Category Archives: Invested Ivana

Magic Carpet Ride by Laurence MacNaughton

When shop-assistant Opal brings one of her father’s old rugs into The Crystal Connection to cover a burn spot in the floor, she and store owner, Dru, discover just why the rug was hidden away in the first place.

Title: Magic Carpet Ride
Author: Laurence MacNaughton
Series: Dru Jasper, Book 0.0
Publish Date:  November 19, 2016
Genre: Humorous Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Available on Amazon for $.99 or free when you subscribe to Laurence McNaughton’s newsletter

Publisher’s DescriptionDru Jasper scrapes by selling potions, charms, and enchanted crystals to help sorcerers fight the forces of darkness. But when Dru’s latest customer shows up on fire, things get magical (and funny) fast. This prequel story includes the first chapter of IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY. Available FREE exclusively on the author’s website at www.LaurenceMacNaughton.com/free/


Invested Ivana says…

Magic Carpet Ride is a short, but fun introduction to the world of Dru Jasper. Readers get a sense of:
*Dru’s shop, The Crystal Connection, and the kinds of magical problems Dru deals with there.
*Dru herself, her addiction to lattes, and her magical power.
*Dru’s shop assistant, Opal, and her quirky sense of humor and style.
*Dru’s friend, Rane, a kick-ass monster hunter with a magical ability of her own.
*McNaughton’s funny writing style, which puts me in mind of MaryJanice Davidson, but without the “Sex in the City” vibe.
The Dru Jasper series is a fun, quirky read, perfect when you’re you’re in the mood for light-hearted, magic adventure. Check out my review of the first book, It Happened One Doomsday, and stay tuned for the second book, A Kiss Before Doomsday, which comes out in July of this year.

Other recommendations…

For more urban fantasy with a light-hearted side, check out the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series by Julie Kenner, the Queen Betsy (sometimes called the Undead) series by MaryJanice Davidson, or the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones

 

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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.

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.

Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs

The adventure continues, reluctantly, for Elena and Adam as they go back to the future—several futures, in fact—to save their friends and themselves.

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

future-threatTitleFuture Threat
Author: Elizabeth Briggs
SeriesFuture Shock, Book 02
Publish Date: March 1, 2017 by Albert Whitman & Co.
Genre: YA Sci-Fi (time travel suspense)
Narrator: Erin Spencer
Cover: Paul Stinson
SourceNetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionSix months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.

The second book in the New York Times bestselling Future Shock trilogy.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Future Threat is intense, and I love it. More than any other time travel I’ve read, Future Threat demonstrates the potential danger of both knowing your future and changing the future. It gave me quite a lot to think about.

Elena, Adam, and Chris—collectively called Team Delta—get pulled back to Aether’s time-travel scheme to save the latest team to go rogue, Team Echo. While there, they try to save the life of one of the Echo team members and end up losing one of their own. So they go back again, and again, to try and fix the past. Each time they go back, the future is different. The effects of the team’s actions create a worse and worse future each time they visit. Adam and Elana have to figure out why the future is getting worse and fix it before all is lost.

Adam and Elana go to the same future several times. So two or three of them are in the future at the same time. Oddly enough, though I’m not a math person, I kept thinking about the rules for parentheses in Excel formulas as I read this book. Weird, right? But Adam and Elana go back to the future three times. Each time, their trip is shorter. It’s like they have to go and return before the last time they went and returned, like nesting parenthesis. I don’t know if that’s true, but the thought kept popping into my head. 😉

In the one future where Chris, Elena, and Adam are happy and successful, Future-Elena is terrified that Now-Elena is going to mess things up. I can understand that. When you’re happy, you don’t want anything to change.  But at the same time, someone somewhere is NOT happy. If they change things to suit themselves, how will that change your future? This is one of the questions posed in Future Threat.

Another is how knowledge of the future would affect the decisions you made to get there. So, if you knew you were already destined to be an awesome piano player, for example, would you be compelled to practice as much? And if you didn’t practice as much, would that future come about? Not new questions in time travel fiction, but certainly good ones.

I was chatting with Kat recently about what made this a young adult book rather than a straight sci-fi book. Ah, the nature of genres, right? 15 years ago, this same book would have been listed as sci-fi, no question. The protagonists being college freshman age wouldn’t have made a difference. Today, however, YA as a category is popular and lucrative, especially in print as opposed to ebook form; so, it makes sense to market this as YA now. Honestly, I think that is the only difference I can think of. What do you think, readers? Chime in and tell me what sets a YA apart from adult novels, and specifically this one, if you’ve read it.

badge5v5I haven’t listened to this book yet, but I know Erin Spencer did an awesome job as always. I’ll be downloading it and listening soon. This book is just as awesome as the first, so another five stars!

Oh, and although Future Threat really felt like the end of the series, I see there is another one due out in 2018. Its title, Future Lost, make me really apprehensive!!! I want Chris and Elena to have their happy ending.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out these books for some more time travel romance or suspense: A Girl In Time by John Birmingham, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.

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

Etched In Bone by Anne Bishop

I LOVE THIS SERIES! I can’t tell you how happy it made me to have another installment to read. Usually, I save these books for audio because the narrator is so awesome. But when the book became available on NetGalley, I just couldn’t wait.

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

etched-in-boneTitle: Etched In Bone
AuthorAnne Bishop
SeriesThe Others, Book 05
Publish Date: March 7, 2017 Roc
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionNew York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves…

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


ivana 100Invested Ivana says…

After Marked In Flesh’s very large political conflict, the conflict in Etched in Bone is closer to home. Detective Crispin James Montgomery’s brother comes to town and puts the delicate balance of the courtyard in danger.

There are some interesting themes in this book. The main theme, the impact a toxic person has on the lives of others, will hit home for so many readers. I’m guessing just about everyone has been in the radius of a toxic person at some time or another. Even while we recognize their influence, many times we feel powerless against it. Monty and his family, along with the whole Lakeside Courtyard, feel helpless against the influence of Monty’s brother, Cyrus James—a self-centered, manipulative, immoral jerk. Though many of the residents of the Courtyard, including Monty and his mother, know that Cyrus James should be turned out, the Elders who are visiting the Courtyard want to understand how one bad human can impact a stable group, and so demand that Cyrus be allowed to stay.

Another theme in this book is overcoming addiction and increasing impulse control. Meg and her friends have come up with an alternative to cutting herself for prophecy. She has combined several decks of fortune telling cards in an attempt to create the Trailblazer Deck for other blood prophets. We see Meg deliberately using the cards when she has the compulsion to cut, even hear her thought process. This is excellent modeling and I’m so glad Bishop included it in this book. Lack of impulse control is linked to so many bad things like criminality, poor relationships, poverty, addiction, and other things that prevent one from having a genuine and satisfying life. It seems our country is suffering from a major lack of impulse control right now, and having good models is crucial.

Fans of the romance between Simon and Meg will be happy. Meg is beginning to grow and heal from her trauma, and though it is happening sooooooo slowly, this book finally marks a progression in the relationship between the two.

badge5v5Each book in this series gives me “big things” to think about while also thoroughly entertaining me. I love all of these characters and the careful life they’ve built. I’m looking forward to release day when I can “reread” this in audio. 😉

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Again, this series is so unique, I can’t really recommend anything quite like it. But for other excellent urban fantasy series, see my favorites list.

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