Book Review: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

Book Review: River Road by Suzanne JohnsonRiver Road by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #2
Published by Tor on November 13, 2012
Genres: Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 334
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Book Review:

The second book in the Sentinels of New Orleans, RIVER ROAD picks up a couple of years after ROYAL STREET. This is an urban fantasy series set in New Orleans with all manners of preternatural creatures from the historical undead to nymphs to mermen and beyond. This is a series that gets better with each book; I recently read number four, PIRATE’S ALLEY, and reading that sent me back into a reread of the whole series.

Drusilla “DJ” Jaco is the Sentinel of New Orleans, and it’s her job to take care of any magical crises. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina, the borders that kept preternaturals out of the city have fallen, and rather than put them back up, the wizards are keeping an eye on the situation and seeing what happens. Naturally, plenty happens in RIVER ROAD. DJ has to juggle territorial mers, murdered wizards, and a sudden increase of activity in her personal life.

I enjoyed the author’s take on mermen. They’re not the sexy fish you’d expect them to be — no, Suzanne Johnson’s given them her own spin. I had a good laugh at the “Mer Twin” license plates for Rene and Robert. I really liked Rene’s character: he’s a tough guy, and even though mers traditionally hate wizards, he’s willing to work with DJ to keep his clan from getting sick. And all the time DJ spends with the mers shows off Plaquemines Parish, which is just outside of New Orleans.

The murder mystery aspect of RIVER ROAD was interesting to me; you’ll probably never look at the culprit in the same way again. DJ’s efforts in solving the murders and cleaning up the poisoned water showcases the unique magic system in this series. DJ is a Green Congress wizard, meaning she uses potions and rituals and charms, along with plenty of research.

DJ’s dance card is a bit full in this installment, but romance isn’t the main focus of the series. So I didn’t mind DJ’s dates and diversions with the men in her life, and even better — those relationships often tied into the plot of the book.

Socialize with the author:

Suzanne Johnson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Book Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa GreyThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Published by Delacorte Press on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Book Review:

THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT is the first in a YA urban fantasy series. I was intrigued by the publisher’s comparison to Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE, which is one of my favorite YA fantasy series. However, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT didn’t remind me of SHADOW AND BONE at all, other than both books having a firebird.

I liked the first half of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. Echo’s a fun character, full of snark and longing to belong to an alien world. When she was a kid, she ran away from an abusive home. The Ala found her in the New York Public Library and took her to the Nest. The Ala is the Seer of the Avicen, a race of feathered beings. Their mortal enemies are the Drakharin — dragon people — and they’ve been in a war that’s gone on for centuries under humanity’s nose.

But somewhere around the middle, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT lost its shine for me. The book slowed down. I got bored, and even when things picked up again, I didn’t really care. I’m writing this review a few days after finishing, and I already can’t remember a lot of the book. I had really high hopes for THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT, but it was just okay.

WHAT I LIKED:

–Whenever the characters hopped to a new place, the author described that place really well. Her writing is atmospheric, and I felt like I was in New York or Paris or Strasbourg. There were also lots of yummy food details.

–The friendship that developed between Echo, Ivy, Caius, Dorian, and Jasper. I also liked the romantic relationship between Dorian and Jasper — yay for diversity, and a romance that didn’t feel like insta-love.

–The idea of the Avicen and Drakharin. Bird people and dragon people? Very cool. The glimpses I got of their worlds were fascinating, leaving me wanting a lot more.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

–The author told me the Avicen and Drakharin are at war. But why have they fought each other for so long? The author didn’t show me they hated each other, just told me again and again. So I didn’t feel invested in Echo’s quest for the firebird.

–Echo’s romantic entanglements. There’s somewhat of a love triangle here, complete with a leg of insta-love. I did appreciate that Echo usually realized when she was on a hormone high, because I’ve very rarely seen that. But I didn’t see the attraction between Echo and Caius, and their moments felt forced for me.

