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Raised in Fire by K.F. Breene

Got a steady job.  Got a housekeeper, a fallen angel for a dad, an understanding boss, and even a righteous sword.  Who needs more?  Reagen Sommerset, that’s who.  Less talk and a lot more action is what she’s all about.

Title:  Raised in Fire
Author: K.F. Breene
Series: Fire and Ice Triolgy #2
Publish Date: September 22, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Source: Purchased from Audible

Publisher’s DescriptionIt is a common truth in my life that when it rains, it pours.

The killings that once plagued New Orleans are cropping up again in Seattle. The local office is stumped. I’m called out to lend a fresh set of eyes, and my unique magical touch.

It’s only when I get there that I realize the Seattle office isn’t stumped at all.

They’re being silenced by the Mages’ Guild, a corrupt magical institution that doesn’t want word to get out of what is plaguing the city. Worse, news of my magic might’ve slipped down to the underworld, hitting the ears of some extremely powerful demons.

What I thought was a routine murder investigation turns into a fight for my life. With the help of Darius, my stalker elder vampire, and my dual-mage side kicks, I somehow have to dodge the Guild in order to stop one of the most powerful demons I’ve ever encountered. If I don’t? It’ll escape back down below with proof of what I really am.

My life hangs in the balance, and this time, I can’t see a way out.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

This book rocked! This is #2 in the 3 book run of Fire and Ice series.  There is swearing.  There is death.  There are monsters.  There is tricks and conspiracies.  All those things, but mostly just the last 4 will give you a hint there are vampires as well.  There isn’t a cliffhanger, but a lead in to the next book.  There is some graphic stuff but not horror graphic.

 

 

I can’t say enough good about this series so far except I will be sad when I get through the last book.  Reagan is someone I’d like to hang with and see what trouble she land in next.  Her dad is Lucifer.  She’s supposed to reign in hell.  She doesn’t want to.  She’s great at the bounty hunter job she has in the brink and she doesn’t want to be noticed by the demons bent on bringing her into her daddy’s inner circle.  Well, they could also use her to their own ends too.  I mean, they are demons, you know.

And then there is the vampire stalker.  Oh, he doesn’t think he’s a stalker.  For some reason, even unknown to the elder vampire himself, he is pulled to Reagan like a magnet.  Darius doesn’t like the feelings she’s stirring up in him.  He’s a vampire for goodness sake.  He’s not supposed to have feelings, but Reagan is pulling him back to his humanity.  It’s really a fun journey.  Reagan and Darius work so well together, it would be a shame to split them.

This story is exactly as the description claims and it was an adventure full of discovery and death.

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock, Brad Magnarella’s Prof Croft series, and Jenn Stark’s amazing Immortal Vegas series…

 

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Switchback by Melissa F. Olson

The Chicago pod of the Bureau of Preternatural Investigations faces its next big challenge. But will all the members make it out unscathed?

Title: Switchback
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Series: Nightshades, Book 02
Publish Date: Dec 1, 2017 by Brilliance Audio
Genre: Paranormal thriller, urban fantasy
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionThe Bureau of Preternatural Investigations returns in the sequel to Melissa F. Olson’s Nightshades.

Three weeks after the events of Nightshades, things are finally beginning to settle for the Chicago branch of the BPI, but the brief respite from the horror of the previous few weeks was never destined to last.

The team gets a call from Switch Creek, WI, where a young man has been arrested on suspicion of being a shade. The suspect is held overnight, pending DNA testing, but seemingly escapes in a terrifying and bloody massacre. But is there more to the jailbreak than a simple quest for freedom?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

Switchback is the second installment in the Nightshades series. I wasn’t aware the second book had come out and was pleasantly surprised to stumble across it on Audible, and to discover it is narrated by Luke Daniels, who is utterly brilliant! So I listened to Nightshades again before diving into Switchback.

The newly formed Chicago pod of the BPA is having its challenges, to say the least. The Special Agent in Charge is just returning from an extended time away, recovering from a disfiguring knife wound to the face and special hearings in Washington, when another major case hits their desk. The entire staff of a police station in a small Illinois town has been slaughtered, apparently by shades. The pod has to figure out what happened and why in order to stop the killers.

Fair warning to those who care—while the ending is not necessarily a cliffhanger, it made me sit up wide-eyed, cursing and loving Olson at the same time. It sure makes May 2018, the expected publication date of the next novel in the series, seem a LONG way away!

Switchback is another wonderfully entertaining story from Olson, whose previous series I have really enjoyed. Five stars.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Olson’s previous series feel more straight-up urban fantasy than the Nightshade series but are definitely worth checking out if you like UF. They all take place in the same Old World universe. If you’d rather read more paranormal thrillers, check out the Harmony Black series by Craig Schaefer, the Nathaniel Cade series by Christopher Farnsworth, or the Order of the Sanguines series by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell.

