Tag Archives: paranormal

Book Review: Omens & Artifacts

Elizabeth Hunter, who is one of my favorite authors, has a new book out in her Elemental Legacy series. For those of us who really like Tenzin, this is an exciting time. (For the record, I really like Tenzin and have written a fanfic in my head about being friends with her.)

I received this book as a free ARC, but that in no way influenced how much I loved it.

The Blurb

In the elemental world, reputation is everything, but gaining it can get you killed.

Setting up shop as an antiquities hunter means nothing if you don’t have clients. Benjamin Vecchio, nephew of a famed vampire assassin, is the subject of widespread speculation, but so far that speculation hasn’t translated into work.
What Ben needs is a job. A big job. A profitable job.

A legendary job.

Finding the lost sword of Brennus the Celt, the mythical Raven King of the British Isles, would make Ben’s reputation in the immortal world, but it could also draw dangerous attention. The Raven King’s gold hoard isn’t famous for being easy to find. Luckily, Ben has his own legend at his side.

Tenzin is a wind vampire who doesn’t like digging, but she’s more than happy to let Ben do the dirty work while she provides the muscle he needs to make other immortals pay attention. They’re partners. Or so Ben thinks.

But when finding this treasure puts Tenzin’s future plans at risk, will their partnership survive? Tenzin isn’t used to taking orders from anyone, particularly from a young human who used to be her student. Digging into ancient Scottish history can get you dirty. It can also get you killed.

The Cover

The image is a link…click it.

 

The Review

You guys. I love Benzin. It’s been so much fun to watch Ben grow up and the way his relationship with Tenzin has developed just makes me so happy. He’s gone from a streetwise kid and ward of one of the scariest fire vamps out there to a badass in his own right. He’s obviously cool, right? I mean he’s besties with Tenzin!

Ben’s been caught up in some shady shit, due to Tenzin. (‘Shady Shit’ is probably her middle name.) But now he’s ready to step forward and own what he’s doing. He knows his target audience and needs to make a name for himself – something that’s probably easier if you’re virtually immortal and have a couple of centuries to build a reputation. But, since Ben is [still] mortal, he needs to go big or go home. Obviously, going home would result in a boring book, so that’s not the direction he chooses.

I really like how well Elizabeth transports her readers to the various settings. It’s almost as good as having the travel budget to go there myself. I’ve never been to Scotland (booo!), but it’s on my shortlist (top three after Romania and Sweden), but I feel like I have the lay of the land – at least a bit.

As always, the world building was fantastic. The consistency that Ms. Hunter shows throughout the various Elemental series is rather remarkable. Really, my only complaint is that she won’t let me dictate who shows up where. (All my books would have Carwyn, Tenzin, Cathy, Baojia, and Caspar. Oh, and Patrick.) (And Ioan. *hard stare* And Stephen.)

The combination of humor, mystery, and intrigue equals a delightfully paced book that I was unable to put down once I started. Tenzin’s relationship with Cara, the virtual assistant, made me so happy (as did her insistence on teasing Ben about putting holes in the walls of his NY loft to hang her weapons).

I cannot recommend this book more and am excited for the next Benzin adventure – which I’m assuming will continue to be filled with high jinks, gold, and witty banter (I’m a huge fan of witty banter).

The Quote

You guys – I couldn’t pick just one. I have three quotes that made me happy in this book.

Tenzin had walked in rooms layered in gold, had drunk blood from solid hammered goblets, and eaten food sprinkled with its dust.

She’d taken a king for a lover who painted her body with gold dust just to see her outline on silk sheets after they’d made love.

Not included – whether or not she enhances her lady garden with real diamonds…vajazzling on a very expensive level. We know Tenzin likes shiny things. (This is one of the questions I will ask her when we hang out.)

Oh shit. Well, the neighbors’ llamas had lived a long life. Probably.

I mean, that’s just perfect. Even with no context. Maybe especially with no context. Now you’ll have to read it to find out about the llamas.

[Cathy]: “If he’d given it to you…then you’d be stuck being the vampire king of Scotland.”

“I’m not a vampire!” Ben said.

Cathy nodded. “It would certainly be an awkward and probably very short reign.”

I love Cathy and want more of her.

The Verdict

Solid 4.5 stars. I am SO EXCITED for the next chapter and don’t understand why Elizabeth won’t let me lock her up*, keep her supplied with gin, and write whatever I want as fast as possible. DAMN YOU, HUNTER!

*hahaha. Just kidding. I’ve totally never floated the idea of a writer’s dungeon with my PSM. Ha. Ha.

Book Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, NecromancerHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So – I read this for my 2nd book club. My YA book club. This is the first book in the series, and while I was immediately taken with the title (because, really? hee!), when I first started the book, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it.

The writing style is a bit juvenile, and although it’s a YA book, since there’s sex and violence (and necromancy), one would expect the book to have a more A than Y tone. BUT, as the book went on, the story, although not complex, engaged me, and I was able to move past my initial reservations about the writing and just enjoy the ride.

