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Saturday, August 15, 2015

REVIEW: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

“Loki, that's me. Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies.” 

This novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Norse gods and does so with the stunning first person narrative of none other than The Trickster himself, Loki. This tells of Loki's recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many adventures while serving Odin, the countless betrayals and mischief and the fall of Asgard.

Author Joanne Harris has a passion for writing about Norse mythology.  Those familiar with her work will recognize YA titles such as Runemarks and Runelight, both of which I highly recommend if you enjoyed this book.  The true highlight of this novel is the point of view.  Loki's narration is informative yet playful; just like you'd expect him to be.  Harris has captured what I'd call a certain Poe-esque quality to Loki's character.  Readers become enraptured by him; however, know with great certainty that they shouldn't necessarily believe him. This use of the classic literary device--the unreliable narrator--is brilliant.

The audiobook is just stellar. Allan Cordunar breathes life to the characters and make for a truly entertaining read.  Nonetheless, despite this fantastic reading, I couldn't help but long for narration by Tom Hiddleston. That would have made this a 5 star experience.  All in all, I recommend this if you are looking for your next great listen or if you want a new spin on Norse mythology.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @Joannechocolat

#audiobook #bookreview #gospelofloki #norse #mythology #joanneharris

REVIEW: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Magic Shifts is everything that Kate Daniels fans love and more.  It was so phenomenal that even a week later I'm still doing the book Snoopy dance of amazingness!!!  This is very much a transition book.  Kate and Curran are still dealing with the aftermath of Magic Breaks and the impact these decisions have not only on their relationship, family, friends, and the city.  Roland is still a very real threat; however, readers are in for a hilarious treat with the awkwardly tense new relationship with Kate and her father. None of it will end well but the road to the end will be an entertaining ride.

“I had come here intending to declare a possible war and instead ended up planning a dinner date with my father at Applebee’s.” 

The husband wife writing due making up pen name--Ilona Andrews--never disappoint.  Kate is back with all of her bad-ass snark. Having claimed Atlanta as her own, she does whatever necessary--often to the detriment of her own well-being--to protect the city and its people. This causes a smidgen of tension between Kate and Curran, but ultimately he understands her and supports her no matter what.  Fans will yet again swoon at their relationship, especially with this quote:

“I will always be there. I will walk across the whole planet if I have to.” I closed my eyes and whispered, “I’ll meet you halfway.” 
Strange creatures galore fill out the rest of this action paced adventure. Evil djinn, massive insects and giants keep Kate and crew on their toes while also sneaking in an edge and ponderings for later books. 
“Do we have a flamethrower?” Curran asked. 
“We should get a flamethrower.” 

I laughed, I cried, and now I'm pining for the next books.

If you haven't read the series yet, what are you waiting for?  These are an urban fantasy must!  I cannot recommend them enough and if you are an audiobook fan, the narration by Renee Raudman is amazing and engaging.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: ilona@andrews
Follow the narrator on Twitter; @reneeraudman

#katedaniels #magicshifts #urbanfantasy #romance #review #audiobook

Sunday, August 9, 2015

REVIEW: The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review

The Demon's Librarian is a reissue (cover updated) from an original 2009 publication. Head Librarian, Franchesca (Chess) Barnes discovers an ancient library of demonology manuscripts just as a nasty sewer dwelling creature has moved on from snacking on rats to innocent schoolchildren.  If Chess' new activities weren't daunting enough, things get a whole lot more complicated when she meets Ryan, a Drakul--part demon, part loyal servant of the Order.  As it turns out Chess' inane talent for magic and demon-slaying is not due to her brainy Head Librarian status. Instead, she's a rare and much needed descendant of others with powerful magical mojo.

What I liked...

Chess is fun, assertive and captivating female heroine.  There's good snark and I loved the actual library quips since I'm a librarian too. The premise that Chess discovers the books, reads them and figures out how to make the dagger and other magical items work is pretty cool as is her initiative to go slay some demons.  I had to chuckle at the joke that she learned all this just because budget cuts eliminated the maintenance worker in the building!

The premise is sound and I would have liked this to be setting up more of a series rather than a standalone.  I would be curious to see how Chess develops her powers and such.

What I didn't like...

1)  It felt like readers were thrown half into the action. I thought the world-building and explanation of the Order and other mythology were severely lacking. I'm not a reader who needs every minute detail spelled out, but overall this just didn't cut it for me.

2)  Chess starts out with such potential and then turns into the damsel in distress a bit too many times.  She pulls through in the end; however, the multiple fainting spells and needing to be rescued gets a bit tiresome.

3)  The cover.  The reissue is misleading that the novel is a paranormal romance.  While there is romance to a degree and it is paranormal, there is not so much smexyness as the toned shirtless man on the front would lead readers to believe.

