Ride the Storm by Karen Chance

ride the stormMy head is spinning and the little grey cells are hurting after all the time-hops, battles and intrigues. At times I felt it was a bit much, and then the author would bring it all back to the Cassie we know and love.

There are perhaps one too many action scenes, too many moments that are almost repetitive, which then takes the pleasure out of the story, because you know what is coming.

One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed was the way Chance brought in facts and story-lines from older books and even from the Basarab series. It is no secret that I think the Dorina Basarab series is superior to the Cassie Palmer one, so I was really excited to see her appear in this book. It was more of a secondary and explanatory role, but it was still a nice touch. I would love to see a Basarab and Palmer novel with both receiving the same amount of attention.

Mircea spent a certain amount of time clearing up certain things about Dory, and in doing so also reveals a secret that connects all of the Pythias throughout the centuries. It is also a betrayal on a certain level, as far as I am concerned, because he admits to planning ahead and wanting to use the Pythia, ergo Cassie, to achieve his greatest desire.

Now she is armed with this information will Cassie finally stand by her attraction to Pritkin and accept that perhaps she was nothing more than a means to an end for Mircea.

I find that Karen Chance manages to create more complex plot-lines and scenarios as the series goes on, as opposed to less interesting as the ideas dwindle. The trick is keeping the element alive that keeps the readers coming back for more. Chance is one of the more underrated stars of the urban fantasy genre, especially when it comes to the Basarab series, and definitely an author whose books I look forward to.

Buy Ride the Storm at AmazonUk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

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Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

wildfire12The Hidden Legacy series is young fresh and quite steamy. It has the complexity of a more seasoned urban fantasy and the lightness that will attract younger readers.

The whole marry and procreate to create the perfect magical being for your magical house has a eugenics feel to it. Perhaps not so distanced from real life and the quest to create the perfect human.

In a world where we can already manipulate the choice of gender, hereditary diseases and general appearance, the need for magical or indeed perfection is actually quite a popular topic.

Nevada has done some growing up and is stepping up to protect her family by making the correct political moves and planning strategically instead of with her heart. To beat the the rules of the houses you have to be able to think and act like them.

One of the highlights of the story is of course the romance between Nevada and Rogan. The two of them are like a well-tuned machine in both a professional and personal sense. The chemistry is explosive, which of course is one of Andrews specialities. Being able to create tension, longing and pure animal attraction between the main characters.

It is what readers have come to expect from Andrews, a solid urban fantasy with memorable characters and plenty of potential for further development.

Buy Wildfire at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @ilona_andrews @AceRocbooks

Visit ilona-andrews.com

Snared by Jennifer Estep

snaredYou have to admire the way Estep manages to keep this series fresh and captivating after so many books and years.

There are still so many nooks and crannies to explore when it comes to Gin & Co. Plenty of secrets to uncover, and most importantly there is always an adversary waiting just behind the corner to try and eliminate The Spider.

In this 16th book in the Elemental Assassin series Gin has to find a criminal of the more everyday garden variety. A serial killer with a penchant for pretty blondes.

Now we all know Gin is a sucker when it comes to helping people, regardless of who they are. When one of the mob bosses approaches her for help finding her sister, she doesn’t even think twice about lending a hand.

At some point during the investigation Gin figures out that someone is pulling strings behind the scenes, she just isn’t sure whether they are trying to divert attention away from the killer or simply pointing her in the right direction.

Then there is the whole Hugh Tucker thing, it’s interesting. It sort of makes you wonder why he keeps stacking the deck in her favour. There must be more to it than simply liking Mama Snow. It’s not just my imagination right?

Estep knows exactly how to thrill and enthral both new readers and readers who have been following Gin and her Merry Band of Misfits from the very beginning. It is urban fantasy with a slice of snark and topped with a cherry full of violence, courtesy of our very own quirky assassin.

Buy Snared at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

the awakeningThe Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens hasn’t really garnered the attention it deserves over the years. I think her books sail a little under the radar.

It is a solid paranormal urban fantasy series. Stevens delivers strong characters and an interesting plot.

Amelia seems a little more susceptible to the ghosts and the evil spirits this time. Her heartbreak might be weakening her high wall of protection. She also appears to be more afraid in general. Her tough exterior is crumbling slowly like a wall of sand.

She is haunted by a young ghost and the signs of impending doom. Someone close to her is in danger, someone is going to die.

I do think The Awakening is one of the weaker books of the series. Perhaps weak is the wrong word. Hmm, the author, or rather Amelia, does a lot of contemplating in this book, so it’s a slower and less eventful, as opposed to the usual action packed read.

