Hunted (Iron Druid Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne

For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

This is one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series and I have no idea why there is such a time gap between books. Of course, I always think that as soon as I finish a book in a series I love. *sigh* I’ve been a fan of mythology since I was a young reader and the Iron Druid Chronicles brings all that back. I love the adventure, the twists and turns and the characters – both good and bad. What I don’t expect when I read a book in this series is a lot of emotion and I most certainly don’t expect there to be tears, but… well, I can’t tell you why there were tears, just that they caught me off guard. And though I adore these characters, I don’t expect them to reduce me to tears, but they did and… just be forewarned…

One of the things that I really liked about Hunted was getting to know Granueaile just a little bit better. Although they’ve been close for a while, Atticus, Granueaile and Oberon seemed even more like “family” than they have in the past books.

As much as I love Oberon and Granuaile, I have to admit that Oberon is the character that keeps me coming back. Okay, so I’m kidding (maybe just a little) but he is so much more than a dog in the Iron Druid Chronicles and if you’ve read any of these books, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s witty, ridiculous, adorable and just about the coolest dog ever written into any series. Passages like this are just one example:

I (Atticus) said to Granuaile, “We may have a faery tail.”
<Yeah! This is the kind of faery tale with children who wander off and get in trouble in the forest. Usually they die because they don’t have a wolfhound along – or parents. You ever notice the rampant child neglect going on in faery tales?>
“No, Oberon, I said we might have a faery tail, as in a faery who is tailing us.”
My hound whined. <English is stupid sometimes.>

I mean really, he has a point, doesn’t he? 😀

Hunted is book 6 in the series, which means I only have 3 books to go before I reach the finale. Next is Shattered, which I happen to have two copies of. (Don’t ask… when you read as much as I do, it’s hard to keep track.) Maybe I’ll find a way to share that one with a lucky reader. 😉

 

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.
So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.
Magic – it can get a guy killed.

Like others, I started with the Dresden Files TV series – WAY after it originally aired – BEFORE I realized it was that Dresden Files (because of course I had heard of it, I just didn’t connect them because sometimes I am totally oblivious). Once I devoured the TV series and realized it was based on the book series, the next logical step was to pick up the first book, so here I am. On a side note, I started watching the series before I realized that there was only one season. *sigh* And I also realized that if I had watched the Dresden Files first I may have liked Paul Blackthorne’s character in the Arrow a little bit more, but maybe not.

There are times when I can definitely say that I like the book version better than the movie, or in this case, the TV version. There are other times when I can separate the two and admit that they both have their merits. This is one of those times. There were things that I enjoyed in the series, that wasn’t included in the book and there were things in the book that I really liked that wasn’t included in the TV series. I really wish that there were more episodes in the TV series, but now I have countless books that I need to catch up on. (20 years worth, evidently – YIKES!)

To be honest, The Dresden Files seems to include everything I love about a good Urban Fantasy. A snarky hero who has enough of a hard edge to keep things interesting, enough danger and suspense to keep the pages turning, a unique magical world and good supporting characters.

As I said, I have a lot of catching up to do and Storm Front is just the beginning. Fool Moon is next and I can’t wait to follow Harry Dresden on his next case.

Reign of Monsters (Artifact Hunters #2) by S.M. Reine

Shatter Cage has everything he wants. He’s convinced his billionaire boss that he’s a phoenix shifter—not a were-squirrel—and he’s working his dream job as a professional thief. But just when everything is going to plan, his home falls apart. Literally. The barriers protecting his lower-class neighborhood from toxic fog have fallen.
Luckily, his new boss is powerful. Less luckily, his new boss doesn’t care to help.
Cage can help his hometown if he doesn’t mind stealing from his boss, risking his dream job…and if he can survive the resentful ex-girlfriend on his heels, hellbent on murdering him.

My first response when I finished Reign of Monsters was – REALLY?!? Was that absolutely necessary?!? There were tears readers! Honest to Gods tears! THAT I was not expecting from Shatter Cage. Let’s just say that SM Reine’s #EvilAuthor status is in good standing. *Glares at said author*

Well, now that you know how I really feel… There were a lot of surprises in this one – well, except for the bad guy. It was blatantly obvious to everyone EXCEPT for Cage who the real bad guy was, but that’s part of his charm. He is passionate about everything, which gets him into more than one tight spot and exasperates those who love him, but it’s also what keeps him surrounded, supported and protected by those same people.

