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

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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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Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

 

Title: My Life as a White Trash Zombie {White Trash Zombie #1}

Author: Diana Rowland

Published: C & R: Allen & Unwin 2015

Status: Read from May 23 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

This title has been on my ‘to read’ list for eons. First published in 2011 this reprint coincides with the launch of CW’s new television series, iZombie. There is some debate as to the source of producer, Rob Thomas’s inspiration – there are vague similarities between the show and this novel, but Thomas claims the show is a loose adaption of the Vertigo comic book series of the same name (beginning with Dead to the World).

My Life as a White Trash Zombie is the first book in a series featuring Angel Crawford, an unemployed, high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record, who wakes up in the ER after an overdose she doesn’t remember taking. Confused, but accepting the scenario, she is further puzzled when she receives a letter notifying her that a job is waiting for her at the morgue, intimating that failing to follow through will result in her going to jail. Despite her reservations Angel reports for duty and soon discovers that whoever anonymously secured her the job has in fact saved her life, or at least her afterlife, because Angel is now a zombie, and needs to consume brains to avoid rotting away.

A zombie is an unlikely heroine, especially one with Angel’s ‘white-trash’ background, but Rowland has created a surprisingly likeable protagonist. Forced to figure out the rules for her new afterlife on her own, the character growth is really surprising, involving not only staying ‘alive’ but also getting sober and dealing with her alcoholic father and her ‘asstard’ boyfriend.

The mystery reveals itself when headless bodies begin turning up and Angel begins to suspect a rogue zombie is murdering the populace to feed, until she learns the dead were also zombies. Angel needs to figure out who is hunting zombies before she becomes the next victim. The answers to Angels’ questions are fairly predictable, including who made her a zombie, but I enjoyed it anyway.

My Life as a White Trash Zombie is a quick, fun read offering plenty of snarky humour, as well as some gross descriptions of bodies that might turn the stomach of the squeamish, a touch of romance, mystery and action.

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Review: A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas

 

Title: A Court of Thorn and Roses {A Court of Thor and Roses #1}

Author: Sarah J Maas

Published: Bloomsbury May 2015

Status: Read from May 14 to 16, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

As a huge fan of Sarah J Maas’s ‘Throne of Glass’ series, I’ve been excited about the release of A Court of Thorn and Roses, the first book in a new trilogy, blending fae lore with a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fable.

In the depths of winter, Fayre is fighting to keep her poverty stricken family alive when she kills a wolf, unaware he is a creature of the fae. Having unwittingly broken the centuries old treaty made between the humans and their kind, she willingly submits to the penalty to protect her family and is dragged to Prythia by the beast that demands it, expecting to be killed, enslaved or worse by the race that once slaughtered humans for sport.
Instead the beast, who is not exactly a monster at all but rather a High Fae with shape shifting abilities, offers her a life of ease in his court but can Fayre really trust the word of a Faerie, especially when something dark and wicked lurks close by?

I really liked the character of Fayre, she is a strong willed, fierce and passionate, though not without her vulnerabilities. She struggles to adjust to her new life in Prythia and is understandably slow to trust Tamlin but once she gives in to her fate she embraces it wholeheartedly.

It isn’t until Fayre is captive in Prythia that Tamlin reveals his true self, not just High Fae, he is the devastatingly handsome and powerful High Lord of the Spring Court. Tamlin though is also cursed, condemned to wear a masquerade mask with weakening powers, by what he explains to Fayre is a blight that has been poisoning the magic in the realm.

The nature and source of the ‘blight’ provides the major arc of conflict for the novel. I won’t give it away but I will say it surprised me. I enjoyed the action and drama of the story, particularly in the climatic final chapters, but I did feel that the story lagged somewhat in the middle. Fayre’s time in the Spring Court is largely uneventful, with most of the action happening ‘off the page’, while Fayre sort of wanders around with her easel.

And as to be expected, romance develops between Fayre and Tamlin. There are some intimate scenes between the couple, but nothing too explicit. There is also the potential for a love triangle of sorts with the introduction of the enigmatic High Lord of the Night Court, Rhysand.

While I wasn’t wholly enamored by A Court of Thorn and Roses I did enjoy the characters and the world Maas has built and I will be picking up the next book, as yet untitled, as soon as it is available.

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Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

 

Title: Cold Burn of Magic {Black Blade #1}

Author: Jennifer Estep

Published: Kensington Books April 2015

Status: Read on April 26, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Cold Burn of Magic is the first book in a new series by Jennifer Estep, author of Mythos Academy and the Elemental Assassin series.

The world building is interesting. Cloudburst Falls is a small town in West Virginia with the reputation of being ‘the most magical place in America’, drawing plenty of curious tourists eager to experience the fun. But there is a dark underbelly to the town that is divided among four wealthy magical ‘Families’ who are constantly vying for territory and power.

