The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody by @MarciaMeara #UrbanFantasy

Author: Marcia Meara

Kindle Edition

Category: Urban Fantasy, Novella, Book Review

They’re back!

Jake and Dodger, the first (and so far, only) Emissaries to the Angels, are on the road again.

They’re looking for mortals about to take a wrong turn. You know the ones—the kid thinking about stealing from a corner market or the man planning to lie about a coworker and destroy her career. Yeah, them. People on the brink of making a mistake that could send them down that wrong road and jeopardize their mortal souls.

Jake and his protégé, Dodger are learning more about being Emissaries—and about each other.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Darkness Brutal by @RachelAnneMarks #AudioBookReview #YA Urban Fantasy

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week it’s yet another audiobook–Darkness Brutal by Rachel A Marks, a young adult, paranormal urban fantasy, narrated by Will Damron. It was released in July 2015 by Brilliance Audio.

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#Extract from The Deal & #Guest Post from #Author #SCCunningham8 ~ Book One of The Fallen Angels Series @rararesources

I’m delighted to welcome Siobhan Cunningham with her guest post

What do you write and why?  

My job is to entertain. I’ve had a crazy accidental life which offers lots of fodder to work from; fashion modelling, marrying a rock musician, working with musicians, film producers, footballers, golfers, tennis players, jockeys, oil moguls, royalty, charity workers, prison wardens, forensic teams, intel analysts, crown prosecutors, prisoners, victims and as a Police Crime Investigator. I’ve been married and divorced twice (got drunk and married in Vegas), brought up a wonderful (Contemporary Artist) daughter and am owned by three dogs. 

The end product of my journey thus far is that I write steamy Psychological Thrillers and gritty Paranormal Romance… and prefer dogs to humans, mostly (smile).

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Beltane by Alys West. An #UrbanFantasy Romance set in Glastonbury @AlysWestYork

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’m revisiting Beltane by Alys West. Published in 2015, it’s urban fantasy with a dash of romance.

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The Emissary (A Riverbend Spinoff Novella) by @MarciaMeara #Fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Marcia Meara

Kindle Edition

Category: Fantasy, Book Review, Books

Was Gabe Angelino, the mysterious truck driver in Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2, really an angel, as Willow Green believes? Or was he simply a good man, determined to help a stranger in need? Find out, as author Marcia Meara reveals the truth in the first Riverbend spinoff novella, The Emissary.

An angel’s work is never done—that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.

We were introduced briefly to Gabe Angelino, otherwise known as Jake, when he appeared in Hunter Painter’s life at just the right moment. Willow Green wasn’t far off the mark, thinking he was an angel. But Azrael, Jake’s boss, isn’t too pleased with his, Jake’s, interactions with Hunter and Willow.

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The Caretaker ~ a #ShortStory by Dan Klefstad #Vampire @danklefstad

A very intriguing short story which I believe the author has plans to develop into a novel. It was published in Crack The Spine Literary Magazine on February 1st 2017. I enjoyed reading The Caretaker very much, it’s a unique perspective on a vampire tale. To hear Dan read the quote below, check out the video clip.

Dear Applicant, Congratulations. Out of hundreds of applications, yours stood out…..But, I must warn you: The more you read, the more my employer will consider you a threat if you decline our offer. If you have no intentions of taking the job, delete this message now before reading further.” 

Then…the final warning.  Do you want to devote your best years to an exacting employer who will pay more than handsomely for loyalty and secrecy, spending your retirement in wealth and luxury or settle for a mundane job, family and regular yearly holidays? Continue reading

The Purloined Poodle ~ Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries by Kevin Hearne ~ An IDC #Novella #Audiobook

Thanks to his relationship with the ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, Oberon the Irish wolfhound knows trouble when he smells it—and furthermore, he knows he can handle it.

A great little spin off novella from the Iron Druid Chronicles, the Purloined Poodle is told exclusively from Oberon’s point of view. On a visit to the dog park, Oberon has a run in with a boxer spoiling for a fight. After Atticus has a chat with the boxer’s humans,  Oberon and Atticus, discover grand champions, including a prizewinning Poodle, have been stolen, which explains the boxer’s temperamental behaviour. Strangely, none of the owners have received a ransom demand. Because he is a druid’s hound, Oberon has powers denied to normal dogs he is able to speak with Atticus through a mental link. Continue reading

The Pickpocket (The Viper and the Urchin #0.5) by Celine Jeanjean #UrbanFantasy #TuesdayBookBlog @CelineJeanjean

  • 32058062Author: Celine Jeanjean
  • Published: September 2016 by Enoki Press
  • Category: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
  • five-stars

Rory is a seven-year-old starveling, carving out a survival for herself down on the docks of Damsport. When Daria, an older girl and talented pickpocket, suggests they team up to con Damsians out of their purses, Rory accepts at once. 

Rory just about survives on Tinsbury Dock by scavenging whatever scraps she can find. It’s a constant struggle to ease the hunger pangs, and being so tiny left Rory last in line when there was a fight for whatever bits of food were available. Rory knows when not to get involved and accepts the way things are. She sleeps in a dilapidated house peopled by beggars and drunks, but still manages to find beauty in the sky at sunset and enjoys sitting on the roof. Continue reading

Q&A with #author Nicky Peacock & #Excerpt from Lost in Wonderland @NickyP_author

I’m very pleased to welcome Nicky to the blog today. Nicky’s new release is Lost in Wonderland….

51XV8OPCCRLOnce upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother…

Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.

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The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim #8) by Richard Kadrey #audiobook #urbanfantasy @MacLeodAndrews

Sandman Slim returns in a stunning, high-octane thriller filled with the intense kick-ass action and inventive fantasy that are the hallmarks of New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey.

After saving the world once more Stark is suffering from PTSD like symptoms, which isn’t helping his general demeanour. He is working for Thomas Abbot, the Augur of the Sub Rosa. His next job for Abbot involves uncovering council members who might be tied in with Wormwood Investments. Wormwood are into money and power, any way they can get it, no holds barred. Abbot also wants help in locating a friend’s missing son, a job that Stark passes on to Candy, who works for Julie’s detective agency where Stark used to work, before he got fired. Stark has not got a good track record when it comes to working for a living. Possibly a hangover from being Azazel’s slave Downtown, when the Hellion held the ultimate power over him. Continue reading

Round Trip Fare (Null City #4) by @barbtaub #UrbanFantasy #FridayReads

  • Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-500x800Author: Barb Taub
  • Released: April 2016 by Hartwood Publishing
  • Category: Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders—and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably. 

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose. 

