urban fantasy

Book Review – How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days (The Tale of Bryant Adams #1) by Megan O’Russell.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

What can I say, I love the types of quirky, slightly off kilter stories that Curiosity Quills publish and so when I saw this on their site I had to take a look. Was I disappointed? Nope!

What’s it about? Well, if I was to undersell ‘How I Magically Messed Up My Life In Four Freakin’ Days’ I would say it’s a book about a boy who discovers he is can use magic… thanks to a mobile phone.

But it’s not just that and it’s not a Harry Potter rip off and thank goodness for that! As I seem to be about one of the only people in the world who doesn’t like HP! Love JK on Twitter… not a fan of the books. Go figure! 😀

However, with this book – sorry, the title is so long I can’t keep plugging it like I usually do – think more a mix of the least annoying bits of HP with great big dollops of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere mixed in with a bit of teen angst and a smattering of Arthur Dent’s hapless exploits as a hitchhiker and you get a better idea of what’s it all about. Just then add some independent and new ideas on an old theme and you’re there!

Plus it’s the first book in a potentially entertaining new YA/ NA urban fantasy series and I hope you can see now why I felt it got the score I gave it.

See, calling it ‘like Harry Potter’ is a serious underselling insult and I hope it is never described as that. If it is – shame on that reviewer!

Okay, back to what’s it all about… well, it’s set in modern day New York City where normal, everyday teens go from the usual angst of high school, fitting in and looking cool to having life turned on its head due to a misplaced phone and our characters then find themselves learning about a hidden world within their own. I mean, who doesn’t love those ‘what if’ hidden world’s within their own? I love them!

For those not into ‘teen drama’ don’t panic! Yes the main characters are teens – and sold as a YA book – but are still enjoyable by young and old. I didn’t need my inner teenager to enjoy this story; I managed it on my old fogey own. 😉

And even though this is obviously the first book in a series – the subtitle of ‘The Tale of Bryant Adams Book 1’ is a bit of a hint – this can easily be enjoyed as a stand-alone tale. I mean, there are still going to be a few threads flapping about at the end of it you might want tied up… but that’s for the next book. They can be ignored by those only wanting to read this first book… but people who think that way are just being silly and should stop pretending – read the next book when it comes out, you know you want to! 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. I mean, isn’t it obvious I am pro not just this book but the rest of the tales to come in this series? Really? You didn’t spot that in my heaping on the praise bit? 😀

So yes, lovers of HP may or may not like it… I don’t know, as I simply don’t GET loving Harry Potter. But fans of urban fantasy or speculative fiction where there is a ‘what if’ world within our own… you’re going to enjoy this read. Yes, think ‘Neverwhere’, ‘RoofWorlders’, ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’… Think fun, entertaining and enjoyable while still setting reality on a slightly different angle to normal. You will enjoy this book!

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yeah, I can see that as a possibility. I mean, right now it is wavering between ‘library book’ and ‘eBook I own’ status… but as long as the series keeps going in this way, I can see it becoming one I proudly own and will tell everyone about who dares to make eye contact with my while I am reading it. 😉

In summary: A great look at the hidden world of magic and what happens when teens access it. I highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service by David D. Hammons.

rasputins-supernatural-dating-service

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank the author David Hammons for offering me a free electronic copy of this book as,  quite simply, I love his work. Can one be in love with someone else’s imagination? Or is that just getting into the ultra-creepy cougar stalker zone?

Oh, and I also got offered a free electronic copy of the book, via Netgalley, by the publisher Curiosity Quills… so not totally stalker zone. 😉

Can you tell I really liked this book and truly do love Mr Hammons’ imagination? Such a funny, sarcastic and whimsical view of urban fantasy… seriously going to have to get myself signed up as an over 40’s fan girl.

I have read other works by Mr Hammons, starting with ‘Alice takes back Wonderland’ and I thought it was… okay. But his ‘Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas’! Oh my goodness! I have not loved such a skewed view of a dystopian world – ever! The humour and intelligence in that book was just so me!

And so, we come to ‘Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service’ from the blurb I did raise an eyebrow as I wondered if it would be at Alice level or Banana level… it was at Banana level. A brilliant, funny and whacky look into the world of urban fantasy. I simply loved it.

The only reason I’ve not given it the top score is there was just something lacking… maybe the slow start, I don’t know? But I just didn’t go bananas over it as much. Though by the end I was getting antsy and preying this was the first book in a series as my goodness! We have found Mr Pratchett’s replacement! The humour, sarcasm, irony and skewed outlook on life that so resonates with me  – and will resonate with so many others – this is going to be a killer series. Hint hint there Mr Hammons!

