Saturday, 24 September 2011

Review: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book three in the October Daye series
Publication Date: September 2010
ISBN: 978-0756406264
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★★


Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills. October "Toby" Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike.

Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children -- and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby's closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home and his sister falls into a coma-like state, the situation becomes way too personal. Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael's realm -- home of the legendary Wild Hunt -- and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael's inescapable power,

And it doesn't bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye -- the harbinger of Toby's own death -- has suddenly turned up on her doorstep...


This is my favourite of the series plot-wise so far. Who doesn't love a good magical quest?

I really felt like this one stepped it up a notch on all levels. It was set predominantly in the realm of the Fae, and the storyline was much more fantastical than the last two books. Toby was also tested like she's never been before AND we got lots of answers about her own back story. Well, okay, not answers, exactly. But definitely more information and quite possibly even more questions, lol.

Blind Michael is stealing children to be his riders for his yearly hunt on All Hallows Eve. When he makes off with someone Toby cares about, she sets about trying to get them back, no matter the cost. Her morals will let her do no less.

If I was being picky I might say the plot got slightly repetitive as certain events happened more than once. But I really don't think I even care because of what else we were treated to in terms of character developments!

And Tybalt....*big dreamy sigh* Tybalt, Tybalt. I swear, if October doesn't want him, I'll take him! I absolutely adore him! And I just love it when we know more about how characters feel about each other than they do. Seanan McGuire is very good as this. It must be hard to drop the clues in there for us yet leave Toby completely guileless. And for it to be believable, too.

I don't know if anything will ever come of these "feelings" that I'm sensing. With Tybalt being Cait Sidhe, and a King no less, and October only being a smart-mouthed changeling, I'm just not sure how it will all work out. But they at least have to try, don't they?

I'll just keep reading until it happens. That will show Seanan McGuire who's boss. Ha!

5 stars! ★★★★★

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book two in the October Daye series
Publication Date: March 2010
ISBN: 978-0756405960
Page Count: 400
My Rating: ★★★★★


Now comes the second in the series-from a dynamic new fantasy talent! Toby Daye-a half-human, half-fae changeling-has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world had other ideas... Now her liege, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills, has asked Toby to go to the Country of Tamed Lightening to make sure all is well with his niece, Countess January O'Leary. It seems like a simple enough assignment-until Toby discovers that someone has begun murdering people close to January, and that if the killer isn't stopped, January may be the next victim.


It was great to be back with Toby Daye and her fabulous Fae world in A LOCAL HABITATION. This time the plot was very much a whodunnit storyline that kept me guessing right until the end.

The opening scene features a very tipsy October, and a chance encounter with Tybalt, King of Cats, whose character I am quickly becoming fascinated with. I don't know if it's just me trying to see something that isn't there with those two, but I'm half way convinced he likes Toby a lot more than he lets on. To which (if I'm correct) Toby is completely oblivious. It's a very subtle game McGuire's playing, but I think I like the teasing.

Sadly, since most of the rest of book takes place in the county of Tamed Lightening where Toby is sent by Sylvester to find out why the people there are dying, this meant leaving many of the secondary characters behind, including Tybalt. But we met some very interesting new ones and luckily, she got to take young Quentin with her (whom I just adore), so it wasn't so bad.

Seanan McGuire is very good leaving her readers little trails of breadcrumbs to follow in her writing. Perhaps in the form of a character exhibiting strange body language or behaviours, or making the odd ambiguous comment. This "show, don't tell" technique is driving me nuts with suspicions and theories. Needless to say, I'm heading straight for the next book to fins out more.

5 stars! ★★★★★

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Review: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire ★★★★1/2

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy (romantic elements, Celtic mythology, faeries, murder mystery)
Series: Book one in the October Daye series
Original Language: English
Publisher: DAW
Country: USA
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-0756405717
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★★           


October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas... The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.


This was a very easy book to get into. From the opening scene I knew I would like October Daye. She's funny without being an annoying smart ass. She's brave but knows her limitations. And although she doesn't like all the pomp and circumstance of the Faerie courts, she knows how to be respectful when she needs to be. She was just very likeable.

The world-building an plot were a little harder to wrap my mind around. It seems quite complex, and we've only just scratched the surface. And some of the ideas were a bit weird, too. Still, it well-written weirdness, and I imagine the richness of the world-building once I'm better used to it will only serve to make this series one of the greats.

It was predominately a murder mystery plot, but with lots of seeds of intrigue planted throughout involving October's own back story. In particular one major event that happened six months prior to the start of this book which was very intriguing, to put it mildly

There was no romance involved per se, but I see potential so this may be something that develops as the series goes on. 

 4.5 stars! ★★★★1/2

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Review: River Marked - by Patricia Briggs ★★★★★

River Marked - by Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book six in the Mercedes Thompson series
Publication Date: March 01, 2011
ISBN: 9780441019731
Page Count: 352
My Rating: ★★★★★


Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. And she's never known any others of her kind. Until now. As Mercy comes to terms with this new information, an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River. Something deadly is coming, facts are thin on the ground and Mercy feels ill at ease. However, her father's people may know more. To have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need all the resources the shifters can offer. Or death will be the least of their worries.