–Everything else. I don’t know how to describe it, and I’ve been trying for days. But THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT just… fell flat. Usually I can write a review very quickly, but I’ve been struggling with this one for a few days, which is a sign. This book just wasn’t memorable or outstanding for me.

Overall, I was left wanting so much more from THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. I expected more fantasy, more about the Avicen and the Drakharin, more basis for Echo and Caius, more of everything.

Socialize with the author:

Melissa Grey:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne Johnson

Book Review: Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne JohnsonPirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #4
Published by Tor on April 21, 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal.

Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband, Quince Randolph, is growing more powerful, and her best friend, Eugenie, has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. And that's before the French pirate, Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest "death," returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ's assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won't be that easy.

pirate's alley blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for PIRATE’S ALLEY by Suzanne Johnson. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit all the stops here. I’ve reviewed two other books in the Sentinels of New Orleans series: #1: ROYAL STREET and #3: ELYSIAN FIELDS. After my review of PIRATE’S ALLEY, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.

Book Review:

You know how some urban fantasy series start to drag? Well, Sentinels of New Orleans is NOT one of those series. PIRATE’S ALLEY is the fourth book in the series, and I think the author is getting better and better with each installment. Last year, I would have said book three, ELYSIAN FIELDS, was my favorite, but now I think it’s PIRATE’S ALLEY.

PIRATE’S ALLEY picks up a couple of weeks after ELYSIAN FIELDS. There’s enough recap that I wasn’t totally lost, given it’s been a while since I was last in DJ’s world. But I would have preferred a little more, since PIRATE’S ALLEY is much more politically oriented than previous books, and it took me a bit to remember who was who, and why this or that alliance was important.

When I started this series, it irked me when DJ was too rash or continually charged into danger. I love character growth, and boy has DJ grown. In PIRATE’S ALLEY, she shows off that growth: she thinks a lot more than she used to before jumping into a potentially dangerous situation. She thinks about her romantic relationship with Alex, her bonding with Rand, her friendship with Jean Lafitte, and her friendship with Eugenie. All of these different relationships get page time, and they’re all important in their own way.

That’s good, because I think PIRATE’S ALLEY is setting the scene for some serious preternatural action. There’s a lot of political maneuvering in this book as the Interspecies Council tries to find its footing, which isn’t easy, considering practically every prete group is trying to stab another in the back. DJ needs to think first rather than act first, because it’s time for her to consider who deserves her loyalty. But don’t worry, she’s still the same snarky, devoted, talented DJ that she’s always been. And she still charges into danger sometimes.

Usually I can take or leave romance, but I so appreciated that DJ really thinks about her relationship with Alex, and realizes that they needed to talk, not just solve their problems with sex. Even if they didn’t get the chance because of one crisis after another, they still tried to talk. I also appreciated that DJ doesn’t forget about the normal humans just because she’s a wizard, and up to her knees in elves, fae, and the historical undead. Plus she talks with Jean Lafitte about their friendship and what it means. Jean Lafitte is in a lot of this book, which had me happy since he’s one of my favorite characters in the series.

If you’ve liked the other books in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, I’m pretty sure you’ll like PIRATE’S ALLEY. If you haven’t started this series yet, definitely check it out if you like cool magic systems and different takes on the usual supernatural creatures.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author suzanne johnsonSuzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Deadly Curiosities (Deadly Curiosities #1) by Gail Z. Martin

Book Review: Deadly Curiosities (Deadly Curiosities #1) by Gail Z. MartinDeadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin
Series: Deadly Curiosities #1
Published by Solaris on June 24, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

Book Review:

DEADLY CURIOSITIES is the first in a new urban fantasy series set in Charleston, South Carolina. The book features Cassidy Kincaide, a psychometric who owns an antique shop. Trifles and Folly is the perfect cover for Cassidy, her assistant Teag, and her vampire partner Sorren to get dangerous supernatural objects off the market. Because Cassidy can read emotions and memories from objects, she can tell if something is dangerous or not, and take appropriate action.