Unfortunately it’s the last in the series, which might explain the nostalgic air about it. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, which is probably the real reason I found this slightly underwhelming. It just feels a little premature, but I can understand wanting to end on a high note.

I would recommend reading from the start of the series to get the full flavour and the complete back-story, although this can be read as a standalone novel.

Buy The Awakening at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Turn by Kim Harrison

the-turnThis is the very extensive prequel to The Hollows series by Harrison. Saying that I would suggest reading it after the rest of the series, as opposed to before or as the start to the series. I believe the author recommends doing exactly the same thing on her website.

Why? Well I think the prequel assumes that the reader will know the characters and where the story will eventually lead. Personally I don’t think it does The Hollow series the justice it deserves.

What the prequel does do is inadvertently shed a light on a can of worms called genetically modified crops. In this case it is woven into the deaths, extinction and survival of certain supernatural species and of course just normal old human beings.

It shows the positive side of being able to feed the world, and yet also the dangers of eating something that has had its basic code changed. Hopefully we won’t find out a century down the line.

I am still shaking my head at the whole Trisk and Kal scenario, especially the ending. If, as a new reader, you don’t know where the series ends up then it all might seem a wee bit exaggerated. If you do then you’ll probably have an aha moment or two during the read.

What Harrison does excel at is the bursts of creativity and plotting that any urban fantasy author needs to keep their audience captivated.

Buy The Turn at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Crimson Death by Laurell K.Hamilton

crimsonI think the appropriate place to start is with the sheer size of this novel. You could literally commit a crime with the hardback copy, that is how large this book is. At over 700 pages it is more than a healthy portion for a bookworm. When you write a novel the size of War and Peace then you should make sure it holds up its end of the bargain. Personally I believe the sheer volume has a detrimental effect on the story.

Unfortunately Hamilton spends a lot of time on superfluous dialogues, interactions and sub-plots. You could cut the book by at least 350 pages and still have a decent or rather your expected Hamilton read. It takes at least that long to actually get to Edward, Ireland and the main plot.

The first book I ever read in the Anita Blake series was Skin Trade (#17), which is a pretty good example of Hamilton at her finest. Based on that book I went back to the first book and started reading from the beginning, but Skin Trade has always remained a favourite.

I’m not sure why Hamilton feels the need to infuse her books with so much of her own personal life and sexual preferences. It is quite simply pernicious to the majority of her stories. At some point a decent editor should have trimmed and let her know just how many pages are filled with unnecessary information.

Aside from that Hamilton also brings her own confused views on consent into her books. Quite shocking at times. Then there are her bizarre views on how her characters all need to join in on the big poly amorous lifestyle. There just simply aren’t enough hours in the day when it comes to fitting in all the fuck buddies.

Whatever happened to the dangerous vampire hunter and the necromancer? When did she turn into the sex-obsessed sad little character, who doesn’t shy away from minors, non-consenting partners and worse. Where is the strong woman who used to be more interested in killing evil supernatural monsters than in how doable the woman and men around her are?

Overall Crimson Death is a disappointment, because you can see shimmers of the pre-sex-obsessed writer Hamilton in the midst of the travesty the now-Hamilton calls urban fantasy. I hope the author will eventually go back to her basic roots and gives us the story we know she is capable of.

Buy Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Today is my turn on the Blog-Tour for Winter Halo by Keri Arthur. It is the second book in the Outcast series. (The first is City of Light). Enjoy the fantastic Q&A with Keri Arthur and my review!

About the author

Keri Arthur is the New York Times bestselling author of the Outcast series, including City of Light, as well as the Souls of Fire, Dark Angels, and Riley Jenson Guardian series. She has written more than thirty books and has been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and has won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy.

About the book

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Souls of Fire novels comes the second in the futuristic fantasy series that will make you want to keep the lights on…

When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between worlds, they allowed entry to the Others. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay…. The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way. The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as she learns more about the facility, Tiger’s mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force.  Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself.

Q&A

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’ (readers love to get to know all about their favourite authors)

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know) Anne Gracie’s The Summer Bride. I waited so long for Daisy’s story, and I loved it!

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it) I recently watched Spectre on Blu-ray, and was ever so glad I missed it at the movies! I couldn’t believe how bland/blah it was. I’m a huge James Bond fan, but in this, Daniel Craig wasn’t even trying.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander, a movie night or sitcom kind of  gal? (Combinations are possible) I haven’t watched either Game of Thrones or Outlander, and have no intentions of ever watching the former. I do, however, love Westworld. I’m also a huge lifestyle program fan (mostly British–Great British Bake-off, Escape to the Country, Location Location, etc). I also love the Aussie versions of those shows.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet? I’d love to have met Dick Francis, because he is one of my all time favourite authors. And for one out of left field, I would love to have met John Constable, and have him teach me how to paint just like him.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs, doughnuts and chocolate totally count) Shoes. Totally shoes. I have something of a fetish for them  😀

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Winter Halo.

