Ashes Reborn by Keri Arthur

ashes rebornThe connection between Emberly and Jackson is one of the more intriguing elements of the story. Neither of them have any real idea how their fusion is going to evolve or whether there will be more negative or positive repercussions for either one of them.

Their strange partnership, and the odd new powers one of them seems to possess, have to take a back-seat so they can focus on a threat to the supernatural and human community. Rinaldo is willing to kill anyone and destroy anything to get his hands on any research relating to a plague-like virus. A virus that can drive the contaminated person to madness.

Arthur delivers a fast-paced fiery urban fantasy with strong characters and a story that ends with a hook so the readers will come back for the next book.

Arthur’s Riley Jenson urban fantasy series is outstanding, and doesn’t get as much attention as it should. She has a flair for innovative ideas and strong female leads. Her Souls of Fire series offers readers both of these elements.

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Read Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

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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.

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Read Reap the Wind by Karen Chance

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.

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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.

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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.