When she learns that several objects she thought were safe are now causing trouble at a bed and breakfast, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Soon Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren are up to their eyeballs in objects that are haunted by evil ghosts, an enemy from Sorren’s past, and something even more dangerous than a crazy, half-dead wizard: a demon.

DEADLY CURIOSITIES does a couple of things very well. There are some great ideas in this book, like Cassidy’s psychometric powers which allow her to use magical objects for protection, such as the collar from her favorite dog for a ghostly guardian. Teag has some magic of his own: Weaving, which helps him find tons of information on the normal Internet and the “Darke Web,” the magical version of the information highway. There’s no romance in this book, which I really appreciated — I hate when the paranormal fun takes a backseat to googly eyes and making out. I also really enjoyed the story behind DEADLY CURIOSITIES. It was fun to watch the gang try to solve the mystery. I also liked the history the author created. I mean, you can’t go wrong with pirates and ghosts and tragic history!

But there were a couple of things that didn’t work so well for me. I think the book was just too long. The author’s other books are epic fantasies, clocking in at 600 pages or so. DEADLY CURIOSITIES is 464 pages. I expect urban fantasies to be shorter, for the plot to move faster. I thought the book lagged a bit, with some unnecessary scenes and slow buildup. The writing also contributed to that feeling — the author was great at historical flashbacks of objects, but dialogue and pacing weren’t so on for me.

Overall, DEADLY CURIOSITIES is an intriguing start to a new series. I would definitely read more of Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren’s adventures, and would like to learn more about their world.

Socialize with the author:

Gail Z. Martin:
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– leeanna

Book Review: White Heart of Justice (Noon Onyx #3) by Jill Archer

Book Review: White Heart of Justice (Noon Onyx #3) by Jill ArcherWhite Heart of Justice by Jill Archer
Series: Noon Onyx #3
Published by Ace on May 27, 2014
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
Since Lucifer claimed victory at Armageddon, demons, angels, and humans have coexisted in uneasy harmony. Those with waning magic are trained to maintain peace and order. But hostilities are never far from erupting...

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

white heart of justice blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE by Jill Archer. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit all the stops here. There’s a pretty neat tour-wide giveaway after my review, so make sure to check that out.

I’ve also reviewed the first two books in the Noon Onyx series: DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL.

Book Review:

With WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, the Noon Onyx series is now one of my favorite urban/dark fantasy series. The second I finished the book, I wanted to read the next book, because that ending! I’m not going to spoil anything, but if you’re like me, you’re going to want a fourth book, too.

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE starts off with Noon fighting to be St. Luck’s competitor in the annual Laurel Crown Race. The winner gets to pick where they will do their fourth-semester residency, important because that residency usually turns into a permanent job. Noon needs to win the race because she doesn’t want to be stuck torturing or killing rogue demons. Although she’s come a long way since her initial reluctance to accept her waning magic powers, she’s still not thrilled about the idea of torturing or killing on command.

Noon’s assignment for the race is to find the fabled White Heart of Justice, an ensorcelled sword created by Metatron, a famous Angel, for Justica, the Demon Patron for Judgment, Punishment, and Mercy. The only problem? The sword has been missing for centuries, and oh yeah, it’s in Tartarus, which is basically Hell in an ice fortress.

No big deal, right? Not after what Noon and Rafe, her Guardian Angel, have already been through in previous books. But Jill Archer tops herself in WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. Noon starts the race off half dead, after being hit by a spelled arrow. Her former best friend and Angel, Peter, is out for blood because Noon didn’t want to search with him. Noon’s also still trying to accept that her ex-boyfriend, Ari, hid the fact that he’s a demon. And that’s just the first third of the book.