The story begins in 2002 when sixteen year old twins Carey and Connor Parker are being supervised and protected by their guardian, Harry Daniels. They were entrusted to his care by their older sister, Gaby, when she left on a mission to help end the secret Nonwars between Heaven and Hell. Continue reading

Beltane by Alys West @AlysWestYork #UrbanFantasy set in #Glastonbury #reviewed for #RBRT

  • BeltaneAuthor: Alys West
  • Published: December 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Urban Fantasy, Romance
  • five-stars

Finn McCloud is a druid, connected by magic to the earth. He’s made a big mistake; one that could cost him his life. 

Maeve Blackwell has plans for a new start, free of the façade she so carefully maintains. At Beltane, the Celtic festival of fire, all her preparations will come to fruition. 

Struggling artist Zoe Rose is in Glastonbury to work on the illustrations for a book. But when she arrives at Anam Cara, the healing retreat run by Maeve, she finds it’s not the haven she hoped for.

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Darkness Brutal ~ The Dark Cycle #1 #Paranormal #Urbanfantasy #audiobook

Audiobook Review

  • Darkness BrutalAuthor: Rachel A Marks
  • Performed by Will Damron
  • Released: July 2015 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer. 

Seventeen year old Aidan O’Linn has the ability to see the spiritual world, the ghosts, demons and angels which inhabit it. Since the night his young sister, Ava, was marked by a demon, his sole purpose has been to protect her from being claimed by the darkness. The demons want her and nothing will stop them. With their mother dead and Ava in foster care, Aidan is trying to stay under the radar, living on the street and keeping his strange abilities secret. He sometimes works for eccentric and wealthy club owner, Eric, who collects artefacts. Aidan can translate the ancient inscriptions and tell if the objects are genuine by their energy.  Continue reading

Are you owned by a rescue pet?

Barb Taub is…as am I. Please take a few minutes to read Barb’s holiday appeal and take her up on a great offer for some fantastic stories. My reviews for Barb’s stories can be found further down the post. Thank you in advance.

Krampus and St. Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896 [photo credit: public domain]

Christmas in Austria is not for the faint hearted. While a familiar St. Nicholas does make the rounds, in many Germanic traditions he’s accompanied by a terrifying beast called the Krampus whose job is to punish – and even take away – naughty children. With his curling horns, long red tongue, and tail, the Krampus is enough to chill any heart. [Krampus and St. Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896 photo credit: public domain]

As the villain of Don’t Touch, the Krampus is a monster who literally feasts on the fear and terror he inspires in children. The demon who threatens Stefan and Lette is a cornered beast, an anachronism whose ever-diminishing influence only makes him more desperately dangerous.

The other inspiration for this story is the image of Rapunzel. But in Don’t Touch, Lette isn’t the helpless girl awaiting rescue by her prince. Instead, I go back to the origins of the folk story in sources such as Giambattista Basile’s Tale of Tales from 1616, where she is actually the hero who rescues herself and her children, and then saves her lover. Like her earliest predecessors, Lette is a tough, self-reliant young woman who tells her would-be prince, “If I need rescuing, I’ll do it myself.” 

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by St. Nicholas' legendary dark shadow, the Krampus, who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by St. Nicholas’ legendary dark shadow, the Krampus, who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

My final message in Don’t Touch is that we build our own towers. They can provide safety; they can even be gorgeous and appealing, but if they keep us from truly living our lives or cut us off from others, they are still our prisons. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about the holiday season. No matter how often we hear them, those messages of peace and goodwill just keep reminding us of our connections to each other. More sophisticated folk can turn up noses at the consumerism and the crowds, but I believe the reason we all come back for more every year is that basic gift of hope and belief.

It’s that belief that inspires my holiday appeal to you. In most of my stories, an animal companion plays a prominent role—from George, the grumpy cat in Don’t Touch to Bygul, the bitchy feline goddess of Payback is a Witch. My own life has been immeasurably enriched by my dog Peri who came from a shelter in eastern Washington State, and by the friends (feline, canine, and the occasional rodent) rescued by the dedicated members of many shelters.Cat and dog

In thanks, therefore, I will donate all royalties on sales between now and January 1, 2015 from Don’t Touch as well as the newly released set (Payback is a Witch and Just For The Spell Of It) to the following wonderful organizations:

  • USA: No Kill Advocacy Center. Headed up by Nathan Winograd, the No Kill Advocacy Center movement is revolutionizing shelters across America.
  • United Kingdom: DogsTrust. Active since 1891, this no-kill shelter rehomed almost 15,000 dogs last year.

As a special incentive, both Don’t Touch and the brand new release set, Tales From Null City (containing Payback is a Witch and Just For The Spell Of It), will be listed at the sale price of $0.99 in the USA, and £0.77 in the UK.

Both make wonderful holiday reads, while at the same time supporting the work of the no-kill shelter movement. Please help ensure that animals are not left unsheltered during the very difficult winter months to come. To help, please order a book by selecting one of the following links:

My review for Don’t Touch can be found here and my review for the first book in the series One Way Fare can be found here.

Barb is offering a giveaway and a random tweet will be chosen which mentions any of the following – @barbtaub @CathyRy #NullCity #Don’tTouch #Payback #Spell


Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who... aren't. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who… aren’t. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.

Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.

PayBack Is A Witch

Claire Danielson, the last Danielson witch, is facing a big problem. Actually, two problems. Not only has Director Jeffers from the Accords Agency given orders for a Warden to tail Claire, a man from her past who she walked away from six years ago. Now, after spending time together, she doesn’t think she’ll have the strength to resist Peter Oshiro again. But Jeffers doesn’t want to lose another of his top Wardens so Peter is on guard duty whether they like it or not. 

Bygul, the goddess who Claire has been trained from birth to protect, and who was one of the giant cats who pulled the Goddess Freya’s chariot, has alerted Claire to the dangerous barghests in the woods outside her home. They have been trying endlessly to gain possession of Bygul’s power but without success. And to make matters worse there is demon who wants to acquire control over Claire’s mind.

Claire’s spells are not yet long-lasting and she’s unable to channel Bygul directly. She will need all her skills to outwit the demon.

Just For The Spell Of It

Eirie and Liam work for the Accords Agency and when they are charged with finding a missing football player, his girlfriend and baby daughter it gets too close to home for Eirie. The girlfriend looks just like her mother. But how can that be when Eirie has believed for years that her mother was killed? And does that make the missing child her sister and the second in line to the throne of Tír na nÓg?

One of the four ancient treasures, gifts of the goddess Danu to her people, the Tuatha Dé Danann, has also gone missing. If the child and the treasure are not returned the threat of an armed force is imminent. Liam and Eirie have a weeks grace before the attack begins.

Two wonderfully entertaining and imaginative additions to the Null City series and, as with all the stories, a fun look at distinct and unusual worlds people by great characters.

