Category Archives: Contemporary Fantasy

Covet by J. R. Ward

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Fallen Angels

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
A Novel of the Fallen Angels, Book 1
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Listening Length: 14 hours and 42 minutes (496 pages), ASIN: B0031KN6X4

Earth is the playing field and the game is a never ending struggle of good versus evil between the demons and the angels; using human souls to determine the score. The weight of each person’s soul is measured by the moral value of his deeds. But now the two teams have decided to put all their money on one player; one person who’s responsible to save seven souls balanced on a knife edge between good and evil. If he can help them all move up onto the side of good, then humanity wins and the demons will be banished forever. Covet is the first battle and it all rests on the shoulders of Jim Heron.

J.R. Ward is the pen name of Jessica Bird and she uses it for the paranormal romance novels that she has written. These include the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Fallen Angel series. There are currently four books in the Fallen Angel series and book five is expected to be released in September 2012. These books are told in a third person narrative alternating the point of view between several of the characters, but primarily from the point of view of the main protagonist Jim Heron.

The Fallen Angel series is an interesting concept with a unique twist on good against evil. Ms. Ward gave us a good insight into who the three main characters are, and she did good job a showing us why they would be motivated to act and respond the way that they did.  I liked the world that she creates, although I myself do not buy into the idea that it is up to one man to influence the balance between good and evil in the world.  I also do not buy that there is such a fine line between good and evil, but leaving that aside, the concept was well thought out and presented.

This is a standalone story, and it leads really nicely into the next book in the series. I recommend this book as a good read, and I am interested to see where the story is going so I am probably going to read the next book in the series, Crave.

 

To Purchase: “Covet” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series The Southern Vampire Mysteries Series

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
A Sooke Stackhouse Novel (The Southern Vampire Mysteries), Book 10
Publisher: Ace Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010), Hardcover: 311 pages, ISBN-10: 0441018645, ISBN-13: 978-0441018642

Eric and Sookie are now married and Eric’s sire is in town.  Sookie has to deal with her vampire father-in law and her crazy, vampire brother-in-law. At the same time she is recovering from the ordeal she went through in Dead and Gone.

Dead in the Family is the tenth book in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series (also known as A Sooke Stackhouse Novel), and currently there are a total of twelve books. The thirteenth and final book is going to be released May 2013. All the books are contemporary fantasy but are also known as urban fantasy. They also fall into the romance genre. The story is told in the first person narrative with Sooke’s voice and thoughts as we follow her around.

Not too much happens in the beginning of this book because Sookie is recuperating from being captured and tortured.  Eric’s sire is in town making life difficult for the couple.  There are a few problems which crop up surrounding the werewolves and there are still some lingering faerie problems. This book continues to examine prejudice showing the damage it can cause. The end of the book was exciting and had plenty of action.

Previously, I had found this series to be one of the better in this genre, but now I am questioning if that is still true.  While reading Dead in the Family, I found some of the writing to be trite and rushed with a story that was not very well formulated. I also thought the book lacked its usual exciting pace. However, I still enjoyed reading Sookie’s thoughts and I still really like all of the characters.

This is a standalone book that continues immediately after the events in book nine, and since there are going to be three more books in the series, I know that there is more to tell in Sookie’s story.  I have read all the previous books in the series and I have enjoyed them all, but I found Dead in the Family to be underwhelming.  I thought the book was OK, and I am planning to give the next book in the series a read.  I am hoping it will pick up some speed.

 Favourite Quote:

 “I love spring for all the obvious reasons. I love the flowers blooming (which happens early here in Louisiana); I love the birds twittering; I love the squirrels scampering across my yard. I love the sound of werewolves howling in the distance. No, just kidding. But the late, lamented Tray Dawson had once told me that spring is the favorite season of werewolves.” Page 37

 

To Purchase: “Dead in the Family” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Mister Monday by Garth Nix

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Keys to the Kingdom

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Keys to the Kingdom, Book One
Publisher: Listening Library, Listening Length: 8 hours and 9 minutes (368 pages), ASIN: B0001ZZ04U

 

Arthur is close to death from an asthma attack when he notices two strange men who seemed to appear out of nowhere. One of the men, Mister Monday, gives Arthur a key and a small notebook because he thinks Arthur is about to die.  However, the key has healing abilities which help to restore Arthur to good health.  When Mister Monday realizes this he tries to recapture the key. Arthur does everything in his power to protect himself and the key from these evil men.

