Category Archives: urban fantasy

Sunday Post – 7th April, 2019 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

I have just returned from another wonderful few days away at Bexhill-on-Sea with my sister-in-law on a writing retreat. She is working on her PhD thesis and I managed to add over 11,000 words to Mantivore Prey. We were back in the flat she had previously rented with the fabulous turret room overlooking the seascape as we wrote – such an amazing experience! We were very lucky and mostly had sunny, bright weather – although Wednesday was stormy with dramatic seas, showers, strong winds and regular rainbows, which we were able to watch shimmer across the skies, before disappearing.

I was in rather desperate need of a break – and this was what I got. I had a fabulous time that not only helped recharge me emotionally, but was enormously beneficial creatively.

Last week I read:
Breaking the Lore – Book 1 of the Inspector Paris Mystery series by Andy Redsmith
Inspector Nick Paris is a man of logic and whisky. So staring down at the crucified form of a murder victim who is fifteen centimetres tall leaves the seasoned detective at a loss… and the dead fairy is only the beginning. Suddenly the inspector is offering political asylum to dwarves, consulting with witches, getting tactical advice from elves and taking orders from a chain-smoking talking crow who, technically, outranks him.
This is great fun! I thoroughly enjoyed Nick’s laconic humour and his struggle to get his head around all the magical creatures suddenly pitching up on his patch in a smart Manchester. Review to follow.

 

Oracle’s War – Book 2 of the Olympus Trilogy by David Hair and Cath Mayo
When Prince Odysseus is sent on a quest to recover his family honour, he’s led to Delos where a mysterious new prophecy has captivated the gods. Caught in a tangled web of intrigue, he discovers that this prophecy is tied to his own destiny and the fate of his patron goddess, Athena.
I loved the first book in this series, Athena’s Champion, and this one triumphantly continues with the same panache and wonderful worldbuilding – this is fast becoming one of my alltime favourite series… Review to follow.

 

My post last week:

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* – Review of Murder Served Cold – Book 6 of the Langham and Dupré series

Many thanks for taking the time to comment, like and visit my blog – I will catch up with you as soon as I can, so thank you also for your patience. In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Warriors – Book 3 of The Immortal Dealers by Sarah Fine #Brainfluffbookreview #TheWarriorsbookreview

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I’ve heard good things about Fine’s writing and hadn’t read anything by her, so when I saw this one on Netgalley, I immediately requested it. However, I hadn’t appreciated it was the third book in the series…

Ernestine “Ernie” Terwilliger never intended to live among the Immortal Dealers, much less to be party to an ongoing battle where the fate of humanity is in the draw of a card. And the stakes have gotten only higher now that a shady new Forger has been crowned. Virginia may be in charge of creating the chaos that makes the universe tick, but her assignments have been noble—each one in the aid of strangers. But when Ernie discovers Virginia’s true purpose, she realizes it’s going to take an entirely new kind of play to stop her.

That’s as much of the very chatty blurb I’m prepared to share, but I would add that if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the previous two books in the series, The Serpent and The Guardian, I would advise you get hold of them first. I regularly plunge into the middle of a series, but starting with the third book in a trilogy is a tad extreme, even for me…

I really liked Ernie, who is a sympathetic protagonist with a lot of power, but at times completely out of her depth – which I liked. It can be difficult to depict a powerful heroine without making her so invulnerable that she isn’t really at any risk of dying or coming to serious harm. There is also a strong supporting cast with an interestingly detailed backstory, some of whom are on her side and some who aren’t. The magic system is an interesting one – as well as having an animal companion that can be animated from a tattoo, which enhances the dealer’s magic, each dealer possesses a deck of cards. Some are defensive, others aggressive and some assist the dealer to access dreams and visions, or heal serious injuries.

All this makes for an action-packed story with a lot of skirmishes. However, Fine nicely ramps up the stakes when dealers find that a situation they are involved in turns into something far worse. Ernie is convinced they have to work in concert to overthrow the menace threatening the world, but dealers are an ornery, individualistic lot. Some are very old – think of grumpy old people with lethal powers – and you’ll get a sense of her problems.

I liked the story arc very much, though if I have a niggle, it’s that I felt Ernie was too far ahead of the others when she felt there was something really wrong which meant I had a good idea where the story was going and wasn’t at all shocked by the reveal. It was shame, because if our heroine had been more willing to believe what she was being told, that surprise would have packed far more punch. However, it wasn’t a dealbreaker and I really enjoyed this action-packed fantasy adventure. Recommended for fans of urban fantasy.

