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Devils and Details by Devon Monk

On our second visit to Ordinary, Oregon, things heat up as the god powers are lost, people turn up dead, new players come to town, and more secrets are revealed.

Title: Devils and Details
Author: Devon Monk
Series: Ordinary Magic, Book 02
Publish Date: August 31st, 2016, by Odd House Press
Genre: Urban fantasy
Cover: Lou Harper, Cover Affairs
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionCaught between the devil and the deep blue sea…

Police Chief Delaney Reed is good at keeping secrets for the beach town of Ordinary Oregon–just ask the vacationing gods or supernatural creatures who live there.

But with the first annual Cake and Skate fundraiser coming up, the only secret Delaney really wants to know is how to stop the unseasonable rain storms. When all the god powers are stolen, a vampire is murdered, and her childhood crush turns out to be keeping deadly secrets of his own, rainy days are the least of her worries.

Hunting a murderer, outsmarting a know-it-all god, and uncovering an ancient vampire’s terrifying past isn’t how she planned to spend her summer. But then again, neither is falling back in love with the one man she should never trust.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

As with the first book in this series, there were a couple of story points I didn’t care much for, but overall, I really enjoyed this visit to Ordinary, Oregon.

I mention in my review for Death and Relaxation that something happens at the end that I feel was too little reward for the sacrifice. Unfortunately, part of the plot of Devils and Details is built on this event, so I was constantly thinking about that while I was listening. There is also the fact that neither Delaney nor her sisters, who are supposed to be the experts at Ordinary guardianship,  recognize that a blatant violation of the agreement made between the gods and Ordinary would cause a problem. That bothered me, especially since the rule was made very clear to the reader. That aspect felt too forced in order to make the rest of the story work.

The last bit I didn’t care for was the introduction of a shadowy para-government agency. There is so much going on in Ordinary already that it didn’t feel necessary or fully developed. But perhaps more will come of that in future books.

Despite those story elements, the characters and quirks of Ordinary are fun and compelling, as is the mystery. Bertie and her manipulations, Crow and his cockiness, Odin and his stubbornness, Death and his wacky outfits, Old Rosi, and the werewolves are all wonderful characters that I love visiting. I care about these characters and the town, and that, for me, is what makes for a good story.

Other reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try the Scarlet Bernard series by Melissa F. Olson, the Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain, or the Nicki Styx series by Terri Garey.

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Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk

NEW: Audiobook review added.

Small town politics, family legacies, lost loves, vacationing gods, mysterious deaths, and lots and lots of rhubarb. Be sure to check out this fun series by Devon Monk!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

27828473Title:  Death and Relaxation
Author:  Devon Monk
Series: Ordinary Magic Book 01
Publish Date:  June 20, 2016, by Odd House Press
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Cover: Lou Harper, Cover Affairs
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Source: ebook provided by the author, audiobook purchased

Publisher’s Description: Police Chief Delaney Reed can handle the Valkyries, werewolves, gill-men and other paranormal creatures who call the small beach town of Ordinary, Oregon their home. It’s the vacationing gods who keep her up at night.

With the famous Rhubarb Festival right around the corner, small-town tensions, tempers, and godly tantrums are at an all-time high. The last thing Delaney needs is her ex-boyfriend reappearing just when she’s finally caught the attention of Ryder Bailey, the one man she should never love.

No, scratch that. The actual last thing she needs is a dead body washing ashore, especially since the dead body is a god.

Catching a murderer, wrestling a god power, and re-scheduling the apocalypse? Just another day on the job in Ordinary. Falling in love with her childhood friend while trying to keep the secrets of her town secret? That’s gonna take some work.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Audiobook review, Jan 2019

I read this book back in June of 2016 but didn’t end up finishing the series at that time because … life, ya know? So I picked up the first three books in the series in audio so I could catch up.

The series is read by Khristine Hvam, who also narrates the Jane Yellowrock book. It took my brain a bit to adjust to that voice representing a different world, but not too long. Hvam is awesome and did a fantastic job.

