Category Archives: Urban Fantasy

Review of A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries Book 1 by Elizabeth Hunter

Who knew Vampires and Librarians could be so engaging? I just finished this book, and while it took me a while to read (it’s rather long at 274 pages) it was a very good story with well drawn characters and a few moments of suspense that made it hard to shut off the light! Giovanni is a rather odd character and for the first few chapters I had my suspicions about him but I wasn’t sure where Ms. Hunter was going with some of the odd traits. B. (short for Beatrice) is one smart cookie with a quick sense of humor and a nice shot of sarcasm and she was instantly engaging as a main character. There’s a solid story that drives the action – and the supporting characters are also very well developed. There’s even a slightly psychotic villain and I have to say I love a bad guy who “giggles” – it gives him just that touch of madness that makes him completely unpredictable.
There was one section in the book where I thought “Wait, isn’t that wrong?” and I flipped back a few pages to check the continuity, but it didn’t impact the story at all. I only mention it because one glaring “oops” in a book generally makes me love the story less but it didn’t in this case. That must mean the plot was tight enough, the characters believable enough (and yes, Giovanni is as dashing as his name would lead you to believe; but he’s also adorable in that boyish way that is oh-so-attractive :)) and the action paced well enough that I couldn’t even remember the stumble once I moved beyond it.

Ms. Hunter draws her scenes with such clarity and attention to detail that the “movie in my head” plays without interruption. This story is well written and well edited and I just looked on Amazon and it’s FREE right now. Pick it up – it’s a really good read!


Review of Pocket Full of Posies by Angela Roquet

Installment two of the Lana Harvey series was almost as good as Graveyard Shift (the first one) but for some reason Lana’s hair-trigger temper got on my nerves a bit toward the middle. Lana’s a Reaper (as in one of the grim ones – an employee of he-himself – the Grim Reaper we all know and hope not to meet) and she’s planning her career path while being attacked by demons for a past transgression. Her boyfriend is a very sweet archangel named Maalik – but for some reason Lana finds him unbearable and frankly she’s a little mean to the guy. Okay, I got the reasons but they seemed a little disproportionate to the anger she displayed. Once I learned to ignore her ill temper and nasty attitude, I liked the book. Liked. Didn’t love.

This is one of those reviews where I’m carefully choosing my words because I think the book is worth a read. There’s a lot of interesting action, a few good twists and likeable characters (yes, even Lana’s usually likeable). It’s a fun piece of escapism and for some reason I think the author is heading somewhere with the “angry Lana” – maybe that’s in the next book or maybe I’m completely wrong and Lana’s really a major head-case who will eventually wind up murdering someone because they looked at her wrong – either way, I’ll read the next book to find out but if Lana’s still a bit nuttier than a Snickers Bar then I’m done.

Here’s what you need to know – Good plot, stand-alone book (you don’t need to read the first or the next), good action, slightly irrational main character but a good enough supporting cast that you can ignore it, and clear, concise world-building. Not as funny as Graveyard Shift, but entertaining none-the-less. Priced at $2.99 (for this week, at least) it’s worth a shot. I’m interested in knowing if anyone else reads it and has the same reaction. Post a reply, please.

Fortunes Bought and Sold

For paranormal and mystery fans alike…

Calypso “Caly” Mendelsohn expected a normal day reading Tarot Cards for the tourists in Salem. She definitely didn’t expect her former partner Sandro to show up and demand Caly return the little book she stole. She also didn’t expect her life as a reformed con-artist to get turned upside down. Everything Caly has worked so hard to build is threatened by Sandro’s visit – but before Caly can run from the danger, her next client slides into her booth and things get even more complicated.

Dan Saint James has inherited a shipping company from his grandfather, but he’s made his own mistakes and needs help to make sure the past stays hidden. There are particular skills required to deal with a collection of stolen artwork, and Dan needs Caly’s help to keep the secret stash from being discovered by the wrong people.