Okay, enough gushing about the author – he’s probably getting a restraining order put together as you read this.

On to the book. ‘Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service’ did start a little slow for me and I did wonder if/ when it was going to get to the point. I mean, the plot was there and I got that… but our protagonist took a little too long to justify why he was the protagonist. Or maybe I was just too impatient? Who knows?

Loved the things to google mentioned throughout the book. I will not confirm or deny having used google to look up facts mentioned in the book… but, yeah, just adds that special level of humour within modern day reading. And what is it with Montana? Since I started reading this book I’ve heard a few similar comments on TV shows. Don’t tell me I may or may not have to google again!

The story was well worth it in the end as, when it got going, it really got going. The whole not exactly Men in Black, this is the reality of supernatural creatures in today’s society thing that ran throughout the book was fantastic. Made it a highly entertaining read. Just so glad the Winchester boys don’t know about RSDS!

Oh and Ivan… Just Yes. Is good for health. Yes.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Hell yes! Loved it, totally entertained by it and while you’re out buying it, go grab Mr Hammons other two books I’ve mentioned and thank me later. I like proper chocolate and free books. Just a hint. 😉

And, as much as I feel my 12 year old would enjoy ‘Don’t Eat the Glowing Bananas’ (she keeps hearing me go on about it and so wants to read my copy) I don’t feel ‘Rasputin’s Supernatural Dating Service is as age appropriate. I suggest more your New Adults, rather than Young Adults as an audience. As well as we old cougars with a love of both the NA and YA genre! 😀

Would I buy this book for myself?

Uhhhh, let me think on that for a moment. Yes! Huge fan, not a stalker, just a fan. Would most definitely buy this book – and any more of the series to come. You should too. Thank me later. Remember proper chocolate.

In summary: for lovers of quirky, sarcastic, tongue in cheek urban fantasy that is still an adventure and has a HEA ending… this is the book for you. I highly recommend it!

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Hypnotic City by Andrea Berthot.

Hypnotic City

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Let me start by saying this is the second book in the ‘Gold and Gaslight Chronicles’ and that I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series – ‘The Heartless City’. Which means I was really looking forward to this book… and so do feel a little let down by it.

Oh, don’t hate my review yet! Please hear me out! I really enjoyed this book; it had some good moments and really worked well as the sort of adventure that would happen in that era – even if in a parallel urban fantasy world. There was just something missing in this second book that had me loving the first so much, and I can’t put my finger on what it was.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying it was an okay story. I enjoyed it, it was well written and all in all… okay. But as I simply loved the first book and felt it amazingly GOOD… this one is just pale in comparison. So, it’s still a good read… but it’s just not a GOOD read. Yeah, like that SO makes sense!

I also found it a little ‘Famous Five’ near the end – not giving any spoilers away here – and it just added to the lack lustre feel I got. However, if I had read this book as a stand-alone and not in comparison to the first, I am sure I would be raving about how good it was at picking the right feel for a mystery and adventure in that era. As a lover of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s supernatural tales, I feel this tale fits very well into that seem feel, mystery and touch of the unknown he captured so well in his stories. So well done to Ms Berthot for that! She matched her writing style to that era and genre very well.

Please realise it’s a good book but, for me, a bit of a letdown compared to the first and I honestly cannot see how or why! It is obviously down to me being far too harsh and critical so totally take the blame. Nothing to do with Ms Berthot or her skills at all!

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, but only as a follow on to ‘The Heartless City’. And I wouldn’t pass my judgement on before people had read them both either. As I honestly do feel the fault in not fully loving this book lies with me.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I would, but simply because I loved the first one so much and like to collect series and keep them together. If I had read it as a stand-alone, it may not have gotten past “library book” standing though.

In summary: Although could be read as a stand-alone, ‘The Hypnotic City’ really should be read as a follow on from ‘The Heartless City’. It was enjoyable and written well to suit the era and genre it was set in… but I just didn’t gel with it as much as I did the first. But what would I know? If you enjoyed book one, you will enjoy this one too – so check it out today!

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Sight (A Devil’s Isle Novel) by Chloe Neill.

The Sight

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Let me start by saying that the ARC of this book I received was very rough and, in places, a little cringe worthy. And so let me assure you any seemingly negative comments that appear in this review are probably due to that. I will go out on a limb here and say that the final edit and finished version will be of a far better quality – ARCs are rough and ready, not the finished piece I knew that reading it and usually let it slide – but I did get a little put off at times due to the quality of what it was I was reading. So if you think I didn’t like it from anything I say… that’s just my dislike of the ARC showing through, nothing to do with the story. We’re good? Awesome, let’s continue!