About Barb

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In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

Contact Barb: blog | twitter | facebook

Excerpt: Payback is a Witch

As Claire boiled water and set out two teacups, she had plenty to say to herself. There was a lot about what a bad idea it was to remember his arms around her, the taste of his kiss, that heart-stomping smile. Hell, a little over ten years ago their families were still trying to kill each other. For the last six of those years, she’d done her best to remember what she owed Nana and Bygul. And she’d done her damnedest to forget the look on his face when she turned and walked away.

Through the screen door, she could see him staring at something near the porch swing, just outside her line of sight. She had a bad feeling she knew what that something was. “Do you still take your tea without sugar?”

“You remembered.” He didn’t turn around, but she felt his smile anyway. “You live here alone?”

“Yes, unless you’ve turned into a twisted psycho stalker. In that case, I have several large homicidal brothers. And the world’s meanest cat.”

“Witches don’t have brothers. But I see what you mean about the cat.”

A purr, definitely amused this time, rubbed against the back of her brain. Damn it, Bygul. You stay out of sight for a thousand years, but you can’t stay off the porch for one afternoon? Sighing, she filled a small dish with tuna and placed it on a low table at the end of the kitchen. Why can’t some goddesses mind their own business? With a twist of lemon for her own tea, she set both cups onto a tray. Sniffing an open package of cookies that had been around a while, she dumped them onto the tray with a shrug. Before she reached the door, he turned and held it open, took the tray from her, and put it onto the little table between the rocking chair and the old porch swing.

“You’re a witch, right? So is she your familiar?” He pointed to the porch swing and the silver-gray feline posed regally across its sofa-length cushion. “I never knew a cat could get that big.”

“She isn’t my cat. She goes with the house and especially the woods.” Claire understood his surprise. You just don’t see a lot of house cats the size of Labradors. “I suppose you might say I’m her staff.” She took a seat next to the cat, who stretched and sat up, wrapping a tail thicker than Claire’s arm around her front paws. “Best we can tell, she’s a Norwegian Forest Cat. They get pretty big, but yeah. She’s big even for that. We call her Bygul.”

“Bee-gool?”

“In Norse mythology, Bygul was one of the giant cats who pulled the Goddess Freya’s chariot. Some said they were goddesses in their own right.” Bygul yawned and her eyes closed halfway. “Minor goddesses, of course…” The giant cat’s eyes snapped open, and she jumped off the porch with a noticeable thump.

“Didn’t the Egyptians worship cats too?”

Bygul growled.

Claire laughed. “Bygul pulled a war chariot and fought alongside Valkyries. Those Egyptian pussies couldn’t fight their way across a coffee shop.” Tail held high, Bygul waited for Claire to open the kitchen door before stalking inside to the tuna offering. As Peter lifted his tea from the tray, he smiled again. She sat back too quickly and her own tea sloshed over the rim. Dear goddess, that smile.

Excerpt: Just For The Spell Of It

“And how does an ex-fairy princess end up an Agency operative and part-time radio host?” Liam might have been amused, but his face was, as always, impassive.

“Pretty much the same way an ex-world champion soccer star becomes a teetotaler card sharp who runs errands for a former priest.” She shrugged and turned back to Dr. Tom. “What aren’t you telling us?”

Dr. Tom hesitated then seemed to reach a decision. “I think your mother did die. But we’ve discovered that when she was trying to get pregnant with you, she visited a specialized clinic in California. A clinic that froze several of her fertilized eggs. Ten months ago the last three viable eggs were supposedly stolen from the clinic. Last week a young woman who served as professional surrogate was found dead. Autopsy suggests that she had recently given birth.”

Eirie looked at him blankly.

“I think the baby is your sister. And the real problem is that not only is the baby missing, but one of the four Treasures has also disappeared.”

“Which one?”

“I’m not sure. Now your father’s advisors say if the infant and the Treasure aren’t returned to Tír na nÓg, the king will send an armed force to recover it.”

Liam sat up. “What Treasures?”

“There are four of them, the ancient gifts of the Goddess Danu to her people, the Tuatha Dé Danann.” She counted off on her fingers. “The Lia Fáil, a stone that supposedly names the King of Ireland. The Spear of Lug that guarantees you’ll win all battles, the Sword of Núadu that allows no escape once it’s been drawn, and the Cauldron of the Dagda, which is never empty.” She frowned. “But there’s not much demand these days for naming a King of Ireland, and even enchanted spears and swords aren’t going to be much use against automatic weapons.” The frown gave way to a snort. “And after the fae ‘warriors’ have been sitting on their fairy arses for a thousand years, I imagine our biggest danger is being forced to eat the prehistoric slop the Cauldron serves up.”

Dr. Tom looked at her. Folded his hands. Waited.

She sighed. “Right. Find Matias León and the baby. I’m on it. Liam?”

He nodded and picked up the folder. “I assume this has the info on the dead surrogate and the clinic?”

Dr. Tom nodded. “The Tuatha Dé gave us one week before their force arrives.” He stood and moved to the door. “Good luck.” As the door swung behind him, Eirie thought she saw him shaking his head.

Liam waited until the door closed. “Eirie?”

She stared at her teacup. “A sister.” With her hood again covering her bright hair and her “work-clothes”—strategically ripped gray hoodie, tulle-puffed skirt, bright striped leggings stuffed into chunky blue Doc Martens—she seemed little more than a child herself. Then she lifted exotically tilted lavender eyes to his, and something ancient, not-quite-human looked out. “She’ll need someone to tell her about our family…and make sure she has toys…and how to use her magic…and put on makeup…and hear about her first boyfriend who will, of course, be all wrong for her…and…someone to keep her safe.” Carefully, precisely, she placed both hands on the table in front of her. “Well, she has a sister for that.”

There were things he could have said. The teasing, mischievous Liam who found a way to call into her show each week could have said something to make her smile. The self-assured soccer-star Liam could have made a charming, romantic overture. The Liam who had been her partner for the past year said, “We should start with the clinic. Ready?”

She nodded.

Don’t Touch (Null City #2)

  • Don'tTouchAuthor: Barb Taub
  • Published: December 2013 by Hartwood Publishing Group
  • Category: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
  • five-stars

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. 

Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.

Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

The morning after Lette Simoneau turns thirteen she awakens to find she can feel colours. Weird? Lette thinks so. Not quite the superpowers she might have dreamed of.  It was so bizarre to be able to tell what colour an object is just by touching it. Lette couldn’t see the point of such a lame power, but she didn’t realise this was just the beginning.

As the summer weeks and months pass, the touch as Lette calls it, manifests in different ways and on an ever-increasing number of occasions. Each day’s manifestation is different, Lette could be turning objects into gold one day, or cupcakes or sandwiches another day, and sometimes into much more dangerous things. 