As for the rest of the surprises? My feelings about a few key characters changed in Reign of Monsters. I thought I had Brigid figured out in Race of Thieves and my feelings weren’t flattering. She really started growing on me in this book, which was mainly because of her true feelings about Cage trying to sneak through. The other character that took me by surprise was Marion – my feelings toward her fluctuate depending on the book or series she shows up in the Descentverse. I actually kind of almost liked her in Reign of Monsters. 😉

One of the hardest parts about reviewing any book in this world is not giving anything away. Trust me, Reign of Monsters is no exception. I kept hoping that things would end differently, but… *sigh* I haven’t given up hope though, because there is definitely more to come and I can’t wait.

Blood & Ash (The Jezebel Files #1) by Deborah Wilde

Cold-blooded kidnappers. Long-lost magic. When things get serious, she goes full Sherlock.
Ashira Cohen takes pride in being the only female private investigator in Vancouver. With her skills, her missing persons case should be a piece of cake.
She wasn’t counting on getting bashed in the skull, revealing a hidden tattoo and supernatural powers she shouldn’t possess.
Or the bitter icing on top: a spree of abductions and terrifying ghostly creatures on a deadly bender.
And don’t even get her started on the golems.
Reluctantly partnered with her long-time nemesis Levi, the infuriating leader of the magic community, Ash resolves to keep her focus on the clue trail and off their sexual tension because WTF is up with that?
But with a mastermind organization pulling strings from the shadows and Levi’s arrogance driving her to pick out his body bag, can Ash rescue the captives and uncover the truth or will the next blood spilled be her own?

My initial reaction when I finished Blood & Ash (other than I couldn’t wait for the next book?) I think I’ve just added another Urban Fantasy to my “must read” list.”

The characters were snarky, the world building was unique, a hint of unexpected romance between unlikely characters and a touch of mystery surrounding the main character. Blood & Ash pretty much included everything that makes UF one of my favorite genres.

This is my first Deborah Wilde book, but it definitely won’t be my last – especially in the Jezebel Files series. It looks like I won’t have to wait long because Death & Desire will be releasing soon. Stay tuned!

 

Trifles and Folly 2 (More Deadly Curiosities Novellas & Short Stories) by Gail Z. Martin

Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curios shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them and together with Teag (a hacker and weaver witch) and Sorren, a 600 year-old vampire, they get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.
An extension of the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy novel series, this collection contains three full novellas and four short stories: The Final Death, Predator, Fair Game, Fatal Invitation, Redcap, Bloodlines, plus three bonus stories: Among the Shoals Forever, The Low Road, and Steer a Pale Course.

If I ever had any doubts about whether or not I should start the Deadly Curiosities series, they were squelched after reading Trifles and Folly 1 and obliterated by the time I finished this collection.

You know that you’re hooked when you can’t even pick a favorite character between the cast of friends. Even the supporting characters are amazing. From one story to the next, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. This series seems to have everything I love about a good urban fantasy. Strong main characters whose abilities grow as the series progresses. Lots of suspense, a hint of romance, danger, great supporting characters who add to the story and so much more. I say “seem” because I have yet to pick up a full length book from this series, but I need to remedy that soon. The shorts have been great, but it’s obvious that a lot happened in between each story. Plus, I haven’t spent nearly enough quality time with Sorren, Cassie and Teag. 😉

The Second Coming (Ascension #8) by SM Reine

Elise Kavanagh was once known as the Godslayer – a woman born to kill Adam, a man become God. But she defeated him and stepped into his role, taking her lifelong partner into the pantheon with her. Now she must navigate her mortal goals with her divine life, beginning with substantiating into an avatar to have James Faulkner’s baby, and ending with vengeance.

Confession time… Although I have sworn to myself to read everything from this author and urge everyone who will listen to do the same, the premise of Second Coming didn’t really appeal to me. There were a lot of readers who were anxious to read a story about Elise and James having a baby. I was not one of them. Not that I didn’t like James and Elise or thought that they more than deserved a HEA, I just couldn’t picture Elise as a loving, caring, nurturing mother figure. Turns out, neither could she, but she would pretty much do anything for James.