The Story
Sam (short for Samhain) is a college dropout who works at a local Seattle fast food joint. His co-workers include best friend from birth (or at least 5th grade) Ramon, junior employee Frank, and Brooke – who the boys are torn between lusting after and protecting like a sister.

A quick game of parking lot hockey (with brooms and a potato, natch – this fast food joint must actually cut their own fries – FANCY) results in a Mercedes with a broken taillight. When the owner comes in, he spots Sam, asks some inexplicable questions, makes some vague threats, and starts Sam’s (and the other characters) down a twisted path of death, destruction, and a first-hand glimpse into the magical world that they never suspected existed.

Sam finds out that he’s a necromancer, and the meanie car owner (Douglas Montgomery) offers to take him as an apprentice. This offer seems a bit sketchy (due to the violence inherent in the system perpetrated against Sam & his friends as motivational tools), and when Sam visits his mom to find out what she knows about this, he finds out that she was not only aware of his necromantic tendencies, but that she’s a witch who’s been trying (and lying) to protect him all these years.

Douglas Montgomery is up to more than just trying to take a new apprentice, and his minion (a werewolf named Michael) accidentally kidnaps the daughter – and heir – of the leader of the fey hounds. She is half fey hound & half werewolf, and when she is thrown together with Sam, their lives get pretty interesting.

The Score
Romance/Sexytimes: B+ – for a YA book, there was a bit of steamyness. Apparently throwing together a half were wolf who needs a LOT of physical activity to stay sane (and to not eat people) with an impressionable young man leads to…exactly where you’d think. Hee.

Writing: B – Like I mentioned above, the writing didn’t thrill me. I mean, it’s not Twilight bad or anything. The author seems to have a decent grasp of how sentences work, but it wasn’t what I would necessarily call really good or anything. It was an enjoyable story, though.

Paranormality: A- – I love me a book with secret magical worlds that the protagonist must discover. The magical hierarchy and world were not well-developed, more just taken as fact. I would’ve liked to see more, but I’m assuming there will be sequels (if there’s not already – I should look into that), that might do more world-building.

Book Score: B+ It was an enjoyable story. A light & easy read. Nothing earth-shattering or ground breaking, or even thought-provoking, but pleasant, interesting, engaging, and, well, werewolves! – I love werewolves!

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Book Review, Paranormal Style: On the Edge (The Edge #1)

On the Edge (The Edge, #1)On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a problem – when I really like a series by an author, and then I see that they have another series with different characters, I do not want to read that series. Because it won’t be the same. And that means it will be inferior. And I’m angry that they’re wasting time on this series when they could be spending more time writing the series that I want them to.

But, apparently Ilona Andrews is not my bitch (Yet.) (Ha! I jest! I haven’t even figured out where Ilona & her husband Andrew live!) and is writing another series that has nothing to do with Kate Daniels. Whatever. For some reason, I ignored my prejudices and bought this book.

The Story

Rose Drayton lives on the edge of two worlds – The Broken, which is like our modern world, with big box stores and no magic – and The Weird, with all the magic and none of typical modern conveniences. People who live on the Edge can go between worlds, although it’s really hard for inhabitants of The Weird or the Broken to go to the other worlds.

Rose is responsible for keeping her two younger brothers alive, fed and out of trouble, a task that doesn’t always come easy. One of her brothers is a cat shifter and the other has the unique ability to raise the dead.

Inhabitants of the Edge typically have some magical powers, and Rose worked for ages to show that although she was born just poor, white trash, Fancy was her name. Oops, wrong story. She worked for ages so that when it was time for show & tell (high school graduation, I think), she could prove that even though she wasn’t from the best family, her magic was still awesome. And it was. Magical ability is proved by “flashing” (not like that) your magic, and Rose flashed white, meaning there was some aristocratic blood in her background.

There were a lot of marriage proposals (most of which seemed to involve threats of violence), and she turned them all down. Things seem to be pretty mundane (in a manner of speaking), until some creepy monsters start appearing on a regular basis.

A couple mysterious men appear in her life, and there is romance! And magic! And action/adventure! And no plot spoilers, here!

Overall, an entertaining read. Ilona & Andrew have once again done a fantastic job world building, but I thought the character development was weaker than in the Kate Daniels series. I know the second Edge book is out, and the third is slated for release this fall, and I’ll probably read them (I have some airplane time coming up soon), but I’ll mostly be holding my breath for the next Kate release.

The score!

Romance/Sexytimes: B. Although the slow build-up of the romance was nice, and there was some wooing, it wasn’t really as exciting and sweaty-palms inducing as the Kate/Curran romance. (Should I stop comparing this book to the Kate Daniels series?)

Writing: A- I think that the writing is definitely one of the strong points in the Ilona Andrews books. It’s not slop, like some paranormal romances/urban fantasy books that are (apparently) relying on magic to carry the writing as well as the story line.

Paranormality: A+ Again – fantastic world building. I think that’s a major strength of Ilona Andrews books. The fantasy worlds of the Weird and the Edge merge very well with the more reality based Broken, and it all fits together seamlessly and believably.

Book Overall: B+ Again, I prefer the story of Kate Daniels, but this was a decent first book in the series. I could wish that the characters had a little more depth and a few more dimensions, but overall, I did enjoy it.