The ebook arc copy of The Warrior was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
8/10

Friday Faceoff – We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer – though today it probably should be renamed Saturday Sitdown, as I’m alllll behind… This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is a SHOPS so I’ve selected The Enchantment Emporium – Book 1 of The Enchantment Emporium series by Tanya Huff.

 

This edition was produced by Daw in June 2009. This is the cover that made me choose this delightful, quirky book in the first place, though it wasn’t the version I ended up reading. I really like this cover featuring the shopfront and the big shadow of the dragon – all aspects that appear in the book. I also like how Daw paid attention to the font, which is also nicely eye-catching. This one is my favourite.

 

Published in January 2014 by Titan, this one is a bit too restrained and tasteful for its own good. The small dragon is attractive, the font is nicely quirky and the author name – clearly a major selling point – is well featured at the top of the cover. But… do you know what the genre is? Does this cover fill you with an overwhelming desire to get hold of the book? Could be just me – but the answer is no… And that’s such a shame, because this book is a real gem.

 

This French edition, published by J’ai lu in July 2012, is a tad underwhelming. The image of the spilt ink is arresting enough – but what does it tell us about the book, which is an urban fantasy story about a magical family with some um… odd practices who run an enchanted shop. I don’t get ANY of that from this cover.

 

Produced by Delos Books in May 2010, this Italian edition at least gives us the clue that there is a strong female protagonist with a hefty magical ability. There is rather too much chatter cluttering up the otherwise striking artwork and both the title and author fonts are on the unobtrusive side of boring.

 

This German edition, published by Feder & Schwert in June 2012, has a lot to commend it. I love the magical runes bordering the cover and the eye-catching, quirky font in a jaunty orange – what fun! But that door wouldn’t be out of place mouldering away on an old crone’s shack in the middle of a gloomy forest. It certainly isn’t the entrance I’d envisaged to a large, slightly shabby shop just off a modern High Street… And is that a door knob or a golden yoyo plopped in the middle of the cover? The scale and texture are completely wrong. What a shame that such details were bungled when so much was right. How about you – which one do you prefer?

Review of LIBRARY copy Chasing Embers – Book 1 of the Ben Garston series by James Bennett #Brainfluffbookreview #ChasingEmbersbookreview #LibraryLoveChallenge

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The cover snagged my attention, because… dragons! And so I was delighted when I saw a copy of this in my local library.

There’s nothing special about Ben Garston. He’s just a guy with an attitude in a beat-up leather jacket, drowning his sorrows in a downtown bar. Or so he’d have you believe. What Ben Garston can’t let you know is that he was once known as Red Ben. That the world of myth and legend isn’t just a fantasy, as we’ve been led to believe. And he certainly can’t let you know the secret of what’s hiding just beneath his skin…

The clue about this book actually was splashed across the front cover Not all stories are made up and unlike much front cover chatter, this short phrase actually was the key to understanding this book. James Bennett is a principally a storyteller. Yes – I know all writers exhale stories, but storytellers tell… And so while the world is a delightful mash-up, convincingly portrayed and Ben is suitably angst-ridden and vulnerable – what prevented me from completely losing my heart to this one, is that there are large sections written in semi-omniscient and omniscient viewpoint. That isn’t a bad thing – indeed, lots of readers love that way of depicting the action, however I found it slightly distanced me from both the character and the world as I prefer experiencing my reads from the inside out.

That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Red Ben and found the pages flew by as I wanted to know what happened next. This was a strong start to what looks to be an engaging series.
8/10

Review of KINDLE Ebook Witch at Heart – Book 1 of the Jinx Hamilton Mystery series by Juliette Harper #Brainfluffbookreview #WitchatHeartbookreview

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Himself had got hold of this one at some stage, so when I was recovering from a stress migraine headache, it looked an ideal world to get lost in…

Jinx Hamilton has been minding her own business working as a waitress at Tom’s Cafe and keeping up with her four cats. Then she inherits her Aunt Fiona’s store in neighboring Briar Hollow, North Carolina and learns that her aunt has willed her some special “powers” as well. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step and Jinx has a major problem. She’s a brand new witch with no earthly clue what that means. Throw in a few homeless ghosts, a potential serial killer, and a resident rat and Jinx is almost at her wit’s end. Thankfully she has the unfailing support of her life-long BFF, Tori and it doesn’t hurt that there’s a hot guy living right next door.