Garth Nix has written numerous young adult books and series including: the Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and The Keys to the Kingdom.  Mister Monday is part of The Keys to the Kingdom series and it is a fantasy story that is told in the third person narrative primarily from the point of view of the main protagonist, a 12 year old boy named Arthur Penhaligon.

Mister Monday sets the premise of series by introducing the characters and the world that the story revolves around. As Arthur learns about the key he received, both he and the reader learn about the Keys to the Kingdom, which are the keys to the House. The House is the center of the universe and anything outside the House, like the earth and the solar system are part of the Secondary Realms. There are seven keys for the seven territories within the confines of the house, with each key governed by a master named for a day in the week. This first book covers the Lower House and is ruled by Mister Monday. Arthur’s adventure takes place both on earth as well as in the House.

This series is great for children of all ages, starting from age 7 and it is very well written.I really enjoyed this book.  I loved all the characters and found Arthur to be a likeable protagonist, who shows compassion to those around him. Garth Nix has a great writing style, creating an interesting universe and a unique concept of creation.  The house is the center of creation and the idea of the seven days of the week each ruling one part of the house alludes back to the seven days of creation in Genesis. Throughout the book there is a big emphasis on the written word and its impact on creation.

This is a standalone book, but it is also just the beginning of a bigger story. It ends with an introduction to the next book in the series. I recommend Mister Monday as a very good read and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Grim Tuesday.

To Purchase: “Mister Monday” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Angelic by Kelley Armstrong

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series An Otherworld Tale

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
An Otherworld Tale
Publisher: Tantor Audio, Listening Length: 1 hour and 35 minutes, (104 Pages), ASIN: B0034DGXEM

Eve Levine is an angel, who needs a vacation, but the Fates are determined to keep her at work. After Eve died several years ago, she became a celestial bounty hunter. She is effective at her job because she is part demon and with her partner is a ghost.

Kelley Armstrong has written numerous contemporary novels, 11 books in the Women of the Underworld series, plus several other books, series, anthologies and novellas, including Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising and Nadia Stafford series. Angelic is told in a first person narrative by the main character Eve Levine, who, now that she is dead, works for the angel corps. The story is a contemporary fantasy, also known as urban fantasy.

The story started without much explanation and it took me a while to figure out the parameters of the world and the characters.  However, I was intrigued by the little bit of back story that was revealed. I did not think the story flowed very smoothly, because the characters seemed to jump around from place to place, although the novella did come to a good conclusion.

Angelic is a stand-alone novella and a quick read. I thought the book was OK, but not great but I was not clear about the world, so perhaps if I understood the world better I would have enjoyed the book more.

To Purchase: “Angelic” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Newford Series

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Third Book in The Newford Series
A Newford Collection
Publisher: Orb Books (August 1, 2003), Paperback: 416 pages, ISBN-10: 0765306794, ISBN-13: 978-0765306791

Magic, gemmins, mermaids and ghosts are just a few of the characters we are introduced to in Dreams Underfoot. Each story revolves around a unique and special entity from Mr. de Lint’s imagination and each story is entertaining and well told. This is a universe filled with creatures of urban fantasy.

The Newford series has a different twist on contemporary fantasy. There are no vampires, werewolves, etc, but there is magic which is a melding of Native American spiritual beliefs and urban faerie. This is a collection of short stories in the Newford universe which includes many of the usual characters plus a few new ones. Charles de Lint is a prolific writer and has written 24 books in the Newford series alone, he has also written many other novels, novelettes, short stories and collections.

The last half of the book was much better than the first half, perhaps because these stories focused more on people like Jilly, Jordy, Christy and Wendy. My favourite story in this book is “The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep” and it is Sophie’s story.  She is telling Jilly about a dream. But in this dream she has to make a choice. She can save the moon in the water, which is really the drowned lady, or she can have her heart’s desire.  The outcome of these stories depend upon the choices made by the participants, each is given the opportunity to decide how they will respond to the situations they face.

