Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT BELTANE by @AlysWestYork #UrbanFantasy

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

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Alison has been reading Beltane by Alys West

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This is a very well-written, entertaining and enjoyable read. Alys West certainly knows how to tell a story.

Artist Zoe Rose is struggling to come up with the illustrations she needs to seal a lucrative contract and get her career on track. Her subject matter is King Arthur, so she heads to Glastonbury for inspiration as this is where Arthur is believed to have lived and where legend has it he is buried. Her friend Anna suggests she stays at a healing retreat, Anam Cara, run by Maeve, who Anna raves about, but who makes Zoe feel uncomfortable and unnerved.

In the garden of Anam Cara is a tree bearing a carving of a ‘Green Man’. Zoe is fascinated by the carving, and unwittingly releases a spell that begins a host of unsettling and dangerous events centred around handsome stranger Finn, who Zoe is instantly attracted to.

Finn and Zoe are great characters, easy to like and very believable, quite a feat considering they both have ‘gifts’. And Maeve is a well-crafted antagonist, a suitable foe for Finn and Zoe.

The author obviously knows Glastonbury well – the town is brought to life and it is easy to picture its streets and alleys, full of alternative shops and centres, and the wonderful Tor. It’s a fantastic setting for this kind of tale.

There were parts of the story that I felt went on a little too long and didn’t hold my interest, but on the whole this was a thoroughly engaging read and I look forward to more from this author.

Four out of five stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT BELTANE by @AlysWestYork #UrbanFantasy

Today’s team review is from Shelley, she blogs at http://shelleywilsonauthor.com/

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Shelley has been reading Beltane by Alys West

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#BookReview – Beltane by Alys West

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of Beltane in exchange for an honest review via Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

One of my favourite places to visit here in the UK is Glastonbury in Somerset.  This stunning place is full of unique characters, beautiful scenery and mystical stories that greet you at every turn.  When I first saw the blurb for Beltane and read that it was set in my favourite place I had to grab a copy – I wasn’t disappointed.

Beltane begins in the thick of the action when a Druid named Finn falls foul of a spellworker.  The prologue sets you up for a novel that rushes along at a frantic pace.  West does a fabulous job of keeping up the tension as she unfolds her story.

Zoe Rose is an illustrator who is struggling with her creativity.  At her friend’s recommendation, she books into Anam Cara, a healing retreat in Glastonbury, to try and help her clear the blockages in her imagination and complete a commission for a book about King Arthur.

Unfortunately, Zoe isn’t as enamoured with the healing center’s hostess as the other guests and takes an instant dislike to Maeve.  Within the grounds of Anam Cara, Zoe finds an old tree with a carving of The Green Man, unknowingly she releases a spell which unravels a string of events leading to Finn’s return, and the revelation that Zoe isn’t what she seems.

West paints the perfect picture of a healing retreat and clearly knows her stuff when it comes to the finer points of how the establishments are run and the background into alternative therapies.  The setting is magical, and West takes us on a visual trip through the winding streets of Glastonbury, Wells and to the wilds of Dartmoor.  Even if you have never visited these places, you will be able to feel the magic.

Finn and Zoe are likeable characters, and I look forward to their story evolving in future books.  I did like Winston, and I hope he has a rich story just waiting to be unearthed.  West creates a complex antagonist in Maeve, who bends the laws of good to meet her evil needs.

You will be hooked until the very end as the witchcraft and sorcery unfold in this gripping urban fantasy.  A very well told novel; thoroughly enjoyable.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

ONE WAY FARE BY @barbtaub #Bookreview #UrbanFantasy #SundayBlogShare

One Way Fare (Null City, #1)One Way Fare by Barb Taub
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One Way Fare is an Urban Fantasy story and I really didn’t know what to expect from just the book cover and even the book description, but it blew me away. I really, really enjoyed it. There are delightful sharp witted characters and a storyline with echoes of “Back To The Future” but with so much more depth, twists and it’s own agenda.

The tale involves a war between the Fallen and Angels, humans and a fourth group who hold powers. There is Null City and a marvellous Metro train which takes passengers back and forth through time. The ticket machine was brilliant it kept reminding me of the “Zoltar speaks” fortune telling machine in the film Big.