Caly’s entire past has sauntered through the front door of the Psychic Parlor and forced her to decide if she really is committed to helping her clients in the most ethical and honest way possible – or if she’s just a con-artist waiting for the perfect scam. Dan’s problem could be profitable to Caly and that might just be more temptation than her black little soul can resist. In order to help Dan, Caly must use her less than savory skills to outwit others who would love to use her past – and Dan’s past – against them.

When there’s a fortune at stake, it’s not always easy to get a second chance.

The Story Behind Fortunes Bought and Sold
The first time I visited Salem, Massachusetts, I fell in love with the way the city embraced its heritage and the way it managed to profit from a terrible past. Salem took a chilling event and turned it into a way to teach tolerance and acceptance while refusing to forget the horrors of the witch trials – and it has a lot of fun doing it. During a tour on the Salem Trolley, I thought about twisting the idea into a story about someone with a past they were not proud of. How could that person move on and put a positive spin on something that was awful? It was on that tour when Calypso Mendelsohn was conceived, and it’s been an interesting experience watching her grow!

So many people go through life trying to keep a tight lock on their less savory attributes, only to discover that those hidden things bubble up at the worst times. Think of the man who cheats on his diet while lauding his willpower, or the woman who consoles a friend while secretly cheering that their perfect life isn’t so wonderful after all. These are not bad people, but their inability to acknowledge their faults leaves them on a slippery slope where guilt and deceit lurk in the periphery and threaten their good intentions.

Most of us delude ourselves to some extent, but I didn’t want Caly to suffer the same fate. There’s something admirable to me when people own their faults and I wanted Caly to have a bit of that honesty. She is not blind to her own faults; if anything, she is well aware of her “black little soul” and “larcenous heart” and struggles to acknowledge her benevolent motives – she would laugh if you called her altruistic. Her ability to embrace her faults and repent her dishonesties is one of her greatest strengths, but it isn’t until another desperate and guilt ridden person needs help that she realizes her own jaded past makes her uniquely qualified to help someone else untangle a sordid past and get a second chance – and that is something Caly believes in.

Caly is the honest con artist who risks her own comfort to help someone else start over. In order to do that, she must rely on the very skills she finds so distasteful – those less than charming talents are exactly what Caly needs to employ in order to set things right. She walks the fine line between doing wrong for the right reasons; she’s good at being bad.

That brings me back to the story of the city of Salem where Fortunes Bought & Sold takes place. While the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials remains a prominent part of the town’s past, it has also become a lesson for the future. The town has embraced the tale and used it to educate and further the understanding of how hysteria is spread and how the whisperings of malicious people can cause real destruction. The legacy of the Witch Trials is tolerance, and the message contributes to the positive vibe of the city despite its sordid past.

The tragedy in Salem was brought about, in part, by vicious rumors and an inability to stand against the crowd. Sure, there was a belief in wickedness and evil, but the more familiar sins of greed and jealousy played no small part. We are so familiar with those emotions that we tend to ignore their power. Those two emotions play an important role in Caly’s story.

She encounters these unpleasant feelings in her journey and must deal with them because unless they are brought out in the open, they can erode the very foundation of Caly’s plan. The lesson for Caly is the same as the one Salem so brilliantly learned: Embrace and acknowledge the bad, then forgive yourself and do everything in your power to make sure it never happens again – and don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it!

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Review of Graveyard Shift (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc.) by Angela Roquet

At first, I thought “oh no, another book with a complicated world”; then I realized I read twenty-five pages without moving and couldn’t put the book down! It is so well crafted that I devoured this story – every moment I had to read was spent journeying into Eternity with Lana, Josie, Gabriel and Maalik. There were moments of “uh-oh, what’s coming next” and moments of laugh out loud funny scenes (the one where the dove flies in and stumbles through the landing issuing a “pained coo” was still funny the third time I read it – even my husband chuckled when I insisted on reading that scene to him).