RIVER MARKED is book six in the Mercedes Thompson series and it was great fun, if a little confusing at times. I think I might have actually broken some kind of speed reading record with this one, it was just so damn readable. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I frickin' love these characters and feel so comfortable in Briggs' hands when it comes to her Mercy world. Great stuff.

The plot did get a bit mind-boggling though, it has to be said. It's probably one of those books that needs to be read slowly to fully absorb the complicated magical and mythological explanations, not at a million miles per hour like I did. But maybe when I re-read it, it will make perfect sense. Or maybe not, becasue Mercy didn't even understand what was going on half the time either!

As much as I enjoyed this instalment, I can't wait for Mercy to get to get back with rest of the pack in the next book. This one was mostly her and Adam alone and out of town away from the rest of the guys. I'm not sure that Mercy is what you'd call "universally loved" within the pack, so it will be fascinating to watch how she gets on with that. Because to me, what makes this series great is the intricacies of the pack dynamics - their behaviours, both human and wolf, and how they deal with them. So I did miss them here, but the new characters we met went some way to making up for their lack.

All-in-all, a great addition to the series.

5 Stars! ★★★★★

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Review: This Side of the Grave - by Jeaniene Frost ★★★★★

This Side of the Grave - by Jeaniene Frost
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book five in the Night Huntress series
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-0061783180
Page Count: 384
My Rating: ★★★★★


Danger waits on both sides of the grave…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance…

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. …to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.


All the characters you have grown to love are all here in this fifth instalment of the series, as are the new additions we met in the spin-offs. (Incidentally, if you haven't read the spin-offs, I would read them just before this book or you risk being spoiled).

I laughed out loud quite a few times in the reading of this book. I'd forgotten how funny Cat and Bones are. There were a few really sweet "Aww" moments too. Now that Cat and Bones have worked out some of their main issues in Destined for an Early Grave, they are in a much better place, and in fact they are now past their overprotectiveness stage enough to notice it happening in others. Namely Mencheres and Kira, and Spade and Denise who we met in the spin offs, as they are in much earlier stages of their own relationships.

I did cry like a baby at one point, but there were also some scenes that had me grinning like the village loon. All in all, another great read from Frost.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Review: Venom - by Jennifer Estep ★★★★★

Venom - by Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book five in the Elemental Assassin series
Publication Date: September 28, 2010
ISBN: 1439148015
Page Count: 416           
My Rating: ★★★★★


What kind of assassin works pro bono?
It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances.


Another great story from Estep. I think this is the best one so far, although I did love book two...hmm, nope, this is my favourite! Mainly because of all the goings on in her love life :D

Gin attempts to take on a pretty formidable bad guy in this book. In going into it, she's pretty sure she's going to lose, but does that stop her from trying? Oh hells no! That's what I like about Gin - she's so fearless. She's also kind of wondering how on earth she went from being a feared and ruthless hired killer,  to being everybody's favourite friendly neighbourhood assassin, working for any old sob story, but she's just sort of rolling with it. She does have a new, and much more personal, vendetta she's working on over the course of these books as well, which sounds very interesting thus far.

Good stuff! 5 stars! ★★★★★

Review: Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep ★★★★

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book four in the Elemental Assassin series
Publication Date: May 2011
ISBN: 9781439192634
Page Count: 384
My Review ★★★★


I'd rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.

But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson's front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn't shy away from my past -- or my present. And right now I have a bull's-eye on my forehead. Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there's a fifty-fifty chance one of us won't survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur -- or die trying -- because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too. The only problem is, Bria has no idea I'm her long-lost sibling . . . or that I'm the murderer she's been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn't know just might get us both dead. . . .


First off, how gorgeous is that cover? I want those biceps!

I am a big fan of this series. Although it's quite different from my other favourite series. Most of my top series tend to have more humour and have more complicated, twisting plot lines, like Kate Daniels, Horngate witches and Cassie Palmer for example. This one is a little simpler, slower and moodier, but just as absorbing. I do sometimes wish for some lighter moments within the series, but Gin is an assassin, so I can always forgive her for not being a laugh a minute like some of my other leading ladies. It would be a little inappropriate, no?

The characters are well written once again (especially yummy Owen). The world-building is great, and the ongoing story arc is keeping me gripped with the whole long-lost sibling/arch enemy thing that's going on. But I just found the big finale action sequence slightly lacking this time and there were some slow sections to the story, so only 4 stars this time.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Review: Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep ★★★★★

Web of Lies - by Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book five in the Elemental Assassin series
Publication Date: May 2010
ISBN: 978-1439147993
Page Count: 432
My Rating: ★★★★★


Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I’m Gin Blanco. You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coal-mining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired.

So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scount mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental—with a little Ice magic thrown in—but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man … dead or alive.


This is the second book in the Elemental Assassin series. The first book got better even as I read it, after a slightly unsure start. Now it seems the series is only going to continue in the same vein, getting better and better with each novel.