4)  I hated the 'caveman' persona featured by every man in the book.  Paul was just atrocious and the brief glimpse at the other Order members wasn't much better.  Ryan certainly has his redeeming qualities but the overprotective half-demon you shall do as I say or I'll freak out and ravage you and kill everybody else bit was tedious.  Just liked Chess, I cringed every time he called her sweetheart and seethed by the end when she accepts it as cute.

Final rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

#lilithsaintcrow #demonslibrarian #review #paranormal #netgalley

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

REVIEW: The Veil by Chloe Neill

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review

The Veil is the first of a new series (Devil's Isle) by bestselling author of the Chicagoland Vampire novels, Chloe Neill. This unique urban fantasy story is a face paced, thrilling ride for fans of the genre, Neill, and as a comparable read-a-like to Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels or The Edge series.

Seven years ago, the Veil between the human world and Beyond fell, leaving New Orleans as ground zero for a brutal supernatural war.  With the Veil once again in place, all supernaturals and "Sensitives" to magic are contained in the Devil's Isle.  Twenty something Claire Connolly is a hardworking human with a dangerous secret.  Eight months ago, she became a Sensitive when she inadvertently developed telekinetic abilities. Claire lives in fear that Containment will learn her secret and ship her off to the District, separating her from her beloved shop and friends.

After the War Night festivities, Claire uses her magic to save a young girl from a wraith (humans sensitive to magic that go ferally insane) which puts her in the path of sexy bounty hunter Liam Quinn. I won't spoil the fun too much for other readers.  I'll just say that the following story is packed full of delicious sexual tension and adventure.  Liam and Claire form an alliance--doing their best to fight a growing attraction, teach Claire to control her abilities, and to figure out who wants to dissolve the Veil.

As a reader, I'm a huge fan of Neill's Chicagoland books.  I loved The Veil as the first part of a new series.  Great world building and memorable characters.  I can't wait to see what develops for subsequent books, I have a strong feeling that Liam and Claire might rival Ethan and Merit for my literary affections!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter; @chloeneill

#devilsisle #chloeneill #review #netgalley #urbanfantasy #paranormal

Saturday, August 1, 2015

REVIEW: Fairest, Vol. 5: The Clamour for Glamour

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review

Expected Publication: August 25, 2015

As the final volume of Fairest, I have to say that as a reader I was immensely disappointed.  Parts of this volume fit within the last issues of Fables; however, the bulk of the story feels irrelevant.  If the idea behind the Fairest series was to highlight the Fables women, then this is sorely lacking.  Part of what made the other volumes so interesting was the strong female characters.  I love reading about Cinderella and her various spy adventures. 

What readers find here instead are several prolonged and unnecessary stories.   Reynard the Fox is the envy of most Fables at the Farm although they despise his condescending attitude. These other Fables want the glamours promised to them by Prince Charming; however, such magic on a massive scale is not possible.  Therefore, five glamours will be made and a lottery held. Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly and chaos ensues.  

The primary story centers around Reynard. Having been given glamour to blend in with the mundy world, Reynard goes off, woos a young human woman and they have a child, Fair, who appears human with a fox tail. Reynard thinks he's saving her from her abusive family but everyone ends up living happily ever after or so we're led to believe. 

Since the majority of the series has been focused hiding the Fables from the human world, this story creates a bit of a problem with no clear solution. Perhaps the point is that separating the two is fruitless? Of this I remain unsure.

Overall, this volume was a bit lackluster; however, it still featured stellar illustrations and a commitment to detail and the series that I truly appreciate as a fan. It is sad to see it all come to an end but it was a pretty good ride.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

#fairest #fables #billwillingham #graphicnovel #review #twistedfairytales #netgalley

REVIEW: Alice by Christina Henry

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review

Christina Henry's Alice is a decidedly dark retelling of Lewis Carol's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Within dilapidated buildings and amongst desperate peoples, there is an asylum in the Old City where the walls echo with the screams of those tortured inside. Alice has been locked away for some ten years, following her reappearance after a prolonged abduction.  All she remembers is a tea party, long ears and blood. However, her parents dismissed ramblings and had her committed.

The asylum in and of itself is a place filled with horrors. Nonetheless, Alice finds solace when she discovers Hatcher, a fellow patient with an equally troubling past.  Troubles escalate when a lethal fire brings their imprisonment to an end; however, it unleashes the Jabberwocky and sets other events in motion.  Alice, with Hatcher at her side, must embark on a series of dark and twisted adventures in hopes of defeating the Jabberwocky, and discovering the truth regarding her new-found abilities and her missing memories at the evil hand of the Rabbit.

I am a huge fan of twisted fairy tales.  Henry's re-envisioning of this classic is uniquely dark and twisted and as such plays homage to the original tale.  The sinister natures of many of our well beloved characters had me on the edge of my seat.  This is certainly a tale for adults with descriptive physical violence as well as sexual assault.

While at present this appears to be a standalone novel, there is significant potential for a continuation of the story. I enjoyed this and would read additional titles in the series.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @C_Henry_Author

#review #netgalley #alice #aliceinwonderland #fiction #christinahenry #twistedfairytales