I love the interaction between Lette and George, her mother’s evil cat. Eventually the inevitable happens and Lette inadvertently touches George with hilarious consequences. 

The book is written in journal entries and through this we get to know, like and sympathise with Lette and, as one disaster follows another, she decides living alone is her only option. Despite this less than satisfactory way of life Lette copes with her situation very well. She’s a strong protagonist with a great character. 

Some days I can’t believe I’m almost twenty-three, or that I’ve spent the past five years living in my parents’ little mountain cabin. Luckily, it’s close enough that my parents visit most weekends. And money is never a problem because Mom’s friend Eric, who runs a pawn shop off Pioneer Square in Seattle, is always able to take the melted down gold or other valuables I’ve touched and change them to cash with no questions asked.

Sure, there were bad days, but lots of good ones too. I discovered I love working in my garden. But even with heavy gloves over my surgical gloves, gardening is hell on latex. Still, most of the craters from that landline-touch day are now filled with dirt, and it looks like a really good year for my tomatoes. That is, if I can just get them to stay tomatoes and not turn them into small pink bunnies or straw hats or whatever that day’s touch is.

Lette isn’t destined for this kind of life much longer though, as she learns of a place where she could live normally. There’s much more to life than living as a virtual prisoner and when the opportunity to travel to Null City arises Lette doesn’t think twice. What follows is an amazingly imaginative and innovative adventure with Stefan and Rag, two great central characters. Lette has to make some hard decisions and, at the same time, learns some valuable lessons, on her journey, not least of which is making the best of a sometimes challenging situation.

I love that the villain of the piece is a horrific beast-like creature of folklore, said to be the son of Hel, and is part of a tradition which is centuries old. You just know when you read something written by Barb Taub it’s going to be vividly imaginative and full of humour, fun and excellent writing. This intriguing and engaging story is no exception. 

Vampires of Manahttan (The New Blue Bloods Coven #1)

AudiobookReview

Hero of this sexy, paranormal action tale is Oliver Hazard-Perry, former human conduit, and Manhattan’s only human-turned-vampire, now the head of the Blue Bloods Coven. When his all-too-human lover is found murdered on the eve of the coven’s annual Four Hundred Ball–a celebration meant to usher in a new era in vampire society, and to mark the re-unification of the Coven after decades of unrest and decay–Oliver is devastated.

Now, not only is he trying to create a new world order for the immortal elite, he’s the prime suspect and is stalked by the newly installed head of the vampire secret police. Because according to the new rules, vampires who take human life can now be executed. Burned.

How can an immortal sentenced to die fight back? He has to find the killer–and the answers lie deep in vampire lore.

I purchased this before realising it was a follow on from a previous series. The fact I hadn’t read the Blue Blood saga didn’t seem really significant after the first couple of chapters, when I assumed other stories had gone before, but the author added enough background information that I was able to catch up.

It’s ten years since the War ended and Lucifer and his Nephilim army have been eradicated and, apart from the odd renegade popping up now and again and a hive of Nephilim which was destroyed, all seemed quiet. Until, that is, the body of a young girl is found, apparently murdered by a vampire, and pentagrams begin to appear all over the city.

Araminta Scott belongs to an elite squad of the new Coven, named Venators, who have the ability, not only to read minds, but destroy them and manipulate dreams in order to search out unregistered immortals. They are the vampire law enforcers.

The alarm went off like an air-raid siren at midnight, and the hand that shot out of the bed slammed the snooze button so hard the side table shook. Half an hour later, Araminta Scott jumped out from underneath the blankets, kicking off the covers and cursing loudly. She’d dreamed she was late for work again and she was right – that wasn’t the snooze button she’d hit. She scrambled into her clothes, putting on a worn black sweater over her thin black tank top, grabbing a pair of black jeans from the pile on the floor, finger combed her platinum bangs, and smoothed the soft, shorn hair at the back of her neck as she met her dark, baleful eyes in the mirror.

Mimi and Kingsley Martin, who have a very volatile relationship, are back from the Underworld. Oliver Hazard-Perry is the head of the Blue Bloods, the Vampire Coven and about to be made the absolute ruler at the Four Hundred Ball his lover and human familiar, Finn, is organising. As the murders and pentagrams increase the whole community is on high alert.

As it seems someone or something is intent on the worst kind of mischief, Ara is partnered with Edon Marrok, the once legendary golden wolf, who was one of the heroes of the final battle. He has been helping the Venators search out Nephilim activity. It’s time for the two of them to investigate and uncover the killer before the ball. To add to their problems, there’s a new drug out on the streets causing untold damage and it seems the old saying ’the greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist’ is truer than anyone believed.

The story is told from multiple points of view in a time when vampires, venators and wolves live alongside humans while keeping their existence secret and protecting the human population from immortals.  I enjoyed the fact the central storyline is an investigation with a mystery/crime aspect and Ara and Edon are the ‘detectives.’  The killer is, or was to me, totally unexpected. The epilogue ending is left open in order to lead on to book #2. 

I own up to the fact the draw for this audiobook was MacLeod Andrews narrating, and I wasn’t disappointed. He brings the characters, male and female, to life convincingly, with great pacing and authenticity. 

Sandman Slim Series ~ the Audiobooks (4-6 )

AudiobookReview

Getting out of Hell is just the beginning.
What do you do after you’ve escaped Hell, gone back, uncovered the true nature of God, and then managed to become the new Lucifer?
Well, if you’re James Stark, you have to figure out how to run Hell while also trying to get back out of it . . . again. Plus there’s the small matter of surviving. Because everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to do so is to take down Lucifer, a.k.a. James Stark.

Stark, still tucked away in Pandemonium in his role as Lucifer, finds himself totally bored with admin work, dealing with Hellions and trying to sort out the chaos that is Hell so he is almost relieved when he’s on the receiving end of assassination attempts. At least it livens things up a bit and he can forget about court politics. Hell is just a lot of administration and red tape with infighting thrown into the mix.

Welcome to Hell. It’s just like high school but with more boredom and entrails.

After telling Candy when he left he would only be a few days but has now actually been stuck in Hell for months, Stark is absolutely ready to go home. And, of course, when he gets there via Hellion Hawg, LA is in big trouble. Reality has taken a nose dive and a killer ghost along with Aelita are causing havoc while the Dreamers are doing their best to hold reality together. Stark and St James have parted company so Stark no longer has the key to the room of thirteen doors but he returns from Hell in Lucifer’s armour and with a new and fascinating weapon.

Stark, still trying to save the world, is his usual coarse, snarky, irreverent and entertaining anti-hero self. All the fantastic characters from previous stories are back and I love who gets to be the permanent Lucifer.

The writing is dark and witty, the full on action plot does get a little convoluted at times but is still deliciously gratifying with lots of outrageous and exaggerated violence and everything that makes a Sandman Slim novel.