Detective Donovan Caine is still on the scene, although perhaps trying to distance himself slightly, as he still clearly doesn't approve of Gin's job. It is, after all, against everything he stands for as a cop, to let someone go around killing people for money. Even if they are bad guys. I'm not sure this is something he will ever be able to get over. There are some things you just can't accept no matter how attracted to a person you may be. Everyone has their own moral code and they cannot, or will not, be tempted to deviate from it. Still, it makes for entertaining reading.

There is a new guy on the scene, however,  who seems to be more than a little interested in Gin, too. I'm curious to know where this might lead to...

The story moved along at a better pace than the first book, I think. We get plenty more of Gin being her awesome, kick-ass self against various bad guys. And also taking on a new role after her "retirement" (yeah, right) as a sort of vigilante, Robin Hood-type figure. Only instead of robbing the rich to feed the poor, she's killing the bad guys to protect the good guys. I know, how sweet!

I love how tough Gin is. I love the fact that she doesn't wait around for anyone to come and rescue her. If they did, it would be a bonus, but she doesn't rely on that, or sit around waiting to be rescued. That would no doubt be a really quick way to get dead in her job.

I'm already on to book three - Venom. Loving this series now.!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Review: Spider's Bite - by Jennifer Estep ★★★★

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, #1)
Spider's Bite - by Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book five in the Elemental Assassin series
Publication Date: January 2010
ISBN: 978-1439147979
Page Count: 432
My Rating: ★★★★


My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I’m the most feared assassin in the South—when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way—good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this cold-hearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction . . . especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.


I ended up really enjoying this book. I say "ended up" because for the first 50 pages or so I was a little bit worried I wasn't going to like it at all. I'd read a really positive review on it, and I was looking forward to reading it, especially since it would provide a change from vampires and werewolves for a bit (even the most die-hard urban fantasy fan needs a change from time to time!). So it could be a case of expecting too much on my part, perhaps. I admit I was kind of expecting to find a five star book to add to my list of all-time favourite series after the gushing review I'd read. Well... it's not up there yet, but by the end of the book, it had moved up in the world (or, at least, in my world) from a 3 star to a 4 star book.

The main character is Gin. I would perhaps not describe her as the most personable/friendly/outgoing main character you could meet, but you wouldn't really expect that of someone who has been an assassin for 17 years and is used to working alone in the shadows. Her occupation has made her a patient observer in life, much like the Spider she gets her assassin nickname from.

She isn't a completely cold-hearted bitch as you might expect either, though. She has a sense of humour that, if she had any other kind of job I'm sure you would get to see more often. She's pretty cool under pressure to say the least - a bit of a badass, in fact. And seems to be very good at what she does. The stabbity death stuff.

There's potential here for a romance plot line, albeit a very tricky one. Because there's an attraction to an extremely good, straight-laced detective called Donovan Caine, who, no matter how much he might try to, can't come to terms with, or in any way accept the fact that Gin kills people for a living. Talk about a relationship obstacle. I'm not sure how this is going to work out, but I'm eager to read more to find out.

4 stars! ★★★★

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Review: Dead witch walking- by Kim Harrison ★★★

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)
Dead witch walking - by Kim Harrison
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Hollows #1
Publication Date: April 27, 2004
ISBN: 9780060572969
Page Count: 432
My Rating: ★★★

Summary: All the creatures of the night gather in "the Hollows" of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party ... and to feed.

Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining -- and it’s Rachel Morgan's job to keep that world civilized.

A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she'll bring 'em back alive, dead ... or undead.


This is the first book in The Hollows series. I had been pre-warned by several different people that it was a slow-starter, but that the series gets better and better. Well, they weren't kidding! If it wasn't for my faith that it would, in fact, get better, I may not have got through the first 100 pages. It was such a slow start. The writing style doesn't flow, I kept stumbling back and forth and having to re-read bits. There is an inordinate amount of info-dumps—Harrison clearly has a very distinct world full of weird creatures and a society fully aware of supernaturals, and she wants to tell you about the whole thing all at once—and yet at other times she will mention something matter-of-factly, that you have absolutely no clue what she's talking about at all.

However, it did get better. I feel like perhaps this book is the mountain which you have to climb to get to the good stuff. You have to pay the reading piper for the privilege by slogging your way through about eight incredibly tedious chapters. (In fact, there was an escape-type scene about 8 chapters in, and I couldn't help thinking she should have started the book there, and just referenced everything that happened before that in retrospect, Sort of a "it all started when I quit my job" thing). Also, I don't feel like I know much about leading lady Rachel yet. She was kind of busy in this book running for her life, granted, but I couldn't really tell you much about her.

Anyway, onto what I did like, which can almost be summed up in a word: Jenks! I love him. He's a 4-inch tall pixy and he just completely rescued this book for me. His dialogue is hilarious and I just  can't wait to see more of him.

We met a villain (I think) whose motives I'm not really sure on at the moment, so I want to find out more on him. There's a potential love interest character as well, but he leaves me a bit cold to be honest. Rachel's vampire room-mate is also up to something, so I want to know more about that. And the guy that lives over the road... yeah, something fishy about him, too, I reckon.

So it seems quite a few little seeds of intrigue have been carefully planted despite my reservations, which will make me pick up the next one. Let's hope it starts a heck of a lot faster than this one did!