So this is the second book in the ‘Devil’s Isle’ series and one I have been hanging out for ever since I finished the first book last year. Loved the first book, did everything I could to look appealing enough to get noticed and get my hands on the ARC of the second ASAP – so, see, my own fault – as this is such an addictive series.

This book didn’t disappoint. Yes it was a little slow in places and yes I could see where it was going to go at the end… but that is just me  – I guess endings well. No spoilers being given.

All in all the flow was good, we picked up where we left off, the characters continued to grow and develop and the story progressed in a good, steady manner. I honestly feel I should have reread ‘The Veil’ before reading ‘The Sight’ but I was too impatient to revisit. I just wanted to press on. And, maybe if I had, it would have run more smoothly together. I just felt there was some level of disconnection, something MISSING in this book that absorbed me in the first… I don’t know what it was, but it just wasn’t there. I feel if I did read one after the other it might gel better than it did.

It could just be in the ARC, but there were also a few comments and plays on words that didn’t work for me as they were modern slang and things I just didn’t feel would have appeared in this world of an alternate history. See duct tape… I’m sure you know what I mean.

But was I disappointed in the book? Oh heck no! Worth the wait, worth jumbling through the ARC errors for and yes I have a mighty book hangover as I just WANT MORE! 🙂 So it achieved what I felt it set out to do.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, but not as a standalone. I really feel people should read ‘The Veil’ first as it does a lot of the setting up of this world parallel to ours. There isn’t as much ‘world building’ in ‘The Sight’ as you’re meant to have read the books in order. So, if you want to read this book, go buy and read ‘The Veil’ first! 😉

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would. If you haven’t noticed, I have been trying to keep any negative undertone out of my review as it really is based on me being persnickety at the errors in the ARC. I really, really loved this book, felt it so worth the wait and will be doing my best to grab the next book in the series as soon as I possibly can. So, PLEASE, ignore any negativity felt – this is an awesome book.

In summary: A great sequel – not standalone – book to the ‘Devil’s Isle’ series and one that was well worth the wait. Good writing, great parallel world built and highly addictive series for the lovers of the paranormal/supernatural urban fantasy.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Karma Patrol by Kate Miller.

2 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Yeah, I hate it when I love the publisher, but come across a book that wasn’t all it cracked up to be for me. I really don’t know what it was, but I seriously could just not connect to ‘Karma Patrol’ at all, and yet I thought it a great concept and loved the blurb.

I found the multiple short sentences, brief descriptions of things and almost more note taking than story telling style of writing just really hard to get into and even when I finished the book I still felt like I was waiting for it to get to the point.

The way it was also trying to be multiple genres really didn’t work for it either. Love/romance over a soul mate connection, crime thriller, supernatural urban fantasy… I feel it was all a little too much to juggle in the one story and so came across as clumsy and disjointed. Almost as if the author understood the whole gist of it, but wasn’t too sure they knew how to pull it off smoothly.

And, I am so very sorry to sound like such a negative Nancy too as I hate it when people leave bad reviews for my work and I really do want to apologise here and now to Ms Miller. Please take all my hogwash as constructive criticism and not a personal attack on your writing skills. There was just something about this book that I didn’t connect with. LOVED the cover, LOVED the blurb… couldn’t get to grips with the story to be swept away with the magic you were trying to weave.

Please note that I do feel the faults lay with me the reader and not the book. I am sure there are people who are going to read, love and totally enjoy ‘Karma Patrol’. I am just not one of them as it didn’t click for me and didn’t spark my imagination as hoped.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I’m really in two minds over this as yes I didn’t like the book myself… but I can really see that others might. It was not a BAD BOOK. It was a bad connection to this particular reader. So I would say – if it looks good to you, go and read it and ignore me as I’m obviously wrong. 😉

Would I buy this book for myself?

Sadly no I wouldn’t. Was a definite CNC (Could Not Connect) and therefore not a book for me.

In summary – ‘Karma Patrol’ has the potential to be a great story, and to some it might be. To me… yeah, no. There was just something there I was missing and therefore not the book for me. Not a bad book, just a bad match to this particular reviewer.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -How To Date Dead Guys (Under The Blood Moon #1) by Ann M. Noser.

