The Splendid City by Karen Hueller -Book review

Here is my review of this urban fantasy which has a huge dose of satire and a talking cat. Thank you #NetGalley and angry robot for my copy of The Splendid  City by Karen Hueller.

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: NetGalley and Angry Robot

In the state of Liberty, water is rationed at alarming prices, free speech is hardly without a cost, and Texas has just declared itself its own country. In this society, paranoia is well-suited because eyes and ears are all around, and they are judging. Always judging. This terrifying (and yet somehow vaguely familiar) terrain is explored via Eleanor – a young woman eagerly learning about the gifts of her magic through the support of her coven.
But being a white witch is not as easy as they portray it in the books, and she’s already been placed under ‘house arrest’ with a letch named Stan, a co-worker who wronged her in the past and now exists in the form of a cat. A talking cat who loves craft beers, picket lines, and duping and ‘shooting’ people.
Eleanor has no time for Stan and his shenanigans, because she finds herself helping another coven locate a missing witch which she thinks is mysteriously linked to the shortage of water in Liberty.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

This book was not what I expected but in a fun and interesting way.

I thought this would be straightforward urban fantasy featuring an underlying mystery that would be solved by the end of the book by the protagonist. But this book was so much more. My own perhaps inaccurate description would be a blend of urban fantasy, satire with feminist slant but with a dose of surreal humour.

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The Hourglass Throne by K D Edwards – Book review

I’m still wrecked by that ending in The Hourglass Throne by K D Edwards- the third book in the Urban Fantasy series The Tarot Sequence. Here is my review

A powerful barrier appears around New Atlantis’s famed rejuvenation centre. But who could have created such formidable magic . . . what do they want from the immortality clinic . . . and what remains of the dozens trapped inside?
Though Rune and Brand are tasked with investigating the mysterious barrier, Rune is also busy settling into his new life at court. Claiming his father’s throne has thrown him into the precarious world of political deception, and he must secure relationships with allies in time to keep his  found family safe. His relationship with his lover, Addam, raises additional political complications they must navigate. But he and Brand  discover that the power behind the barrier holds more insidious, far-reaching threat to his family, to his people, and to the world.
Rune finds himself inexorably drawn back to the fall of his father’s court and his own torture at the hands of masked conspirators, the secrets that he has long guarded will be dragged into the light—changing the Sun Throne, and New Atlantis, forever.

Review

This review contains spoilers for the Last Sun and The Hanged Man, There are also spoilers for The Hourglass Throne but these will appear below the heading ‘spoilers’.

The Hourglass Throne is the perfect end to the first trilogy in the nine-book urban fantasy series, The Tarot Sequence series review here, by K D Edwards and there are enough threads to continue Rune’s story.

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Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch- Book review

Here is my review of Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronvitch ,the next instalment in the Rivers of London- interesting urban fantasy with humour,action, and magic.

Genre : Urban Fantasy

Series: Rivers Of London

Source; My own

The London Silver Vaults – for well over a century, the largest collection of silver for sale in the world. It has more locks than the Bank of England and more cameras than a celebrity punch-up.
Not somewhere you can murder someone and vanish without a trace – only that’s what happened.
The disappearing act, the reports of a blinding flash of light and memory loss amongst the witnesses all make this a case for Detective Constable Peter Grant and the Special Assessment Unit.
Alongside their boss DCI Thomas Nightingale, the SAU find themselves embroiled in a mystery that encompasses London’s tangled history, foreign lands and, most terrifying of all, the North!
And Peter must solve this case soon because back home his partner Beverley is expecting twins any day now. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s about to encounter something – and somebody – that nobody ever expects.

From Amazon

Review

Peter Grant and the Special Assessment Unit are back and Peter has a new trainee to train, a wife expecting twins while dealing with an avenging angel of sorts.

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Judgement Day by Josie Jeffrey –  BBNYA 2021 blog tour and Book review

I’m so pleased to be part of the BBBNYA 2021 blogtour for Judgement Day by Josie Jaffrey- an urban fantasy set in Oxford.

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Book 2 The Seekers,

               Book 1 May Day ( review here)

Source: I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2021 tours ( see below for more details ) organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.

Jack Valentine finally has her shit together. She has a great job, great friends (well, one at least) and a girlfriend whom she loves, even if she can’t work up the courage to tell her that yet. Unfortunately, she also has an archnemesis who’s about to punish her crimes in the worst possible way: by making her spend time with him.
Which she could cope with, maybe, if she didn’t have problems at work as well. When the body of a human judge is found in a locked library, there’s no denying that she was murdered by one of the Silver – by a vampire – and the evidence points worryingly close to home. If that wasn’t bad enough, some of Jack’s least favourite people are opening a new blood bar in Oxford with questionable motives. For Jack and her team, it’s becoming increasingly hard to separate allies from enemies.
With conspiracies on every side, the simmering tensions in Silver society are about to come to a head. As usual, Jack intends to be right in the middle of it. She does like it when things get messy.

