Rosie’s #Bookreview of #UrbanFantasy GNOSIS by Rick Hall @stellerex64

GnosisGnosis by Rick Hall

4 stars

Gnosis is a young adult urban fantasy novel. Samantha (Sam) Black has run away from her foster home, because she’s frustrated at the lack of police progress in finding her father’s murderer. However, something else is happening to Sam; she’s having severe headaches.

Jumping further into the story, Sam develops a virus called Trella Gondii, which translates into a symbiotic character call Alex who now shares her head and her memories. He can hop into the heads of others, too, but the pair are now in danger from a government agency.

In a fast paced, complex storyline, Sam and Alex join forces to try to solve her father’s murder, while dodging the government agents who have been sent to bring Sam in. She’s not sure why they want her, but then she discovers the existence of more people with the Trella Gondii virus, and the situation turns sinister.

This is an action based storyline. I liked the idea of the virus and how differently it manifested itself in each character. However, I thought there was room to make the characters a little more rounded as I found it hard to generate strong images of them in my mind. I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t fully engaged; it felt more like I was watching it on the screen rather than being there with the characters. In places it made me think of a computer game, so this might appeal to readers who also like gaming.

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Book description

Psychics, government conspiracies, and dangerous criminals swirl like a summer storm around 17yo parkour enthusiast Samantha Black.

When a series of crushing headaches lands Sam in the hospital, she wakes to an imaginary voice in her head: Alexander, an adorable ten-year-old who claims to be a telepath. The doctors think Sam’s brain was damaged after a stroke, but they’re wrong. Alexander isn’t imaginary. He’s a sentient virus, and the government knows about him. After all, they created him.

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5 Reasons To Start Reading #UrbanFantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

What do you know about urban fantasy?

This is a genre that I’m currently enjoying, but admit that until I started reading it, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant!

Like most categories, fantasy has its share of sub-genres, such as alternate history, dark, fairytale, historical, mythical, magical realism, sword and sorcery, romantic…. and urban.

So what is urban fantasy?  Here’s a definition:

Often set in the real world, with aspects of fantasy such as mythical or paranormal beings co-existing with humans – usually with a metropolitan setting.

Let’s expand on that…

  1. Normality is SO yesterday!

Fictional characters of this genre are often nonconformist.  In urban fantasy, the underdog theme is popular, especially if they can rise up against seemingly unbeatable odds. It’s not just the hero, either; fantasy allows the antagonist to be different too, but he or she usually has an arsenal of ‘magical’ weapons or abilities, often with a support team of nasty minions.

2…. but, often, ‘normality’ is what the hero is seeking

Lots of main characters that I’ve read about in urban fantasy just want to live a ‘normal life’. It might mean the security of a family, or having a relationship where no one dies in a moment of passion, or maybe they want a quiet night in with pizza and beer without a demon/angel/ troll or twenty dropping by.

  1.  It’s not who you are, it’s what you do that counts.

Be it a person who is just adjusting to their new magical skills, or someone who has lived with their special ability all their life, not everything the main character does will be good. They may kill off some of the good guys as well as a whole load of bad ones. In the end it’s about ‘doing the right thing’.

  1. Fighting skills

I don’t think I’ve read any urban fantasy that hasn’t involved fight scenes, but the balance has to work.  Few readers want endless battles where the hero hardly gets more than a bloodied knee, nor should the hero have an insta-healing ability, a bit of pain and suffering makes the story more compelling. The opportunity for creative fighting is vast in this genre, with elements of magic and paranormal. Magic protective shields, Goblin weapons enhanced with mysterious durability, and telekinesis all add aspects to a fight scene.

  1. Keeping one foot in reality

So how does ‘urban’ differ from other forms of fantasy? It often links to a town or city with elements of ‘real life’ as opposed to a fantasy which is set in a completely ‘new world’.  For instance cars, aeroplanes, television. Eating in a café, diner or restaurant. Perhaps holding down a recognisable day job; the main character might be a private investigator or a librarian.  The point is that this keeps part of the story tangible, because it’s not all inside a total fantasy world.

If you want to try this genre, here are a few that I can recommend:

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(Grave Witch is Book #1)

The Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price

 

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(A Demon Bound is Book #1)

The Imp series by Debra Dunbar

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Gnosis by Rick Hall

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Don’t Touch and One Way Fare by Barb Taub

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The Heretic by Joseph Nassise

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(Azimuth is book #1)

The Rahki Chronicles by Rennie St. James

Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #UrbanFantasy A Demon Bound (Imp series #1) by @debra_dunbar #TuesdayBookBlo

A Demon Bound (Imp, #1)A Demon Bound by Debra Dunbar

5 stars

A Demon Bound is book one of the urban fantasy Imp series. I discovered this author via a recommendation from Eline at Lovely Audio Books.