Like a lot of urban fantasy whodunits, this one has a perky, enjoyable protagonist who I immediately liked. Jinx is a kindly, uncomplicated soul, who works alongside her best friend as a waitress and lives at home – until her Aunt Fiona dies. There are some appealing moments of humour and a chirpy upbeat mood, with the cats also contributing to the general cosy sense of small community and peacefulness.

While there is a hint of romance, the overriding relationship that powers this book is the friendship between Jinx and her friend Tori, which I really appreciated. It makes a nice change for the love pervading a book to be one between best friends, which can be every bit as powerful as any other kind, I think.

However, this is also a murder mystery. It’s a balance, isn’t it? Cosy mysteries evidently aren’t going to be the gritted, gory type where there are body parts featured in profusion, or the backdrop is going to be the bleak, hopeless cityscape. And yet, any murder is tackling the business of one person wilfully taking the life of another. If the idea of deliberately killing someone isn’t to be devalued, there has to be a sense of shock over the event.

It isa balancing act to successfully negotiate between these two extremes – and Harper manages it very well. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jinx’s adventures in coping with the new store, the introduction of a murdered ghost who doesn’t know who she is gave a poignant edge to the story. I gobbled up this readable, engaging adventure in two greedy gulps and while the puzzle surrounding the displaced waif is very satisfactorily tied up, there are sufficient ongoing plotpoints that will encourage me to revisit this enjoyable world. Recommended for fans of cosy urban fantasy murder mysteries.
8/10

#Sunday Post – 17th June, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #BrainfluffSundayPost

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Again, I’m really sorry… I STILL haven’t caught up with comments and blog visits after my walk in the wilderness, when I was cast adrift from the internet for nearly a fortnight. It’s been a rather busy week…

On Monday, it was my last teaching session of the year with Tim – and yet we couldn’t take it easy as he had his Functional Skills Level 2 Writing exam on Thursday. It’s been a momentous year in every sense of the word, having successfully filmed his musical comedy adventure film with a cast of 23, in nine different locations. He has also succeeded in passing his CoPE project, as well as the Composition and Performance strands of his GCSE Music exam – we’re just waiting to hear if he has managed to pass the Theory element. Even more importantly, he is also a delightful, articulate young man, who is a joy to teach and is increasingly confident in branching out in his learning.

I was teaching Creative Writing on Monday and Tuesday evenings, then on Wednesday we had the Northbrook Information Evening, which I always look forward to as a chance to meet up with my fellow tutors. I was lucky enough to be invited for tea with Sarah and her family, before we had our fortnightly writing group – a treat as she is a fantastic cook. On Thursday, I drove Tim and his mother to school for his exam, which has now become something of a ritual – he came out happy that he answered both questions to the best of his ability, which is all we can ask for. I was supposed to go out to West Sussex Writers’ talk on Thursday evening, but fell asleep and when I woke up – the meeting was half over. So I slummocked on the sofa, instead, watching the final of Britain’s Best Home Cook.

On Friday, I had lunch with my sister at the Look and Sea café and we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and catching up with each other’s lives – it is such a joy having her so close! Then yesterday, my writing buddy came over for the day and we discussed all things writing and dived into the whirlpool that is Marketing. Today is my stepfather’s birthday party designed to coincide with Father’s Day, so there is a great gathering of the clan at my sister’s house at Arlesford. It was a lovely party hosted by my lovely sister and brother in law, who were marvellous hosts and it was great fun catching up with family members I don’t see very often.

This week I have read:

Crossways – Book 2of the Psi-Tech series by Jacey Bedford
Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught. So they better not get caught…

I picked up this one at Forbidden Planet back in February – and I’m so glad I did – I’m also glad that I have the final book in this trilogy, Nimbus which I’m really looking forward to tucking into.

 

All Systems Red – Book 1 of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

This novella is a fabulous colony-based adventure with the android as the protagonist – I loved this one and can see why there’s so much hype about it.

 

Nolander – Book 1 of the Emanations series by Becca Mills
Beth Ryder knows she’s different. In a tiny rural town, being an orphaned and perpetually single amateur photographer crippled by panic disorder is pretty much guaranteed to make you stick out like a sore thumb. But Beth doesn’t understand just how different she really is.