  • KillCityBluesKill City Blues #5
  • five-stars

James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall-a multi-story copy of LA-infested with Lurkers and wretched bottomfeeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods-and a few killers-on his tail.

A great opening chapter has Stark, Candy and Samael in Donut Universe while Candy updates Stark and Samael’s Wikipedia pages. Stark and his angel half have reunited, he is back to being a nephilim and again has the Key to the Room of Thirteen Doors. 

Stark is in a race to find the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon greater than any other, before the old gods, namely the Angra Om Ya who existed before anything else, can take back and destroy the universe. Aleita has hidden it somewhere and Stark needs to find it before she can do her worst. Which requires a trip to Kill City, a creepy, abandoned shopping mall.

The world building is described in intricate detail and the dialogue and banter between the characters is superb. The violent action is way over the top and there’s a serious eww factor as Stark acquires more scars. Some surprise plot developments too. 

I love the growth of Stark’s character and how he gets a little introspective in this story.

Most nights I still dream about Hell. I can feel it inside me. It’s in the stink of my sweat. Flashing on the place even for a second makes me furious and sometimes afraid and sometimes ashamed of both those things.
On the plus side, I got up close and personal with the killer inside me. I learned I was good at taking lives. Doc Kinski called me a natural-born killer, so now it’s what I do. But I don’t always like it, and when I do, I don’t always like myself for liking it. That’s what Hell is. It’s the shithole bottom of the universe, but it’s a place where you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to know.

This is gritty urban fantasy at it’s darkest. Richard Kadrey’s off the wall sense of humour and amazingly imaginative writing, not to mention the unique take on Heaven and Hell and their residents, make this series one of my favourites. The cast of characters, some new and others returning from previous books, is as bizarre and outlandish as ever. 

 

  • TheGetawayGodThe Getaway God #6
  • five-stars

Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude-not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer-James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil-the Wildfire Ripper-is stalking the city.

As the Apocalypse draws ever nearer and the non stop rain in LA has driven most of the population away, Stark is working to prevent the Old Gods, the Angra Om Ya, from finding the means to destroy the world and everyone on it. Add to that a serial killer running riot, and given to extremely gory tendencies with body parts, who turns out to be a very unexpected blast from the past. 

You’d think the end of the world would be exciting, but this apocalypse is about as much fun as dental surgery.

Take the current situation. Sitting at a dead stop in traffic, as lively as a stone angel over a tomb. Not one car has moved in ten minutes. It’s bumper to bumper on Sunset Boulevard, which is nothing new, but this kind of traffic is 24/7 these days, as it seems like half the city is hightailing it out of Dodge all at once. And the rain. It’s been coming down non-stop for two weeks. It’s like L.A. lost a bet with God and the old bastard is pissing his Happy Hour whiskey all over the city. Which, when you get down to it, isn’t far from the truth. This isn’t how I figured I’d ring in the apocalypse.

And as things get even more disastrous there is confusion, violence and shocking developments. Stark is once again working with The Golden Vigil as well as a mummified centuries old mystic called The Shonin. There’s an abundance of bizarre characters, flawed gods, angels and demons, and a huge amount of often gruesome action packed into this story. I like the way the relationships between Stark and the other key characters develops, albeit complicated and rocky in places.
An extremely tight, irreverent and darkly humorous narrative bringing to a satisfactory and surprising conclusion to the Angra Om Ya storyline. Also, it seems, bringing to a close this stage of Stark’s life. I can’t wait to see where he goes from here. And it’s actually quite amazing to realise the whole series spans just twelve months!

 

MacLeod Andrews’ performance is superb, I love his characterisation of Stark, and the way he handles all the other utterly diverse characters with their own individual ‘voices’ is perfect.

One Way Fare (Book 1, Null City)

  • OneWayFareAuthors: Barb Taub/Hannah Taub
  • Published: September 2013 by Taliesin Publishing
  • Category: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
  • four-stars

Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes.

Null City is the only sanctuary for Gaby Parker and Leila Rice, two young women confronting cataclysmic forces waging an unseen war between Heaven and Hell. Gaby and her younger brother and sister are already targets in the war that cost their parents’ lives. Should they forsake the powers that complete their souls and flee to Null City? Meanwhile, Leila has inherited a French Chateau, a mysterious legacy, and a prophecy that she will end the world. Gaby and Leila become catalysts for the founding and survival of Null City.

I received a copy from the authors as part of Rosie Amber’s book review challenge.

This is an amazing story of fantasy, time and dimension travel and strong heroines with superpowers.
Gaby Parker lives with her younger twin brother and sister, who she is looking after and taking care of after the murder of their parents, in 1970’s Seattle. She is a Harmonia, which gives her the ability to see patterns in mostly everything…
Leila Rice, living with her adoptive parents, unaware she is a Nephilim, born of the union between a human and an angel. In 2012 she travels to France to claim the inheritance
left by her birth parents…

A very fast-moving plot told in several timelines with compelling and well-defined characters. Gaby and Leila are strong protagonists, both fun and feisty.

The two girls are unknown to each other initially but they are both caught up, in one way or another, in the war between Heaven and Hell and the story hops between the two of them, each trying to avoid, or deal with, the danger lurking round every corner. Only by visiting the past will they find the answers they need and the only way to get there is by riding the Metro.

“The train is arriving at 1890.” A loudspeaker sounded overhead. “There may be turbulence as we approach the Gap between Null City and the 1890 station, so we ask you to remain seated until the train has come to a full stop. Please make sure you remove all personal possessions. Mind the Gap and thank you for travelling Metro.”

They had barely resumed their seats when the train plunged straight down. Leila’s stomach dropped and she screamed as she looked at Thomas. His pale face had taken on a distinctly greenish tint. So that’s what the Mind the Gap bags were for, she realised, handing him one.

Eventually, via their ability to time travel, they meet and journey to the Court of the Fallen, or Hell as it’s better known, peopled by fallen Angels, imps and demons. Gaby and Leila along with Thomas and Luic join forces in the terrible fight to save Null City, their only sanctuary, humanity and the world as they know it.

The detailed historical and place depictions are vivid and made easily imaginable and I love all the pop culture references and the humour running throughout. A very complex and imaginative story told with plot twists a-plenty. The narrative I thought was very good, if a little complicated at times with family dynamics in the past, present and future.

Definitely worth reading if Urban Fantasy/Paranormal is your thing.

tt10407952flttAmazon US Amazon UK

 

BarbTaubIn a former life before children in need of luxuries like food and college, Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. When Child #4 joined her research staff, she veered toward the dark side and a career in human resources. Now an expat living in one corner of a castle with her prince-of-a-guy and the world’s most spoiled AussieDog, she enjoys travel, translating from British to American, and collaborating with her daughter Hannah on the Null City series.