I really enjoyed the mixture of genres in Winter Halo, a dystopian tale with sci-fi elements and a portion of urban fantasy. Was mixing the genres something you set out to do or did the ideas evolve as you were writing? I’ve never been a planner when it comes to my writing. I usually set out with a vague idea and the story and setting develop from there. That’s what I love about writing–the discovery of where it’s going!

Was it your intention to get both the readers and even the characters to question the humanity of the genetically modified dechets or to be more specific questioning Tiger’s humanity? That developed as the story developed. In truth, what does make us human? Is it as simple as the nature of our birth? Is it higher brain capacity, the ability to think and feel? Or is it something more indefinable? Why are we considered human, and yet the great apes, who share something like 98% of our DNA, are not? I’m not sure The Outcast Series answers these questions, but I’d like to think it at least gets those who read it thinking about things like acceptance and tolerance. We really need a lot more people thinking about those in the current clime.

Staying with that line of questioning, Tiger was created with a specific purpose in mind, and although she acts as programmed she is also capable of acting independently. Is her initial programming the reason why she was engineered the reason some characters don’t trust her or is it because she doesn’t conform to their preconceived ideas of the dechet? Most humans and shifters only ever had contact with the soldier dechets. Very few people outside the Humanoid Development Program ever knew about the existence of dechets such as Tiger, who was developed as a lure–a seductress designed to infiltrate shifter encampments and steal battle information. The other characters views are tainted by their experiences with the soldiers; they’re having to battle ingrained beliefs about what dechets are with the reality Tiger presents to them.

Tiger carries around an extreme amount of guilt about the ghosts (children). She seems to blame herself for their deaths. Is that why she is willing to go the extra mile to try and save the living children? Yes. She’d been assigned as the children’s guardian while waiting reassignment, and she believes she failed in that duty, even though she almost died trying to save them. It’s that guilt that drives her to save Penny and Jonas, and keeps her involved in not only the quest to find the rest of the missing children, but to stop those who want to give the vampires and wraiths light immunity.

Tiger and her relationship to sex is quite an intriguing aspect of the story. Tiger uses sex to obtain information and achieve her goals. Her relationship with it is very calculated. Will we see her experience sex in a different way when and if she finally does have intercourse because she wants to and not because she has to? I really can’t answer this question, because it would step into spoiler territory!

Will we be seeing/reading more about Tiger? If the answer is yes (hopefully) will it be soon (no pressure *laugh*)? I’ve planned the Outcast Series as three books, so yes, there will be more of Tiger after Winter Halo. The third book is tentatively called The Black Tide, but I’m not sure when it’ll be out yet. Hopefully by the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, especially the odd ones! You’re welcome–and the odd ones were fun!

Review

Despite being a successful award winning author I don’t believe Keri Arthur really gets the recognition or attention she deserves for her writing. Regardless of the genre, sub-genre or the topic, Arthur always gives her readers a run for their money.

Winter Halo, which is the second book in the Outcast series, is a perfect example of her ability to flow seamlessly from one genre to the other within the same story. It’s a dystopian extravaganza with sci-fi elements and an urban fantasy flair.

It is set in a world of genetically enhanced soldiers, shifters, ghosts, vampires and perhaps a few humans. Tiger is determined to save a small group of children, who have been kidnapped with the intent of committing unimaginable atrocities.

Watch this space for the Tiger and Jonas saga, because it is definitely coming. The sexual tension between the two of them is like a volcano set to erupt. No pun intended. Okay that’s a lie it’s totally intended. Jonas can’t help but be drawn to the feisty dechet, perhaps because she is the complete opposite of what he thinks she should be like.

Instead of hard cold reasoning there is a strong compassionate vein, and her ability to communicate with ghosts makes her seem more humane instead of like the genetically enhanced soldier she actually is.

One of the more fascinating aspects of Tiger is the way she compartmentalizes her actions, emotions and choices. Her sexual activities are sorted into boxes labelled ‘a means to an end.’ All business all the time. Maybe it is time she did it for herself and for the pleasure instead.

I am looking forward to the third part in this series, especially a possible Tiger and Jonas relationship. Winter Halo is an action driven read with creative ideas, intricate world-building and plenty of potential for further development.

It was, as always with a Keri Arthur book, a read I would recommend.

Buy Winter Halo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Readers from the US and Canada also have the fantastic opportunity to take part in a giveaway for City of Light and Winter Halo by Keri Arthur by retweeting the giveaway on Twitter. Or just comment below. (Winner will be notified at the end of the tour) Good Luck!