Each story is standalone and separate from each other, but all the stories are within the universe that Mr. de Lint created. I recommend this book as an introduction to this universe and the people and concepts within. If you enjoy reading contemporary fantasy or are a fan of Mr. de Lint, then you should add Dreams Underfoot onto your list of books to read.

 Favorite quote:

“Small deaths…They’re those pivotal moments in a person’s life that change it forever: a love affair gone wrong, not getting into the right post-graduate program, stealing a car on a dare and getting caught, that kind of thing. They’re the moments that some people brood on forever; right now they could have the most successful marriage or career, but they can’t stop thinking about the past, about what might have happened if things had gone differently.”

To Purchase: “Dreams Underfoot” from Amazon, click here or on picture above.

 

 

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Women of the Otherworld

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
First book in Women of the Otherworld series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Listening Length: 12 hours and 59 minutes (544 pages), ASIN: B001BXKVK4

Elena is a werewolf and she is trying to exist in the human world.  No one, except her pack, knows what she is, not even her boyfriend. However she has turned her back on her pack and she is trying to make it on her own. But when the pack calls, needing her help, she returns to find more than what she anticipated.
Bitten was Kelley Armstrong’s first novel and it was initially released in 2001. Subsequently she has written 11 more books in the Women of the Underworld series, with the final book in the series expected to be released in July 2012. To date, she has also published numerous other books, series, anthologies and novellas, including Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising and Nadia Stafford series. Bitten is told in a first person narrative by the main character Elena Michaels, the only existing female werewolf. The story is a contemporary fantasy, also known as urban fantasy and includes some romance.
The characters are interesting and the story has a good flow building up to an exciting conclusion. There is plenty of action, with a few twist and turns. The story also includes a few romantic scenes between Elena and her first love, a man she is not sure whether to hate or love, Clayton. As the story unfolds, Elena comes to terms with herself experiencing a good character arc.This is a standalone novel and I am curious to see what Elena gets up to next. I recommend this story as a good book to anyone who enjoys reading paranormal romances involving werewolves.To purchase Bitten from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Kate Daniels Series

Book Review: 1 trash can
Kate Daniels Series, Book One
Publisher: Tantor Audio, Program Type: Audiobook, Listening Length: 9 hours and 6 minutes, ASIN: B001PLND3E

Kate Daniels, a mercenary who can wield magic, becomes a temporary member of the Knight of the Order of Merciful Aid when she investigates the murder of her mentor and friend. Kate wields a magic sword and has magic in her blood. During her investigation she suspects that the Masters of the Dead or else Curran, the beast lord, are the most likely suspects, but are they?

Ilona Andrews is the pen name for Ilona Gordon and Andrew Gordon, a husband and wife writing team. There are currently nineb ooks in the Kate Daniels series, a contemporary fantasy series where magic and technology are continually at odds. When magic is flowing, technology doesn’t work and vice versa, with each power source continually in flux. Monsters roam the streets including naked, sinuous and bloodthirsty vampires who are controlled by necromancers.  Ilona Andrews has also written three books in the The Edge Series and two in the Kinsmen Series. Magic Bites is told in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, Kate Daniels.

The Kate Daniels books have quite a large following and some of the books have even ended up on the New York Times best selling list.  I can see how some of the original ideas, like the portrayal of the vampires and the way magic and technology are at odds can be appealing.  That is why I decided to give this series a try.  However, after reading, I could not understand why anyone would enjoy this book, I did not. Perhaps the quality of the writing improves as the series continues. I thought the dialogue was cheesy with a confusing story that jumped around without much flow while following a weak plotline.

Although this is a standalone book and the story resolves by the end of the book, the journey was painful.  I do not recommend this book.

 Question to ponder: Has anyone read all or any of the books in the series and if so, is the writing in the later books an improvement over the first book?

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Alpha and Omega Series, Book 2
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks, Listening Length: 8 hours and 25 minutes (304 pages), ASIN: B002MVI0XY

In this universe the Fae have already come out to the world at large and The Marrok feels it is time for the werewolves to come out as well. But what would happen if a supernatural group, that may or may not include the European werewolves, did not want the world to know? There would be lots of strife and bloodshed, but can Charles and Anna contain the damage?