For more info, see: http://wp.me/p2SHpT-1

Co-author Hannah Taub started writing fantasy in kindergarten and never stopped. Computer science is the other great love of her life, and she writes and runs murder mystery parties in her spare time. She lives, creates, and studies in Scotland.

Shattered: The Iron Druid Chronicles #7

AudiobookReview

  • ShatteredAuthor: Kevin Hearne
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Publisher: Hatchette Audio UK
  • Audible Release Date: June 2014
  • Category: Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

For nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth—Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.

Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.

And Owen has some catching up to do.

Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.

But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.

As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time . . . three’s a charm.

This series just gets better and Shattered, if anything, raises the bar. The research and seamless intermingling of gods from everywhere is incredible and works amazingly well in the context of the storyline. And the writing is glorious with all the humour and detail delivered in spades.

Atticus’ old archdruid, who was frozen in time by the Morrigan on Tír na nÓg, for the last 2,000 years, has been resurrected, so to speak. Owen, as he is now known, is a fun character with his grumpy ways and Old Irish cussing. Atticus’ attempts to acclimatize Owen, and bring him up to date with the world he now finds himself in, are hilarious and I love the interaction between the two of them. Owen very quickly becomes an integral part of the story.

Although I’m not generally a huge fan of multiple points of view, in this instance the threefold narration works because Owen, Atticus and Granuaile are in different places a lot of the time. It adds immensely to the development of each character too while they are independent of each other. Atticus has matured and his principles, compassion and wisdom have grown accordingly.

Granuaile travels to India after a message from Laksha, and from there to the Himalayas to meet the hockey loving Yeti (amazing!) She faces difficult problems without Atticus for the first time, with terrible consequences. The scenes with Granuaile and her father, and then her mother too, are so well written the emotion is just palpable.

I love the addition of Orlaith, I’m glad it’s time for Oberon to have a companion. And, of course, Oberon and the interaction between him and Atticus, is as funny and entertaining as ever.

<Atticus, she kissed me! Did you see that? She loves me!>

Yeah, I saw it, buddy, but I’m not sure you can conclude…

<Hail, Oberon, Lord of All Meats! I am the sausage in the morning and the bone at night! I am the bringer of beef and the singer of sweet suppertime! Mine is the chicken and the gravy forever, nom nom!>

Oberon, I think your ego is getting the best of you here.

<Don’t hate the Meat Lord, Atticus. Just offer him steak sauce and words of praise.>

Atticus discovers who his unknown enemy is and it’s a shock, to say the least, for all concerned. There’s a huge all out battle with several fatalities. But also a lot of introspection from the gods, druids and the Tuatha Dé Dannan, about mistakes made, opportunities missed and decisions taken. The conclusion and the epilogue set the scene nicely for the next book.

Luke Daniels’ narration is an absolute pleasure to listen to, with all the amazing characterisations…and there are lots of them. It must be a feat in itself to keep them all in order. Nevertheless they are all delivered with assurance and skill, incorporating the humour of the writing. Extremely entertaining.

tt10407952flttAmazon US Amazon UK

Magic Bites ~ the audiobook

 

Kate Daniels is a mercenary, a ‘sword for hire’ who makes her living cleaning up magical problems in an alternate world. Between them magic and technology create immense problems, one works the other dies. The world is full of all kinds of monsters which Kate has to deal with.

Her parents have died and the only family she has left is Greg, her guardian, and when he is killed she agrees to work with the Order and becomes totally involved in solving his murder.

Greg was a key player in The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, a magical organisation which, as the name suggests tries to keep peace and order between the Pack, who are shapeshifters and the People, necromancers who control the Vampires.

Kate is summoned to the Beast Lord of the shapeshifters, the were- lion known as Curran, and has to juggle the Pack, the People and the Order to find out the truth.

Thoughts

Kate is a strong (on the outside but a little insecure all the same) and independent heroine with a distinct voice, full on magical abilities and a sword called Slayer which has to be fed at least  once a month.  I love her snarky humour, who would greet the Beast Lord in lion form with ‘here kitty, kitty’ but Kate.

The vampires in this story are like none I’ve ever read about before, they are grotesque, disgusting creatures under the control of the People.  Quite a dark tale and very gory in parts, which I thought was a little over the top.  It took a little while to get into the story because I felt kind of launched into a post apocalyptic world of sorts without any kind of explanation or clue about well…anything. It took some time to orientate myself.

There’s a lot left unsaid about Kate and the world in which she lives so I will probably move on to book two and see what questions are answered.

Performance

Renée Raudman’s performance is praiseworthy, she takes on Kate Daniels’ personality from the start and each character has a distinct voice. Her narration really stands out and her voice is appealing.

Magic Bites may be purchased at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Sandman Slim Series ~ the audiobooks (1-3.5)

 

James Stark has spent the last eleven years in Hell as the slave of Azazel, Lucifer’s second favourite general, fighting for his life in the arena and as an assassin.

So what would you do if your boss gives you a particular key so you can kill another of Lucifer’s generals? Especially since this key can can take you anywhere and everywhere in the universe via shadows and the room of thirteen doors.

You kill your boss and get the hell out of Hell, of course, along with the key which is now buried (literally!) in Stark’s chest. That’s how James Stark aka Sandman Slim “wakes up on a pile of smouldering garbage” in a graveyard in LA.

So now he’s back, with Hellion magic, and looking for revenge against his old magic circle friends who sent him Downtown for being a better magician. The only advantage he has is the fact he’s become very hard to kill after his time in Hell.

It’s not too long before Stark finds one of his former friends, Kasabian, who pays a high and very weird, price for the part he played. Stark’s main aim though is to find Mason Faim and his sidekick, Parker, for killing his girlfriend, Alice.

Thoughts

A dark and gritty story told from Starks point of view with sarcasm and snarky humour. Things don’t quite work out as Stark thought as Heaven and Hell have their own agenda and he has to deal with every demon you could conjure up and more besides.

It’s witty, with laugh out loud moments, brutal but kind of sad as well and I find myself in compete sympathy with Stark. He’s the flawed anti-hero, the “monster that kills monsters”  It’s a roller coaster ride of the weird and wonderful.

  • 8026445Kill the Dead ~ book 2
  • Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: October 2010 by Brilliance Corporation
  • Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

After saving the world at the end of Sandman Slim Stark is back and freelancing for The Golden Vigil, a secret angelic arm of Homeland Security, tracking down and killing off monsters. A young vampire who goes on a rampage sets in motion the events leading to another LA apocalypse featuring several different variations of the undead, Zombies, Lacunas, Drifters and Vampires.

