhorrent, you could kind of understand the decision making when all of the cards were laid out on the table. I still got that horrified feeling in my stomach, but it was tempered with a little understanding.

Sky as Ash helped to build more of a conspiracy within this world. It strengthened the mystery and horror of the world of the Sevens. I loved the set up for Wolfe in the next book. But, more than anything. I love that there are betrayals and mysteries still to come in this series.

<- Splintered StarsMore Rachel Madbury ->

Image source: Target

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Overview
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult, Zombies
Dates read: 22nd July – 6th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: She tried to steady her breathing, to will herself to calm.

Synopsis

NOTHING STAYS BURIED FOREVER.

Seventeen-year-old Ryn cares about only two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meagre existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as bone houses, and legend says that they’re the result of an old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with a new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairy tale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page.

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. But it seems to keep getting shunted to the side. Now that I’ve finally managed to sink my teeth into it… wow. This was brilliant. The kind of journey that is hard to put down and forget about. Even writing this review, the day after finishing the book, I’m getting the happy tingles.

I seem to be enjoying books a lot lately that flick between the points of view. I like how this mostly starts with Ryn and builds up her history really strongly. Then it flickers over to Ellis and starts to give out his history and characterisation in more of a trickle. Not only are you reading the book because you can’t wait to see how it ends, but also because you want to know where Ellis began.

This had a slight historical fiction feel to it. The structure of the society and the use of the fae back stories felt very celtic to me. It had a nice sense of familiarity that I tend to find with this background. Then, you add in the bone houses. They’re seriously creepy and a mystery all on their own. Each and every moment of the journey, I was fully expecting one of them to jump out and that tension kept me turning each and every page.

I absolutely adored this book, it had two strong characters who both had their flaws. A dead goat that showed insane amounts of loyalty. And a feeling of mystery that seized you from the very first moment and swept you along. This was just amazing and I’m so glad that I decided to pick this book up!!!

<- More Emily Lloyd-JonesThe Drowned Woods ->

Image source: Goodreads

Sit the Dead by Jeffrey Ford

Overview
Image result for teeth ellen datlow terri windling book cover

Title: Sit the Dead
Author: Jeffrey Ford
In: Teeth: Vampire Tales (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 6th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “Let’s go in.”

Synopsis

All he wants is for his girlfriend’s family to accept him. Even if that means sitting next to the dead with the weird uncle that barely speaks English. But, as it turns out, that is the least of his troubles. They’re just about to begin…

Thoughts

I really like the way that this uses the hint of old world traditions and practices to build the storyline. The fact that it is written from the point of view of a boy that just wants to be with his girl… well, it all works out well.

Sometimes the open endedness of short stories is kind of irritating. But, I liked the way that this one ends. It’s open… but with a hint of more action and a life to continue living in the future. And more potential for romance.

This story was great. But, it does make me leery about coffins and dead people… the imagery throughout this is just far too intense and realistic.

<- Best Friends ForeverSunbleached ->

Image source: HarperCollins

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 edited by Trisha Telep

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of paranormal romance 2 book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2
Author: Trisha Telep, Jackie Kessler, Ava Gray, Shirley Damsgaard, Nathalie Gray, Gail Carriger, Moira Rogers, Elissa Wilds, Karen Chance, Sonya Bateman, Sherri Browning Erwin, Michele Hauf, Sharon Ashwood, Lara Adrian, Helen Scott Taylor, S.J. Day, Seressia Glass & Kim Lenox
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 7th February – 5th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: His low voice cut her off.

Synopsis

Love is the drug

Paranormal romance was never going to be content with just vampires and werewolves. The fantastic stories in this new collection lay claim to much, much more: paranormal serial killers, gaslight Victorian rendezvous, and the urban mayhem of fantasy and steampunk.

Here you will find bestselling authors writing under new pseudonyms, fresh stars and steadfast favorites, together offering a feat of mind-bending subgenres.

Paranormal romance will never be the same again.

Thoughts

Admittedly it took me quite a while to read this. As much as I love paranormal romance, I think I just in general tend to prefer the full length versions. There’s just more time to connect to and love the characters and the relationship… but, it’s still fun getting a taste of the different authors in the genre.

I enjoyed writing the reviews for each of these stories. They were fun to write and read. Plus, I have a few new series to add to my wish list and shelves now… because I really needed more books to add to the pule… I mean, will I stop when my house explodes? Probably not.

This was a fun adventure to go on. I’d definitely pick up this collection again, but I might just take a while to make everything feel like new again…

<- The Dream CatcherTo Hell With Love ->

Image source: Amazon