Lila Merriweather has existed on the fringes of the town, avoiding the conflict between the Families, since her mother was murdered by the head of the Draconis. Using her wits and Talent she makes her living as a thief (while still attending high school), but an impulsive decision to help defend a group of teens under attack results in her being recruited as a bodyguard to the Sinclair Family heir apparent, Devon.

There is a hint of romance in Cold Burn of Magic, with sparks flaring between Lila and Devon, but the focus of the story is on the developing political intrigue with the brewing war between the Families. There is plenty of action as assassins make repeated attempts on Devon’s life and Lila is forced to defend him, hand to hand combat and sword fights are made more interesting by the dueling of magical abilities and the occasional interference of monsters.

I thought Cold Burn of Magic was an entertaining urban fantasy novel, even though it’s aimed at a young adult audience. The second book of the ‘Black Blade’ series, Dark Heart of Magic, is due for release in October.

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Review: Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

 

Title: Jinn and Juice {The Jinni #1}

Author: Nicole Peeler

Published: Orbit April 2015

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Status: Read on April 03, 2015  – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:
Jinn and Juice introduces a new paranormal romance/urban fantasy series from Nicole Peeler.

It’s less than a week until Lyla will finally be free of the curse that condemned her to a thousand years of servitude when Ozan, a Magi needing her help to find a missing girl, binds her to his will. A Jinn, Lyla has little choice but to obey her new Master and can only hope he will stick to their agreement to release her when their mission is complete, but Lyla will have face to her worst nightmare before her most heartfelt wish cam be granted.

Lyla was the teenage daughter of a an ancient Persian king, desperate to avoid being married off, when she was cursed by the genie she sought help from. Now she is a Jinn and a belly dancer/burlesque performer at a Pittsburgh club, biding her time until the curse expires.

Lyla’s inner circle have her back and are a fun and interesting group, including a gay Delphi Oracle, a Will-o-the-Wisp, a half troll and a psychic drag queen.

The romance between Lyla and Oz doesn’t offer any real surprises but it is enjoyable. Lyla resents Oz at first and certainly doesn’t trust him, but eventually comes to realise he is a genuine and honourable guy.

There is plenty of humour, some of it a little crude and obvious but fun and snarky nevertheless. The action is fast paced as Lyla hunts for her new Master’s missing friend, which leads to a deadly confrontation with an age old enemy.

Set in modern day Pittsburgh, I liked the way in which Peeler uses the landscape and ‘stains’ the magic with steel. ‘Sideways’ is the magical world that overlaps our own and embraces a variety of creatures and beasties.

I enjoyed Jinn and Juice, it was a quick, escapist read for a lazy afternoon.

 

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Review: Witch Upon a Star by Jennifer Harlow

 

Title: Witch Upon a Star {A Midnight Magic Mystery #3}

Author: Jennifer Harlow

Published: Midnight Ink March 2015

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Status: Read from March 05 to 07, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The events in Witch Upon a Star take place twenty years before Mind Over Monsters and twenty one years before the events in What’s a Witch to Do?.

Anna Olmstead is just nine when she meets Asher, a dashing, centuries old vampire who rescues her from her father pimping both his daughter’s magical talent and more to any one with a few dollars. Asher is her saviour, he provides her a life of wealth and privilege, love and protection and as Anna grows she is determined to always be at his side. At fourteen she becomes Asher’s legal consort and later his lover, believing all of her dreams have come true. Eventually however the relationship begins to sour as Asher’s true nature asserts itself, and things begin to spiral out of control. Still she can’t let go, and Asher refuses to free her, until one murderous, bloody night.
Almost a decade later Anna is happily married and the mother of two young sons, her life with Asher behind her, when an attempt is made to kidnap her and Anna has no choice except to confront the man she once loved with all her heart.

Witch Upon a Star is not what I expected, it has none of the lightness found in What’s a Witch to Do? and is much darker than Werewolf Sings the Blues though is still billed as A Midnight Magic Mystery.

Witch Upon a Star is actually a story of corrupted innocence and dark obsession. There is little humour, and the themes are confronting touching on child abuse, drug addiction and exploitation. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is well written and the story is quite affecting but I was thrown by the unexpected seriousness.

To be fair the synopsis hints at the seriousness of the story but the whimsical title, cutesy cover and the reputation of the author for snarky humour, contradicts it. As long as the reader is aware of what they are getting into, Witch Upon A Star is a good read.

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Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

 

Title: The Mime Order {Bone Season #2}

Author: Samantha Shannon

Published: Bloomsbury January 2015

Status: Read from January 22 to 24, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Bone Season introduced nineteen year old Paige Mahoney, a ‘dreamwalker’, fighting to survive in a world where possessing any clairvoyant ability is considered high treason. Caught and arrested by the governing body, Scion, Paige was sent to ‘The Tower’ where she was horrified to learn that captured voyants are handed over to a enigmatic otherworldly race that call themselves the Rephaite, to serve them as slaves or food.