Noon’s growth as a character has always been one of my favorite things about the series, as well as the author’s worldbuilding. Both are present in WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. Noon has changed so much from book one, DARK LIGHT OF DAY, but in a believable, realistic way. She accepts her power and uses it in her own way. Noon’s also growing up as an adult, dealing with heartbreak, a potential new relationship, and making better decisions. Yeah, there’s a bit of romance between Noon and Rafe, which I liked! I’m usually not a fan of romance, but I liked how the author did it here, and I ship Noon/Rafe now.

The journey to Tartarus and Tartarus itself … brrr. A freezing cold fortress is my idea of Hell (I hate being cold). I liked the legend built up around it, and the inside of it, boy, that was creepy.

I’m not mentioning half of what’s in WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. If you like the series, I think you’ll like the newest book. I certainly did, and am hoping Noon’s story continues. If you haven’t started the series, check it out if you’re looking for something a bit different.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jill archerJill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.
Website
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Twitter
Goodreads

– leeanna

Book Review: Fiery Edge of Steel (Noon Onyx #2) by Jill Archer

Book Review: Fiery Edge of Steel (Noon Onyx #2) by Jill ArcherFiery Edge of Steel by Jill Archer
Series: Noon Onyx #2
Published by Ace on May 28, 2013
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
Goodreads
4 Stars
Lucifer and his army triumphed at Armageddon, leaving humans and demons living in uncertain peace based on sacrifice and strict laws. It is up to those with mixed demon and human blood, the Host, to prevent society from falling into anarchy.

Noon Onyx is the first female Host in memory to wield the destructive waning magic that is used to maintain order among the demons. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways.

When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, a task which will most likely involve trying and killing the patron demon of that area, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…

Book Review:

The second book in the Noon Onyx series, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL picks up Noon’s story just after book one, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. At the start of the book, Noon and her boyfriend Ari are at a Carne Vale: a demon execution. But Noon, still uncomfortable with the thought of killing demons, isn’t thrilled about having to participate. She doesn’t want to kill a demon just because she’s been told he’s guilty. She wants to know he’s guilty for herself.

In this installment in the series, Noon becomes more comfortable and accepting of her waning powers. It’s great to see her continue to evolve as a character. I like how realistic Noon is. Sometimes she won’t do something she knows she should do, because she’s in a bad mood or doesn’t feel like it. But eventually she’ll get over herself and do it. We’ve all had moments like that, right? Those moments tend to lead to more trouble for Noon, but she deals with whatever comes up.

For me, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL read smoother than the first book because there’s not as much information or worldbuilding needed. I think I read about a third of it before I knew it. This book isn’t set at St. Luck’s, because Noon’s client assignment for the semester takes her out into Halja proper. It was a good way to see how others live in Halja, especially “normal” humans who are just trying to eke out a living.

Much of the book is set during a journey down the river Lethe, which did slow down the middle of FIERY EDGE OF STEEL. However, two new characters are introduced in this book: Rafe, Noon’s Angel, and Fara, Ari’s Angel. Maegesters work with Angel partners. It was nice to see an angel other than Peter (I wasn’t a big fan of him in book one), and nice to see how the Angel side of things works. Rafe was like a breath of fresh air amongst the usually stuffy Angels, and I enjoyed his dry witticisms.

Overall, I enjoyed FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, since it shows more of the demon negotiations and trickery Maegesters are expected to deal with.

About the author:

author jill archerJill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1) by Jill Archer

Book Review: Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1) by Jill ArcherDark Light of Day by Jill Archer
Series: Noon Onyx #1
Published by Ace on September 25, 2012
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
Goodreads
4 Stars
Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.

dark light of day book blitz

Today as part of the blitz (hosted by Bewitching Book Tours) for DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL by Jill Archer, I have a review of the first book, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. There’s a tour-wide giveaway after my review, and check back here in the next few days, because I’ll have reviews of FIERY EDGE OF STEEL and WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE.