In 1972 Gaby Parker works for Accounts-On-Demand in Seattle, she has been requested to help sort out the accounts for Luic Le Muir, a top musician. Gaby has a gift where she can see patterns in numbers, it makes her OCD but she soon believes she has found a route to Luic’s draining financial resources, but he’s not going to like her answers.

In 2012 Leila heads to Provence, France, having just been gifted jewels and a Chateau from her birth mother’s family. She’s met by Thomas Chapel who reveals he must guard Leila from the locals who soon turn nasty. Just when it’s needed the local fountain shows a Metro sign and they descend to a magical platform and safety, alighting on the train which arrives calling itself the 1890 Metro.

Thomas has told her about Nephilium, mixes of Angel and human off-spring and they have a choice about their future when the train stops outside Null City. They can stay in Null City, but they will forget all their non-human life details, or they can travel on further and take their places in a prophecy to help save Null City and stop the war.

This was fun, Gaby and Leila will both have to meet to take their parts in the prophecy, so there are scenes in various time lines and the Metro train is useful transport. There are complexities and twists which kept me on my toes, but I was eager to keep the pages turning and urged the characters onwards. Fabulous read, I think I might just have to read the second book in the series.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

If you would like a FREE copy of this book to read and review yourself, just send an email to barbtaub (at) gmail (dot) com and include your preferred format (Kindle/Nook/PDF)

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Viper and the Urchin by @CelineJeanjean

Today’s team review comes from Crystin, she blogs at https://crystinlgoodwin.wordpress.com/

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Crystin chose to read and review The Viper and the Urchin by Celine Jeanjean

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Title: The Viper and the Urchin by Celine Jeanjean

  • Genre: Steampunk mystery

 

Longinus isn’t your typical assassin. He’s a gentleman assassin – the most elegant assassin in Damsport. As such, he doesn’t rely on messy methods of killing, like using swords or daggers. No, no, real assassins use poison.

Of course, the fact that Longinus can’t stand the sight of blood has nothing to do with his preference.

But when orphaned waif Rory discovers his secret, Longinus is blackmailed into teaching her how to sword fight. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, a mysterious rival assassin is taking credit for Longinus’s kills – and copying his poisons. When Rory and Longinus realize they’re the assassin’s next target, it’s a race against time to uncover the impostor’s identity … but they discover far more than they bargained for.

I have to admit, this book was a surprising delight. I love sassy characters, and let me tell you: both Longinus and Rory are as sassy as they come. This isn’t a typical steampunk either – rather, it’s more of a low fantasy with steampunk flavor. I heartily approve of the mix, and the mystery element was also fairly well done. I did have one or two moments where I felt things were a little too convenient – but overall, it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story. If anything, it probably added to the humor: I would snort to myself and roll my eyes … but kept right on reading.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a fun read, especially one who likes unique, well developed characters – cause this book had a few of them. The same goes to readers who enjoy discovering new worlds and exploring new genres. There’s just enough fantasy/steampunk/mystery/action/romance/suspense woven all together to give readers a taste of each without being overpowering. Well, except for the action – there’s a lot of action. Sword fights, street chases, a race to save the country … those are essentials to any good book. 😉

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Viper and the Urchin by @CelineJeanjean

Today’s team book review is from Barb, she blogs at http://barbtaub.com/ Barb chose to read and review The Viper and The Urchin by Celine Jeanjean My Review: 5 stars out of 5 I was thinking of the three sliding variants of … Continue reading

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Losing It by Elizabeth Armstrong #UrbanFantasy #Bookreview

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

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Barb chose to read and review Losing It by Elizabeth Armstrong

Is it urban fantasy or horror?

I love urban fantasy. I write urban fantasy. Horror? Not so much. As I read Elizabeth Armstrong’s debut novel Losing It, I was trying to figure out which genre it belongs in. Especially for some of the darker urban fantasy tales, the line can be a fine one indeed. I started by thinking about a few of my favorite characters from the darker side of urban fantasy – Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, maybe even Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels.