Black Spark by Al K. Line

Black Spark introduces us to Faz Pound—called “Spark” since he is the Black Spark—an enforcer for the Dark Council, an interspecies group that ensures practitioners and magic beings follow the rules, particularly the one about not letting the Regulars know that magic exists. Faz has just broken that rule, killing a Regular in public. Bystanders filmed it, and YouTubers are eating it up. But Faz wasn’t exactly himself when he murdered the Regular with magic. Now he has twenty-four hours to erase the incident from the collective memory and figure out why he made such a horrible, horrible mistake.

Title: Black Spark
Author: Al K. Line
Series: Dark Magic Enforcer, Book 01
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 by Tantor Media
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Gildart Jackson
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: I watched in horror as dark magic sprang from my hand faster than an imp after your socks. I didn’t know my name, let alone that I had such power. The man was dead. I panicked. I ran.

How was I to know I was a dark magic enforcer, tasked with keeping magic hidden from the world? Yeah, total noob move, I know.

But my memory is returning, and the Hidden have given me twenty-four hours to make amends. Cover it up. Finish the job I was given, or else. Failure isn’t an option. Well, it is, but I like me, and I like being alive.

Time is running out as I battle to make things right and exact revenge on those that took so much from me. Easier said than done as I deal with angry mages, bitey zombies, oversexed imps, creepy necromancers, and grumpy trolls—and those are just my friends!—all while trying to stop myself falling in love with my best friend, Kate, who just so happens to be a hot vampire.

I’m Faz Pound, a.k.a. Black Spark, Dark Magic Enforcer, and time is running out.

At least I have my looks. For now.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

“The rain had stopped, making the new paving gleam like a polished crystal ball as the sun made a risky move. It dared to shine for a few brief moments, before a concerted attack by the Welsh cloud gang took back their territory. The victorious clouds celebrated with a downpour so sudden and fierce the street emptied in seconds.”

Black Spark delivers a fun urban fantasy adventure, interesting world-building that turns some of the normal tropes on their heads, a thoughtful system of magic, and some fun and lovable characters. Kate, Grandma, and the imp Intus, are probably my favorites. There are some jewels of writing, such as the “Welsh cloud gang” quote above, that really tickled my fancy. And I love that Gildart Jackson is the narrator. Jackson is also the narrator of the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka, of which I am very fond. He does an excellent job.

The book is written as if Faz is talking directly to the reader. So the fourth wall gets broken a lot; the narrative switches between past and present tense, depending on whether Faz is describing something that Is (in his imaginary present state) or Was part of the story he’s telling; and the character’s voice is much closer to the informal way someone would talk rather than the more formal way someone would write. These appear to be deliberate choices by the author that make the book feel very chatty and fun, appropriate for an urban fantasy.

However, there are some less-polished aspects of the writing that I noticed, being a fiction editor myself. It often feels as if Faz is rambling. His sentences can get very long and go off in a multitude of directions. At times, the narrative tense changes from past to present when it probably shouldn’t. There are also parts of the narrative that feel a bit repetitive. None of these things really impacted my enjoyment of the story; I just happened to notice them.

I do have to say, though, that I’m very glad I chose to listen to the audio version. I happened to open the Kindle version, thinking I could get some reading done at a time when I couldn’t listen to the audio. Attempting to actually read the book was a very different experience because of a noticeable lack of editing or proofreading. I’m sure I’m more sensitive to issues of grammar and punctuation because of my job as a line editor, so not all readers may be as affected as I was by this lack. But I’m not sure I could have finished the book had I tried to read it. I have to give Gildart Jackson triple kudos for translating that raw text into a great performance.

That being said, I am not reviewing the text version of this book, but the audio. I give the audiobook four stars. I liked the characters and world-building, and I enjoyed the story. I’m sure I will pick up more audios in the series and check out Line’s other series as well. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that, since Black Spark was published in 2016, Line has discovered the benefits of a good editor.

Other recommendations…

Gildart Jackson also narrates the Alex Verus series, which I adore. You might also check out James Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series and anything by J.A. Cipriano.

Born in Fire by K.F. Breene

Working with vampires is never a good idea, but when broke, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Title:  Born in Fire
Author: K.F. Breene
Series: Fire and Ice Triolgy #1
Publish Date: May 1, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Source: Purchased from Audible

Publisher’s DescriptionSupernatural Bounty Hunter isn’t the sort of thing you see on LinkedIn. But with a rare type of magic like mine, I don’t have many options.

Dangerous or not, the job is mine. And it was going fine, until an old as sin vampire stole my mark, and with it, my pay day. Knowing I’m poor and desperate, he has offered me a job. I’ll have to work by his side to help solve a top secret case. Everyone knows not to trust vampires. Especially a hot elder vampire. But without any other jobs coming up, I’m stuck. As I uncover a web of lies and treachery, revealing an enemy I didn’t know existed, the truth of my identity is threatened. I might make it out alive, only to end up in a gilded cage.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

This was a fun an engrossing book. There is no sex-alluding to the deed, yes.  Following through, no.  There is one spot of nudity, plenty of killing of witches and mages…and zombies but no graphic description of violence that leans into the horror category. The four letter “f” word was used a little bit, but it had to be done to make the character a dimensional and believable character. There was also no cliffhanger.