Book Review:

The first in the Noon Onyx series, DARK LIGHT OF DAY is a paranormal/urban fantasy set at in a demon law school. Yup, you read that right. Noon is studying to be a Maegester, a demon peacekeeper/lawyer/executioner when necessary. Armageddon is over. The demons won, they rule Halja, and they love rules.

Women of the Host are Mederi healers, men are Maegester destroyers. But something went wrong with Noon and her twin brother, Night. She’s kept her waning magic a secret her entire life, but when her mother sends an application to St. Lucifer’s, the best demon law school, Noon can’t keep her secret any longer. Maegesters can feel each other’s magical signatures, and if she doesn’t admit what she is, she’ll die for not telling the truth. Demons don’t like waste.

Noon is an interesting character. She doesn’t want to destroy anything or work with demons, but because she has waning magic, she doesn’t have a choice about her future. Emotionally, she’s all over the place: sometimes strong, sometimes insecure. There were a few times I wanted to shake her, but overall, I found her realistic for a twenty-one year old. It was great to see her grow over the course of the book.

The beginning of DARK LIGHT OF DAY does dump a lot of information, but after I got past that, I didn’t put the book down until I finished it. I thought the setting was super creative — the world hasn’t ended with Armageddon. People pay taxes, work, go to school, and oh yeah, offer tribute to the appropriate demon. I also liked St. Lucifer’s; I tend to like books set at schools, so I liked the descriptions of Noon’s classes and student life.

The only part of the book that I didn’t like were the romantic interests, Peter and Ari. Peter is Noon’s best friend, an Angel who has promised to help her find a way to get rid of her waning magic. Ari is a fellow Maegester and student at St. Lucifer’s. Both like Noon for different reasons, and she likes them, but isn’t sure where her future lies. I thought they were both jerks in their own way, and didn’t see any chemistry between them and Noon.

Other than Peter and Ari, I really enjoyed DARK LIGHT OF DAY. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Noon next, and what other demons she’ll have to deal with.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jill archerJill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel Neumeier

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel NeumeierBlack Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Series: Black Dog #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 6, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Today I have a twofer: a review of BLACK DOG by Rachel Neumeier and an interview with the author. Be sure to check out both posts, because I asked Rachel some questions about the book, including where the idea for BLACK DOG came from!

Book Review:

BLACK DOG is a werewolf book, albeit a very different type of werewolf book from the usual sort. Rachel Neumeier’s black dogs are more like hellhounds, the dog side constantly fighting the human side for control. Black dogs transform at will, whenever they need to fight, prove their dominance, or when emotions get too high. It takes great strength of will to control the black dog shadow. There also are the traditional werewolves that follow the call of the moon, but they aren’t as powerful as black dogs.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Alejandro, a black dog, and his sister, Natividad, a Pure, BLACK DOG is a book that unfolds slowly. Alejandro, Natividad, and her twin, Miguel, are Mexican, and it was great to see some diversity in a YA book. There are some Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the book; most have context translations or are easy to figure out.

The siblings are on the run from a dangerous black dog, Vonhausel, who killed their parents and wants to kill them. Their only hope is the Dimilioc pack, the last remaining civilized group of black dogs. But with only Natividad being worth anything to the pack, Alejandro must prove his control of his black dog, and Miguel, a human, must also show he’s useful. When Vonhausel shows up and tries to wage war, the siblings must help Dimilioc, each in their own way, because the alternative is death. Or something worse than death, in some cases.

Some readers might be bothered by Natividad being fifteen and expected to mate with one of the black dogs. Natividad is Pure, able to wield magic that can calm the ferocity of the black dogs’ shadows. Usually I would have an issue with that sort of alpha behavior, but I thought the Master of the pack handled it very well — he said no one could touch Natividad until she turned sixteen, and she would have her choice. Natividad didn’t have an issue with it, either. So all the possible mates were respectful, and wanted to protect her. There’s not really any romance in BLACK DOG — Natividad’s future relationship is a side topic. I just wanted to mention it.