Because of my indifference, I wasn’t really curious enough to read a chapter at a time, so I skipped this one when it was offered to readers on Reine’s website. When it was released as a full book however, it was harder to ignore. I was pleasantly surprised that Elise and I were both wrong about that mother thing. Unsurprisingly, motherhood didn’t come naturally to Elise, at least not at first. It also didn’t take long for all H*ll broke loose – in true “Descentverse” fashion. James was gone, demons were trying to kill her and she was saddled with a helpless infant that she had no idea what to do with. To add insult to injury, the world that she and James re-created after Genesis was not at all what she expected it to be.

I had no idea what to expect when I first picked up Second Coming, but I ended up getting a lot more. There were terrifying moments, totally unexpected tender moments, heart stopping as well as heartbreaking moments (honestly – who expects to be reduced to tears by Elise Kavanagh?) Basically, Second Coming had everything that I’ve come to expect from any of the books in SM Reine’s “Decentverse” and then some. There are also a couple of huge hints that there’s more to come… and I can’t wait. 😉

Venom in the Veins (Elemental Assassin #17) by Jennifer Estep (Bout-of-Books 26 Review)

Blood might be thicker than water, but venom is stronger than just about anything …
It was supposed to be a nice, quiet, simple dinner with friends—but nothing is ever nice, quiet, or simple when you’re Gin Blanco, the Spider, notorious assassin and current queen of the Ashland underworld.
This time around, someone seems to be targeting Stuart Mosley, the president of First Trust bank. Lots of people have grudges against Mosley, but the more I investigate, the more Mosley’s problems seem to be connected to some of my own, especially when it comes to the Circle, the evil, shadowy group that is secretly responsible for much of the crime and corruption in Ashland.
But when another blast from my dark and deadly past as the Spider comes to light, I wonder if I’ll be able to survive this dangerous new enemy, who has a burning thirst for revenge that will only be satisfied with one thing: my death.

I can’t believe I missed this book when it was first released, but there is a silver lining to procrastination – or not paying attention. Now I don’t have to wait very long before Sharpest Sting because it is scheduled to be released in October. 😉

To be honest, I probably should done a quick re-read of Snared before I read Venom in the Veins. After all, it had been 2 years since I finished the last book in the Elemental Assassin series. The author threw in enough memories and recaps that it was easy to keep up though. My favorite memories though were of her and Fletcher, which is usually the case.

Gin has proven over and over again that she would do anything to protect her family and that circle seems to be growing. Almost as much as her list of enemies. There’s little down time in Venom in the Veins, there’s also a lot of ground covered and plenty of danger. It also seems that each answered question or solved mystery is followed closely by even more. Not the least of which was the unexpected ally that Gin gained, which made her trust him even less.

There was also an unexpected revelation at the end of Venom in the Veins that should prove to make things in Sharpest Sting even more interesting. Like I said, it’s a good thing I don’t have a long wait. It’s going to be hard enough to wait until October to see what happens next.

 

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires #1) by Chloe Neill

They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.
Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker–and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.
Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately, he expects her gratitude–and servitude.
But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war–and there will be blood.

Well, I’m WAY late to this party. It seems that every blogger/reader/author that I follow and trust for solid recommendations has read this book/series. And I have sat here oblivious – for YEARS. I think I picked this one up earlier this year when it was either offered free or really cheap. Either way, it doesn’t matter because I’ve FINALLY started the Chicagoland Vampire series and there is no turning back.

As series openers go, Some Girls Bite definitely covered a lot of ground. It also left the door wide open for a crazy amount of scenarios to play out. Along with more than a few characters that can go either way as far as loyalties lie. Merit never fit into the “mold” that her parents expected and it looks like the same will be true with her new vampire “family.” Needless to say, things are going to get more than a little interesting and I can’t wait to continue this series. Friday Night Bites is next and I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before I pick it up. Stay tuned!