In her essay for The Creative Penn, author Emma Newman says “Urban fantasy has been defined by the places in which the fantasy (magic and or strange creatures, usually) is set – i.e. the urban environment. It gives flexibility in terms of the time period; the city could be in the Victorian, Tudor, post-American civil war – whenever. As long as the fantasy is rooted in the city, it’s urban fantasy.” But she also quotes author Paul Cornell, who describes urban fantasy as “Horror in which the characters will probably survive.”

In my urban fantasy world, I think it’s a combination of the two ideas. I’d say the following are three things that separate horror from dark urban fantasy:

  1. giphy-2Of course, in urban fantasy there doesn’t have to be any horror at all, or at most very little, as in the humorous vampires and shifters of Molly Harper, Katie MacAlister, or MaryJanice Davidson’s urban fantasies. But if you’re going for dark urban fantasy, then you want your protagonist to be in some way as strong as the villain (say a wizard like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, a witch like Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, or a magic-wielding mercenary like Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels), so it doesn’t go off the rails into teens-pureed-into-ketchup territory.
  2. Heeeeere's Johnny! (Stephen King's In most urban fantasy, you need a hero who is not quite regulation-issue human. If the protagonist is a regular person—like say, Jonathan Harker, the hapless solicitor hired by that Transylvanian Count, or [insert any Stephen King plotline]—then they are helpless against dark forces that overwhelm them—truly the stuff of horror.
  3. Horror doesn’t necessarily have to involve the supernatural. You can just have a really pissed off shark, or maybe some cray-cray with mom and shower issues.

So you can have urban fantasy without the horror, and you can have horror without the fantasy. But when you have both, what is the point which separates dark urban fantasy from horror? Is it some objective measurement of gallons of O-positive spilled per page and a lifelong fear of hotel showers? I think the answer is that in most horror, it’s enough that the main characters survive Daddy coming for them with an axe. But in urban fantasy, they catch the ghost who drove Daddy crazy and charge him with income tax evasion, bring hot dish to the ghost’s mama, and maybe end up married to the ghost’s sister.


Blurb

23956494Kate Winters is more than ready to chalk up the sudden invasion of trolls and knife wielding pixies to an inconveniently timed mental breakdown, after all with a serial killer on the loose it’s not as if London is short of real monsters.

Still reeling from the loss of her husband and a long way from her home in San Francisco, Kate doesn’t have any plans beyond just getting by until a misguided attempt to help a young girl with her own apparent mental health issues leaves her standing between a murder suspect and the police. Nothing is what it seems as she is forced to learn the difference between murder and sacrifice.

This isn’t like in the fairy tales, the Incubus has emotional issues, the only angel in the picture isn’t entirely sure that she counts as one of God’s children, the nuns aren’t vindictive and nightmares can come to life.


gold starMy Review: 3.5  stars out of 5

In Losing It, we meet Dr. Kate Winters at the point where she really wonders if she’s…well, losing it. Since her husband’s death (which she can’t remember), she’s been seeing everything from pixies and imps to bridge trolls. But it’s the Grey Man of her dreams who really terrifies her. As Kate is pulled ever-further from her past life of a Silicon Valley scientist, she wonders which is worse—seeing the unbelievable creatures all around her because she’s crazy, or because they are really there. Then she meets a young girl who sees the monsters too, and realizes that she has to help her. But that help plays out against the serial killer terrorizing London even as the threat gets closer to Kate and the traumatized young girl she’s trying to help.

I thought the premise was terrific and was really looking forward to the book. But for me, the plot seemed to stagger into peculiar areas. Returning from Silicon Valley after her husband’s mysterious death, Kate moves into an older London apartment. Her brother has disappeared, and she is determined to find out why. Only… she doesn’t. There is almost no further mention of him. Instead, her building seems to be occupied solely by supernatural creatures, from miniature imps wielding needle-sized swords to a succubus and a recalcitrant giant. Nuns, Russian mobsters, and a variety of police (both supernatural and non) turn up on every page until I had trouble keeping the giant cast straight. Part of my problem is that I didn’t feel that I ever understood what Kate was after, so it was difficult to get attached to her and thus to the other characters. And there was just SO much supernatural stuff going on! I often enjoy the fun of seeing deities and supernatural creatures from a variety of cultures and pantheons interacting, but the author made such a huge point about religion and belief that I was a bit uncomfortable seeing Ganesh and a fallen angel and the devil and fey all mixing it up, with a dash of time travel and a dead husband’s ghost thrown in, plus a strange affinity for water because why the heck not…

