Tag Archives: Urban Fantasy

Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks

Overview
Blood Challenge (World of the Lupi, #7) by Eileen Wilks

Title: Blood Challenge
Author: Eileen Wilks
Series: World of the Lupi #7
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Paranormal romance, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 1st – 22nd January 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: I usually don’t, but patterning’s potentially a -“

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Synopsis

Lily Yu and Rule Turner’s engagement announcement is stirring up ugly passions in the Humans First camp. There’s hate mail. Death threats. Lily’s car is vandalized.

But professionally, things are running smoothly… until a lupus in Tennessee goes on a killing spree. Then Rule’s brother, Benedict, catches a lovely intruder – twice. The first time, she’s sneaking around the home of the leader of Humans First. The second time, she’s sneaking around Nokolai Clanhome.

It may not be possible to deal with the rapidly escalating situation the way Lily always has: through the law. Especially when she’s pulled off the case due to an alleged conflict of interest. Lily’s loyalties will be stretched to the breaking point when she discovers that the deaths in Tennessee were only the opening skirmish in an all-our war.

Thoughts

I had this on my TBR pile late last year. There is something about the World of the Lupi books that are brilliant, and always make me want to reach out for them. Plus, I read Human Error just before Christmas, which gave me that yearning yet again. It did take longer to get through than many of the other books of this size tend to do… but it was still thoroughly, beautifully enjoyable. I just tend to forget that these books are long, complex and filled with small writing.

The fact that Benedict gets a second chosen was kind of given away in Human Error, so that pleasant surprise was very quickly taken away from me. But, getting to know Arjenie a bit better as the insanity of this storyline unfolded was brilliant and fun. Particularly when the “getting to know” was taking place alongside all of the insanity of a very complex plot that just seems to keep getting more and more complex. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t just breeze through these books, but become completely absorbed in them. They’re beautifully, wonderfully intricate and, often, confusing!

The major conspiracies and backstory in this series has slowly been ramping up. And now, getting to the 7th book in the series, it is getting seriously, ridiculously intense. The characters are still brilliant, and the emotions that you feel alongside them are wonderful. But there is so much more going on with the battle that the lupi face now. It meant that once I got about a quarter of the way into this book, I was sunk. And couldn’t stop reaching for it, even when I needed to be productive.

I loved this book. And now I need to wait until I’ve finished a few books before sinking my teeth into Death Magic. Now that the plot is thickening with the characters and conspiracies throughout this story, I can’t wait to see what insane shenanigans are going to happen next. Plus, Cynna has had her baby, Benedict also has a chosen, and everyone is just thoroughly loveable and impossible to forget…

<- Blood MagicDeath Magic ->

Image source: Goodreads

Home for the Holidays by Jeaniene Frost

Overview
The Bite Before Christmas Large Print :HarperCollins Australia

Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress #6.5, Night Huntress Universe #8.5
In: The Bite Before Christmas (Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 26th December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: By the time he’d crossed the room to Denise, her eyes were wide and staring into nothing, all without Ian even needing to speak.

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Synopsis

Cat and Bones were looking forward to a normal holiday – at least as “normal” as it gets for vampires and their otherworldly friends and family. But their yuletide plans are shattered when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals long-buried secrets that threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer – and lives.

Thoughts

I felt seriously, truly and deeply bad for Bones in this novella. After all, finding family after 200 years and then losing them would be incredibly difficult. Around the holidays and when you just don’t expect it… yeah, that would be seriously difficult and heart wrenching.

Cat and Bones may be two of my favourite urban fantasy characters. They are an amazing couple. One that is quirky and fun. And most definitely loyal. The crap that Cat goes through throughout this story to make sure that Bones is safe is extraordinary. I was both incredibly proud of, and kind of scared for Cat throughout this. Although, as with every Night Huntress story I’ve read so far, it did all end with a happy ending.

Every time I read a Night Huntress story; I want to read more. But I always seem to do it when I’m halfway through a whole other pile of books. So, I never quite get around to it. Maybe this time I will get to sink my teeth into another amazing tale before I get too distracted by another story…

<- The GiftThe Bite Before Christmas ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

First Light by Kimberly Frost

Overview
Tied With a Bow

Title: First Light
Author: Kimberly Frost
Series: Etherlin #0.5
In: Tied with a Bow (Lora Leigh, Virginia Kantra, Eileen Wilks & Kimberly Frost)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal romance, Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 24th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “Kate, you’re trembling.”