Samantha Martin (Sam) is an imp, a low level demon who has lived undetected in the human world for forty years. She loves to have fun, trick humans and spend time with her neighbour, to whom she is attracted. She’s learnt to keep her demon energy signals under control; if she’s caught out by an angel, it will mean instant death.

When her hellhound is badly wounded, an investigation leads Sam to battle a madman. However, his death brings the leader of the local werewolf pack to Sam’s door with a demand for a revenge payment.

What a brilliant book! It takes popular demon and angel tropes and turns them around. I was cheering for Sam from the start, she can be tough and uncompromising but is also naive and sensitive to others.  She is happiest when causing shock and chaos for humans or paranormal beings. I liked how the story evolved; there was plenty of sexual tension, humour and outrageous behaviour which kept the fast paced narrative flowing smoothly. I need to know where Sam’s bad behaviour will take her next. I’m off to download book two of the series.

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Book description

Samantha Martin is an imp, enjoying an extended vacation from Hel. All she wants to do is drink beer by the pool, play mischievous pranks on the humans, and get her hot neighbor in the sack. It’s a relaxing break from her infernal home, as long as she manages to avoid the angels, who won’t hesitate to execute her on sight.

But when her naughty hellhound lands her in trouble with the local werewolf pack, Sam is blackmailed into helping track and catch a killer. The steps she must take to appease the werewolves will put her right in the crosshairs of the angels. And with angels, there is no second chance.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #UrbanFantasy Shrouds Of Darkness by @BrockDeskins

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here http://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Shrouds Of Darkness by Brock Deskins

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My Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars for Shrouds of Darkness by Brock E. Deskins

“Don’t be too sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be. That sort of reputation might be good business, bringing high price jobs and making it easier to deal with the enemy.”—Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, 1942 based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel)

Leo Malone is a private investigator, a knight in dubiously-rusty armor who is ten times as antisocial and unfriendly as his hardboiled detective models—and a lot more dead, or at least undead. Told mostly in the first person from Leo’s POV, we soon realize his private eye monologue about how detached he is and how little he cares about people doesn’t exactly match up to his actions. When we meet him, in fact, the first two items on his to-do list are to stop an abusive father and a rapist. But just in case we miss that point, Leo muses, “It’s possible, and this is a stretch, the pretense is me not giving a shit. Maybe I am pretending to be a heartless bastard so I can go on doing what I do without becoming a complete basket case.”

Author Brock E. Deskins goes on to check off most of the remaining hardboiled detective tropes:

  • TrenchcoatYou just know Leo is a spiritual descendant of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe because he wears a trenchcoat. (Although Leo’s is one of a dozen identical three-thousand dollar coats, each a “custom-made Miguel Caballero bullet resistant trench coat.”)
  • Femme fatale: we all know about her—she’s called a “dame” and she has “gams” that defy nature when she appears in our gloomy detective’s even gloomier office with a job for him. In this case, the blonde bombshell comes in the form of Katherine Goldstein, whose father is missing. “Her long golden hair cascades over her shoulders better than halfway to her narrow waist and seems to glow with a light all of its own.”
  • Set up to take the fall: Leo knows he’s probably going down, and has a pretty good idea of who is behind it, but just doesn’t know how to be the kind of person who behaves any differently. What he is, though, is pragmatic about how to face the coming doom. “Fortunately, being a pain in the ass is what I do best, and the more I’m a pain in the ass, the more overt they’ll have to get to deal with me.”
  • Friendly villain: the real monsters are of course, the ones most like Leo. But in true homage to his film noir roots, Leo works as contract bodyguard for Yuri, a good(ish) bad guy who models himself on The Godfather and stays bought. Leo muses, “I don’t know if I would go so far as to say I like Yuri, but we have a mutual sort of respect for each other. I’m not real quick to judge the lifestyles of others.”
  • Girl Friday: For most hard-boiled detectives, an assistant is out of the question. A lucky few like Maltese Falcon’s Sam Spade, though, do have the “office wife” to shelter, mother, and cater to their every whim. Leo? Not so much. His occasional assistant is Marvin, a computer genius and would-be badass hampered by the unfortunate circumstances of having a father who is dean of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a mother who is a world-renowned biologist and Nobel nominee.” [NOTE: Leo must have used his vampire mojo to find out that one, since the Nobel committees do not divulge the names of nominees.]
  • MacGuffin: This could be anything—Jason’s Golden Fleece, the LOTR rings, Indiana Jones’ Arc of the Covenant, and especially hard-boiled detective Marlow’s Maltese Falcon statue—an object that moves the story along without actually being important in itself. In this case, the macguffin comes in the person of mild-mannered Martin, accountant to the mob, and missing father of blonde bombshell Katherine. Oh, and… a werewolf.
  • Bittersweet ending? Don’t be ridiculous. This is just the first of a series which already stretches to three volumes.