I realize that all this sounds a bit grim, but actually Elizabeth Armstrong’s writing style (except for a handful of edit fails) is impressive. She has a talent for the unusual turn of phrase that makes you stop and think. “She begins to laugh and perhaps because the only choice we do have left is how we fall, I find myself joining in.” She also has an offbeat sense of humor that provides relief from the increasingly bloody and violent action. For example, Kate’s phone rings while she’s standing in the dark with the young girl she’s trying to protect and the horrifically tortured and murdered body of the killer’s latest victim. It’s her entire family, singing Happy Birthday for her thirtieth birthday. Her mother asks if she’s trying to hang up the phone because she dreads turning thirty. “I know Mum,” I tell her more cheerfully, because technically I don’t turn thirty until midnight and I could be dead by then.”

In trying to give a rating, I’m torn. The quality of the writing, the setting, and the unexpected flashes of humor were terrific. I lost the thread of the plot as it looped around the middle of the book, but it was resolved in a nerve-wracking denouement. My biggest objection is that the two questions we started with—what happened to Kate’s husband Nick, and where is her brother Justin—remain unanswered. I think she just squeaked in on the dark side of urban fantasy, despite the amount of blood and gore. With all that said, I’d give Losing It three and a half stars, and look for more from Elizabeth Armstrong.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK

Losing It by Elizabeth Armstrong #UrbanFantasy #Bookreview

Losing itLosing it by Elizabeth Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Losing it is an Urban Fantasy set in London, it opens with a dream scene which is a theme throughout the book. Then we meet Doctor Kate Winters as she arrives at her newly rented town house in Notting Hill. As the estate agent goes through the contract Kate is more fascinated by the pixies she sees.

Convinced these are hallucinations caused by post traumatic stress after her husband’s car crash, Kate begins a new life. Her neighbours in the town house are varied, Alec the sex God, Thomas the stony giant, plus she has her own Ninja mice flat mates.

With a need to distract herself from constantly thinking about Nick and being consumed by guilt over his death, Kate goes in search of childhood friend Ruth, now a Nun who helps at a shelter for the homeless. Clumsy from her own car crash scars, Kate makes friends at the shelter and a desire to help others kicks in. When 15 year old “O” turns up one day, Kate is instantly pulled towards her, but “O” is traumatised by Kate and disappears.

News of a Vampire style killer hits the headlines, women are turning up drained of blood and the police have little to go on. Kate’s urge to help “O” leads her into dangerous waters when she goes face to face with The Russian, a criminal drugs baron.

There’s more to “O” than just another runaway kid and soon no-one is who they appear to be. Dragged back to memories of family Aunts who claim to see fairies, Kate’s eyes are finally open to the shadow world and her part as a powerful player. A child born at midnight and one of 3 wounds; flesh, heart and soul, she’s been chosen in an age old battle .

This book did take a little while to get into, opening with a dream scene is an overdone starter, I could easily have been happy with the taxi arriving at the new house. The pixies make a unique and fun book opener. As the book progressed I was pulled into the storyline more and more until I couldn’t put it down.

I liked the way the paranormal world unfolded and character layers peeled away. I enjoyed Kate’s spunky haphazard character and her struggle to understand her role. The Nuns were fun and the homeless shelter scenes a delight. I connected less with the dream scene characters and was often confused with who they related to. But I thought Kate’s Aunts wonderful characters and would have enjoyed meeting them earlier in the book. I think there is definitely room for a sequel and would happily read it.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Alison reviews Fallen On Good Times by @RewanTremethick #wwwblogs

Today’s team review comes from Alison, she blogs at alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com

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Alison chose to read and review Fallen On Good Times by Rewan Tremethick

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Fallen on Good Times by Rewan Tremethick

Fallen on Good Times successfully melds two worlds – the world of 1920s Noir with its hardboiled, smart-talking PI Laslo Kane and the urban fantasy world of ghosts, werewolves and vampires. It’s a clever idea and a clever book, full of humour, action, mystery and witty one-liners from the hero Laslo, a man whose ineptitude as a ‘normal’ PI has brought him into a world where the rules don’t necessarily apply. Add to this a case that sets him against the Mob and an ex-girlfriend he’s still in love with and Tremethick has gathered together all the elements of a fast-paced, exciting and unusual read.