Can I just say that I was not expecting this kind of story? I was kind of expecting a heroine that’s clingy and wishy washy attitude that amplifies to the damsel in distress when she falls into a vapid romance with a vampire that’s going to save her.  That’s what I could get when I do no research, read no sample chapters and listen to no snippets from the narrator.  Basically, I put my money down blindly.  That’s totally unusual for me. But I did it anyway.  Me.  Taking a chance.  Write it in the history books.

What I got in this book, were characters that practically walked out of my earbuds to sit in the room with me.  I gotta say, Reagan’s contacts, clients, co-workers and neighbors are incredibly interesting folk.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Reagan Sommerset.  She’s not afraid of anything.  She’s confident, knows exactly what to do and can figure out a smart ass comeback in a blink of an eye.  She’s such a stand out character that I loved her every minute. Even in the most difficult and awkward of situations, she always has something sassy to say.

As I said, the writing was great – but the narrator….the narrator NAILED it. Her voice range was amazing. This book did not sound like it was being read-no, it sounded like it was being lived!  Poole’s inflection on frustrated, tired, sassy, bossy, hardass Reagan was golden.  Then came the other characters that stood out.  I could picture Reagan’s neighbors and the mage duo like I’d known them forever.  I don’t know how Nicole Poole does it, but she can go from one character speech to another totally different character with a different accent and timbre at the drop of a hat.  I was so impressed with this book, I had no other choice but to give it 5 stars.  It was that good.

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock, Brad Magnarella’s Prof Croft series, and Jenn Stark’s amazing Immortal Vegas series…

 

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter

In the third installment of the Soulwood series, Nell Ingram continues to build a life outside of God’s Cloud of Glory church, master her powers with the Earth, and expand her role as a PsyLED agent.

Title: Flame in the Dark
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Soulwood, Book 03
Publish Date: December 5, 2017, Audible Studios
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionSet in the same world as Faith Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, the third, thrilling Soulwood novel stars Nell Ingram, who draws her powers from deep within the earth.

Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED—the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet.

A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead—and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more—or less—than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

Like all the Faith Hunter books I’ve read, I enjoyed Flame in the Dark very much. I like seeing the characters develop and learning more about the magic and creatures in their world. Khristine Hvam does a wonderful job of voicing the characters.

Flame introduces us to a new magical creature thought long extinct, sheds a little more light on the history of creatures like Soul, and furthers Nell’s relationships with the team and with her sister, Mud. I’m really looking forward to Mud becoming a bigger part of the story. She is a pistol!

Before listening to Flame, I listened to the whole series again, including “Off The Grid,” the Jane Yellowrock short story that introduces Nell. This is a series I’ll come back to often. 5 stars.

Nervous Nellie says…

I cannot praise Faith Hunter enough.  First, she got me hooked on Jane Yellowrock, and then, as Jane’s world expanded, Faith brought in Nell Ingram.  This is an action-packed adventure with plenty of story and character advancement.  There is no sex, no swear words, a little graphic violence, and best of all, no cliffhanger.  I thought there would be, but Faith Hunter saved me from wallowing in cliffhanger self-pity.

The story was great.  I don’t mean on the low side of 5 great. I mean as high on the high side of 5 as the meter will go.  There were monsters.  You think there maybe aren’t monsters at first, but you know better since PsyLED is involved.  These are monsters that give me that feeling like the movie Jaws did to the ocean.  If you listen closely, you can figure out where the monsters are coming from, but the “why” that is answered in the end is just plain dark!  It was GREAT!!!

The other part of the book was fun too.  Not just a little bit, but a lot!  I got to ride around with Nell and live her day.  I liked how she got home and had to put logs into the stove to make heat for the house.  I found her life interesting in an everyday kind of way.  I enjoyed how she used her “church speak” to her advantage.  I loved how Nell put her own father in his place when no one else could.  Not even the Mamas. Go Nell!!  I loved how Nell’s love life changed and she had to do a lot of soul searching to figure out what to do. The “will they/won’t they” between Occam and Nell was palpable.  I could nearly feel the tense vibes that Occam was sending.  Why tense? Well, there is a new man on the scene. If you are on team Occam, you’d better dive in and see what it’s about.

You think that’s all? Um, no.  There is still the whole Brother Ephram thing, the vampire tree thing, and the Mindy “Mud” thing.  There is a whole lot happening in this book.  I was riveted, and the conclusion was very satisfying.

Now, I read a blog that claims this is the end of the series.  Oh, boy.  I hope not.  I still want to be a part of Nell’s life.  I want to ride with her on her journey of life.  In some ways, she is wiser than a woman twice her age, and in other ways, she’s as wise as a girl half her age.  It’s a interesting and engrossing kind of story.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Faith Hunter’s other series—Rogue Mage and Jane Yellowrock. Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series. Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.

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