Fire Touched (by Patricia Briggs)

Urban Fantasy

Aidan, the Fire Touched was taken by Underhill many hundreds of years ago and has spent those centuries at her capricious whim. With the help of Zee and Tad he has managed to escape and run straight to the Tri-Cities –– to Adam, Mercy and the pack.

But the Fae don’t give up what they consider to be theirs’ easily and the Grey Lords send a troll to reclaim him. Adam and Mercy manage to defeat the troll but in doing so Adam is injured, leaving Mercy as the pack’s leader. With little thought for the ramifications she offers Aidan sanctuary, declares the Tri-Cities to be their territory, and threatens war with the pack to anyone who violates their borders.

For their part, the Grey Lords are divided, some would welcome a war, while others know that a war with the werewolves would have no winners. It is up to Adam and Mercy with the help of Zee to avoid a war while strengthening their claim to the Tri-Cities.


 
Fire Touched is one of the better of the more recent Mercy Thompson books. Mercy who has been shunned by some of the pack very much comes into her own in this book and finally gets the acceptance of those pack members who have avoided her, and for her part she fully embraces her place in the pack.

The book feels very much like the setting of a scene and ties in quite neatly with Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega Book 4). I’m not sure where the series is going from here, but I’m guessing something big is coming. Honestly, I’m champing at the bit to get the next in the series and I haven’t felt like that since Bone Crossed.  

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.44.49 PMMany thanks to Berkley Publishing Group & Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means: YOR-Guide

Bitter Bite (by Jennifer Estep)

Urban Fantasy

When Finn’s mother, Deirdre shows up out of the blue, Gin knows something is up. But there is a part of Finn deep down and well hidden that wants to be loved and he’s determined to believe his mother despite Gin’s misgivings.

With Finn spending more and more time with Deirdre, it’s left to Gin and Bria to get to the bottom of what she’s doing in Ashland and stop her.


 

I’m in two minds about this book.  Yes it’s entertaining as are most of the books in the Elemental Assassin series. It’s a page turner. It’s gritty. And yes, it’s good fun.  It’s all of that and I enjoyed the book. Not for a single moment was I bored.

But I have a problem and maybe (probably) it won’t be a problem for anyone else. With each book, the villains get more villainous, the challenges get more challenging.  For a short series, a trilogy or even a five book series that can work but this is book fourteen and while it’s still working at the moment it’s hard to see it working for much longer.  God forbid it ends up being the train wreck that Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series has become.

So here is me wondering if it isn’t time to think about taking the story in a different direction. Perhaps breath some new life into the series.  Sophia has always been a favorite character and under-utilised in my opinion.  I would love to see the series shift focus and put her at the centre.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.44.49 PMMany thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC

Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  YOR-Guide

Boundary Magic (by Melissa F. Olsen)

Boundary Crossed (book 1)

While saving her niece from a kidnapping attempt Lex is stabbed multiple times. She shouldn’t be alive. Her heart stopped on the operating table. Then just as the doctor is about to call time of death, it starts beating again.

That’s Lex’s introduction into the supernatural world of vampires and witches. As a boundary witch, a witch who has power over life and death she has never received any training and the leader of the local coven wants to keep it that way. She’s just too dangerous. But she will do anything to protect her niece, even enter into a partnership with the vampires, the vampires who want to see just how powerful she is.


 

Boundary Lines (book 2)

Something is out of whack in the Old World and the vampires, werewolves and witches are all acting strangely. Someone is messing with the line and with Maven, Colorado’s ruling vampire, in a power struggle she has entrusted her most recent employee boundary witch Lex with sorting it all out.

She finds herself not just walking the line between the supernatural groups and stopping a war, but also dealing with ghosts and an ancient predator that will require the vampires, werewolves and witches to unite if they are to have any chance of killing it.


