Review: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Title: Kindling the Moon {Arcadia Bell #1}

Author: Jenn Bennett

Published: Pocket Books, June 2011

Status: Read July 2018

 

My Thoughts:

The Arcadia Bell series is another urban fantasy series that languished on my TBR list for far too long. I read the four books, Kindling the Moon, Summoning the Night, Binding the Shadows and Banishing the Dark, over a period of about a week.

Kindling the Moon introduces part owner of the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge., and magician, Arcadia ‘Cady’ Bell. For the last seven years Cady has kept a low profile, avoiding the notoriety of her parents, two runaway renegade occultists accused of heinous crimes, but when they resurface her peaceful life is shot to hell. Ordered to prove her family’s innocence, or suffer punishment in their place, Cady has a near impossible task in front of her, one that may cost her everything.

The plot in Kindling the Moon is fast paced and offers plenty of action. Cady is not only challenged by the need to track down an elusive Æthyric demon, but also navigate complicated politics within the occult society, evade a ruthless bounty hunter, and master newly emerging abilities, all with a time frame of just two weeks. The main storyline is resolved with Kindling the Moon, though there are threads loosened which are picked up in later books. I did think the ending was somewhat anticlimactic but it was satisfying nevertheless.

Cady is an appealing heroine, with strengths and flaws which are well balanced. She is unique within her world, for her ability to kindle Heka from the moon, and her ability to see halo’s which identify Earthbounds. I enjoyed her wit, and her talent for kicking butt. She is strong and independent, but willing to accept help when she needs it. As her power develops, she also finds new reserves of fortitude and potency.

In Kindling the Moon, Cady reaches out for help to demonologist, Earthbound, photographer and single father, Lon Butler. It’s no surprise that Lon plays a role of ongoing significance in the series. He and Cady develop a mutual respect that soon turns into a romantic affection. I liked the relationship between the two of them, it’s a little different than the usual trope, particularly in that it involves Lon’s preteen son, Jupe, a fantastic character in his own right.

As a whole I thought the world Bennett created for her series to be imaginative and interesting. Set on the northern coast of California in a mid sized city, the population includes non magical humans, magicians and Earthbounds, Magicians, like Cady, use Heka (found in fluids such as saliva and blood) to power spells, and limited access to the Æthyric plane, while Earthbounds have knacks – a special skill or talent of varying strength.

In all, Kindling the Moon, and the rest of the series featuring Arcadia Bell, was an enjoyable read, that urban fantasy readers should enjoy.

Jenn Bennett is now making her name in YA fiction with titles like Night Owls and Serious Moonlight.

Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Title: Wickedly Dangerous {Baba Yaga #1}

Author: Deborah Blake

Published: Berkley, September 2014

Status: Read on May 26, 2018

 

My Thoughts:

Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in Deborah Blake’s urban fantasy romance trilogy drawing on the legend of Baba Yaga, with a unique contemporary twist.

Barbara Yager is only one of several Baba Yaga’s, whose role it is to keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world. Instead of a cabin on chicken legs,as in legend, Barbara travels her territory in an Airstream with a mind of its own, accompanied by a dragon-turned-dog, Chudo-Yudo. When she needs backup she calls on the Riders, a trio of men/dragons who serve her bidding.

In Wickedly Dangerous, Barbara is summoned when a child goes missing in a small community in Upstate New York. Using her guise as a researcher, herbalist and healer, Barbara investigates, tangling with handsome local Sheriff Liam McClellan, soon divining the disappearance has a mystical cause.

To be honest, the mystery plot is a little uneven, the cause of the disappearance is solved fairly quickly, but it takes some time for Barbara to resolve things. While this gives Blake time to introduce her world, the main plot suffers somewhat for it.

I liked the character growth, which mainly stemmed from Barbara’s relationship with Liam. No longer really human, Barbara has closed herself off to the possibilities of normal friendship and love, but the Sheriff finds a way through her defences. I liked the way in which the romance developed between the two.

I enjoyed Wickedly Dangerous enough, that I followed up with Wickedly Wonderful and Wickedly Powerful, both of which have similar themes, featuring two other North American Baba Yaga’s.

Light and fun, the Baba Yaga series was a pleasant read, combining romance with fantasy, for me over a rainy weekend.