 

Priest of Skulls (Tarot Witches: The Raven Knights Saga #2) by S.M. Reine

Allene Whelan is trapped in the True Kingdom, held captive by their cruel leader Macsen. It’s her job as the newest Raven Knight to assassinate him by any means necessary. As a sylph whose greatest weapon is her body, that means seducing him…all the way to the grave.
But the closer Allene gets to Macsen, the more she realizes he’s being played by a crueler enemy: Morgause, the manipulative sidhe he regards as mother. And Macsen doesn’t seem interested in hurting Allene. The closer they grow, the less she wants to kill him.
Trapped by passion in a shadowy labyrinth of lies, Allene forces Macsen to make a choice. Does the Priest of Skulls want to rule through death, or through love?

My initial reaction when I finished Priest of Skulls was – GAH! I suppose now I need to take the time to write a semi-coherent review without giving anything away. #EvilAuthor #CanYouSayCliffHanger

I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t started this series, so if that’s you – STOP here. Also, this is not a great place to start The Raven Knight Saga. If you’ve already read (and survived) Knave of Blades, you’ll totally understand. Just an FYI – this book does not end with our characters in any better circumstances than they were at the end of the first book. In fact, things are even more bleak – hence the GAH!

Allene should be terrified to be in the clutches of the enemy. She had planned on facing them – especially Macsen – but on her terms. The thing is, she feels safe with Macsen and eventually strangely protective of her captor. To make things even more complicated, another tarot card shows up and the Priest of Skulls has a striking resemblance to Macsen.

As crazy as it sounds, I found myself sympathizing with Macsen. He’s torn between his loyalty to Morgaues and his growing feelings toward both Allene and Leander.

Unsurprisingly, things get a little crazy, which is putting it mildly. Leander has no idea what’s going on and how much danger Allene is in and Keane spends a lot of his time talking him down. They have no idea that she not only considers herself safe, she’s not ready to leave Macsen’s side. That doesn’t mean that her feelings for Leander have changed, if anything, they’ve grown. Obviously, there’s a lot more going on than just a simple kidnapping and when the true plan is revealed… GAH!

So… as usual with any of this author’s books, I’ll be waiting not so patiently for the next book in this saga. There are more questions need answering, more smexiness to be had, more characters to get to know better, and a prophecy that needs to be broken… GAH!

Just so you know, it’s not unusual for this author to reduce me to using one syllable words or writing rambling reviews. If you haven’t checked out any of S.M. Reine’s books yet, you need to delve into the Decentverse for yourself. I personally started with Seasons of the Moon, but you can start anywhere… as long as you start. Visit SM Reine’s website to check them all out. You can thank me later 😉

Hell Away from Home (The Devil’s Daughter #5) by G.A. Chase

A sixteen-year-old doppelgänger girl in hell faces off against devils, demons, and dragons to save a world she barely knows.
All Doodlebug wanted was to get out of hell unscathed. Having paid the price for killing Sere’s mentor by beheading countless harvesters, demons, and all manner of monsters, she really thought she’d earned passage through the hellmouth. But that was before her savior went missing.
With a contingent of demon-riding dragons, a new devil on the rise, and her primary adversary on the sidelines, Marjory Laroque is no longer content with simply conducting mischief in life. In hell, there are far fewer forces to overcome.
With nowhere else to turn, Doodlebug must take on what she’d always thought to be impossible: saving the hell’s angel that raised her mentor and heroine. To achieve her mission, Doodlebug will need to face her deepest fears—and hell’s most powerful forces—while accepting help from those she fundamentally mistrusts.

Sere’s still present in Hell Away from Home, but readers spend a LOT of time in Doodlebug’s head. That’s not a bad thing, just worth mentioning and a little different than what we’ve gotten used to.

Hell Away from Home didn’t necessarily make me like Doodlebug any more than I did before. I still can’t quite get past what she took away from Sere and her family. I understand her usefulness to Sere, but she’s got a long way to go to redeem herself. Sere doesn’t quite trust her either, which keeps things interesting. Especially with all that’s at stake.

Although there’s no true cliff hanger at the end of Hell Away from Home, things are definitely up in the air. Sere’s left with not knowing exactly who she can and can’t trust – including people she’s never questioned. Hell and Back is next and I can’t wait to see where things go from here. In the mean time, I’ll spend some time catching up with Sere’s back story in the Malveaux Curse Mystery series. 😉