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Synopsis

Kate has been dreaming about an angel since college. And now that he’s finally landed in her lap (almost literally), she’s just not quite sure what to do with him…

Thoughts

As a beginning of a new series that I’ve never heard of before, this novella completely rocks. It’s introduced me to a whole new world that is definitely getting added to my wish list. One that I was surprised by and intrigued by. After all, it’s the first series I’ve come across that features muses and vampires and angels in the same story. I found that completely perplexing, and wonderfully unexpected.

Kate is a wonderful lead in this story. Although, I can’t imagine pining after a dream man for as long as she does before their Meet Cute. Maybe I’m just not enough of the pining type… I’m not sure. However, even though she is completely swept away by him, Kate manages to maintain her independence and kick a fair amount of butt whilst doing it. She’s that wonderfully stubborn modern woman who is willing to give up everything and be vulnerable, but on her terms.

I imagine that it would be hard to write a likeable character who is from another time. What, with the whole sexism issue and everything. Yet, somehow Frost manages it. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when you grit your teeth at his overbearing attitude, but, ultimately you get this sense of honour and love out of him that is a little redemptive. That, and the fact that he makes it clear that he is willing to try and improve.

I absolutely adored this novella. It’s most certainly one that I would like to read again. And a series that I can’t wait to sink my literary teeth into.

<- Upon a Midnight ClearHuman Error ->

Image source: Amazon

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Overview
A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski - Penguin Books  Australia

Title: A Kiss Before the Apocalypse
Author: Thomas E. Sniegoski
Series: Remy Chandler #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: AngelsParanormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 8th – 16th December 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Roc
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: There was a leash law in Boston, but as long as it wasn’t crowded and the dog didn’t bother anybody, Remy didn’t see the harm in letting him run a bit.

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Synopsis

Boston PI Remy Chandler has a life any man would envy, with friendship, a job he’s good at – and love. But Remy is no ordinary man. He’s an angel who chose to renounce heaven and live on Earth. So he’s able to will himself invisible, hear thoughts, and speak and understand any language – of man or beast. Talents that will become invaluable to him when his angelic past returns to haunt him…

The Angel of Death has gone missing, and Remy’s former colleagues have come to him for help. But what at first seems to be about tracing a missing person turns out to involve much more – a conspiracy that has as its goal the destruction of the human race.

And only Remy Chandler can stop it…

Thoughts

Whilst I enjoyed this novel, I didn’t fall madly in love with it. Mostly I think that it was the style of writing. I actually thought that the storyline was brilliant. Even if it was quite religious (I have a tendency to freak a little bit over religious things). But, overall, I found this really enjoyable, with a few aspects I would love to improve upon.

Most of the fantasy stories I read which feature an immortal being are ones that focus on the benefits. I loved the fact that Remy’s one true love in this collection is already aged. He’s had his benefits and all of the positives that come with falling in love. But, now, in this story, there is more of a focus on the negatives that come with falling in love when you’re immortal. I also loved the way in which Madeline is completely accepting of not only Remy, but her own demise. In fact, she actually, ultimately yearns for it.

Recently, I read Hounded by Kevin Hearne. I love that this year I’ve managed to read two books which feature a dog as a sidekick who is able to communicate with their master. And they are both done beautifully. Marlowe, in fact, reminds me a lot of one of my dogs. He’s a big goof ball, kind of useless and totally loveable. Plus, there is a simplicity and honesty to his interactions with Remy that is just so damn pure. I mean, there is a reason why dogs are seen as man’s best friend after all.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book and will most definitely buy more books in this series. But it will probably be one of those series that I pick up and put down a little more frequently. Thoroughly enjoyable, but not entirely powerful enough to draw me in and pull me out of daily life like some of the other books on my shelves.

<- More Thomas E. SniegoskiNoah’s Orphans ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison

Overview
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison

Title: The Good, the Bad, and hte Undead
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th October – 28th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Eos
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: Brow furrowing, I looked down at my red blouse, black skirt, nylons, and ankle-high boots.

