The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher- series review

I think I’ve known Harry Dresden, from the urban fantasy series the Dresden files by Jim Butcher, longer than some of my friends. This has to be my favourite urban fantasy series. Read my review here.

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Afterlife by Terri Bruce- book review

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of the Afterlife series

Sex and the City meets Dead like me. When Irene Dunphy dies, her ghost tries to decide what to do next while she stuck among the living while trying to have a social life at the same time.

Book obtained from Author via Voracious readers only for an honest review.

From Goodreads

Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn’t plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex…well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.

 Unfortunately, what waits in the Great Beyond isn’t much better. Stuck between the boring life of a ghost in this world and the terrifying prospect of three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment in the next, Irene sets out to find a third option—preferably one that involves not being dead anymore. Can she wipe the slate clean and get a second chance before it’s too late?

The good

Afterlife was an enjoyable book that only took me a little more than an hour to get through which is perfect if you fancy reading a book that doesn’t tax your brain much. Despite the heroine dying in the first chapter, the book is funny, not particularly introspective, surprisingly cheerful and I found myself laughing out loud at some of Irene’s descriptions of the reality of being dead- like the thought of spending your afterlife in a pair of strappy. sandals with high heels. Jonah, the fourteen-year-old, is Irene’s Guide to the afterlife. I learnt loads about various death rituals from other cultures and the past through him.

  Despite this being marketed as Bridget Jones in the afterlife, there are quieter, introspective periods with the other ghosts inhabiting this world. Amy’s story about trying to lead a full afterlife, doing the things she could not do when she was alive, was haunting (no pun intended). So was Ernest fears about how his death would affect his afterlife. There is a sweet romance between Irene and Ernest, but this is not a romantic story.

The bad

I hated Irene. This is a testament to the writing in the book as I stop reading a book when I actively dislike the main character who is the focal point of view character. I admire the author for writing Irene this way when she could have taken an easier route to making her more sympathetic as a character. I’m not sure I would ever have the courage to do this in my writing.

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Series Review-Anita Blake Vampire Hunter

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series ( with  Spoilers)

Author Laurel Hamilton

Genre : Urban Fantasy

The first book in the series: Guilty Pleasures

I love books in series-. I can’t describe the joy of jumping into a new book but knowing about the main characters  – their strengths and weaknesses, their unique personality quirks, their loves and enemies. I enjoy picking up in a world that is familiar with secondary characters you have grown to love just as much as the hero or heroine over the course of several books. But most of all, I like the fact that I know exactly what I am letting myself in for when I start reading the first chapters- no nasty surprises.

So when I read Book 10, Narcissus in Chains, of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, I thought I had picked up a book from a parallel universe and remains one of the biggest disappointments in my book reading life.

While I understand that a character can’t stand still over a period of a time particularly in a long standing series but a complete change  personality and morality is a little hard to accept.

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Series review: The Tarot Sequence by K.D Edwards

Author: K.D Edwards

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Books in series

The Last Sun

The hanged man

The Hourglass Throne ( review here)

Story arc

The inhabitants of Atalanta have been forced out of their homeland to create a new city called New Atlantis when the humans discovered their existence and, of course, declared war. The city is ruled by the Arcana, based on the tarot cards ( or were the Tarot cards based one on leaders of Atlantis!)  with their own courts and powers. Rune St John is the Last Sun, the sole survivor of the House of Sun after a devasting attack on his father, his father’s court when Rune was fifteen. Rune was left alive but only after surviving a deliberately brutal ordeal. Now Rune, works with the Tower a powerful Aracana  along with his companion Brand, with diminished resources before he takes his place on the Arcana while trying to solve the mystery of why and who attached him and his family twenty years ago

I had lost interest in urban fantasy, as many of the books followed the same old pattern, the snarky main character, sexual tension with the antagonist, well you know the drill but while this series still has the snarky main character, there is so much more that is different. The magic system based on Tarot cards and magic linked to objects is fresh but there are other magical creatures as well, some old and some new. I like books with political intrigue and the second book delivers this with plenty of court drama amongst the action. There is an overlying mystery as to who the person coordinating all the evil including the night of the brutal attack on Rune and the mystery of what  Rune did that night.

The friendship between Brand and Rune is well written and intense with a good explanation as to why it is. There is also a sweet romance between Rune and Addam, a Lord from another Arcana that Rune rescues from peril but this is not the focus of the book which is good as I do lose interest when romance and sexual tension takes centre stage in a non-romance book. The humour is provided by the younger characters- Quinn, Max and later Anna in book two.

The plots in the books race along with the action scenes leaping off the page with a good dose of magic but there are enough quieter scenes that made me care about all the characters

The books are predominantly filled with strong and sensitive diverse male characters of all ages but there are no equivalent female characters particularly in the first book. But this is in the second book and third book with more strong and vibrant female characters

Content warning

I found Rune’s flashback to his brutal rape when he was fifteen a bit too graphic and while I can under the need for this scene in the first book to show his motives for revenge, it still made it difficult to  read. This is referenced to in the second and third book but not so graphically. Drug addiction.

Cliffhangers

No, but there is an overriding mystery as to the evil arcana who is pulling the strings causing havoc in Rune’s life.

Perfect for Fans

The Dresden files, Fetch Phillips, Rivers of London or any urban fantasy with a male main character

Book review- The City We Became by N K Jesmin

The City of New York takes centre stage in this urban fantasy.Here is my review of The City We Became by NK Jesmin.

Series The Great Cities Trilogy

Genre :Urban Fantasy

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Review

The idea of a city coming to life  is urban fantasy in it’s most literal sense and is  really well described and vivid with language that grabbed me from the start. The book is told from the viewpoints of the ‘boroughs’ of New York, most of these characters are diverse in their race, sexuality and in age. Bronca is an older woman, a grandmother and a general badass. Brooklyn is the mother of a teenager and former rapper but motherhood is not the only feature that defines her.Brooklyn and Bronca are the reasons, I kept reading this book-it is rare to read about women of a certain age in fantasy,

This was an interesting and novel concept, with engaging characters in an unusual urban fantasy, but full of real-life problems that made this really hard for me to get through- I read fantasy for escapism from real-world problems. I finished the book but it was really hard work to get to the end and has put me off visiting New York as a result.

I couldn’t get into the book. It was a hard slog to get to the end and I suspect if I hadn’t treated myself to a hardback copy, I may have given up. I found it hard to warm up to many of the main characters especially Staten Island. I bought the book after reading a chapter in another book as I liked the energy of that character ( the avatar of New York)  but he only appeared in the first and final chapter.

Content warning

Use of racist and anti-Semitic language (considerable), misogyny.

Perfect for Fans

American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The city and the City by China Mieville

This was an amazing concept, a range of diverse characters and a great climax but far too grounded in reality for me but others will no doubt love this book for those reasons.