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

This story was an interesting one. The book is told in the first person by an intelligent, sarcastic and good at heart college girl lumbered with all the usual anxieties that come with being an intelligent, sarcastic and good at heart girl in her late teens, early twenties at college. 😉

I liked it, I really did. But I will admit now to finding the tense a little hard to read at times as it was in the current present tense, but sometimes seemed to slip into the past present tense… yeah, I think I confused myself with that sentence too! Basically, it was being told as it happened… but sometimes seemed to slip into being told as it had just happened and made me go a bit cross eyed. I also felt it a little slow to start, couldn’t quite find its footing as to what type of story it was wanting to be, and then when it did find its footing, became a slightly different story to the one it started out as.

You know, sometimes reviewing things from an emotional point of view makes me sound like such a crazy lady. Just hand me a few dozen more cats and I’ll be fine. 😉

It was a good story and I did indeed enjoy the roller coaster of emotions it gave to me and I enjoyed the characters, how they developed and all in all the general feel of the story.

Being a Pagan myself I did find the “witchcraft” side of it a little insipid and “TV generic”, as in based on what we’re supposed to get up to according to TV shows… but that could just be an issue with this particular reader and I don’t believe that was a flaw in the book.

I am aware there is already a second book in this series out and I’ve even read the blurb… but as much as I enjoyed this book, I would like to leave it as a stand-alone. I’m not too sure why, but I just didn’t feel the connection needed to go racing to get the next one. Again, this is a flaw with the reader and not with the quality of the writing or the book. One was just enough from me, though if I did see other works written by Ms Noser, I would indeed check them out. But I feel I am done with this particular series, sorry.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. It was good. It had some great moments and, although not that original, the concept and storyline of this book were good. A little more meat to the witchcraft side of things would have made that part more believable to me, but it still worked on a watered down level.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes, I would be proud to have this book grace my electronic shelves as there was just something about it that gives me the feeling I would like reading it again at some point… though, for now, I can’t say I hold a particular interest in following the series. It was a good stand-alone book for me.

In summary – an enjoyable, if a little slow at the beginning, story of a college girl coming to grips with life, death, the afterlife, witchcraft and staying true to herself while also ensuring she gets a passing grade. Well, it’s really a lot more than that, but you better go read it to find that out what else it entails.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Of Scions and Men by Courtney Sloan.

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

This book was great! Though I will freely admit at first I groaned and thought I was reading a ‘Hollows wannabe’. I soon shut myself up, apologised profusely for being such an idiot for assuming such a thing and got on with enjoying the story. It is NOT a ‘Hollows wannabe’ AT ALL! Yes there are some minor similarities… but you could say that about any supernatural urban fantasy that has vampires, shifters (were people) and the like in them. In some ways, it was better than the Hollows as it’s a new series, first off and… time for me and I do apologise to Ms Harrison and her Hollows for saying this… BETTER! More believable and easier to get into, to run with.

Okay, so now I have possibly insulted two excellent authors, let’s try and skip past that and get on with how great this book is.

‘Of Scions and Men’ is a really good spin on the whole vamp/ scion roles often shown in books these days. That in itself was unique. And – yay!!! – the vampires didn’t sparkle! They were seen as what they were by those who looked at them in different lights. Yeah, that was easy to follow, right? Basically the whole idea of the lesser of two evils… with a supernatural twist really came into play with this book.

The main character was likable, you got to know her and her background well as the book progressed – rather than having all dumped on you to start with, or suddenly thrown at you as to why she is the way she is as a poorly planned plot twist near the end. No, Ms Sloan handled the whole character development very well and kept me interested into the wee hours with my ‘One more chapter’ mantra.

There were the odd typo and grammatical glitches, but this was an ARC and so they are easily excused. My work (and reviews) are full of them so cannot judge! I will admit to sometimes getting a little lost in the fight scenes as the terminology used confused me. It was probably the correct and proper phrases used… but not being a fight guru I almost skimmed those sections as they got a little too technical for me. Not a big thing, just a reader thing. As in, the fault lay with the reader, not the book.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. In fact, I already have been. Anyone I know who has read ‘The Hollows’ series by Kim Harrison has had me tell them to grab this book and have a read as it’s great.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would. In fact, I have a MAJOR book hangover from it and really, REALLY want to see how this series is going to progress and I can’t wait to read the next book. Yes, I will be making big moony eyes at Ms Sloan and Curiosity Quills Press in the hopes I can be a reviewer for the next book too.

In summary: Loved it, read it in like 3 days and want more NOW! A brilliant, refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable new supernatural urban fantasy series and something lovers of this genre should go and buy TODAY! Buy it now, thank me later. 😉

Until next time,

Janis.