I always find it interesting how the mood I’m in at the time really affects how a book sits with me. I remember when I read this book the first time, I was pretty tickled with it, but later couldn’t recall many details. This time around I listened to it (which I think involves processing the story very differently) and enjoyed it a lot, but was feeling more critical—not in the negative sense, but in the sense that I was paying more attention and evaluating with a deeper eye.

For example, there is something that happens near the end of the book that bugged me this time around because it felt like the sacrifice wasn’t worth the reward; there was a bit of foreshadowing that felt MacGuffin-ish or never fully explained; and the romance aspect was a bit too melodramatic for my taste at times.

However, I really enjoyed the mystery, the mythology, the characters, their relationships, and the world overall, so I still enjoyed it quite a lot. Plus there’s humor, which is a treasure at times. I had read some darker fantasy just prior to reading this series, and the lighter, more optimistic feel of this series was a wonderful change.

So I have to say that I’m still pretty tickled with this series, particularly in audio. It’s engaging and optimistic, and I’m invested in the characters. Ordinary, Oregon seems like a great place for a vacation. 4 stars.

Text review, June 2016

What drew me to this book: I’m a big fan of Devon Monk; I love her Allie Beckstrom and House Immortal series. So when I saw she had a new series coming out, I was pretty excited. Plus, the cover, designed by Lou Harper, is lovely.

Why I kept reading: Death and Relaxation is a lighter series than I’m used to from Monk, but I really liked it. It’s a murder mystery, a light urban fantasy, and a bit of paranormal romance all in one book.

The small town of Ordinary is home to many things—the Reed family, the Rhubarb festival, and every type of supernatural creature and divine immortal imaginable. The Police Chief, Delany Reed, gets to deal with it all, including vacationing gods, old boyfriends, the death of a god, and the rehousing of the god’s power. Oh, and judging the Rhubarb festival—and she doesn’t even like rhubarb.

At one point, I thought I had the romance part of this book figured out; but I was totally wrong. At least, so far. I never did have the murder figured out. I like that! The end of the book hints that there are much bigger things in store for Ordinary. With so much going on in this small town, I have no doubt there will be more good things to come.

Why I recommend it: Monk’s new book is great entertainment. It gives you a little taste of several genres and the mystery is unpredictable. The town and characters are interesting and quirky, as you might expect from a small town. The ending is satisfying and yet hints that things are about to get serious. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

If you like this book…

…you might try the Scarlet Bernard series by Melissa F. Olson, the Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain, or the Nicki Styx series by Terri Garey.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

This new series by Charlaine Harris imagines an alternative history for the United States that evokes a dystopian Wild West feel.

Title: An Easy Death
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Gunnie Rose, Book 01
Publish Date: October 2, 2018, by Saga Press
Genre: Urban fantasy, western fantasy
NarratorEva Kaminsky
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionSet in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.

As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

I’m never quite sure how I will react to the first book in a new series. Sometimes I adore it, sometimes I feel more cautious. It all depends on how invested I feel in the new world and characters.

With An Easy Death, I feel reserved, though I enjoyed it quite a lot. I was quite invested at the start of the book, where Harris shows us Lisbeth’s day-to-day life. Then that life is taken away from her, introducing the conflict in the story. Maybe that made me a bit gun-shy.

Eli and Pauline, the other two primary characters, aren’t ones I feel easy with. I’m not supposed to, as the reader, as Lisbeth isn’t herself. She’s never sure of their trustworthiness and intentions. But she has to work with them anyway to fulfill her contract and protect herself.

Since the book is told from Lisbeth’s perspective, perhaps I feel reserved because we know very little about Eli’s world, even though it has the potential to affect Lisbeth greatly. It will be interesting to see if future books let Lisbeth explore the world of the Russian wizards, or if she’ll have more adventures in the former southern US.

Though I feel reserved about the start of this series, I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. 4 Stars.

Other recommendations…

The Shadow series by Lila Bowen, The Devil’s West series by Laura Anne Gilman, or the Dark Alchemy/Wildlands series by Laura Bickle.

How the Dukes Stole Christmas Anthology

I know it’s past Christmas, but this was a really fun anthology.  Each are historical.  The last one is in America.  Each has a captivating story and happy endings.

Title:  How the Dukes Stole Christmas
Authors:  Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe
Publish Date:  October 3, 2018
Narrators:  Justine Eyre 
Source:  purchased by reviewer in audio and print

Publisher’s Description:  

“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless–and unexpectedly handsome–Thorndale himself. Now the duke’s holding her future in his hands…and he’s not letting go.

“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm–the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can’t resist the woman he never stopped loving…or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay…but if ever there were a time for miracles, it’s Christmas…

“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister’s family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss … until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker’s weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column’s author, can’t even boil water. When the paper’s owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing–especially when Duke’s attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?



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


Nervous Nellie says…

The first story, “Meet Me in Mayfair” was my favorite.  I truly thought she had no chance of turning her plight into a Christmas miracle, but…there you go.  It’s Christmas.  Anyway, I’d never read author Tessa Dare before I read The Duchess Deal and I found I liked her as a writer.  This anthology was a bit of an investment since I bought both print and audio versions.  They were both very good.  Also, it was a short but complete story.

The second book, “The Duke of Christmas Present“, was also a fun read.  I related to it as kind of a Ebenezer Scrooge type story except instead of ghosts, there were people who came and visited.  It was so good, I read it once and then listened to it once.  I am positive that I’ll be going back to that story to read/listen to it again.   The Duke was/is a stubborn, stubborn man but through all of the years, the Miss still loved him.  I so wanted to smack him up side the head.  I swear that Lady Mosby was going to as well, but that would not be ladylike.  It was a good story.  A complete story.

The third story, “Heiress Alone”, was not exactly my kind of story, though it was good enough.  I like a little longer “get to know you” period for my characters before they hop in the sack, but I guess they do things differently in Scotland.  Anyway, it was a good story, albeit a sad one.  The heroine was left behind by her family.  Kind of like Kevin in Home Alone except with a Laird rescuing her against the bad guys instead of her saving herself.

The last story took place in New York City.  It was a historical that took place in the late 1800’s early 1900’s.  It was not a practical story.  I know, I know.  These aren’t supposed to be practical.  The heroine took a great personal risk over something that had failure written all over it and then highlighted a multitude of times, but she did it anyway.  This story is for some, but not for me.  I kind of just slapped my forehead and muttered, “Duh, woman.  You are an idiot.”

All in all, I enjoyed this book with it’s various adventures.  I also enjoyed it because it’s easy to stop in between books because life intrudes.  During Christmas, who doesn’t need a break?

 

 

 

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Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos

This was my first foray into Jessica Jones in the print medium. I enjoyed it. A solid four.

Title: Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 1
Author: Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos (Illus.)
Series: Jessica Jones: Alias
Publish Date: September 22, 2015, by Marvel
Genre: Graphic novel, superheroes
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Meet Jessica Jones. Once upon a time, she was a costumed superhero… but not a very good one. Her powers were unremarkable compared to the amazing abilities of the costumed icons that populate the Marvel Universe. In a city of Marvels, Jessica Jones never found her niche.

Now a chain-smoking, self-destructive alcoholic with a mean inferiority complex, Jones is the owner and sole employee of Alias Investigations – a small, private-investigative firm specializing in superhuman cases. When she uncovers the potentially explosive secret of one hero’s true identity, Jessica’s life immediately becomes expendable. But her wit, charm, and intelligence just may help her survive through another day.

COLLECTING: Alias 1-9

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

There are two stories in this trade. In the first, Jessica finds herself being used. I took it that she is early in her career because she gets caught in a “trap” and used by several powerful people. It’s a character piece as she wrestles with what she should do.

The second story is about her learning how to check out her clients better and trying to help people. And dealing with some very strange circumstances. A wife wants her lost husband found. He was a sidekick to several heroes, but can’t seem to settle down. It ends with a really good talk about psychology that I liked and still think about.

What stopped this from being a five was a bit of the art. I eventually got used to it, but I think it needed a bit more to elevate it. As good as the stories were, I think they needed a bit more dialog, maybe narrative text, to explain a few things better. 

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