Like I said above, BLACK DOG is a slow book. It’s over 400 pages, and I do think it could have been shorter and tighter. There were a lot of phrases repeated in dialogue, over and over, such as “I think” or “you know,” and they did pull me out of the narrative. I’m picky about things like that, though.

In the author’s world, black dogs are known to the public, thanks to the disappearance of vampires and their mindclouding magic of anything supernatural. The vampires and their war with the black dogs happened before the book, and so is offstage, but does have some influence on the events of BLACK DOG. I had some questions that I would have liked answered, but they didn’t really affect my understanding of what was going on.

Aside from that, once I got into the book, I did enjoy piecing the story together and learning about the siblings’ pasts, Vonhausel, and Dimilioc. I really liked the pack dynamics, and watching the black dogs control their shadows. It was also interesting to see regular humans interact with the pack. Natividad’s interactions were the best of all, because she wasn’t afraid of any black dog, knowing they wouldn’t hurt her. So it was fun and different to see a fifteen-year-old be taken seriously, her opinion valued, by the much older pack master.

The end of BLACK DOG does neatly tie up the main story line. I’ll admit, when I got to what I thought was the end, I was like, “No! That’s it?!” But it wasn’t! It’s hard to say anything about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil it, but the real ending was good. Very insightful. And there will be a sequel to BLACK DOG, so the other things I wanted to see, such as who Natividad will choose, and what will happen to Dimilioc, will most likely be addressed in that.

About the author:

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Night Owls (Night Owls #1) by Lauren M. Roy

Book Review: Night Owls (Night Owls #1) by Lauren M. RoyNight Owls by Lauren M. Roy
Series: Night Owls #1
Published by Ace on February 25, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Night Owls book store is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk….

Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren as possible. She’s lived that life, and the price she paid was far too high to ever want to return.

Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural werewolf-like beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.

When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safe keeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors….

Book Review:

The idea behind NIGHT OWLS is genius. A vampire running a late-night book store for college students? Sign me up, because those are two things that go together perfectly.

NIGHT OWLS is the first in a new urban fantasy series. And it’s urban fantasy all the way — there are no swoony heroes to fall in love with. Or, in my case, want to slap — which is why I loved that the characters focused on kicking butt, taking names, and doing their thing.

Val, the owner of Night Owls book store, is a vampire who likes the quiet life. Elly is an orphan raised by the member of a secret brotherhood, and she likes nothing more than a good fight and killing Jackals. When their paths collide, Val is drawn back into a life she thought she’d put behind her, and Elly learns that trusting others isn’t such a bad thing.

One of the things I liked most about NIGHT OWLS was the worldbuilding/creature mythology. Roy’s vampires are real vampires: they can’t go out in sunlight, can’t eat or drink human food, and need blood to survive. No sparkling here. Val has a Renfield, Chaz, to do the things she can’t during the day, and to be her servant when the old world vamps show up. The Jackals are sort of like werewolves; they are creepy and disgusting. Add in warlock magic, secret brotherhoods of monster fighters, and two lesbian succubi, and you’ve got quite a combination.

NIGHT OWLS is a solid debut. When one of Val’s employees, innocent human Justin, gets something the Jackals want, Val does everything possible to keep him safe. In the process, there’s lots of action and danger. Characters get hurt. Creepy stuff happens. I wasn’t sure how Val and the others would get out of their predicament, and while I’m not going to spoil the ending, I will say that I am super pleased the author didn’t take any easy or predictable routes.

I did feel a bit disconnected from the book, because for some reason, I was expecting Val to be the only main character. Once I realized that Val and Elly are BOTH main characters, the book gelled for me. Aside from Val and Elly, there are a couple of other characters, but they were all developed enough to feel unique. I particularly enjoyed Sunny and Lia, and I’d sort of like a novella about the two of them.