One day, strange things start cropping up in her photos. Things that don’t look human. Impossible things. Monstrosities. Beth thinks her hateful sister-in-law, Justine, has tampered with her pictures to play a cruel joke, but rather than admitting or denying it, Justine up and vanishes, leaving the family in disarray. Beth’s search for Justine plunges her into a world she never knew existed, one filled with ancient and terrifying creatures.

I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual urban fantasy offering, featuring a protagonist suffering from constant panic attacks – to the extent that she cannot escape the small town she grew up in and attend college. This one immediately drew me in – I will be reviewing it in due course.

My posts during the last week:

Sunday Post – 10th June 2018

Review of Gwithyas: Door to the Void by Isha Crowe

Teaser Tuesday featuring Crossways – Book 2 of the Psi-Tech series by Jacey Bedford

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Child I by Steve Tasane

Review of Remnants of Trust – Book 2 of the Central Corps series by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Friday Face-off featuring Green Rider – Book 1 of the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain

Review of Netgalley arc novella Time Was by Ian McDonald

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

New DIY MFA Post on Revenge as a Literary Theme (Plus, Looking for Your Help with this Year’s Blogoversary https://saraletourneauwriter.com/2018/06/13/diy-mfa-revenge-theme-blogoversary/ Sara discusses how the theme of revenge has been used – and asks for suggestions on how she could best celebrate her 10th anniversary of blogging…

Mark your calendars for the Indian Lit Readathon! https://thisislitblog.com/2018/06/16/mark-your-calendars-for-the-indian-lit-readathon/ Shruti is very excited about this one – quite right too. So dust off your books written by Indian authors and join in…

Rocks and Light: Natural Art https://writersite.org/2018/06/11/rocks-and-light-on-canvas/ This article is not only interesting and well written – but includes the most fabulous photos…

#lessons learned from @HollyBlack: Start the #storytelling with #writing the departure from the #characters normal https://jeanleesworld.com/2018/06/07/lessons-learned-from-hollyblack-start-the-storytelling-with-writing-the-departure-from-the-characters-normal/ Another cracking and highly readable article giving readers and writers alike insights in the craft of writing…

The Skincare Bible by Dr Anjali Mahto https://onereadersthoughts.com/2018/06/11/the-skincare-bible-by-dr-anjali-mahto/ I don’t normally include reviews – but this delightful book sounds like an ideal present (HINT – my birthday is coming up VERY soon…) for myself and other family members!

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site – and I promise to get back to you as soon as I can!

Review of KINDLE Ebook #Bound – Book 8 of the #Alex Verus series by #Benedict Jacka #bookreview #Brainfluffbookreview

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This excellent series has been frequently compared to the Harry Dresden Files – and there are similarities. The protagonists both had bumpy childhoods where their abilities were exploited and are therefore edgy and distrustful. But where Harry is just plain powerful, Alex Verus is relatively weak as his ability lies in being able to see into the future, though only by a handful of seconds, sometimes stretching into minutes. That, so far, has been enough to keep him alive… As the series is now stretching forward and getting steadily darker, is it still as enjoyable as when it started?

Alex Verus can see the future. But he never thought he’d see this day. Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he’s agreed to work for his old master once more. Richard Drakh, the sadistic dark mage Alex escaped as an apprentice, has him in his clutches again. And this time, he won’t let go so easily.

While I have always enjoyed this series, – see my review of Fated – I think the last couple of books have nocked up the tension and pace so that once I started reading, they were difficult to put down. Moreover, if you have randomly picked this one up intending to read it, while you inevitably will have missed huge chunks of the backstory, given this is the eighth book in the series, you wouldn’t unduly flounder. Told in first person viewpoint, Alex’s terse narrative does a good job of explaining the stakes and any necessary information for new readers. I’m not sure if this book is specifically designed as an entry point to the series, but I think it could certainly work like that.

