Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

Bound by Benedict Jacka

For the last two books, readers have been on the edge of their seats, knowing that eventually, Alex would be back under Richard’s thumb. That time has finally arrived, and it’s a bit … anti-climactic. In a “good writing” kind of way.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

boundTitleBound
AuthorBenedict Jacka
SeriesAlex Verus, Book 08
Publish Date: April 4, 2017 by Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description: Mage Alex Verus is caught between a rock and a hard place in the eighth urban fantasy novel from the national bestselling author of Burned.

Alex Verus is still haunted by his time apprenticed to Richard Drakh. He’s been free of him for many years, but now the only way to keep his friends from being harmed is to again work for Richard and his deadly ally. Even worse, he’s forced to bring the Light mage Anne into this servitude as well.

After weeks of being hunted and finally cornered into what he thought was his last stand, Alex never thought his life would be spared—and never anticipated at what price. This time, the diviner can see no way out…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

In Book 6, Veiled, Alex gets to know the Light Council from the inside — and while it is still somewhat corrupt and apathetic, he has to give some of its members credit for trying to do the right thing. Alex has to learn to see shades of gray, even when he doesn’t want to.

But if there is anyone Alex hates more than the Council, it’s the dark mage, Morden, and his former master, Richard Drahk. But now he’s forced to work with both of them, and they’re acting … like normal people. No torture, no hostility, no mustache twirling or obvious evil plots. In fact, they are acting very business-like. Meanwhile, members of the Council are behaving with open hostility toward Alex and his apprentices, believing he truly is a Dark Mage, despite his many protests.

Though it would be easy to start viewing Morden and Richard as “not so bad,” Alex isn’t fooled. He’s on his guard, and along with Anne, Vari, Luna, and Arachne, Alex uncovers THE BIG PLOT REVEAL, but not in time to keep himself and Anne from being tools used to complete it.

Alex’s world is harsh; truly good people are few and far between, and they certainly aren’t the ones in power. Dark side or light, everyone is out to further their own agendas, and competition makes the underlings more dangerous than the masters at times. The more Alex learns about both sides of the Council, the less difference there is between them.

badge5v5I enjoyed this story a lot. I love the series in general, but this one was so interesting, blurring the line between bad guy and good guy. I see things being set in motion for a revolution, and I’m excited to see how our heroes get there.

Our reviews in this series…

 

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Wardbreaker by J.A. Cipriano

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels. All Lillim wants to do is get away for a bit – escape her world where monsters and mayhem reign at every hour. She ends up in sunny Orange County for a little relaxing time and, instead, finds herself facing a group of powerful vampires that the Dioscuri organization she works for has blatantly ignored.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleWardbreaker
AuthorJ.A. Cipriano
SeriesLillim Callina, Book 0.5
Publish Date: October 15, 2015
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionA city full of vampires. A dark ritual. A runaway determined to stay hidden.

Lillim Callina was still trying to figure out how to live like a normal girl when the vampires attacked. Now, this former demon hunter must decide if staying hidden is more important than saving her new home from the largest vampire infestation she has ever seen.

The only problem is, if she stops the vampires, the people hunting her just may find her, and they aren’t too fond of deserters.

Wardbreaker is the first prequel in The Lillim Callina Chronicles, an urban fantasy series and takes place approximately one year before the first book, Kill it with Magic.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

As much as I enjoyed this, it’s an awfully long “novella.” It took me almost as much time to read this as it does many YA books. I almost wouldn’t call it a novella, as only novellas vs. novels are determined by the word count. But hey, it was a good story.

Lillim’s a couple years younger in Wardbreaker than when you meet her in Kill It With Magic, the first official Callina novel. It’s her first time in California, but not her first venture to the human world. Things are still a little disorienting for her.

But then Luc shows up, looking for her help with a group of bad guy vampires and Lillim’s suddenly right back at home, facing down a myriad of monsters while wondering why the Dioscuri isn’t doing anything to help the humans who are being preyed upon.

One of the coolest things I like about Lillim’s stories are that the creatures she fights against are always very unique and many – sure, there are vamps and werewolves, but there are also ents (tree men), dragons, and pixies. If you like a variety of supernatural baddies, you’d enjoy this.