When Lucifer comes to LA supposedly to collaborate on a movie being made about him, he enlists Stark as his bodyguard for reasons he keeps to himself. That is, until Stark realises what those reasons are and how they will affect him.

You know you’re in for a fast and fun listen with the opening sentences…

“Imagine shoving a cattle prod up a rhino’s ass, shouting “April fool” and hoping the rhino thinks it’s funny. That’s about how much fun it is hunting a vampire.”

Which is how the story begins and Stark gets more than he bargained for from a pod of vampires.

Thoughts

Being a nephilim, of angel and human parentage, has played a key part in Stark’s personality and we get to know more about him as his character evolves.  And although he is as tough and acerbic as ever, underneath it all there is morality and his own set of ethics despite his penchant for violence. We lose Stark for a while there too, but I’m glad he’s back.

Lucifer figures quite a bit in this story, not in a cartoonish or over the top way either. He’s not to be trifled with but he’s humorous, cool and composed. And hurt, physically and by his banishment from heaven, which is surprising and not at all like the usual interpretation of Lucifer.

I love the addition of Brigitte Bardot, a Czech porn star who is starring in Lucifer’s movie and has a hidden agenda. She and Stark bounce off each other in more ways than one.

So now, the question is will Stark take Lucifer up on his offer.

  • 51PELCnbLrL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Aloha from Hell ~ book 3
  • Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: July 2012 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Noir/Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

Once again all is not right in L.A. Lucifer is back in Heaven, God is on vacation and an insane killer mounts a war against both Heaven and Hell

A few weeks have passed since Stark’s zombie killing spree. Stark and Kasabian are living in a motel room while Max Overdrive is being rebuilt. Stark thinks he’s getting the respite he deserves afar saving the world yet again….but no, that would be too easy.

He and Vidocq steal an artefact for Mr Muninn and have a run in with a demon. Stark is pulled into an exorcism gone wrong and meets an interesting new character, Father Traven. The boy who was being exorcised just happens to be the brother of one of the original magic circle. Coincidence? Stark doesn’t think so and the trail leads where he thought it would. Straight to Mason and into the middle of a planned war between Heaven and Hell.

Mason, along with Aelita, has been planning and plotting, gathering armies together and Stark has no choice but to go back to Hell and try and sort out the chaos Lucifer left behind. And while he’s there maybe this time he can save Alice from being murdered again by Mason. The downside, apart from the obvious, is what he has to do to get back there.

And now that he has his Angel under control he’s back to his old self.

The angel half of me got shaken loose a while back when a High Plains Drifter – that’s “zombie” to you – bit a chunk out of my hand. The human half of me almost died and the angel half thought that was its chance to take over. It was for a while, but then I got my strength back and I locked the angel upstairs in the attic like Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? It still bangs on the door and shouts but I’ve learned to ignore it most of the time

The snarky humour and wit is here again, in spades, along with the gruesome, the grotesque and the violence. It’s dark and hellish and Richard Kadrey’s writing is as entertaining as ever, made even more so by the narration. I love the way Hell and L.A. are written as versions of the same place and the descriptive writing paints vivid, if sometimes scary, pictures. It’s an insane, imaginative and creative ride through mind-boggling places. 

DevilintheDollhouseDevil in the Dollhouse ~ book 3.5

four-stars

James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, has a new job, but being the new Lucifer in town gives fresh meaning to the word “Hell.” Especially when he hears of hideous massacres near a haunted fortress out on Hell’s frontier.

As far as Stark’s concerned, the more dead Hellions, the better, but he still has to prove that no one screws with Sandman Slim. And facing creatures so terrible even Hell does not want them is no cakewalk, even for Lucifer.

Being Lucifer isn’t a fun job and it takes Stark into the outer reaches of hell in this short, violent and very bloody story. Lucifer #1 has left him a hell of a mess to clean up and although it’s the last thing he wants, Stark has to make sure he is acknowledged, if not approved, as the Lord of the Underworld. 

I used to be James Stark or sometimes Sandman Slim but then Lucifer 1.0 pissed off back to Heaven and stuck me running Hell. I thought that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. That was three days ago. Today things got worse. Today I’m in a truck convoy heading somewhere I never heard of to find someplace that scares even these evil fallen-angel pricks.

So, while trying to negotiate the politics in Hell, sorting out a demon even the worst Hellions fear and trying to find a way back home, Stark has his work cut out, to put things mildly.

A great bridge between Aloha from Hell and Devil said Bang filled with Richard Kadrey’s brilliant writing.

I love the gravely pitch of Stark’s voice, MacLeod Andrews absolutely nails it. Shifting seamlessly and without obviously ‘doing’ voices, he changes from Stark to a two hundred year old Frenchman, to several female voices, Hellions galore, the Kissi, a Texan sheriff and Lucifer to name a few. 

The books are available at  Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Iron Druid Chronicles ~ the books

 

  • ID1Tricked ~ book 4
  • Author: Kevin Hearne
  • Published by Del Ray
  • Category: Urban Fantasy
  •  four-stars

Tricked picks up the story more or less straight after Hammered. Lots of gods from several pantheons are after Atticus for what happened in Asgard. Atticus decides on extreme action and fakes his own death with the help of Coyote who, of course, wants something in return. And not just a little something so again Atticus is drawn into battles he wouldn’t have chosen. Because he owes Coyote Atticus agrees to help the Navajo people. Coyote has worked things to his advantage and Atticus is obliged to fight shapeshifting skin walkers whose only thought is to kill.

Some new characters are introduced including a Navajo shaman, Frank, who proves to be a great addition to the story.  So, the mythology and culture leans more towards Native American which, again, has been thoroughly researched and is very interesting.

Lief makes a minor appearance, his creator, Zdenik is in Phoenix because Lief arranged for him to take over if he was killed or too badly injured in Asgard to continue as leader. It seems though, that Zdenik is planning to take over the territory regardless….

Thoughts

Another solid Iron Druid story, action packed with battles and fearsome creatures.  Oberon is back and so is the humorous banter. It was interesting to learn more about Atticus’ back story and I like the way the relationship is developing between Atticus and Granuaile.

I loved Lief, the friendship of sorts and conversations between him and Atticus in the first three books and hope he reappears as the Lief of old…on to book 5 to find out 🙂

  • ID2Trapped ~ book 5    
  • five-stars

Twelve years have passed since Atticus and Granuaile ‘died’ and Granuaile has finished her training and is a fully fledged druid. All Atticus has to do now is bind her to the earth. This involves intricate tattooing and communing with Lady Gaia and takes three months.

The only available place, for various reasons, is Olympus. Not the best place so needless to say it doesn’t go smoothly. The binding gets interrupted more than once because those who believed Atticus and Granuaile dead now know otherwise. They are attacked by several immortals including a vampire, Bacchants and a band of dark elves and have to fight their was round and through them all. Not to mention a battle royal with Hel and her brother, the wolf Fenris.