This story is clear, concise, and thoroughly entertaining. Not only does Roquet have a decent command of most of the major religions, she manages to give voice to all of the working-stiffs who just can’t seem to get some respect. It’s a fascinating story of “what if” and a unique take on the many after-lives we all want to believe in.

If you’re an urban fantasy and paranormal fan, this is definitely a great read that will keep you interested from beginning to end. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Review of Angel’s Ink by Jocelynn Drake

I finished this two days ago and thought it was a great book. Twists, turns, and a few funny moments are liberally sprinkled through this book and the characters are so well developed that you can’t help but love (or fear) them. Gage (the hero) is a tatoo artist with a big problem – apparently he’s way more talented than he thought he was when mixing rare ingredients into the ink he uses on clients. One wrong decision and his whole life is turned upside down – now that would be pretty traumatic if he didn’t already have problems that threatened to upend his world.

Throw in a former mentor who considers him a “blot”, a parole officer type who can haul him before the execution squad, a few agents from a foreign “government” who want something he has, and then add in the grim reaper and the poor guy is outnumbered by about ten to one! Gage’s adventures are a non-stop and entertaining ride.

I do have to point out there is one graphic love scene which didn’t really fit for me with the rest of the book it really stuck out as something that was just thrown in (maybe to make it a “paranormal romance”?) but if it’s glaringly discordant for you, don’t give up when you get to that part. It’s four pages, and then the story goes back to what it was.

I’d give this a read, though if you like Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong. It’s a fun book.

Moon Dance by J.R. Rain

R. Leonia Shea

I just finished this book and had to post a quick review on it.  A blend of supernatural mystery and humor makes this a great read.  Samantha Moon is smart, funny, and independent – with a bit of justifiable anger mixed in.  I liked her spirit and the fact that on more than one occasion she made me cringe.  I cringed because I knew what she was going to do and as bad as I thought the outcome might be I really wanted her to do it anyway – those situations made me root for her!  The supporting cast of this book is filled with likeable characters who provide another layer of mystery to an already well-crafted tale.  I really liked this book and look forward to reading the others in the series.

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Review – Ever After by Kim Harrison

I was up most of the night reading this book. Because I loved it so much, I’m breaking my usual rule about only reviewing indie books. If you are a fan of The Hollows series, you won’t want to miss the latest installment. If you love urban fantasy and haven’t read any of the books in the series, you’re going to want to pick up Dead Witch Walking and get started today.

Ever After is beautifully written, engaging, entertaining, suspenseful, and at times heartbreaking and funny. Rachel Mariana Morgan and her band of loyal and interesting friends are back for mischief, mayhem and revenge in the latest Hollows book and things have never been better (or worse) for the Cincy based witch and her vampire, pixy, and elf pals.

I have read reviews of Ms. Harrison’s books where other reviewers bashed Rachel and her lack of leadership and propensity to screw things up and I completely disagree. Those characteristics are exactly what makes Rachel so likeable. Her ability to forgive and move forward make her admirable. Her willingness to share in the glory and blame make her memorable. Her propensity for diving in and her determination to make the hard choices make her someone I’d want to hang out with. She has style, and as long as you can have style while battling demons I’m in!

This wild ride of urban fantasy finds Rachel in a few unlikely alliances to set things straight and right again in her world and the Ever After. The usual suspects appear (actually, I think she managed to get them ALL in this book) from Al to Newt; From Quen to Trent; From Jenks and Bis to Ivy and Nick.

Sometimes, the story becomes confusing (almost as if I missed a book – which I didn’t) but I have so much faith in the author that I just forged ahead, knowing that at some point she will bring it all together – be it in Ever After or in the next book. That’s the great thing about the series – little cookie crumbs are left in earlier books that come back later to lead you to a delicious and utterly satisfying end.

If you’re looking to read a book you can’t put down pick this one up. Between the beautifully crafted world, the elaborate descriptions that make the movie in your head run in vivid Technicolor, and the interesting and wonderfully flawed characters – Ever After is a gem and a satisfying read!