 

So much fun.  I picked up book one expecting to kill some time while I was waiting for some of my tried and true authors to release books.  This series is anything but killing time. It’s completely addictive.  Lovers of Faith Hunter and Patricia Briggs won’t be disappointed with these books.  They’re great fun and yes, Melissa F. Olsen is joining the list of authors I madly follow.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.44.49 PMOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  YOR-Guide

Cold Burn of Magic (by Jennifer Estep)

Young Adult / Urban Fantasy

Lila lives in a town ruled by magical mobsters. After her mother was murdered by the most violent of the mobsters she went into hiding living in a tiny room in the basement of a library and making money by robbing cashed up tourists.

When she steps in to rescue Devon, the son of one of the crime bosses she suddenly finds herself reluctantly pulled into the world. Forced to work as his bodyguard. If she can survive a year she will earn her freedom, but with one attack after another, Devon is proving to be a dangerous person to be around.


 

Really great book. Loved every single moment. That is all.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

The Unleashing (by Shelly Laurenston)

Urban Fantasy

When she returned from Afghanistan, Kera took a job in a café just to make ends meet. Then one night as she is taking the trash out to the dumpster in the back alley she runs into a man attacking a woman. She steps in and is stabbed in the chest. As she is about to take her last breath, the Norse goddess Skuld makes her an offer. If she joins with her minions, the crows she can have a second chance at life. But the price is she must deliver Skuld’s judgement to humans who are deemed deserving of death.


So, that sounds promising and there are definitely great moments. Moments that could have been pulled right out of a favorite graphic novel. But the book is a bit of a mess. It suffers from way too many POVs, things happen for no apparent reason, and there are characters whose purpose for being in the book is tantamount to a child being given the role of a mushroom in the school play. Who knows, maybe they’re important in the coming books, maybe the many POVs start to make sense as the series develops … but this book needs to stand on its own and I’m sorry to say it didn’t.

And the icing on the cake is a cover that makes no sense. I mean presumably that’s supposed to be Ludvig, and I guess he’s the hero, though really secondary character. He’s also described as scruffy, hairy and having a beard. That isn’t a beard. That’s designer fuzz.

OK maybe I should quite bitching….of wait. Bitching. The number of times one female character refers to another female character as “bitch” is close to 50. So maybe it’s just me but aren’t we better than this? Haven’t we moved on? It really doesn’t add anything to the story and honestly I was kind of over it after the third “get the bitch” before page ten.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.21.53 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

Hidden Trump (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

Amber has accepted that she’s Athanate (a vampire) and is making her first hesitant steps as the head of her own House with responsibilities and kin. Making her already complicated life even more complicated a rival Athanate House is hunting her down and plans to run medical experiments on her. Keeping her head down would be the smart thing to do but she finds herself once again in the middle of things and she’ll need every skill the army taught her if she’s to have a chance of getting herself and her kin out alive.


This book is perfect –– I just can’t think of a single bad thing to say about it. At 600 pages it’s longer than your typical Urban Fantasy but it’s one of those (rare) cases where longer doesn’t translate to yawns. I finished the book and was kind of sad that it ended, I really think I could have gone on indefinitely without a care in the world.

For this series I’ve been listening to the audiobooks. Book 1 Sleight of Hand was released in late 2014, This book came out about a week ago, and Book 3 Wild Card is on the way. Hidden Trump introduces a new narrator, Julia Motyka, and she’s perfect. She does both male and female voices well and she completely owns Amber Farrell.

If you want to try some on some great urban fantasy, Mark Henwick is definitely worth the effort.  He’s one of the few authors who make me so happy I could jump.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Spider’s Trap (by Jennifer Estep)

Urban Fantasy

Anyone who wants to control Ashland’s underworld needs to kill Gin Blanco, The Spider first. Gin has finally had enough of every two bit hood who wants to make a name walking into her BBQ Restaurant, the Pork Pit and attacking her. So without very much enthusiasm she has taken over the Underworld herself.

What follows is meetings, meetings, meetings, refereeing petty disputes between mobsters and as it happens, still having every two bit assassin gunning for her. Then, at one of her boring business meetings she finds herself the target of a very powerful metal elemental, and he doesn’t care how many of her friends he kills to get to her.

