Angel Stakes (by Mark Henwick)

Urban Fantasy

After travelling to New Mexico to rescue Diana (book 4, Cool Hand), Amber was on the brink of going rogue. With her kin’s help she managed to fight it off but there remains a sickness in her soul that is poisoning her. She needs to deal with that, she needs to recover. But without even a moment to catch her breath she is called to Los Angeles to once again walk the fine line between the warring parties of Athanate, Were and Adept.

Not only must she try to form an alliance with the Were, she has to hunt down and deal with an evil which has been 10 years in the making.


One of the weaknesses in Urban Fantasy (in my opinion) is that stories are essentially stagnant. Authors just throw bigger and badder villains into the mix while the main characters essentially remain unchanged. It’s why I start to lose patience with a series after two or three books. Not here. As the story develops, the characters develop, they become more, they mature and they learn from their mistakes.

If there is a weakness, I think it is that you can read the early books in isolation, but as the series develops that’s less the case. I’m a Mark Henwick junkie so I don’t mind, but some might. Still, you could do a lot worse than jumping into this series. Start with Raw Deal the novella that introduces Amber Farrell, if you love that, your love will only increase as you continue.

Great book, great series.

Position in Series:  Book 5

markhenwick0.5 – Raw Deal
1 – Sleight of Hand
2 – Hidden Trump
3 – Wild Card
4 – Cool Hand
5 – Angel Stakes

 

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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

From Russia with Fangs (by Jacey Conrad)

Urban Fantasy 

After her husband is murdered in front of her, Irina the adopted daughter of a Russian gangster finds herself at the centre of plots and intrigue. The only problem is, she isn’t at the centre.

Let me explain.


 

 

 

 

 

 

From Russia with Claws (the first lines)

“Galina Sudenko scanned the sea of vaguely familiar faces. The cream of the crop had turned out in full force at Katya Bulgakov’s Sweet Sixteen party.”

From Russia with Fangs (the first lines)

“If the DJ played one more Russian bubble gum pop song, Irina Sudenko Volkov was going to stab him with a swizzle stick. Well, she would pay someone to stab him with a swizzle stick. Her father had people who did that sort of thing. Irina knew it was wrong to be in such a foul mood at a Sweet Sixteen party.”
So these two books are basically the same story being told from two different perspectives. Book one was Galina, and that was a story. I might have even rated it 5 Stars, I don’t really remember. Book two is Irina, she was a minor character in book one and honestly she’s not really a major player in this book either.

It’s weird reading the perspective of someone who isn’t even a witness to the major events of the story as laid out in book one.

From Russia with Fangs is OK in the same way a Chevrolet Malibu is an OK car. Nobody stops to watch one drive by. Nobody dreams of one day owning a Malibu. Honestly you could park one in a crime hot-spot with the keys in the ignition, the windows down and five bennys fanned out on the front seat…come back in an hour and it will still be there.

And that’s this book. The author is great. One of the best. There just isn’t enough of a story to make it worthwhile.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.24.20 PMOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  YOR-Guide

Who’s Afraid? (by Maria Lewis)

Urban Fantasy

When Tommi travels to New Zealand to find her father she discovers two things. Her father is dead and she is a werewolf. And not just any werewolf, she is an alpha descended from the most powerful line of werewolves.

After being attacked by one of the local pack members she flees New Zealand and returns to her home in Scotland. But before long it becomes apparent that some of her problems have followed her home, a werewolf from New Zealand is stalking her and murdering the locals.


 

Who’s Afraid? is a little more than your typical werewolf story. It avoids the well trodden path that these books often follow, and what could have been a fairly average story actually ends up being great.

It’s not perfect. I don’t think this story really needed to be international and it might have benefitted from being set entirely in New Zealand (or Scotland). But I’ll forgive a lot in a debut and honestly Tommi is such a great heroine –– she’s the heroine that other heroines should aspire to be. She’s a kick ass confident woman who doesn’t need saving by anyone.

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 11.45.29 PMMany thanks the Hachette Australia and Netgalley 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

Alpha Unleashed (by Aileen Erin)

Young Adult / Urban Fantasy (part of a series)

After failing to steal Tessa and Claudia’s power for herself, Luciana has completely lost the plot and in a desperate bid to defeat the werewolves she makes a pact with the devil.

It is up to Tessa and her friends to stop her but when they discover Luciana’s plans it becomes a desperate battle not only for the survival of the werewolves and the few remaining good witches, but for all of mankind.


 

 

Alpha Unleashed is the final good vs. evil battle in this series and it really does rock. It’s one battle after another, all of them leading to the final showdown with Luciana. A great ending to the series.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 3.09.42 pmMany thanks to Ink Monster and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC. 

Orange, 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