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Synopsis

It’s a tough life for witch Rachel Morgan, sexy, independent, bounty hunter, prowling the darkest shadows of downtown Cincinnati for criminal creatures of the night.

She can handle the leather-clad vamps and even tangle with a cunning demon or two. But a serial killer who feeds on the experts in the most dangerous kind of black magic is definitely pressing the limits.

Confronting an ancient, implacable evil is more than just child’s play – and this time, Rachel will be lucky to escape with her very soul.

Thoughts

Finishing this novel gave me a pretty major book hangover… there is just something about Harrison’s writing that has me absolutely, totally and utterly hooked. And in love. And just in my general, serious happy place. It took me a little longer than usual to read this, because I knew that once I allowed myself to sink into the story, I wouldn’t want to look away. Which is exactly what happened. And then, when I finished it… I didn’t really want to read any other stories…

Trent seems to me like he’s completely winning the battle of wits between Rachel and himself. It makes me wonder if he’s maybe not truly the evil, devil man that I originally thought. And, after reading The Turn, I have SOOOOO many questions about what happened to him between the two storylines… I mean, there are so many unanswered questions and… well, things to be answered! It gives me hope that maybe he’s not as truly, deeply evil as I thought, and just messed up and morally grey… although I can definitely attest to the fact that Piscary is most definitely evil. Which is nice. It’s always good to have at least one clear, cut, and dry villain.

Rachel is probably one of the most accident-prone characters that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Not accident prone in the sense of physically… but circumstantially? Yeah. She tends to find herself in one horrible situation after another. It serves to not only be an entertaining read, but draws you further and further into the storyline. Completely powerful, completely unforgettable and so much damn fun.

Ivy and Jenks kind of felt like they stole the show a little bit in Dead Witch Walking. They didn’t so much in this, they fell strongly into the secondary character role. That’s not to say that they didn’t still shine. Jenks is still funny, witty and fiercely loyal and independent. I absolutely adore him for that fact. And Ivy? Well, Ivy is one of the most complex and tragic secondary / supporting characters that I’ve had the pleasure of coming across in quite a while. She’s also a terrifying best friend. I mean, who doesn’t want a best friend who kind of wants to eat you all the time?

I seriously loved this novel, and I can’t wait to get through the TBR that is currently sitting next to me so that I can sink my teeth into Every Which Way But Dead. I just need to finish the monster TBR piled next to me first… otherwise, it could fall on my head while I sleep…

<- Dead Witch WalkingUndead in the Garden of Good and Evil ->

Image source: Goodreads

Death’s Excellent Vacation edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: Death’s Excellent Vacation
Author: Charlaine Harris, Sarah Smith, Jeaniene Frost, Daniel Stashower, A. Lee Martinez, Jeff Abott, L.A. Banks, Katie MacAlister, Christopher Golden, Lilith Saintcrow, Chris Grabenstein, Sharan Newman & Toni L.P. Kelner
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: Still, appearances were deceiving.

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Synopsis

An all-new anthology of vampire stories edited and with an introduction by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this collection. I normally love anything to do with paranormal fantasy anyway. But this is a particularly good one. After all, it’s all paranormal fantasy and urban fantasy stories that feature vacations.

It’s coming to that kind of year that I wish I got vacation time in y job. That I wish I could just take some time off and do whatever it is that people do on vacation. Which meant that it was really lovely to read a collection of short stories that feature vacations. All of which made me a little more thankful that I haven’t been going on vacation.

This is a collection that has a little bit of romance, a lot of humour, and generally anything that could possibly go wrong when you have vacation time does. It had me smiling and laughing throughout. I will most definitely be reading this one again.

<- Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement ParkTwo Blondes ->

Image source: Amazon

Dead Man’s Hand by Christie Yant

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Mr. Sutherland immediately turned his weapon over to Ed Durham, proprietor, and waited peacefully while a miners’ jury was assembled.

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Synopsis

Going through the different hands that were once called “Dead Man’s Hand” and regaling the dead men that held them…

Thoughts

I loved how each little tale of death in this story started off with a hand of cards. And they were the cards that each of the characters were holding. Not that I’ve ever gambled much or played many card games, but it was interesting to see what a Dead Man’s Hand actually was.