Finally Atticus and Granuaile find a quiet place to finish the tattooing which is very long…. and intimate. The sparks that have crackled between them from the beginning ignite good style, much to Oberon’s amused bewilderment at ’the mating habits of humans’.

Now hold on! First, you didn’t have to watch, because I specifically suggested you not do so, and second, it wasn’t grody. It was the stuff Al Green sings about.

 < It was you who told me that proverb thingie: ‘Grody is in the eye of the beholder’>

 No, Oberon, that was beauty.

Thoughts

The picture of Granuaile on the cover gives away the fact she features prominently in the story.  Now she’s a full druid and is bound to the Earth she can shape shift, her animals are brilliant, and perform magic.  She comes into her own in a big way and she and Atticus make a great team. Oberon, hilarious as ever, especially now he and Granuaile can communicate through thoughts as well.

The plot is intricate, a lot of Atticus’ past actions and enemies come back to bite him and there were almost too many gods and pantheons to keep track of. Leif returns but his relationship with Atticus is no better, Atticus believes Leif is using him for his own ends again.

The ending is a cliff hanger leaving several threads unresolved.  Straight on to book six for me then!

  • ID3Hunted ~ book 6
  • four-stars

So, carrying straight on from Trapped, Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon are under attack from Artemis and Diana because they have imprisoned Bacchus on an Island where time is frozen. The Morrigan holds the goddesses off and gives the three a head start. The consequences  are dire. Malina and her Polish coven also offer assistance in return for Atticus keeping Poland vampire free for a year.

Odin and Gaia are on their side but now Loki is on the loose and after them too, along with dark elves and vampires, and Atticus and co are trying their best to avoid Ragnarök along with everything else. Leif Helgarson puts in an appearance and he’s in scheming mode again.

Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon are looking for an Old Way through to Tír na nÓg that isn’t guarded or they must make their way to the forest of Herne the Hunter to escape the Olympians. So they trek across Europe and swim the Channel to England, as the Morrigan instructed, to find a safe portal. They’re ambushed several times along the way and Atticus has to make full use of his healing powers. You didn’t think he’d get away without injuries, did you! Some of which are spectacularly gruesome.

Thoughts

The title says it all, this chapter in Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon’s saga is all about them being hunted, by various gods and an unknown enemy in Tír na nÓg, all through Europe and beyond.  I was totally surprised with a happening in the first few pages which was quite sad. 

The characters are still developing, especially Granuaile who the Elementals have named Fierce Druid. She certainly has a novel way of despatching her enemies.

The original and creative mix up of mythology continues but more so and it was a little difficult to get my thoughts in order, there’s so much to take in. I found this a more challenging read than previous books although it didn’t detract from the enjoyment. It’s easier, I think, listening to the audio. 

The books are available at  Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Iron Druid Chronicles ~ the audiobooks 1-3

 

  • HoundedHounded ~ Book 1
  • Author: Kevin Hearne
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released: May 2013 by Hatchette Audio
  • Category: Urban Fantasy
  •  five-stars

Atticus O’Sullivan is a powerful, shape shifting 2,000 year old Druid living in Arizona and running an occult bookstore. He’s also an accomplished apothecary by which means he is able to keep himself young. Atticus draws his power from the earth through the Druidic tattoos on his arms.

He’s a warrior with a softer side, he looks out for his friend, the elderly Irish widow who lives down the street. There’s a hugely interesting list of characters which includes Atticus’ attorneys, a werewolf and a vampire, and various gods, goddesses, witches and demons to name but a few! But the star, for me, is Atticus’ sidekick Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound. Atticus and Oberon have a connection and can speak to each other telepathically.

The first story in the series revolves around Fragarach, sword which Atticus won in battle with a dark god, Aenghus Óg, centuries ago. Óg has been hounding Atticus ever since trying to reclaim the sword and kill Atticus at the same time. 

Bloody battles and fast paced action keep the suspense and tension going and there’s never a dull moment. Atticus is a great protagonist, a loveable rogue with a good dose of morality.

  • HexedHexed – Book 2  
  • five-stars 

Since Atticus dispatched Aenghus Óg to the fiery depths of hell everyone now knows where he is and want his services in the god slaying arena. Thor seems to be the favourite target but Atticus isn’t sold on the idea. 

Trouble is a-brewin’ though and the Polish witch coven aka the Sisters of the Three Auroras, want to sign a non aggression treaty with Atticus since several of their sisters were killed.  Atticus has never been a fan of witches with good reason. A coven of evil German witches, who have associations with demons, are out to kill him and take over the area. Not only that, the Bacchants from Las Vegas are also on their way.  Stand by for battles galore with demons, witches and more..

I like Granuaile, the barmaid from Atticus’ favourite Irish pub, who is now an apprentice Druid and training with Atticus. It’ll be interesting to see where her character goes in the next book.

  • HammeredHammered – Book 3       
  • four-half-stars

Atticus manages to steal on of the golden apples of Idunn from Asgard to repay his debt to the Indian witch, Laksha.  The trip is not plain sailing and Atticus has a run in with Thor.  He decides he’s maybe been in Tempe too long and perhaps now is the time to move on. Being a Druid of his word he just needs to keep his promise to Lief and take him to the Norse plain to kill Thor. 

After having a few bevvies and a plate of fish and chips with Jesus at Rúla Búla Atticus has a violent confrontation with the Hammers of God. Jesus saves the day, proving who he is to the disbelieving Hammers of God.  

It’s not every day you see a tie-dyed man with a halo floating above the ground

There’s a feeling of pain and distress running through this story and it’s quite a lot darker than previous ones. Along with Atticus and Lief, Gunnar and several others who have grievances against Thor travel to Asgard and each tells their own story. It’s interesting to know the back stories, especially Lief’s and Gunnar’s and how they became vampires and werewolves.

Oberon, Granuaile and the widow just feature and the beginning and ending of the story and the scenes with the widow are quite sad.

No spoilers but be prepared for changes!

More excellent performances by Luke Daniels. Time and again the tone of the narrations and the character portrayals are just so perfect for each story and it sounds like a lot of fun was had with these characters, especially Oberon. His ‘voice’ is fabulous and if a dog could talk I’d want him to sound just like that 🙂  Magic.

Have a listen to this —> Oberon’s Holiday Message and you’ll see what I mean 🙂

There are lots of laugh out loud (literally) moments from Oberon and Leif. I love the humour Mr Hearne injects into the telling of the story, which is so cleverly written.  The mythology, magic and everything else…brilliant. Well researched and very interesting but the information doesn’t overpower or take over. Really enjoying this series.

Buy the books at Amazon UK and Amazon US