The settings work really well and are as authentic as a twenties city under prohibition and awash with ghosts, trolls and vampires can be. It works because the author uses great subtlety with these supernatural elements. They are referred to and written about almost as though they are run-of-the-mill, and this makes it easier to suspend reality.

The writing is smooth, clear and sharp, perfect for the genre. Dialogue is natural and believable and the main character is well-developed and likeable. However, some of the action scenes were a little too drawn out – I lost what was happening at times. I also felt that some aspects were a little skimmed over – there were characters I wanted to know more about and I felt that the case was solved a little too quickly and too easily.

That said, this is an extremely well-written, enjoyable book and I’ll definitely be looking out for more from this author.

Four out of five stars.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Fallen On Good Times by @RewanTremethick #UrbanFantasy

Fallen on Good TimesFallen on Good Times by Rewan Tremethick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fallen on Good Times is an Urban Fantasy. It mixes the American style city of Pilgrim’s Wane in a prohibition like era, similar to those years between 1919 and 1933, with a paranormal world.

P.I. Laslo Kane is a lousy detective, his business hit rock bottom, his girlfriend left him, a friend has been murdered and the only clients who will touch him are not of this world.He’s like to get out and have an ordinary job, something easy like bar work, in a non-alcoholic bar of course. But with prohibition in force and speakeasy’s abundant bar owner Jeanette is rightly suspicious of a detective wanting a job and sends him forcibly on his way.

So when Investment businessman Darius approached Laslo with a very well paid job request he can hardly turn it down. Someone has been depositing money into Darius’ bank account at gunpoint, his latest client has also been murdered and fingers are pointing to The Mob, known as the Pottellis.

Laslo must find out what links recent murders across the city, with the help of reporter Rita Orbit, friend Marcus, a man who can weigh up all the odds and Misty Joe a ghostly medium.

I enjoyed this book, the prohibition setting, and language used for the era were very good. I wanted more answers, I wanted to know who or what was the mystery ally who came with the summons of a dog biscuit. I wanted to know more about Misty Joe and his ghostly adventures and I was sure that Darius was going to be much more sinister in his part in the storyline. So perhaps it’s the sign of a good book if I’m left begging for more from this writer?

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Kinetics: In Search Of Willow by Arbor Winter Barrow

Kinetics: In Search of WillowKinetics: In Search of Willow by Arbor Winter Barrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kinetics: In Search For Willow is a YA urban fantasy. The author has created a world of kenetic powers and you can feel the energy and enthusiasm of this young writer’s story as you read. It’s fast paced. Eugene is fifteen and in love with school sweet-heart Willow, but today will be the last day of normal life for Eugene, everything he once believed is about to fall apart.

A fire starts at school, it soon circles the entire school, those trapped inside are having hallucinations. Eugene tries to save Willow who is trapped inside, but finds it’s Willow who does the rescuing. Everyone is taken for an inspection after the fire by InfoCon and Eugene finds he’s labelled as a Vunjika, an untrainable.

At home he learns of the Anyan Alliance, that his Dad is chief of intelligence and that Willow knows all about it too and she is a kinetic healer. Eugene is shocked and confused, he feels betrayed by his family, they want him to sign up and join them but he’s hesitant.

They take him to an Anyan conference to help him with his choices. He learns of another group called the Isiroan and that the two groups are at war. When the conference is attacked and Willow kidnapped Eugene will do anything to rescue her. However he is still unsure of joining the Anyan Alliance and decides to go it alone with his rescue plans.

There are lots of twists and turns that follow in Eugene’s adventures and the book ends with a natural point ready to continue the story in the next adventure. This book is very suitable for the young adult market, those who like the gaming world and the fantasy worlds of boundless reality. There are a mix of writing styles and techniques, changes in points of view and areas which need tightening up to make this book really pop and be noticed in this very competitive genre.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads