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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.

Storm of the Gods by Amy Braun

An excellent book, and a great start to a new series!

Full Disclosure: Percy’s wife and site co-founder, Ivana, was an editor on this book (and absolutely loves it!). She receives no remuneration from sales.

Title: Storm of the Gods
Author: Amy Braun
Series: Areios Brothers, Book 1
Publish Date: September 2018
Cover: Deranged Doctor Design
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThirty years ago, the gods of Greek legend returned to the world. Their return restored their powers, which had been spent in a cataclysmic battle with the Titans. With the ancient deities imprisoned in Tartarus, the Olympians now reside in Néo Vasíleio, formerly known as California.

Twenty-four-year-old Derek Aerios is a war scion, a descendant of Ares, the God of War. He and his brother, eighteen-year-old Liam, capture mythological creatures and rogue scions as part of Ares’s elite military force. As he struggles to cope with his violent powers and the scars of a traumatic childhood, Derek tries to keep the two vows he has made: protect his brother and never kill a human again.

But when Ares forces him to hunt and kill four rogue scions under Athena’s control—by threatening Liam’s life—Derek chooses to go after the scions in order to save his brother and keep his promise to himself.

Yet the closer Derek gets to the scions, the more he realizes that his orders are part of a deeper conspiracy that put him at odds with his mission and his conscience. Athena may not be the enemy, a traitor could be in their midst, and the Titans could be closer to freedom than ever before.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy Procrastinator says…

This is an action book. It starts with the brothers returning from a hunt for a mythological creature that was running loose. However, they are attacked by other scions from another region and soon have many questions.

The battle scenes are so much fun. These are demigods using a lot of power, throwing around fire, lightning, and other abilities that have been granted from their heritage. However, when it comes to actual killing, all of the scions do hold back from actually doing that. Sure, they will blast each other with their fire or harden their skin for powerful blows, but they don’t fully kill. It becomes a big moment in the book when killing is considered. I liked that.

The action continues as they are quickly given a new mission from Ares, the god whose blood flows through them, giving them their powers: find out who attacked them, what they were after, and stop them. Recover anything they had taken. It’s a wild ride across all of the different gods’ domains.

The small complaint I have is that we never get into deep background. But instead of a negative, it makes me more curious about the area. Why did the Greek gods pick California to rule? Why limit themselves in that regard? Are the other pantheons real? Will we find more scions?

Derek and Liam find themselves crossing into the other areas, making uneasy alliances, and learning about themselves as they dig deeper and deeper into the mystery of why Athena did what she did, what the end game is, and what will happen to them if they go against Ares?

All during the read, I was pulled into the world. Again, I’m given just enough to hint a bigger picture and want to know more. I liked the brothers, and while it almost veered into some twenty-something angst, it never quite got to the point that I find annoying.

A solid five and I look forward to the next book!

Full Disclosure: Percy’s wife and site co-founder, Ivana, was an editor on this book (and absolutely loves it!). She receives no remuneration from sales.

Tarnished Journey by Ann Gimpel

This is the final book in the Soul Dance Series. Shifters, Romani, and Celtic gods do battle with demons and vampires who have signed on with Hitler in order to save Earth.

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

tarnished-journey.jpgTitle: Tarnished Journey
Author: Ann Gimpel
Series: Soul Dance 04
Publish Date: July 18, 2017, Ann Gimpel Books, LLC
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionLong before Germany rounded up Romani and sent them to prison camps, the Netherlands declared them undesirables. Yara’s caravan disbanded when she was fifteen to avoid being driven out of the country. Ten years have passed, and she’s been alone for most of that time hiding in caves and abandoned buildings. It’s been a lonely life, but at least she still has one.

Stewart conceals his true identity for the best of reasons. He’s not actually Romani, even though he’s been a caravan leader for many years. In a bold and desperate move, he joins a small band of shifters and Rom to fight the Reich’s chokehold on Europe. When they’re crossing the border into the Netherlands, vampires attack.

Yara senses Romani near her cave. The stench of vampire comes through loud and clear too, along with shifters. While not nearly as bad as vampires, her people have always steered clear of them. Another type of magic plucks at her. She can’t identify it, but it draws her from her hiding place. That decision tilts her world on its axis when she comes face to face with Stewart’s raw masculinity and savage presence. She could still turn tail and run. If she stays, it doesn’t require magical ability to recognize her life will change forever.


Luna Lovebooks says…Luna_Lovebooks_100

I am almost sad that this series is ending. I was not sure at first, but it became one I greatly enjoyed. For Tarnished Journey we leave behind the vampires and Nazis (for the most part) and get into another mythos, that of the Celts. I enjoyed that aspect a little more than I did the previous novels.

I love that the author features strong women in her stories. Yara is no exception. She has had to be tough and independent since her caravan disbanded and she has been alone since she was fifteen. Meeting Stewart changes everything for her. He introduces her to a new life and reveals many secrets that have been kept from her such as where her power really comes from. I really enjoyed the romance between them. Stewart is very honest with her and genuine in expressing his love. Even though Yara fights him at first, their love had me rooting for them.

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There is a lot of action in the story and many twists. Readers never know what to expect next as the characters encounter all kinds of danger. Not only do they face vampires demons and the Nazis but now god and goddesses are thrown into the mix.Every chapter the characters face a new and exciting danger.

I liked this story better than the previous installments. I give it 4 talismans!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out the Dragon Lore series by Ann Gimpel, The Hathaways series by LisaKleypas, Gypsy Lord by Kat Martin

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

American Gods 10th Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman

I’m going to make a confession: I’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book before now. I’ve purchased several of his books with the intent to read them, and I’ve seen several movies based on his work, including his Dr. Who episode “The Doctor’s Wife”, which I absolutely adore.

I was super excited when Starz announced it would be reimagining American Gods as a series. I’ve watched it, and it’s fantastic. So when season 1 ended, leaving viewers halfway through the story, I decided I needed to read the book. I’m not patient enough to wait a year to hear what happens to the characters!

Title: American Gods 10th Anniversary Edition
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publish Date: June 21, 2011, HarperAudio
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Full-cast production
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. Soon Shadow learns that the past never dies . . . and that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

When I went looking for the audio of American Gods, I discovered there is not only a 10th Anniversary edition (print and audio), but the audio is done by a full cast. It’s not a dramatic production; there aren’t sound effects or background scores. It’s still unabridged, though I suspect some dialog tags may have been removed for the reading. But each character has a different voice, brought to life by several fantastic voice actors. I would swear some of the voices were done by the TV series actors, but that doesn’t appear to be the case (cast list).

Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in American Gods (2017)

Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle in American Gods (2017)

The full cast audio recording is wonderful! Multiple voices really enhance the listening experience. Gaiman himself voices not only an introduction and conclusion, telling the listener about the experiences that went into the writing and how the tenth-anniversary edition came about, but he also narrates the Coming to America segments of the book—historical vignettes describing how many of the old gods traveled to the new world. Gaiman has a great voice for the narration.

Since I had watched the show before reading the book, I was looking for the similarities and differences between the two, as well as more depth and explanation than a series can typically go into. There is certainly more depth—a lot more. I’d love to hear a world religion or theology class discuss this book. There are also differences between the two mediums, but they all seem to fit into the same universe, and I enjoyed them all.

American Gods seems to be a good urban fantasy if you want to approach it casually, and a very interesting look at people and religion if you want to dig into the imagery and metaphor. It’s certainly worth more than one read, as there is so much to the book that I’m sure I didn’t absorb it all. I will say that if you are not at all familiar with the myths of a few world religions, you’ll want to have the internet nearby to Google some of the references.

Other recommendations…

David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Good Omens (2018)

David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Good Omens (2018)

It is very easy to see the influence American Gods has in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, so it’s likely if you enjoy one, you will enjoy the other. Gaiman has also breathed new life into the myths of one of the world religions in American Gods in his book Norse Mythology. I’m super excited about the upcoming release of the TV version of Good Omens by Amazon/BBC in 2018. I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to read the book first or not. Sometimes I find it makes for a better experience to read the book after, so that I’m adding richness to the show instead of taking it away from the book. 😉

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