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
Facebook
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

Book Review: Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans #3) by Suzanne Johnson

Book Review: Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans #3) by Suzanne JohnsonElysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #3
Published by Tor on August 13, 2013
Genres: Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combatting an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.

Today I’m on the blog tour for ELYSIAN FIELDS by Suzanne Johnson. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours, and you can check out the rest of the stops here. The Sentinels of New Orleans is one I’ve enjoyed, so I was excited to be part of the promotion for it. Read on for my review and a tour-wide giveaway.

My Review:
The third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, ELYSIAN FIELDS picks up the story of DJ weeks after the events in book two, RIVER ROAD. Although I’d advise reading the series in order for the best experience, I think there’s enough backstory explained that you wouldn’t be entirely lost if you started with this book.

I’ve read all of the books in the series, and so far, ELYSIAN FIELDS is my favorite. That might be because elves and vampires are some of my favorite supernatural creature types, and both are featured in this book. Don’t worry — the vampires aren’t sparkly, and the elves are much bigger players. The elves aren’t your typical fantasy elves, either. They’re quite devious, underhanded, and heavily into politics.

ELYSIAN FIELDS starts off with DJ and Alex investigating a serial killer who murders his victims with an axe. The case is notorious because there was a series of unsolved murders in the past, and though normal humans think it’s a copycat, DJ figures out the truth: it’s the real Axeman, back for a fresh round of mayhem. The reason he’s able to come back is one of the coolest things in this series. Famous historical figures, like the Axeman or Jean Lafitte, pirate extraordinaire, are immortal because they’re remembered and still talked about. They spend most of their time in the Beyond, a sort of shadowy New Orleans, but can gather up enough strength to return to the real world and meddle. Or kill, as the case may be.

Creative idea, right?

The Axeman case is really just a small part of the book. Before I knew it, DJ was in over her head. The book set a rapid pace from the start, and I really liked that. In the previous books, I thought there were a few too many slow chapters, and I think the author has done a good job of balancing action, worldbuilding, character development, and relationships. There’s so much going on — in a good way! — that I can’t summarize without spoiling everything. What I will say is that ELYSIAN FIELDS is a book I didn’t want to put down. There were several times I tried to read ahead, because I had to know what would happen, and let me tell you, that’s not easy on an e-reader!

Let’s talk about it:
Romance in urban fantasy. Yay or nay?

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:
suzanne johnsonOn Aug. 28, 2005, Suzanne Johnson loaded two dogs, a cat, a friend, and her mom into a car and fled New Orleans in the hours before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Four years later, she began weaving her experiences and love for her city into the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, beginning with Royal Street (2012), continuing with River Road (2012), and now with Elysian Fields (August 2013).

She grew up in rural Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace, and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years—which means she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

She can be found online at her website or her daily blog, Preternatura. As Susannah Sandlin, she writes the best-selling Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series and the recent standalone, Storm Force.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney

blood orangesInfo:
Title: Blood Oranges
Author: Kathleen Tierney
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Roc Trade
Source: Library
Series? Siobhan Quinn #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror
Page Count: 253
Rating: [2/5 stars]

Summary:

My name’s Quinn.

If you buy into my reputation, I’m the most notorious demon hunter in New England. But rumors of my badassery have been slightly exaggerated. Instead of having kung-fu skills and a closet full of medieval weapons, I’m an ex-junkie with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or…whatever.

Wanted for crimes against inhumanity I (mostly) didn’t commit, I was nearly a midnight snack for a werewolf until I was “saved” by a vampire calling itself the Bride of Quiet. Already cursed by a werewolf bite, the vamp took a pint out of me too.

So now…now, well, you wouldn’t think it could get worse, but you’d be dead wrong. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I think BLOOD ORANGES is one of those books you either love or dislike. I’m in the “meh” camp. There were a couple of things I liked about the book, but overall, it left me with a “what did I just read” feeling.

So, what did I like? Quinn is the epitome of unreliable narrator. You never know for sure if what she’s telling you is the truth. There are more than a few instances where Quinn tells you a long story full of violence and gore … and then says she lied. The first time I thought it was pretty cool. But when it kept happening, the technique soured for me (so I guess it’s more something I liked and disliked).

The author didn’t make her paranormal beings the gorgeous, glamorous types they usually are. (Dare I say most urban fantasy/paranormal beings have something sparkly about them?) Tierney’s vampires are ugly — downright hideous — and cruel. Her werewolves have a tendency to puke up their wolf meals, so when they turn back to human form, they’re surrounded by a pile of bone and clothing studded vomit. Yum. So that was nice, because that was different.

Third good thing: there’s no romance. YAY for Quinn not falling for some sex-on-a-stick vampire or werewolf bad boy.

