Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bitty Reviews: 4 Urban Fantasies

Last month, my reviews focused on books that had zombies in them because... well...  I had received a shitload of books about the walking dead at BEA.  Zombies are the hot new trend and they are popping up across genres.  But woman cannot live on zombie books alone (at least I can't), and I managed to squeeze in a few non-zombie tomes to cleanse my palate.  Below are several short reviews of the latest urban fantasy offerings from some of my favorite authors.

Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh.  Book 10 of the Psy/Changeling series and Hawke and Sienna's story.  I was not disappointed by this story, a testament to Singh's skill as a writer because most open-ended series lose me somewhere around book 5.  Sienna and Hawke are well matched, despite there being a 15 year age difference between the two but this is one of the few times where I wasn't rolling my eyes.  He's the alpha who can never love and she's a living weapon who's control is fracturing apart.  But the two can no longer deny the attraction between them. Their courtship progresses nicely in the book, never feeling too rushed, allowing them to work through their inner obstacles so that when they finally come together, it's as equals.  It's also smoking hot.  There is a lovely secondary romance as well, between Walker and healer Lara.  Despite being part of a series, this book works as a stand alone.  But if you haven't been reading this series, don't start with this one.  The whole series is super.  Start at the beginning.  Grade: A

Shady Lady by Ann Aguirre.  Book 3 of the Corinne Solomon series.  Corinne is a "handler", able to tell the history of an object just by touching it.  After the events of the previous book, Corinne now possesses her dead mother's magic as well.  Back in Mexico, she only wants to focus on her business and maybe figure out her life but evil drug lord, Diego Montoya, still holding a grudge from the first book,  has other plans for Corinne.  Crazy, vengeful, murderous plans... and he's got a black magic sorcerer to help him.  There was some nice action sequences in this book and I liked that Corinne was proactive in dealing with the threat to her life.  However, I wish she'd make up her friggin' mind when it' comes to her romantic life.  She has sex with one guy, then commits to another guy and when he loses all memory of her, she drives off with her ex-boyfriend, ready to give a relationship with him a go.  WTF is that about?  Why should I emotionally invest in Corinne's romantic entanglements when she can't.  I'm starting to think she's one of those women who can't be without a man in her life.  Grade: C

Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin #4) by Jennifer Estep.  After the events of Venom (Elemental Assassin #3), fire elemental and local crime boss Mab Monroe knows that the Spider is gunning for her.  Luckily she is still unaware that the Spider is also Gin Blanco, retired assassin and barbeque joint owner.  Mab has brought a heavy hitter to town, an electrical elemental assassin by the name of Elektra LaFleur, to take out the Spider once and for all.  And once that's done, Gin's sister is next.  Things are really coming to a head in this series and life has become even more dangerous for Gin.  Good thing she's so good at what she does.  Gin is definitely one of those kick-ass, urban fantasy heroines with super magical powers but it works for me.  Partly because Gin is so good at her job.  She's patient and methodical; she doesn't rely solely on magic, she's quite handy with knives, and as powerful as Gin is - being able to use more than one type of elemental magic - she is not cocky or foolhardy.  Gin is up against some very powerful people and she knows she may not survive the fight.  Pretty exciting, right?  There is a lot going on in this story, with things moving forward in terms of the long term story arc.  However, as much as I am enjoying this series, I was underwhelmed by the deepening relationship between Gin and Owen.  I like the character of Owen but in this book, he came across as flat, more a signifier of the perfect, supportive boyfriend than a real person.  Still I have hopes for this relationship and recommend this series.  Grade: B+    

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews.  Having opened up her own firm, Cutting Edge Investigations, Kate is ready for action.  Too bad she has no clients; no one wants to be the one responsible for putting the Beast Lord's mate in danger.  Luckily, the Red Guard is desperate enough to risk it.  The guy they were hired to protect has gone missing and they turn to Kate to help them out.  Along for the ride is Kate's best friend and new business partner, Andrea, and together the two uncover a conspiracy that could destroy all of magical Atlanta.  This is another solid book in this series.  Lots o' action, humor, snappy dialogue with some really terrific lines and strong, three dimensional characters.  I love Kate and Curran's relationship.  Just because they are mated doesn't make everything sunshine and lollipops.  These are two dominants who love each other deeply and work very hard to find a balance in their relationship. There are some surprising revelations about Kate's past and we learn more about her family.  Andrea gets a lot of book time and I appreciate that we get to see a partnership between the two women.  Too many urban fantasy heroines go it alone or they are surrounded by men so I appreciated seeing such a strong bond between two capable, kick-ass women.  I didn't love this story, though and I'm not sure why. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good read but usually when I finish a Kate Daniels book, I immediately read it again.  This time I didn't.  But that's a minor thing, I still enjoyed Magic Slays and think the series is top notch.  In fact, this series is one of the best urban fantasies out there.  If you aren't reading it, you should.  Grade: A-

*All four books were received via

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