Review

May Day (review here), the first book in this series helped me rediscover my love of vampires, so I was so excited to be part of the tour for Judgement Day, the second book in Josie Jaffrey’s The Seekers series.

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May Day by Josie Jaffrey – Book Review

I’ve rediscovered my love of vampires with May Day by Josie Jeffrey, the Book Bloggers Book of the Year 2021.

Genre: Urban fantasy, Vampires

Source: I won this book in a giveaway by Beccy’s Books at crooksbooks.blog

Series: Book 1 Seekers

It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.

REVIEW

 I used to devour anything vampire-related when I was younger- from Buffy to Anne Rice to Stackie Stookhouse to the Vampire Diaries (TV series) to Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter ( review here). But somewhere along the way, I fell out of love with the whole genre.

If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.

But there was something about the blurb for May Day and that tagline that left me intrigued and willing to try again. I’m so glad I did, May Day is a fresh, new take on Vampires with a modern and relatable heroine at its heart.

The Vampires in May Day are known as Silver ( due to the sliver in their eyes) have the usual vampire traits but can walk in daylight, have jobs and a realistic hierarchy and organisation. But most of all they are not angsty, broody or mysterious. Jack is a Seeker, vampires who are tasked with making sure humans don’t find out about them by tracking errant vampires.

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Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin- Book Review

Read my review of Proper Scoundrels – a perfect blend of mystery and paranormal romance, part of the Magic in Manhattan series by Allie Therin.

Publication date 28 Dec 2021

Publishers: Harlequin Carina

Source ‘NetGalley

Sebastian de Leon is trying to atone for his actions while under the influence of blood magic. So it’s no wonder when  he jumps in to help protect the grumpy and cynical Lord Fine who  becomes the target of a magical serial killer. Unfortunately, Lord Fine remembers Sebastian from his time in Manhattan and is reluctant to trust him. Can they work together to find the magical killer and help each other learn to trust again?

Book review

I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Carina for an honest and unbiased opinion.

This book is a standalone book in The Magic In Manhattan series but can be read alone with reading the others(it made no difference to me following the story). The book is told from the points of view of the two main characters – Sebastian who is dealing with PTSD from his time being controlled by blood magic and Wesley, Lord Fine who is dealing with the aftermath of World War I.

Both Wesley and Sebastian are well written and the chemistry between them is real, unforced, and beautifully written. Wesley was perfectly placed to understand Sebastian’s difficulty in the aftermath of his ordeal and this helped convey the distress caused by PTSD. I liked the fact that Sebastian wasn’t cured instantly by just falling in love.

 I must confess, the grumpy Lord Fine was my favourite but Jade and Zhang, Sebastian’s magical friends were equally fascinating and left an impression despite not having a lot of page time.

The underlying mystery of a magical serial killer is intriguing, and the villain is creepy with an interesting backstory of his own.

The world-building and magical systems are well described with some unique types of magic. The book has lots of humour mostly provided by Wesley’s grumpy interactions with almost everyone he comes across.

My only criticism is the use of the word Fall instead of Autumn by the very English  Lord Fine which felt very out of place (unless I received the US version).

Content Warning

Descriptions of past self-harm

Perfect for Fans of 

Paranormal romance

This is the first Allie Therin book  I have read but I will be reading more.

Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A Jackson- Book review

I loved this fresh urban fantasy with an unique hero, a biblical theme and a fierce, tough and loyal nightmare. Read my review here..

Publication Date :23 November 2021.

I received a copy from Angry Robot in exchange for my honest, unedited feedback.

FBI Agent, Michael Childs is trying to catch a serial killer targeting people born with 12 fingers and toes. During his investigations, he meets Anaba, a marine killed in action but soon finds himself under attack by a group of angels intent on killing him too. He soon finds himself in a world he has only read about with angels, horsemen, and the Grigori. The Grigori want to kill all Nephilim which unfortunately includes Michael who has discovered his true nature. But luckily, he has Anaba by his side, who is not just a marine but a powerful Nightmare.

This amazing cover caught my eye when I was browsing through titles on NetGalley and I just had to read the book.

The book features a diverse cast of characters – the main characters were black, and a lot of the secondary characters were people of colour. I liked the fact that this was seen as ordinary with no long backstory as to why people of colour were in positions of power and authority which I have seen in so many books.

Michael isn’t your typical hero- he is an FBI agent with an academic background, who enjoys jousting and we first encounter him at a crime scene dressed as a medieval knight (or at least that is how imagined it). This would definitely be on my list of most dramatic entrances in a book. Michael not only finds himself fighting in a world he has only read about but also discovers he is a Nephilim too- half-angel and half-human. His reaction to his new reality is realistic and well described- I don’t think anyone would deal with this rationally. So it makes sense when he learns about his true nature, he does something silly!