I used to wish I had magical abilities – but I’m very relieved I haven’t, if Jacka’s take on the British magical community is anything like the reality. The Council deals with policing mages and are supposed to be Light mages. But having witnessed the very rough justice they hand out with little accountability, it is clear they aren’t much better than the Dark mages, who are supposed to be the villains. Alex has spent all his adult life trying to stay out of the clutches of his former mentor, the powerful and very unpleasant Richard Drakh – and at the start of this book, he is right back where he didn’t want to be…

The world is well depicted with strong supporting characters who ping off the page, but what elevates this book from the rest is Jacka’s handling of Alex’s prescient abilities, particularly in a fight. I think the description and manner in which this particular talent works is just plain brilliant and if you enjoyed the Harry Desden Files, then give this series a go. It comes very highly recommended.
9/10

Sunday Post – 29th April, 2018

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

I should have kept quiet – we are back to cool, showery weather with really chilly nights. Though the cherry and blackthorn trees are all looking fabulous and branches are now disappearing under the profusion of new leaves, so Spring is thoroughly under way. Not that I’ve been out to enjoy it…

It’s been a mare of a week, where I’ve been running on the spot to keep a nose ahead of all the deadlines thudding into play. Normally, I am far more organised – the reason being that I don’t cope well up when taking everything up to the wire. It didn’t help that the stress of it caused my headache to make a return during the whole of Monday, easing up just sufficiently for me to stagger into college for the first session of the term in the evening. But I was still thick-headed and below par right up until Friday. The good news – I managed to hit all those targets and Tim passed his Speaking and Listening exam with flying colours. Miranda’s Tempest will be going to the editor on time, I’ve finished my short story and my summer term Creative Writing course is now under way. Phew! I’m hoping the coming week is a LOT easier…

This week I have read:

Witch at Heart – Book 1 of the Jinx Hamilton series by Juliette Harper
Jinx Hamilton has been minding her own business working as a waitress at Tom’s Cafe and keeping up with her four cats. Then she inherits her Aunt Fiona’s store in neighboring Briar Hollow, North Carolina and learns that her aunt has willed her some special “powers” as well. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step and Jinx has a major problem. She’s a brand new witch with no earthly clue what that means. Throw in a few homeless ghosts, a potential serial killer, and a resident rat and Jinx is almost at her wit’s end. Thankfully she has the unfailing support of her life-long BFF, Tori and it doesn’t hurt that there’s a hot guy living right next door.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one, particularly when I wanted an upbeat, chirpy read while coping with a low-grade headache that nonetheless made life less than fun… And this engaging offering ticked all the boxes – review to follow.

 

Before Mars – Book 3 of the Planetfall series by Emma Newman
After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team.

But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake…
I have loved this series so far and this tense thriller doesn’t disappoint. Newman’s nuanced protagonist had me turning the pages later than I should have been, as I was very keen to find out what will happen next. I’ll be reviewing this one during the week.

 

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 22nd April 2018

Review of Still Me – Book 3 of the Me Before You series by Jojo Moyes

Teaser Tuesday featuring The Hyena and the Hawk – Book 3 of the Echo of the Falls series by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Head On – Book 2 of the Lock In series by John Scalzi

Friday Face-off – When a knight won his spurs… featuring Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guest Post – Lindsey Duncan discussing how she developed entertainment in her sci fi novel Scylla and Charybdis

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – Observations on Life – Old Farmer’s Wisdom and the Centre of the Universe! https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-observations-on-life-old-farmers-wisdom-and-centre-of-the-universe/ It’s been the kind of week where I needed a few laughs along the way – and these made me chuckle…

A Short Analysis of Emily Dickenson’s ‘I Started Early – Took My Dog’ https://interestingliterature.com/2018/04/26/a-short-analysis-of-emily-dickinsons-i-started-early-took-my-dog/ Another storming offering from this oh-so-interesting site…

Girls, Girls, Girls – Why Are There So Many “Girls” in Mysteries and Thrillers? https://thebookishlibra.com/2018/04/24/discussion-girls-girls-girls-why-are-there-so-many-girls-in-mysteries-thrillers/ An excellent article about something under our noses that needs examining in a bit more detail.

Self Editing: 7 Tips to Tighten the Story & Cut Costs http://authorkristenlamb.com/2018/04/self-editing-writers/ The mighty Kristen Lamb at her fabulous best.

Dying for Space: A Review https://powerfulwomenreaders.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/dying-for-space-a-review/ Yep. I know – it’s my own book. But when this plopped into my Inbox, I was on the floor and it cheered me up immensely, reminding me why I do this. So I’m sharing it with you…

Have a great week and thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site.