It’s also nice how a collection called Dead Man’s Hand ends with a story of that same name. Featuring the cards that originally coined that term. It was well done and rounded out this Weird western collection brilliantly.

All in all, this was a fun and engaging short story. It was well written and left me with a huge smile stretched across my face. As all final short stories in an anthology should be.

<- NeversleepsDead Man’s Hand Collection ->

Image source: Amazon

Home from America by Sharan Newman

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: Home from America
Author: Sharan Newman
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FamilyParanormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 24th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: In the gray light of morning the plane slid down through the cloud cover and the O’Reillys got their first glimpse of what for them was the Promised Land.

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Synopsis

Patrick has always dreamed about he home land. And been incredibly self-conscious about his height. Now he finally gets to go “home”. What he finds is nothing like what he expected.

Thoughts

I have always wanted to find out more about my ancestors. But I can’t say that I’ve ever had wonderful, powerful imaginations about them. After all, I’m probably from farm folk or some such. Even though I would love to go and see England and Scotland, I don’t think it would be like coming home. Which made it interesting to read a short story that featured a young man who was so desperate to live in and move to a country that he had never laid eyes on because he thought he was from hero stock.

Pride is never really a good thing. If we’re being honest here. And Patricks’ pride in this short story leaves his vacation at a pretty grisly ending. He is too proud to love his family for who they are. And he is certainly too proud to stay and listen and learn. Rather, he wants to be a hero and from more “impressive” ancestors. I really don’t understand that, and I’m kind of glad that he got his comeuppance. He was a bit of a weeny in this tale.

I love that this story dealt with family and pride. Leprechauns and the Luck of the Irish. The whole story was fun and had me smiling as I turned the pages. It wasn’t quite what I expected from the title. But it was most definitely a tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

<- The Demon in the DunesPirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park ->

Image source: Amazon

The Perils of Effrijim by Katie MacAlister

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: The Perils of Effrijim
Author: Katie MacAlister
Series: Aisling Grey #4.5
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 13th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I’m a sixth-class demon.

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Synopsis

Effrijim just wants to spend his ten day vacation with the love of his life. But things don’t quite go as planned when a She-Bitch gets involved.

Thoughts

The first comment in my notes was “Poor Effrijim”. After all, this story is just one calamity after another. Just a whole series of problems that stop him from having a relaxing vacation and leave him feeling frustrated and ready to scream. It’s just not the optimal vacation and left me feeling seriously bad for Effrijim, even as I laughed and laughed at all of the bad that befell him.

Titania and Oberon made a great cameo appearance in this story. They’re altered story line was fun and entertaining. I also loved how militant and kick ass Titania was. After all, she is completely unorthodox and has been wronged. I also love how she decides to keep Oberon in line from now on…

Jim’s torture is what dreams are made of. It was the kind of torture and storyline that had me laughing happily throughout the entire story. I finished this with a huge grin on my face and a desire to just read more.

<- Seeing is BelievingThin Walls ->

Image source: Amazon

The Innsmouth Nook by A. Lee Martinez

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: The Innsmouth Nook
Author: A. Lee Martinez
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘So what brings you to Clam Bay?’ he asked.

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Synopsis

All they wanted to do was open up a quaint little B&B in a small coastal town. But then tourism dropped off. And the locals really didn’t like these two interlopers coming into their town. And then, well, things just got worse.

Thoughts

To start with, I was a little bit “eh” about this story. I mean, two guys from the Big Smoke move to a tiny, backwater town… it’s not exactly a groundbreaking or really very original story. But then it started to develop. And I got hooked. And now I’m still thinking of it with fond memories.

As someone from a tourism area, I completely understand how drastically tourism can impact on a town. This story helped to drive this fact even further home. Plus, it was quite entertaining the new form of tourism that started to encroach on the town.

This short story is a great mix of mythology and folklore. And just the general wit, fun and mayhem that I seriously enjoy in a good short story and paranormal fantasy tale.

<- Meanwhile, Far Across the Caspian Sea…Safe and Sound ->

Image source: Amazon