The Mime Order begins as Paige, along with a few dozen other voyants make their escape, with the help of a handful of sympathetic Rephaite, after a bloody rebellion. Though forced to lay low as the Scion, whom she now knows is controlled by the Rephaite, hunt for her, Paige is determined to alert the underground community to the truths she has learned, but no-one, including her Underworld boss Jaxon, seems to care. Paige is baffled and frustrated by the disinterest until she uncovers evidence that several of the Syndicate gang leaders are in league with the Rephaite, profiting by handing over their own people. To fight back, Paige has only one choice…to become the Underqueen of the Syndicate, and then convince the voyants to stand with her against the Rephaite.

I like Paige a lot, she is smart, resourceful, feisty and both her talent and her personality are interesting. She has a core of incorruptible humanity and cares even when it is in her best interest not to. She is faced with some difficult challenges and decisions in The Mime Order but handles them well.

Set in future London following a timeline that splits from ours in the early 1900’s, Shannon’s world building is intricate and vivid. The focus here is on the underbelly of the city, forced underground, London’s clairvoyant’s have formed criminal enclaves each led by a Mime boss and nominally lorded over by an Underking or Underqueen. Paige is a Mollisher (second in command) to Jaxon (also known as the White Binder) but after the events in The Bone Season their relationship is an uneasy one, and only worsens over the course of the novel.

At 528 pages, The Mime Order isn’t a quick read. The pacing can be a little uneven though Shannon tries to ensure crucial information and detail isn’t simply dumped in the reader’s lap. There is plenty of action, danger and suspense as the novel progresses, and the conclusion ends on another cliffhanger.

An action packed fantasy adventure, well conceived and well told, The Mime Order is a strong sequel to The Bone Season. This series is expected to be seven books long, at the moment I can’t quite see how Shannon will manage to sustain the story for that long but I am eager to find out what will happen next.

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Review: Emergence by John Birmingham

Title: Emergence {Dave Hooper #1}

Author: John Birmingham

Published: Pan Macmillan January 2015

Status: Read from January 17 to 19, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher)

My Thoughts:

Emergence is a darkly funny, action packed fantasy adventure from Australian author John Birmingham.

An oil rig off of the coast of New Orleans is under attack, not from terrorists, but from a group of terrifying monsters who have clawed their way up from the deep. Dave Hooper, the rig’s safety engineer, is hungover and pissed when he finds a hairless, scabrous ape like creature that calls itself a Hunn snacking on the ribcage of his best mate and in a fit of rage crushes its skull with a splitting maul. Hours later he wakes in hospital and discovers his battle with the monster has somehow triggered super hero like abilities… and now Dave must save the world.

Dave Hooper is an anti-hero, who works hard but plays even harder. He takes his job seriously but he spends his downtime partying with hookers and blow, dodging the IRS and calls from his wife’s divorce attorney. He is a lousy father with a crude vocabulary and politically incorrect opinions. Dave is not a man you could expect to count on, but the world it seems will have little choice.

The fast paced, explosive action sees the military struggling against the frenzied attack of an advance troop of Hunn as they storm their way through the tears in the veil and set upon New Orleans unprepared citizens. It has been centuries since the Hunn last roamed the earth and they don’t expect any resistance from mankind so they are dismissive of what they encounter, for though armed only with primitive weapons and basic armour, the Hunn possess enormous strength, speed and thick hides. As New Orleans threatens to become overrun by the man eating demons, Dave is forced to step up and vanquish the Hunn back to the Underworld.

Emergence won’t appeal to everyone but I found it richly imaginative, hugely entertaining and inappropriately hilarious. I’m looking forward to Dave Hooper’s next adventure in Resistance.

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Review: Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey

 

Title: Whisper the Dead { The Lovegrove Legacy #2}

Author: Alyxandra Harvey

Published: Bloomsbury December 2014

Status: Read from November 28 to December 01, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

“Gretchen is struggling with her newfound gift as a Whisperer; the constant buzzing in her ears from detecting spells is more frustrating than fun, especially when she is spending time with one of the Order of the Iron Nail’s Keepers, the icy but strikingly handsome Tobias Lawless. While Gretchen tries to hide the truth from him, London fades from beautiful and bustling to deathly silent . . . Something evil is once again menacing Mayfair, and Gretchen and her cousins must use their powers to prevent a horrible sacrifice.

This second book in the Lovegrove Legacy trilogy is full of dark twists, spellbinding suspense and sweeping romance – perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, Lauren Kate and Ruth Warburton.”

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