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of INDIE Ebook The Green Man’s Heir by Juliet McKenna

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I’m a solid fan of this author’s work – see my review of The Hadrumal Crisis – and have always enjoyed the politically aware worldbuilding and sharp characterisation of her epic fantasy novels, all set in the same world. This one, however, is a complete break from her former body of work. This is, in effect, a very Brit take on the urban fantasy sub-genre, where the supernatural world interacts with the human version in trying to get to the bottom of a crime. But instead of grimy city streets, the setting is an English stately home and instead of the usual fare of vampires and werewolves, we have dryads, boggats and wyrms…

A hundred years ago, a man with a secret could travel a few hundred miles and give himself a new name and life story. No one would be any the wiser, as long as he didn’t give anyone a reason to start asking questions. These days, that’s not so easy, with everyone on social media, and CCTV on every street corner. So Daniel Mackmain keeps his head down and keeps himself to himself. But now a girl has been murdered and the Derbyshire police are taking a closer look at a loner who travels from place to place, picking up work as he goes. Worse, Dan realises the murder involves the hidden world he was born into. When no one else can see the truth, who will see justice done?

A modern fantasy rooted in the ancient myths and folklore of the British Isles.

And she has absolutely nailed it. This is a complete and utter joy. I loved the character of Daniel, part-dryad, who is desperate to meet up with others in his situation and when he finally tracks down someone who can help – it doesn’t end well… He is a sympathetic protagonist with a few chips on his shoulder – not surprising given his heritage and how it has caused him problems. He is tall, well-built and innately attracts women. While that might sound like dream attributes, in reality it has caused him a lot of problems with annoyed boyfriends and brought unwelcome attention from the police, when such incidents turn into brawls.

I love the setting of a country district – McKenna has got the social faultlines running through modern England spot on. While the beautiful setting, juxtaposed with the grim threat reaching back into history and now posing a possibility of creating havoc all over again, works beautifully. This one grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go until I put it down in the wee small hours, drained and slightly giddy.

The book hangover I’ve had since has been painful, because despite reading perfectly enjoyable, well written adventures, they haven’t been this world, with these characters. I want them back. I want more. And I’m hoping, fervently, that McKenna has plans to make this a series, because I’m already addicted.

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy and murder stories with a very cool paranormal twist.
10/10

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Burn Bright – Book 5 of the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs

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Himself is a real fan of Patricia Briggs and pounced on this latest instalment of her werewolf urban fantasy series with glee. I idly opened it up, read the first couple of the pages – and was caught…

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm. With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

I make a habit of crashing into series out of order as anyone who has spent any time reading my reviews knows. Mostly, I manage to work out what is happening without too much difficulty, but I can’t deny that it sometimes causes a bit of confusion at the beginning of the book. Not this time, though. Immediately Briggs pulled me into the action so at no stage was I floundering, which demonstrates a great deal of skill, given this is the fifth book in the series. Of course, I was aware there was a hefty backstory and some of the previous events were mentioned, which has certainly whetted my appetite to read more about these engaging characters.

And it is all about the characters. I loved both Charles and Anna, so very different and yet so suited. I also enjoyed reading about the jockeying for position and the pinsharp awareness of their ranking within the pack and how that balances with the human side of their character. I’ve read one or three werewolf stories in my time, each with its own take on how the blend of wolf and human works, and this was a dynamic I particularly enjoyed. I also liked the fact that despite this is a world where lives are invariably lost – they matter. Near the beginning one of the deaths really winded me – I had expected that it was going to be alright and this particular character, whom I’d really liked, would prevail. It was a shock when it didn’t.

Another of Briggs’ skills is her ability to write broken, desperate characters with compassion and empathy. Some of the oldest fae and werewolves are overwhelmed by the weight of years and bloody experiences they have endured and are too dangerous to live in the socially supercharged atmosphere of the Pack. Briggs doesn’t just tell us how dangerous and unpredictable they are – her demonstrations of their lethal oddness had me reading waaay later into the night than I should have done.

As for the climax and solution – the risk is when I’m so thoroughly invested in a story so early on, I’ll find that the ending doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. This wasn’t an issue here – there was another surprising twist near the end that certainly changed everything once again. And then again, when another twist superseded that one… The conclusion tied up most of the plot points, leaving a major one dangling in the breeze, ready for the sixth book in the series. I’ll definitely be reading that one – and before that – I’ll also be backtracking and reading more about these charismatic, engaging characters in the meantime.

Highly recommended for fans of quality urban fantasy.
10/10