But now we get to the bad stuff. There’s not much of a plot. Quinn gets turned into a half-vampire, half-werewolf hybrid by one of the meanest vampires around. Intended as a weapon, she gets entangled in everyone else’s fights, trying to find her way to the truth. The book whimpers to a close, even though there’s a big explosion, as well as lots of backstabbing and trust issues. Like I said at the start of this review, when I finished BLOOD ORANGES, I was highly disappointed, and left wondering, “what the heck *was* this book?”

I also got tired of Quinn. After a point, I just wanted to skim past every story from her past. If you can believe her (and I’m not sure I can), she ran away from home at twelve or thirteen, was a child prostitute, got on drugs, watched a ghoul kill her lover/friend, and oh, somehow became a monster hunter. It got ridiculous.

I think the author was trying to take all the urban fantasy tropes and turn them on their heads. But it just didn’t work for me. I like dark books, but BLOOD ORANGES left me rolling my eyes rather than feeling horrified.

I have one last gripe. Kathleen Tierney is the penname for Caitlin R. Kiernan. Yet in the author’s bio, it says this is her first novel. I get using different names for different genres, but don’t say it’s a first book when it’s not.

Let’s talk about it:
What do you think about writers using pseudonyms? Do you prefer if they openly admit, “hey this writer is also me,” or get annoyed if they try to keep it a secret?

Socialize with the author:
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– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

Today I am the stop on the blog tour for The Sentinels of New Orleans by Suzanne Johnson. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit the other stops here. My stop is up a little late because I haven’t had electric since yesterday … I could definitely go for some of the MREs DJ and Alex seem to live on in ROYAL STREET!

royal streetInfo:
Title: Royal Street
Author: Suzanne Johnson
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Blog tour
Series? The Sentinels of New Orleans #1: Royal Street
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 336
Rating: [3/5 stars]

Summary:

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
The first in a new urban fantasy series, ROYAL STREET features a unique magic system, a delectable bad guy, and a memorable setting.

The book is set mostly post Hurricane Katrina, in a devastated New Orleans. The author eloquently describes the effects of the hurricane upon the city and its citizens, and I felt for them. The setting has one other purpose — the destruction of the city weakens the boundaries between Old and New Orleans, allowing supernatural creatures to more easily walk among the living.

Enter Drusilla Jaco, junior sentinel for New Orleans. She’s a Green Congress wizard, one of those responsible for sending the dead back where they belong. Famous figures like Jean Lafitte and Marie Laveau make appearances, Jean being the sexiest undead pirate I’ve ever read about. In the world the author created, such figures can be summoned from the Beyond, but of course they come back to wreck havoc.

The worldbuilding and magic system were my favorite parts of ROYAL STREET. Different “congresses” of wizards have different abilities. I’ll let DJ explain her speciality:

“Green Congress wizards were the geeks of the magical world, hell on rituals and potions but always last to get picked for wizard dodgeball, so to speak. I’d have to immobilize the vampire, saw off his fangs, and dissolve them in an herbal potion while muttering some obscure incantation. We had no flair (Chapter 2).”

In the author’s world, there are also vampires, fey, elves, shifters, weres, and zombies, but they didn’t make appearances. I hope more about the different factions and races shows up in future books in the series, since I want to see how they all fit in Old Orleans, New Orleans, and the Beyond. New Orleans was the perfect city to set ROYAL STREET, because it’s so rich in history and ghost stories; I felt like the city was a character in itself.

As a main character, DJ did get on my nerves a fair amount. It’s a peeve of mine when characters continually charge into danger, even when A) they know better, and B) everyone around them tells them not to. However, I could respect DJ’s desire to find out the truth about her mentor, and her need to rescue him after he disappeared. I just wish she had been a bit smarter about it.

The pacing of ROYAL STREET was slow at times, with the characters spending lots of time waiting and researching. I think it could have been a bit shorter, which would have tightened the various plotlines, which ranged from a voodoo-inspired serial killer running around New Orleans killing rescue workers to the hunt for Gerry, DJ’s mentor.

Even with the few things I’ve mentioned, ROYAL STREET was a good read. The author hooked me enough for me to want to continue the series. I think DJ will grow in the next book, because, as with all urban fantasy heroines, she discovers tons of secrets about her past throughout the course of ROYAL STREET. I’m also looking forward to seeing Alex again. Introduced at the start as DJ’s new partner and Co-Sentinel, Alex is a walking armory, big on guns and grenades instead of spells. He’s the epitome of the strong yet sensitive love interest, and though I didn’t feel the sparks between them, I could see their relationship change from the beginning to the end of the book.

About the author:
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
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– leeanna