She once again takes on the role of The Spider and starts hunting down this new threat.


 
Jennifer Estep writes great urban fantasy and it’s getting much better as she develops as a writer. The last few books have in my opinion been the best in the series and Spider’s Trap is close to perfect. To be honest the only thing that didn’t really work for me was the romance, and I’m primarily a romance reader. I just don’t think it works for these books and perhaps a closing door, or crashing waves, or a train going into a tunnel would serve the book better.

Setting aside my desire for cheesy sex metaphors, I loved this book and am looking forward to the next one.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmMany thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC

Orange, Red. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Dead Heat (by Patricia Briggs)

Urban Fantasy

When Anna and Charles fly to Arizona, it’s to visit with some of Charles’s old friends and buy a trail horse for Anna. But on arrival they quickly find themselves rushing to the home of the Arizona alpha’s grandson whose wife, Chelsea has been bewitched.  What they find is three frightened children and Chelsea covered in blood.

It soon becomes apparent that Chelsea was bewitched by a fae and the fae has been kidnapping and killing children. Charles and Anna join forces with the Arizona pack and local law enforcement to hunt down and kill the fae.  But even as they are hunting the fae, he is hunting them and this particular fae is one of the most powerful of all.


 

Dead Heat is a great book which had just a little too much going on. The main story, that of Charles and Anna hunting down the fae who was taking children was great, but there was a lot of time spent on Anna looking at and trying out horses which didn’t really seem to go anywhere and honestly was a bit of a distraction. That said the ending completely blew me away and made it all worthwhile.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmMany thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Yellow, Orange, Red. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

Sleight of Hand (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

Amber is a private investigator. After discovering a drug and gun running operation in her client’s business she calls in the cops and turns the screws on Denver’s criminal underworld. Unfortunately for her, Denver PD have shut down the business while they investigate and her client is refusing to pay her.

With a serious cash flow problem, when Jennifer Kingslund shows up claiming one of her staff has been kidnapped and someone is trying to ruin her, Amber has little choice but to take on the job. She quickly discovers the job is much bigger than she first thought.

Adding to her problems, the vampire infection that has tainted her blood is taking over, and if she isn’t careful her government minders will throw her into a padded room where military scientists will control her every move.


 
Loved this book. It’s a bit of a cross between those great hard boiled detective novels of the 1930s and 1940s and more modern Urban Fantasy by authors like Jennifer Estep and Faith Hunter. Amber is a great heroine and this book is filled with secondary characters I can’t help but like. It took four or five books before Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series won me over. Not a problem with this one. I’m already hooked.

(There is a novella which precedes this book called Raw Deal. Well worth starting there to get some background on the characters.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmYellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: red-orange-yellow-guide-pdf

Black Widow (by Jennifer Estep)

Urban Fantasy

When Gin finally killed Mab Monroe she thought her life would get easier. Unfortunately since that day, every single gangster in Ashland has been out to make a name for themselves by taking her out. That is until Madeline Monroe (Mab’s estranged daughter) shows up.

She’s a powerful acid elemental and she’s decided to take over her mother’s empire, but first she needs to take care of business, and that includes getting rid of Gin and all her friends.

She’s one of the most powerful elementals Gin has ever faced and her acid magic can burn right through Gin’s ice and stone magic.


 
This series had a bit of a shaky start for me –– I wasn’t expecting to be reading book twelve, to be honest I considered walking away from the series after the final showdown with Mab. But I’m glad I continued. The last three or four books have been the best of them all and the series has very much found it’s groove.

The only thing that really didn’t work for me in this book was the romance. I want it to be there, just not necessarily on the page –– and that’s coming from a romance reader. Still that’s such a small part of the story and it’s done and dusted in ten minutes.

Everything else is kind of perfect. It delivers everything I expect from urban fantasy.  And as usual the cover art is sublime!  Whoever is creating these covers needs to be paid more.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.21.53 pmMany thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC

Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l