If, like me, you’re tired of romance overtaking the buttkicking, I’d recommend NIGHT OWLS. I’m eager to see what the author has in store next for these characters.

Socialize with the author:

Lauren M. Roy:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Her Ladyship’s Curse (Disenchanted & Co. #1) by Lynn Viehl

Book Review: Her Ladyship’s Curse (Disenchanted & Co. #1) by Lynn ViehlHer Ladyship's Curse by Lynn Viehl
Series: Disenchanted & Co. #1
Published by Pocket Star on August 12, 2013
Genres: Adult, Alternate Universe, Romance, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 200
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating magic crimes and exposing the frauds behind them. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. she follows mysteries wherever they lead.

Lady Diana Walsh calls on Kit to investigate and dispel the curse she believes responsible for carving hateful words into her own flesh as she sleeps. While Kit doesn’t believe in magic herself, she can’t refuse to help a woman subjected nightly to such vicious assaults. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks on Diana are part of a larger, more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.

Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of nefarious deathmage Lucien Dredmore and the unwelcome scrutiny of police Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. Yet as she learns the truth behind her ladyship’s curse, Kit also uncovers a massive conspiracy that promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a supernatural battleground from which no one will escape alive.

My Review:
I tried logic. “I presume your husband’s first wife died before he married you?” When she nodded, I asked, “How is it that she would even know about you, much less cast a curse on you from the grave?” (p. 6-7)

Charmian Kittredge, aka Kit, doesn’t believe in magic. She’s based her business on that belief, “disenchanting” those who fall for parlor tricks and charismatic mages or tellers. Whenever someone comes to her and says they’re cursed, as Lady Diana Walsh does, Kit knows there’s a logical solution, and she investigates until she finds the truth.

But getting involved in Lady Walsh’s case brings Kit a world of trouble. Before she knows it, she’s almost arrested, attacked by snuffmages, drugged, and oh yeah, pursued by a deathmage.

The world Viehl has created for HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE is an interesting one, and probably one of my favorite parts of the book. It’s an alternate version of San Francisco, but in a world where the Crown still rules. There’s a lot of steampunk devices, from carris (steam-driven carriages) to a tube system that delivers items from building to building, that make life easier. Unfortunately, independence for women isn’t one of Rumsen’s advances, and Kit struggles to run a business and live her life the way she wants in a male-dominated world. And while the worldbuilding was one of the things I liked best about the book, there were a few times when I was confused about how the world had come to be. I think the short length of the book (more on that later) prevented me from learning as much as I would have liked.

I had a love-hate relationship with Kit. She’s pretty bold and brassy, and has to be in order to live as a single woman in Rumsen. There’s even a point where she dresses up like a native in order to get into an area only males can access. But whenever she encounters Lucien Dredmore, deathmage of Toriana, her personality totally changes. Kit HATES Lucien, and rightfully so — he’s not a nice guy. There was a time when he even gagged her and put his hands on her, without her consent, but when they kiss — still without her wanting to — she melts. I know some readers like that kind of thing, the Alpha male getting what he wants. But I’m not one of them, so I had a hard time with the attraction between them.

What I did like about HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE, other than the alternate America, was the mystery of Lady Walsh’s curse, Kit’s past, and Kit’s friends. While reading, I had no clue how the first two would conclude, and at the end of the book, I still don’t know. But it was a nicely twisty ride, with some clues that magic may be real after all. As for Kit’s friends — one’s a brothel owner and the other is the premiere dressmaker in the city. Just like Kit, they have colorful personalities, and I look forward to reading more about them.

I’m not sure why the publisher did this, but I believe HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE is the first half of a book. It’s about two hundred pages, so there’s not a ton of room for worldbuilding or relationship development. We get a whopping of a cliffhanger and then see “Read part 2 to find out what happens next!” If, like me, you’re not a fan of being left hanging, wait until October so you can read both parts of the book.

Socialize with the author:
Lynn Viehl:
Website

– leeanna