 

 

Review: Scourged by Kevin Hearne

Title: Scourged (Iron Druid Chronicles #9)

Author: Kevin Hearne

Published: Del Rey, April 2018

Status : Read April 25th 2018

My Thoughts:

I began reading Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles in 2011, devouring Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered almost consecutively, and Tricked and Trapped on their release. Despite purchasing the last four book in the series as they came out, I just didn’t find the time to read them. I finally rectified this last year by reading the entire series consecutively from the first, to the last book, Scourged, in less than a week.

The grand finale, Scourged, sees Atticus battling the Norse Gods of Asgard, trying to prevent Ragnarok, aka the Apocalypse, which he had unwittingly instigated in a careless moment.

There is plenty of excitement, adventure and humour to be found in Scourged, as immortal is pitted against immortal in the bid to destroy, or save, Gaia. The various battles are epic in scale, though sometimes awkwardly brief, and on occasion, seemingly superfluous.

A variety of supernaturals, including the reoccurring characters of Coyote, The Morrigan, and Jesus, have their roles to play. Granuaile is her kick-a@@ self, Owen is hilarious, and though Oberon is largely absent given the circumstances, he is never forgotten.

I admit to being somewhat disappointed by the direction Hearne took in this last book, Atticus’s final moments of the series were not the triumph I was anticipating, but instead, rather maudlin. Nevertheless, I was sad to leave Atticus and his world behind. I still rate Iron Druid Chronicles among my favourite urban fantasy series, and one I recommend.

Available to Purchase at your preferred retailer

Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

 

Title: Mercury Striking {The Scorpius Syndrome #1}

Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Published: Zebra: Kensington Jan 2016

Status: Read from January 28 to 29, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A fast paced, action packed dystopian romance, Mercury Striking is the first in a series from Rebecca Zanetti.

After the world is devastated by a mutated alien virus that usually either kills it’s victims or turns them into psychotic killers, Lynn Harmony, a former director at the CDC, is probably the only person left alive who can find a cure. She desperately needs information from a lab in Los Angeles but to get there she has to safely traverse the dangers of the lawless country while eluding the President’s men and then beg favour from Jax Mercury – nicknamed the King of L.A.

Zanetti has created a rich and intriguing world, the population of America all but decimated by the Scorpius Syndrome. Of the few that survive the virus most become ‘Rippers’, uncontrollable serial killers, but a handful recover most of whom develop varying degrees of sociopathic behaviour.

Small enclaves of survivors fight to endure the destruction of society and its infrastructure across the US including the stronghold ‘Vanguard’ in L.A. led by ex special ops soldier and former gang member, Jax Mercury who protects a group of around 500 men, women and children.

Jax is the only one placed to help Lynn find ‘Myriad’ and complete an important task but with the stain of her glowing blue heart and a presidential bounty on her head she is taking a huge risk when she seeks his help. Jax grants her request for asylum under strict conditions as eager as she to find a cure, but neither is prepared for the relationship that develops between them or the consequences of their relationship.

This is story with plenty of grit, involving plenty of action including deadly firefights and chases, and with some brutal scenes of violence and death, but at its heart Mercury Striking is a romance. . It’s all very ‘alpha male’ meets ‘feisty damsel in distress’ but I enjoyed the development of their relationship and the physical intimacy between Lynn and Jax sizzles (though I really could have done without the spanking scene).

The secondary characters, both allies and enemies, add interest and breadth to the story. I’m guessing that Raze and Vivienne will be the couple to feature in the next book to continue the series.

A quick, exciting, escapist read with an interesting premise and appealing characters, I enjoyed Mercury Striking and I’ll be looking for the next in The Scorpius Syndrome series.

 

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Review: Night Study by Maria V Snyder

 

Title: Night Study {Soulfinders #2; Study#5; The Chronicles of Ixia #9}

Author: Maria V Snyder

Published: Harlequin MIRA Jan 2016

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Status: Read from January 25 to 26, 2016 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Shadow Study ended on a cliffhanger so I’ve been looking forward to Night Study, the second installment in the Soulfinders trilogy, the fifth book in the ‘Study’ series, and the eighth installment in ‘The Chronicles of Ixia’ series.

I don’t want to spoil the many surprises Night Study has in store for fans with a lot of personal upheaval for Yelena and Valek against the background of escalating tension between Sitia and Ixia.

Perhaps it’s enough to say there is plenty of excitement and action – a terrible conspiracy is discovered, and there are some game changing moments for several of the characters. I raced through the book caught up in the adventure and mystery, entertained by the humour and made breathless by the emotion.