Although this book got off to a slow start with a fairly massive info dump about the flavor of vampires and werewolves in Leo’s world, it did pick up with plenty of fast-paced and bloody action, accompanied by lots of suitably snarky observations from Leo. I just had a few problems with some of it. For one thing, there was the racism. Some of Leo’s comments about “squints” (Asians) he attempts to dismiss by playing the age card, claiming that’s what they called them when he was growing up. But he clearly knows better, and in fact refers to the rapist he stops as “black” (instead of the term we all know he would have heard those eighty years past)—although, he doesn’t ever bother to name the races of (presumably) white characters. Women seem to fall into the angel or whore categories, usually by haircolor. In fact, the vampiress who turns him has black hair, while the golden-haired Katherine is a smart and beautiful and willing to sleep with him without any of that annoying wooing or foreplay.

But for me, the missing pieces that usually make all this genre-mashing palatable are humor and a little humility. If the protagonist isn’t just so unstoppably able to defeat every single threat with literally superhuman acts of strength, I might legitimately feel more tension over the outcome. And if there’s a sense that everyone tacitly accepts their whole preposterous world is built on the fluffiest of fantasy, and is thus willing to laugh at themselves and their situations, the reader is so much more likely to willingly suspend disbelief and go along with the fun. At least, this reader is.

Still, if you’re looking for a fast-paced action story with plenty of blood, a clever plot, standard tropes, and comfortably-familiar characters, then Shrouds of Darkness might be for you.  It’s certainly those features which will have me round up my three and a half star rating to four stars for online reviews.

Book description

Leo Malone: Vampire, body guard, Private detective, and all around pain in the ass is hired to find a client’s father who has gone missing, but not only is the missing man an accountant for the mob, he is a full-blooded werewolf.
What seems to be a simple case of a werewolf run amok turns into a massive conspiracy that threatens to reveal the existence of both species as the brutally dismembered bodies of humans begin turning up all around Brooklyn.
Leo quickly finds himself embroiled in fights between werewolves, vampires, the mafia, and the local police. Luckily, violence is what Leo knows best.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Phaethon by @WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl fun #UrbanFantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Lilyn, she blogs here http://www.scifiandscary.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Lilyn has been reading Phaethon by Rachel Sharp

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Phaethon was one of the better books I’ve read this year. It’s a simple, uncomplicated story. The main characters are friendly, caring, relatable, and pleasingly snarky. Even the bogle. (Maybe especially the bogle?) What can I say? I love an honest smartarse. It’s also fast-paced, contains an interesting adventure, and doesn’t require anything from the reader except enjoyment.

I loved the easy mixing of fantasy and science fiction in Phaethon. I was able to very easily suspend disbelief and sink into the story the author was wanting to tell. When certain LED-laden individuals got introduced into the story, I might have had a small flash of Transformers. (However, considering I rather like them, that wasn’t exactly a bad thing.)

Rachel Sharp has a way of putting things that states the truth and makes you snicker at the same time. Like the following statement about horses.

“People could be assholes, too, but when horses were assholes, one had roughly a half a ton of asshole to contend with.”

Of course, her insults in Phaethon could be pretty good too.

“Get with the times, you bloody nuisance fish-hags! The iron bastards will make calamari out o’ ye! CALAMARI!”

I actually recommended this book to one of my best friends shortly after I finished it. (She’s a fantasy fan and hates dark stuff and most sci-fi, so we often don’t have any books to mutually adore.) It was nice to be able to toss another book recommendation her way. As I told her: “Phaethon is so light, it’s practically floof. BUT it’s entertaining floof with a side of good versus evil!”

I will say that while I might be willing to read more in this series, I don’t see a lot of potential in it. It was a fantastic stand-alone novel, but I’m not sure how it would work if she tries to draw it out. Still, she’s obviously talented, so if anyone can make it work, she can.

If you’re looking for an undemanding read that will entertain you and lift your spirits, look no further than Phaethon by Rachel Sharp.

Book Description

Hacker couple Jack and Rosie crack technology, but the newest device, the Phaethon, isn’t like other phones. The parts are junk, yet it can do the impossible. Though gentle prodding and data theft, they learn it’s powered remotely…by a living creature.
Cracking the Phaethon enters them into a war. Some, like Calthine, the bitter Bogle, are on their side. Others are controlled by ​a new type of fae; the bosses of the Phaethon corporation, who have steel for eyes and iron for souls. Now, the hackers have to fight creatures they’ve never heard of to save the friends they’ve just made.

About the author

Rachel Sharp

Rachel Sharp is an author and lifetime member of the Somewhat Eccentric Creative Persons Club (which she just invented).
She now lives in New York City with her partner, several plants, and her boundless sense of inappropriate humor. At time of writing, she is working on entirely too many projects. The previous statement will be true regardless of time of reading.
She also lives with chronic illness, plays ukulele, and tries to save the planet.

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