This is the second of two released books in the Alpha and Omega series. There is also a novella that introduced this series and was published in On the Prowl. The third book is expected to be out in March 2012. This series takes place in the Mercedes Thompson universe but it revolves around different characters, focusing on Charles, the Marrok’s part Native American werewolf son and his new mate, Anna, who just happens to be an Omega. Patricia Brigg has also written several other series which fall into Paranormal Romance, High Fantasy, and Fantasy. She has written numerous short stories. This series is considered Urban Fantasy or Contemporary Fantasy. The books are told in a first person narrative with Anna’s voice and thoughts.

The book examines Charles and Anna’s relationship and delves into both their characters on a deeper level. I did not enjoy this book as much as the first book. I found the story to be a bit repetitive and it was not as captivating but I still enjoyed reading about Charles and Anna.

Hunting Ground is a standalone book with a much stronger ending than beginning or middle. I have not yet decided whether or not I will read the next book in the series when it is released.

To Purchase: “Hunting Ground” from Amazon, click here or on picture above
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The Onion Girl, by Charles de Lint

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Newford Series

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Eleventh book in the Newford Series
Publisher: Tor Books (August 3, 2002), Paperback: 512 pages, ISBN-10: 0765303817, ISBN-13: 978-0765303813

Jilly Coppercorn, an artist, has been seriously injured in a car accident. She is now the broken girl, both inside and outside. Jilly, like the city of Newford has many layers, that is why she is The Onion Girl.  This story is her journey of self discovery which she must go through in order to heal, with most of her journey taking place in the spirit world.

The Newford series has a different twist on contemporary fantasy. There are no vampires, werewolves, etc, but there is magic which is a melding of Native American spiritual beliefs and urban faerie. The story is told in a first person narrative alternating between Jilly, the main protagonist, her little sister Raylaine, and Joe Crazy Dog, a veteran of the spirit world. Charles de Lint is a prolific writer and has written 24 books in the Newford series alone, he has also written many other novels, novelettes, short stories and collections.

Although horrific, child abuse is examined in this book. The story shows how the same horrendous event can affect different people in different ways. Some people can choose to overcome the abuse, while others can let the abuse destroy their life. When Jilly was growing up she experienced evil in the form of a brother who started sexually abusing her when she was just three years old. Her parents were even more evil, since they not only knew about it, they also blamed and ostracized the young girl for her unwilling participation. Now both Jilly and her sister continue to deal with the evil that was done to them, each coming to terms with the abuse in a different manner.

This is a standalone book, with a great story that examines personal responsibility. If you enjoy reading contemporary fantasy where the majority of the story takes place in a spirit world, then you should read The Onion Girl.

To purchase: “The Onion Girl” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series The Southern Vampire Mysteries Series

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
A Sooke Stackhouse Novel (The Southern Vampire Mysteries), Book 9
Publisher: Ace; First edition (May 5, 2009), Format: Kindle Edition, File Size: 392 KB, Print Length: 312 pages, ASIN: B0024CEY22

The were community comes out to the world, the fae community start a civil war and Sooke is in the middle of all the action. The world does not take well to the existence of the weres and this is revealed with the shocking crucifiction of Jason’s estranged wife, Crystal. Who would do such a horrible deed? The mystery is unraveled as this story progresses.


Dead and Gone is the ninth book in The Southern Vampire Mysteries series(also known as A Sooke Stackhouse Novel), there are currently a total of eleven books with book twelve scheduled to be released May 2012. All the books are contemporary fantasy but are also known as urban fantasy. They also fall into the romance genre. The story is told in the first person narrative with Sooke’s voice and thoughts as we follow her around.

I did not enjoy this book as much as the previous books in the series, perhaps because it was so much darker. The story deals with prejudice in a big way, first how people respond to the weres, then how the fae feels towards humanity and then finally with the attack on Sooke. It also had a very sad ending and I felt it left off on a rather down note. There was lots of action in the book with plenty going on all the time. I always enjoy the interactions between Eric and Sooke.

I recommend this book, especially to fans of Sooke Stackhouse; it carries the story forward and is an interesting read.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series so I can find out how Sooke deals with what she endured during Dead and Gone and to see where the story is going next.

Questions to ponder: Do you like the HBO version of True Blood? What do you think of the characters in the TV series?

To Purchase: “Dead and Gone” from Amazon, click here or on picture above
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