A great read for fans like myself, I’m looking forward to (and slightly dreading) the epic conclusion in Dawn Study.

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also reviewed at Book’d Out

 

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Review: Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

 

Title: Reap the Wind {Cassandra Palmer #7}

Author: Karen Chance

Published: Signet November 2015

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Status: Read from November 07 to 08, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Reap the Wind is the seventh installment featuring Cassandra Palmer, the somewhat reluctant and hapless Chief Seer for the supernatural world. Desperately trying to save John Pritikin sees her skipping wildly through time in search of the mage’s soul, dragging Pritikin’s demon dad along with her.

While there isn’t a lot of progress in terms of the series story arcs, the pace is breathtaking as Cassie lurches from one time, and crisis, to another, frustrated by angry colleagues, elves, Pythia wannabe’s, overprotective vampires and Mircea’s libido. Her journey is chaotic, hilarious and there is a surprising amount of sizzle.

I really enjoyed reading Reap the Wind, I was horribly sick at the time but I still didn’t want to put it down. I do want some more overall progress though and I hope Ride the Storm delivers it.

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Review: The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

 

Title: The Iron Warrior {The Call of the Forgotten #3; The Iron Fey #7}

Author: Julie Kagawa

Published: Mira Ink November 2015

Status: Read from November 04 to 07, 2015

My Thoughts:
The third and final installment in the Call of the Forgotten Trilogy, The Iron Warrior reveals not only Ethan’s fate (after the cliffhanger ending in The Iron Traitor), but also the fate of NeverNever as it is called to war.

Drama and action abound as the Iron Prince (the errant son of Meghan and Ash) declares war against the Fae as the champion of The Forgotten, threatening not only to tear apart the NeverNever but also the human world. Ethan, with the help of Kenzie and many of the Iron Fey series beloved characters including Puck and Grimalkin, is determined not only to save faery but also his nephew. The quest sees our heroes travel through perilous regions of the Nevernever, the Between and the Dark Wyld, culminating is a heart-stopping showdown.

Though I have to confess I felt the overall resolution of this specific trilogy plot was a bit lacklustre, The Iron Warrior is a satisfying ending to the Iron Fey series and I’m looking forward to Kagawa’s next work.

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Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

 

Title: Menagerie { Menagerie #1}

Author: Rachel Vincent

Published: Harlequin MIRA September 2015

Status: Read from September 21 to 22, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A darkly imaginative and captivating tale, Menagerie introduces a new fantasy series from Rachel Vincent for an adult audience.

On her twenty fifth birthday, Delilah Marlow’s boyfriend presents her with tickets to Metzger’s Menagerie, a travelling carnival, whose attractions include cryptids, creatures of legend and myth kept captive since the horror of The Reaping. Delilah has never been comfortable with society’s treatment of cryptids, and she is horrified when she witnesses a keeper abuse a young female werewolf, but she is as stunned as everyone around her when her fury manifests physically.

“But if monsters could look like humans, and humans could look like monsters, how could anyone ever really be sure that the right people stood on the outside of all those cages?”

Vincent presents a stunning alternate reality in Menagerie where supernatural creatures are caged, enslaved and exploited by humans. Afforded no rights cryptids are feared and hated, blamed wholesale for an event known as The Reaping which killed hundreds of thousands of children decades earlier.

Delilah is utterly unaware she is anything but human until the night she plunges black talons into the skull of the abusive keeper, and is utterly terrified when she is arrested and then denied any recourse when the Sheriff sells her to Metzger’s Menagerie. Vincent creates a powerful and disturbing portrait of Delilah’s disenfranchisement as she is chained and caged, placed at the mercy of sadistic keepers who force her to become a sideshow attraction despite being unable to identify her ‘type’, alongside the circus’s collection of trolls, ogres, mermaids, djinn, were creatures, and a rare minotaur.

Vincent spares little as she describes the conditions under which the cryptids live in Metzger’s Menagerie. Abused, tortured, starved and drugged, their experiences are harrowing and for Delilah the dislocation is extreme. As she tries to hold onto her dignity, she displays courage, resilience and determination. Only one keeper shows her any kindness, Gallagher, who comes to believe that Delilah is the rarest of cryptid’s, and the only one who can save them all.

Menagerie though is much more than just a thrilling tale of fantasy, it is a story that explores the concepts of humanity, and its capacity for savagery when threatened or fearful, injustice and vengeance. It reflects some of society’s worst impulses such as the internment camps, acts of genocide, human trafficking and forcible slavery. This provocative edge to the story may be overlooked by some, but the parallels were clear to me.