While I found Michael interesting, Anaba is the character I was most drawn to one of the most complex female characters I have read in a while. Her story is truly tragic and as I read more about how she was ‘forged’ from her human soul, her all rage makes all the more sense. But despite this, she is still loyal to her cause and to Micheal even though he doesn’t always treat her with the respect she deserves at the start of the book. I would happily read any book with her as the lead.

The plot is fast-paced with lots of action and moments of peril. There are plenty of characters in this book and fascinating in their own right.

 If this is part of a series, I hope we see more of Lucifer, Loki, Wyrmwood, Raijin, and of course EJ.

The world-building is intricate and well-described bringing to life the underworld and Hell.

I did feel uncomfortable when Anaba is in horse form and sometimes made to do what her rider tells her to do given her fierce and independent nature.

Content warning

Descriptions of violence and torture

Perfect for fans of

The television shows Supernatural and Lucifer.

Summary

4 stars and half stars- I would recommend this to anyone who would like a different take on fantasy.

Innate Magic by Shannon Fay- Book review

Read my review of Innate Magic by Shannon Fay urban fantasy set in an alternate post-war London where magic is a commonplace activity.

Series: The Marrowbone Spells #1

Delightfully cheeky, unquestionably charming, and sometimes maddeningly naïve, cloth mage Paul Gallagher is desperately trying to make a name for himself in a reimagined post-war London. But in a world where magic is commonplace, sewing enchanted clothes is seen as little more than a frivolous distraction. Paul is hiding a secret, however: he possesses a powerful–and illegal–innate magic that could help him achieve his wildest dreams.

Unfortunately, Paul confides in the wrong person–his latest crush, Captain Hector Hollister–and is drawn into a sinister plot that risks reigniting the machinery of war. To make matters worse, the pretty American gossip reporter Paul just met reveals her personal quest to expose a government cover-up may be related to Hollister’s magical goals. When Hollister threatens the life of Paul’s dearest friend, he realizes that his poor judgement has put not only his family and friends in danger, but also the whole world.

The only way to set things right may be for Paul to undergo the dangerous ritual to become Court Magician–the most powerful magician in the country. But is becoming part of the institution the best way to enact change in a terribly unjust society? 

Goodreads blurb

Book review

Innate magic was my choice of Amazon first picks in November and I was hooked in by the blurb. It was an easy read and I finished this within one sitting.

 The book is written in the first person from Paul’s point of view and his voice is light, charming and funny but despite him ending in some perilous situations, I didn’t really care too much for him. I found the other characters more interesting and was more invested in their stories. Verity, the American journalist in a mission to find an evil Doctor and punish him for his wrongdoings was more nuanced and complicated as was Thomas Dawes, Paul’s adopted brother. Paul’s illegal innate magic was a bit of a let-down, I was expecting something dangerous and evil but not what it turned out to be. The magical system with cloth mages being able to create magic through clothes and bookbinders who create magic through books was well thought out and an interesting way to make magic more practical in its description.

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The Colours of Death by Patricia Marques- Book review

Read my review of The Colours of Death by Patricia Marques a paranormal murder mystery set in an alternative Lisbon featuring a Detective with a special Gift.

Isabel Reis is Gifted and a Detective. In an alternative Lisbon, a minority (I use this term deliberately) of people are ‘Gifted’ either telepathic or telekinetic. In the past, Gifted people were tolerated and marginally accepted but after an incident when a rogue Gifted telepath lost control, they are feared and subject to increasing discrimination. In midst of all this tension, the head of the Institute is responsible for finding out who is gifted is murdered. Isabel has to find the Gifted person responsible for this very public murder even if this puts her in harm’s way.

This book worked well on a number of levels. The mystery around the very public death of Gil dos Santos, head of the controversial testing centre for the Gifted was interesting in itself. But add in an extra paranormal element and this becomes a complex and layered story of prejudice against anyone perceived as different.

Isabel is telepathic, she can read people’s emotions and thoughts and rifle through people’s memory which should make her great at her job, you would think. But as a Gifted Detective, she is limited to what she can do especially when the non- Gifted view her with suspicion and as unnatural. It doesn’t help her Gift is levelling up and has to hide this in case she is carted off to a government camp and never heard of again. She has to deal with all of this along with her complicated relationship with her family and her ex. Isabel is a realistic character and the author does great job describing her fears, angry and frustrations when she is treated as an outsider, I really felt for her when is cruelly rejected by the people she loves.

The book describes the discrimination of minorities really well and how the fear of anyone different can be used by powerful people for their own gain. The descriptions of Lisbon were vivid especially all the different food Isabel has to eat ( because of her gift). I now want to find an authentic Portuguese restaurant to try the cuisine,

My only criticism and it is a small one- the language in places felt a little clunky.

Content warning

Descriptions of child neglect

Perfect for Fans of

Gritty paranormal crime

Summary4 and a half stars- I enjoyed this murder mystery with a paranormal twist and hope we see more of this Gifted Detective.