Review: Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

Reviewed by Jen

The Mercy Thompson series is one which continues to be a winner for me. Mercy is such a fantastic heroine. I love how her gifts keep evolving, while she still considers herself one of the weakest supernaturals in any given room. But what she may lack in brute strength, she makes up for in smarts and her ability to read a situation. This installment is no exception.

In many of the past books, the storyline surrounded a Mercy-in-Danger plot. That’s not so here. There is danger, to be sure, but Mercy is no more at risk than the pack as a whole.

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Review: Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price

Reviewed by Jen

I really enjoyed this latest installment in the Alex Craft series. Even though there is what feels like an eternity between releases of these books, I am always able to jump back in so seamlessly and fall into the world. Alas, we do not see much of Death this time around. You can thank the events of the last book for that.  Instead, this centers on an adventure Alex takes with Dugan, prince of the Shadow realm, and Falin, the Winter queen’s knight.

The story begins with Dugan visiting Tongues for the Dead, in need of help from Alex to solve the mysterious death of one of his people. Falin gets involved right away, as soon as he catches word that Dugan is in the human realm. Turns out someone is dead from both Dugan’s court and Falin’s. And the bodies were found in the Winter court. Likely, it was set up as a frame job.

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Review: Wild Country by Anne Bishop

Reviewed by Jen

When Ann Bishop kicked off The Others series, I was so blown away by how much I loved Written in Red. As new installments published, I enjoyed some more than others. Generally, the earlier books were my favorites. While I think I liked this book more than I expected, it didn’t enthrall me quite so much as this series is capable of. Don’t get me wrong. It was good. It was just missing the kind of connection you get from a strong central main character.

I would say all of the Bishop of books I have read were ensemble pieces. But, I still felt like I knew who the story was mainly about. Generally, the first part of the series was about Meg. Lake Silence was primarily about Vicki. Here, I couldn’t tell you who the lead is. Maybe Jana (?) the new police officer who has come to the town of Bennett to serve under a wolf Sheriff. She’s probably the closest, although her POV scenes only make up a fraction of the book. The characters are interesting and eclectic, and they all weave together for a cohesive story, but I was missing some of my emotional investment.

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Review: Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter

Reviewed by Jen

Faith Hunter is such a master craftsman of urban fantasy. All of her books in her Jane Yellowrock/Soulwood world are just so dense and layered… in plot, in backstory, and in the characters. The Soulwood books are the spinoffs and if you have not read Dark Queen, the latest Yellowrock book, be prepared for some spoilers because there is some overlap.

Nell, our heroine, has grown so much over the course of this series. She started off as this— I don’t want to say backward, but off-grid woman who has never known I truly modern life. She grew up as part of a polygamist cult and lives in the middle of the woods in a house off the power and water lines. But while she may never truly be free of her upbringing and the impact of its effects, she has now embraced a lot of the modern world in her job as a probationary Psy-Led agent. Not only that, she is bringing her sister, Mud, along with her. Nell is working towards adopting the 12-year-old, but has to make a few more changes to her lifestyle in order for that to happen.

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Review: Lost Souls by Chelsea Mueller

Reviewed by Jen

Another great ride in this third installment of the Soul Charmer series. If you are looking for a gritty new Urban Fantasy series, I heartily recommend you give this one a try. (But don’t start here…make sure you pick up Borrowed Souls first.)

This book picks up where the last one left off, with Callie desperately searching for Nate who has kidnapped her mother. The mission is especially pressing since the guy cut off some of her mom’s fingers and sent them as a warning. Callie needs to return the soul she ripped out of him or her mother will pay the price.

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Review: Stray Moon by Kelly Meding

Reviewed by Jen

If you’ve followed my reviews for a while, you know I am a fan of Kelly Meding. In fact, I finally sat down and read the 2013 Carniepunk anthology recently just to read the short story that sparked this series. And overall, I liked this book. But someone needs to sit down and have a chat with the editor.

No one should have given the green light for this much repetition. I mean, yes, it’s very important that Shiloh has forgotten Jaxon. In book one, I remember being so perplexed about who the love interest in this series would be. And then, at the very end, when she agreed to lose her memories of the person she loved most… boom! Jaxon appeared to be the guy. Add to that, I understand that coming to terms with her feelings despite the missing memories was the big emotional arc here. But for the love of Pete, this must have been reiterated at least once per page. If I didn’t already have a history with this author and an investment in the characters, I would have put the book down. I almost did anyway. And that’s a shame because, otherwise, it was a good book.

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Review: Carniepunk

Reviewed by Jen

I’m a little late getting around to reading this 2013 collection of carnival themed short stories, but I learned it included a prequel to a series I am reading now and I wanted to check it out. I found the stories to be very uneven, both in tone and in how much I enjoyed them. But there were enough engaging entries, I found it worth the read.

Painted Love – This is the first thing I have ever read by Rob Thurman and I have to say, it was a bit odd. It follows the observations of Doodle, an enigmatic traveler who attaches himself to a man named Bart, a sociopath working at a carnival. The story is told entirely through Doodle’s eyes, though he does not participate much in the action. To be honest, I thought he was a dog until his true form was revealed at the end. Didn’t get much out of this one.

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Review: Total Eclipse

Reviewed by Jen

This ninth book wraps up the Weather Warden series with a finale bigger and badder than anything that’s come before it, and with a series following one main character this long, that’s the way it should be. There are definitely some familiar vibes—a cross-country road trip, chasing down Oracles, djinns under control of the Mother—but everything happens on such a jacked up platform, it doesn’t feel like a rehash. It feels like life or death.

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Review: Cape Storm by Rachel Caine

Reviewed by Jen

I’ve got to give props to Rachel Caine. She isn’t afraid to take this series to places it’s never gone. With the single exception of Bad Bob returning as a villain in the last book, each installment in the Weather Warden series manages to tread new ground as it takes Joanne on an ever changing journey at breakneck speeds.

The last book ended with really bad news for our heroine. She has been branded with a pseudo-demon mark which has left her vulnerable to Bob’s evil influence. And dealing with that takes up the brunt of this story. All hell is breaking loose on the world with Bob at the center of it all. The wardens have all come together to protect Miami from a monster hurricane he’s cooked up. And they board up on a cruise ship to lead the storm away from the population at large. Of course, it’s a trap, at least in part. Bob knows how the wardens work and he uses that knowledge against them. But even worse, he is slowly breaking Joanne down, and turning her into his agent.

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Review: Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones

Reviewed by Jen

I almost didn’t read this book. Despite the love I had for the 12 books that came before it, the line in the blurb about 100 years passing was almost enough to make me skip this final book in the Charley Davidson series. And that would have been such a huge mistake. I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, but if this set-up is what’s holding you back, don’t let it.

Aw hell, I don’t know how I can talk about this book at all without at least a little bit of spoilage –at least on that front—so read at your own risk.

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