It’s a nice lead-up to the series and introduction to both Lillim and Luc. I found it just got lengthy in certain points, even when there’s a lot of action going on. Lillim is a commentator on everything and her internal dialogue only adds to the battle scenes—making them funny, yes, but also like I said, lengthy.

Other recommendations…

Mark E. Cooper, Donna Joy Usher, Inge-Lise Goss

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Blood Deal by Brad Magnarella

How can one man find so much trouble? It’s not even when he’s looking for it?  Professor Croft gets pounded, spelled, glamoured, beat on and even has the blood sucked from his own body – with his permission! Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Title: Blood Deal
Author: Brad Magnarella
Series: Professor Croft #2
Publish Date: October 17, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: James Patrick Cronin
Source: Purchased through Audible.com

Publisher’s Description: Everson Croft here, professor of mythology and … nervous as sin.

Tonight’s the night I tell Caroline the truth: about my feelings, my magic, everything.

So why am I surprised when Detective Vega calls me to a new case? An elusive creature is chewing up residents in a housing project run by rival gangs. One more mangled body and the place will explode into warfare.

Problem is, someone’s protecting the killer. All signs point to the vampire Arnaud—who’s just upped the stakes. If I don’t send Detective Vega down a trail of bad leads, he’ll snatch her child. But is Arnaud trying to derail the investigation or twist it to his own ends, ones that could reshape the city?

Worse, Caroline has disappeared, and I’m under suspicion. No one believes I last saw her with Angelus, a mysterious hunk and full-blooded faerie. Dangerous no matter how you slice it.

Two cases: one personal, one professional, and both going to hell in a hurry.

Time to wizard up.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This is an urban fantasy, no sex, lots of violence that comes in various forms and though the ending is good, I believe it will be a very dangerous step for our beloved professor to take.  ALSO, I want to warn those nervous readers like me, Everson’s relationship with Vega is very rocky.  I have all the faith in the world that Author Magnarella will make everything right again.  If he doesn’t then….well…us readers will just have to set him straight. 😉

I will admit that I was drawn to the fact that Everson Croft reminds me of Indiana Jones and Harry Dresden wrapped all up in one.  I mean, really? Who could refuse that face? Check out the cover – it’s fantastic.  Anyway, Everson thinks his life is quiet for the moment and wham! he is pulled into not one, but two separate investigations.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**  I want to say that Everson was trying to be a good guy and Vega took his actions way to the extreme end of the reactionary spectrum.  I learned that Vega’s nickname or maybe even real first name is “Ricky”.  I learned she grew up in a neighborhood that was not known for it’s white picket fences and block parties.  I also learned that she is one tough broad.  She takes a gut shot and she powers her way through it enough to tell Everson how to stitch her up.  Incredible.  I also learned that if she trashes this relationship with Everson, she is making a huge mistake.  It feels like he’s the only one that will back her up and help solve the murders that no one else can touch.  Also, I think Caroline is very selfish to put Everson in the difficult spots that she is putting him in.  She could have at least checked in with him to tell him – “Hey, I know I left the party before you got back, but I wanted to touch base with you.”  That would be the considerate thing to do.  Anyway, it is what it is and that’s why it makes for a good story.  Oh, and one last thing.  Everson should have took the ring option instead of the information about his mother.  He just should have.***END OF SPOILERS***

This series is great to read but even better to listen to.  The narrator does a very good job and he fits my image of the voice for Everson Croft.  Grab the book or the audio – you won’t be sorry.  Oh, and for those of you up to book #3, like me, Mr. Magnarella assures me that the audio will be out by the first week in April and book #4 will release in print and audio closely to the same time together.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Yancy Lazarus series by James A. Hunter, Cisco Suarez/Black Magic Outlaw series by Domino Finn or Immortal Vegas series by Jenn Stark.

Hell Night by Matt Kincade

What a fun book! Zombies! Running for your life! Necromancers! Oh my! I enjoyed my introduction to Alex Rains, Vampire Killer, even if there were no vampires in sight!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00021]TitleHell Night
AuthorMatt Kincade
Series: Alex Rains, Vampire Hunter, Book 02
Publish DatePrint – March 15 | Kindle – March 21
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover: J. Caleb Design
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Alex Rains knows all about hunting vampires—after all, that’s his job, and he’s the best at what he does. But when he follows a lead to the tiny desert town of Prosperity, Nevada, Alex quickly learns that vampires aren’t the only things that go bump in the night. He’s just as surprised as the town’s residents when the dead start walking the streets of Prosperity . . . and they’ve got a bit of an appetite.

Together with a ragtag group of survivors, Alex will have to dodge undead horrors and small-town drama as he digs into Prosperity’s darkest secrets and macabre Wild West heritage to figure out why the dead aren’t staying dead, discover what–or who–is responsible, and put a stop to it . . . before the whole mess gets out of hand.

After dealing with the undead in Prosperity, Alex Rains is going to have to update his resume.

It’s sunny with a chance of apocalypse in Hell Night, Matt Kincade’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to The Devil’s Mouth. With Hell Night, Kincade once again delivers fast-paced, gritty pulp action, engaging characters, and delightfully grim humor.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

Even though this is book two of Alex’s story, and I don’t prefer to read books out of order, this was still a great introduction to Alex. Alex obviously just had a big adventure, perhaps book one, and is looking to take a break. Quite quickly, I learn Alex is a fan of the 50s, especially of Elvis, and wants to go sight seeing to a place where the King himself visited.

Enter Prosperity.

It’s got all the standard tropes of a dying town. The main business closed down and recently even the national park that it had is closed. The residents know they will have to leave but haven’t been able to do so just yet. Alex comes to town to find out where Elvis was and perhaps flirt with the cute waitress at the diner.

Then the body is found. And gets up and walks again. In a well-handled twist, Alex goes from suspect number one to hero number one as the zombies arrive in Prosperity. The rag-tag group of survivors has to find a way to get across town without being eaten alive. Most make it.

Soon, Alex finds himself trapped in a building, holding off zombies while trying to save as many survivors as he can. And Alex is a vampire slayer, not zombie slayer. He doesn’t really know much about them other than finding that the zombies can be killed permanently and he’s good at that.

Alex has realized that these are not typical zombies. They ambush. They concentrate their attacks at weak points. They even let a few of the group survive. Whoever is controlling them wants something from the group. Alex also knows that when that happens, they won’t be needed anymore.

badge5v5All of this leads up to a fun ending that had me reading as fast as I could. I really enjoyed meeting Alex and Prosperity’s people. The bad guys motive made as much sense as an insane person can. And Prosperity’s history and hidden secrets were all so much fun to read! I’m glad I have a book one I can read and look forward to more. This was a solid five for me.

 

Nervous Nellie says…

Damn, that was good!  I bought this book because it was recommended.  If I would have known it involved zombies, I probably would have declined spending the whole 99 cents.  Zombies are not my thing.

This is an urban fantasy – not apocalyptic, so don’t panic.  There is a tiny bit of sex – not enough to make me blush BUT it’s definitely not sweet either.  There is a zillion bloody scenes – gore, splatter and grossness.  It’s “ew” factor was pretty high, but the quotes in this book nearly broke an all time record.  If I put in this review every quote I highlighted, I could fill a chapter alone.

Alex Rains is a vampire hunter that is refreshing in the fact that he doesn’t know anything else supernatural other than vampires.  He didn’t even know zombies existed until he stumbled into a little offbeat town called Prosperity.  The super villain in this book was pretty easy to see right off, but that’s not the point of the book.  The point of the story was the same goal as all of the evil villains we’ve ever read with the twist of the machinations of an even more evil villain.  That’s the part that set this book apart.

Matt Kincade is a brand new author to me – like I said – recommended.  I enjoyed this book a lot and I’m looking forward to the next one.  I would say that this book is better than the first, so I can’t imagine how blown away I will be with the next.  Oh, and by the way, for those of you that may have read my review of The Devil’s Mouth?  No, Carmen isn’t in this book.  I said I’d hunt down the author for not including her, but this story was so good, I’ll give him a pass this time.  😉

 

Our reviews in this series…

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak

What can happen when a bad person gets control of a lot of power? Isn’t that what many Americans are asking themselves these days? Black City Demon tackles that question as well when an old enemy of Chicago gets his hands on the power of Feirie.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

black-city-demonTitleBlack City Demon
AuthorRichard A. Knaak
SeriesBlack City Saint, Book 02
Publish Date: March 14, 2017 by Pyr
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s Description: Since he became the guardian of the Gate between our world and Feirie sixteen hundred years ago, Nick Medea, once Saint George, has battled to keep the darkest Feirie–the Wyld–from invading the mortal plane. With the dragon an unwilling part of him, Nick maintains balance between realms, often at great cost to him and those nearest to him.

Nick and his ragtag confederates—including the shape-shifter Fetch and Nick’s reincarnated love, Claryce—have battled the Wyld, but not mortals as sinister as the darkest Feirie. Now, with Prohibition in full swing and bootlegger wars embattling Chicago, a murderous evil born of the mortal world has turned its attention to the power of the Gate… and Nick himself.

Nick must turn again to his most untrustworthy ally: the dragon within. Yet even together they may not be enough to face what was once a man… but is now a creature even dragons may fear.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

This is a great follow-up to Black City Saint. Nick, Fetch, Kravayik, Claryce, and the Dragon have another mystery to solve, one even more insidious than the last.

I like how Knaak wove real Chicago history into this book. This particular historical figure seems to be popping up quite often in books and TV lately. He is an interesting psychological case study so I can see the fascination.

This book, even more than the first, truly establishes Nick as a curmudgeon. He is grumpy, and he can hold a grudge for a LONG time. I’m looking forward to the book where he can accept himself and all of his friends, including Claryce, and stop being so short and grumpy with them. However, a lot of urban fantasy detectives are grumpy; so are a lot of noir detectives. So that may never come to pass.

Knaak has a lot of really good side characters in this series. I really like Detective Cortez. I’m hoping he becomes part of the inner circle eventually.  I love Fetch, of course, even when his true nature peaks through. Kravayik fascinates me, too.  I’d love to learn more about his conversion to Christianity. I even like Diocles; the backstory between Nick and Diocles fascinates me. There are so many interesting stories that could come from that relationship.

I hope this series continues for a while. I think there are some great stories here worth telling.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

The second book in the series starts slow but once it gets going, it’s non-stop action and fun!

A long time ago, I read a review of a movie and the reviewer spoiled the movie. The reviewer didn’t go out of his way to spoil movies, but if he had to do so for his review, he didn’t shy away from them. He did so because, in his opinion, if a movie can’t stand on its own even after a spoiler, it must not have had much to it.

With that, I get to my review, and while I won’t directly spoil the book, I could be giving enough information that other readers might feel I spoiled it.

This book picks up a few weeks after the events of the last book. This means prohibition is in full swing and the threat of a mob war lingers. Even with the threat to Feirie gone, Feirie has not let Nick go and still meddles. Nick returns to doing what he does—dealing with Feirie trespassers—and avoids Claryce, which is one of my issues with the book.

Nick is fifteen hundred years old. He would have seen many strong women in that time, and attitudes toward women go up and down throughout history. Indeed, he thought highly of his own Cleolinda from his mortal life. However, he treats Claryce no different than many men of the time treated women. He’s not telling her the whole truth, he’s trying to protect her and keep her out of danger, and he’s taking some choices from her about when she can help or not. I get it. He doesn’t want to lose Claryce, nor Cleolinda’s reincarnation. It annoys me because I take it as a lack of trust on his part that she will do what she can and not try to do too much.

Claryce is trying to clear up some business from her former employer, including selling old properties. One person interested in those properties has Nick on edge and worried that Claryce is going to be pulled into his world again. Here is my spoiler and what it did to me. Unfortunately, I recognized the buyer’s name, and if you do not recognize it, I suggest you not Google it. The first half of the book is finding out the identity of the buyer and because I knew, it made the book a tougher read than it should have been. This is one of those times when the author’s use of detail works against him.

badge4v5Once that was done, though, this was a great read. The same details that were spoilers for me do pull me into the story later. His use of slang via Fetch helps immersion, as does his use of the everyday terms for appliances back then. I’m still fascinated by the realm of Feirie that the author has created and how it works. I want a bit more detail but not so much that the mystery is gone!

Even with the spoiler, I give this a solid four. I don’t think it would have gotten a five because Nick’s attitude toward Claryce still grates on me, but this is a good book.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations

For another 1920’s urban fantasy, check out Ari Marmell’s Mick Oberon series.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.