With literally extraordinary characters, dazzling world building and a captivating plot, Menagerie is a sensational read. I can’t wait for the story to continue.

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Review: The Veil by Chloe Neill

 

Title: The Veil {Devil’s Isle #1}

Author: Chloe Neill

Published: NAL August 2015

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Status: Read from August 02 to 03, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I have always intended to read Chloe Neill’s popular Chicagoland Vampires series but never found the time, so I leapt at the chance to read The Veil, the first book her new Devil’s Isle series.

It has been seven years since the Veil between New Orleans and the supernatural world was torn open permitting the egress of paranormals determined to enslave or wipe out humanity. War raged for a year, leaving thousands dead and the land scarred before the Veil was closed. Magic was banned and the Para’s who survived incarcerated in a neighborhood adjoining The French Quarter, nicknamed Devil’s Isle.

Claire Connolly owns and runs an antique and supply store, inherited from her late father, at was what ‘ground zero’. She refuses to abandon the family store and leave New Orleans even though she risks everything to stay, for after the Veil was reinstated, Claire discovered she was a ‘sensitive’, a human with the ability to wield magic, and discovery would mean ‘containment’.

But when Claire witnesses a woman being attacked by two wraiths (sensitives that have been overwhelmed by their magic) she intervenes and to save herself must use her magic. Certain she will be arrested and imprisoned, assistance comes from an unexpected source, bounty hunter Liam Quinn, who not only helps destroy the evidence of her actions, but also finds her a mentor to teach her to harness her magic.

Walking a fine line between remaining hidden and discovery, everything changes when Claire and Liam discover a dangerous plot to reopen the Veil.

Though New Orleans isn’t an unique setting, Neil’s worldbuilding is solid. The society has dystopian elements what with almost martial law and street level magic monitoring, and there also an apocalyptic feel given the scorched earth, ruined buildings and communication issues.

There is quite a lot of information to digest in The Veil, including the history of the war, the current status of New Orleans society, the make up of Para’s, and the motives of the Beyond. I felt Neil integrated the details well for most part, maintaining a good pace and advancing the plot.

The characters are likeable, Claire is stubborn, resourceful and she has a close knit group of friends that are her substitute family. Liam is essentially a loner, especially since losing his sister. As a bounty hunter he can move quite freely between New Orleans and Devil’s Isle where his grandmother is and he has, if not friends then sources, such as Moses, a computer hacker with horns. The attraction between Claire and Liam is immediate and inevitable, and a strong element of the plot.

Though I’m not irreversibly hooked, I did enjoy The Veil. It’s a quick and engaging read and I will most likely pick up the next.

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Review: Limbo by Amy Andrews

 

Title: Limbo {Joy Valentine Mysteries #1}

Author: Amy Andrews

Read an Excerpt

Published: Escape Publishing May 2015

Status: Read on May 31, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Amy Andrews is an award-winning, best-selling Australian author who has written more than forty contemporary and medical romances. Limbo, with its blend of romance, suspense, humour and touch of the paranormal is quite a departure from her usual fare.

When the ghost of a murdered mother begs for her help to save her kidnapped daughter, Joy Valentine, country singer and funeral home makeup artist, knows the police won’t take her seriously so she reluctantly turns to the one person who might believe her, disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent. The police think baby Isabelle is probably dead but Joy and Dash are convinced Joy’s ghostly vision was genuine and set out to find the missing infant.

Though still a romance novel at its core, Andrews establishes an intriguing mystery surrounding the disappearance of the murdered woman, and her missing daughter. Dash and Joy slowly piece together the scant evidence available to determine exactly what happened on the day Hailey and Isabelle went missing, and where the pair have been for the six months prior to the discovery of Hailey’s body.

The characterisation is wonderful, I really liked both Dash and Joy, who are well rounded protagonists with interesting back stories. I loved their chemistry, the sexual tension between the mismatched pair is palpable and there are a couple of intimate scenes that really sizzle.
The cast of quirky supporting characters including an unconventional clergyman, a brothel madam and two horny goldfish, are equally delightful.

There is lots of humour, often found in unexpected places and while there is a little in the way of action, there is plenty of tension and suspense. The inner city setting gives the story a modern urban feel.

I finished the book in one sitting and I’m hoping Amy Andrews will follow up Limbo with another soon. Loved it!

 

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