Series Overall: B+ Same grade as the book, since it’s the first in the series & I have nothing to compare it to. It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished it, and now that I’ve written about it, I am feeling compelled to pick up the second book. Dammit!

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Paranormal Book Review: Mercy Burns (Myth & Magic #2)

Mercy Burns (Myth and Magic, #2)Mercy Burns by Keri Arthur

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In terms of paranormal romance, Keri Arthur scores pretty high on the sexytimes meter. When I read her Riley Jenson Guardian series (set in Australia! I love Australia!), after reading the first in paperback, I had to buy the rest electronically, because I was waaaaay too embarrassed to be caught reading them in public. In fact, there were times I would have to look around just to make sure no one was reading over my shoulder.

The graphic sex aside, the books were fairly well written, and on one sleepless night, I accidentally bought another Keri Arthur book (oh, Nook! you are so good for instant gratification, and so bad for my pocketbook!) – the first in Keri’s Myth & Magic series (called “Destiny Kills”). So, a couple of weeks ago on yet another sleepless night, I thought I’d check out the second book in the series.

I was actually hoping for a little more of the protagonists in the first book, as they were really interesting characters, but this really is a stand-alone, and although those characters are mentioned, they are barely even peripheral.

The story

Mercy is a draman. That’s half human/half dragon for the uninitiated (Ms. Arthur sure does love her halfsy main characters – in Destiny kills the main character is half air dragon/half sea dragon, and Riley Jenson [who got her own 9-book series] is half werewolf/half vampire). She wakes up all disoriented after a terrible car wreck and finds out that her bestie is dead. Now, ordinarily that would be sad enough, but for dragons, unless someone is hanging with your dead body at sunrise, you just burn up & your soul is doomed to…something…maybe wander the earth endlessly? ANYWAYS – it is bad.

BUT – there is hope! If Mercy can figure out who caused the accident that killed her bff, and then kill the person(s) responsible, her friend can go to the forever lands, which I’m assuming is Dragon Heaven. Unfortunately, she only has a week to do so!

In her quest to find out, not only who killed her friend, but is also killing a bunch of other dramans, she is kidnapped and meets Mr. Muerte. (That’s actually not his name, but instead his job description.) Muerte (or Damon, if you want to know his name) is a full-blooded air dragon who was also investigating the disappearance/murder of the dramans. Not because he (or the dragon council) particularly cares about these half-breeds, but more because some dragon king’s son accidentally got himself killed. (I think – I’m a little hazy on a couple plot points.)

Obvs Damon & Mercy have the hots for each other (sometimes literally, as she can control the air dragon fire gift even better than full-blooded air dragons, even if she missed out on getting wings), but will his prejudices and his commitment to his job as dragon council enforcer (of death!) get in the way? Will they find out who killed her friend and free the friend’s soul?

And the score!

Romance/Sexytimes: A- Not nearly as graphic as the Riley Jenson series, for which my flaming cheeks thank the author, but still plenty of tension & the sex scenes didn’t make me laugh! (Always good.)

Writing: B+ I think the story is well-crafted and fairly well written. I’ve recently tried to read what is possibly the worst-written paranormal romance of all time, and am tempted to give everyone who writes actual literate sentences an A+ from here on out. BUT – Keri Arthur is a great author, although I did prefer the Riley Jenson series, just for the authentic Australian slang! This series is set in the US, and although a few phrases made it through the editor, it wasn’t as much fun for me.

Paranormality: B I don’t find the settings to be as realistic (so-to-speak) as other series. Not to say there was anything particular I could point a finger at, but the whole “it’s okay if someone sees a dragon, no one will believe them” method of maintaining secrecy is a bit laughable. Especially when, if you’ve read the first in the series, you know that there are already a bunch of scientists capturing & studying the dragons.

Book Overall: B+ Not a bad job, really. Paranormal romances can get so out-of-control with trying to fit in all the mythology that they forget the story. This was a great story that would’ve been a straight-out dirty romance book if the protagonists weren’t dragons. The fact that they were is what makes me feel okay reading it!

Series Overall: B+/A- I’m not sure how I feel about grading the series, since both books in the series have really been stand-alones that don’t build on the previous stories.

So! I liked it! But, in all honesty, not quite as much as I liked the Riley Jenson series. Which is much, much dirtier (and, which I refer to as “werewolf p0rn”).

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Paranormal Book Review: Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know how last week, I told you that the Mercedes Thompson series was my favorite paranormal series? Well, if that is #1, then the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews is #1.2

I love Kate. I love that she can kick just about anyone’s ass. I want to get a (magic) sword and learn how to use it. I also really want to be able to kill a person with my bare hands. Not that I would, of course. I just want the ability to do so.

Magic Slays is the fifth in the series, and I had been looking forward to this for ages. I was so excited when I opened my Nook on May 31 and found it waiting for me! I’d read the teaser chapter (which turned out to be the prologue) and was ready to pick up where the last book had left off.

**mild spoilers if you haven’t read the first four** Continue reading