ARC Review: Soul of Fire by Laura Anne Gilman


Save the world-early and often 

Three months ago Jan learned that elves were real, our world wasn’t safe and it was up to her to save her boyfriend-and the world-from being englamoured into slavery. Now Jan has a new deadline-ten weeks, ten days and ten hours. That’s when the truce she arranged between our world and the elves’ realm ends, and the invasion starts.

While supernatural creatures work to defend humanity, Jan and the kelpie Martin have to find the preter queen, and use her to force the portals closed. But when magic mixes with technology, shutting it down isn’t as simple as closing a door or pulling a plug….

Jan’s geek-girl know-how might have gotten her this far, but they’re going to need technical skills and magic to shut the portals for good….

And their time’s nearly up


The Review:

Heart of Briar wasn’t my favorite Laura Anne Gilman novel, but despite that I squeed and requested Soul of Fire when it appeared on NetGalley. And after reading it I am glad I requested it.

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Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge: Heart of Stone by C.E Murphy

The Particulars:  Urban Fantasy, Luna, available in print and as e-book
The Source: The Bookshelf
The Grade: B-

The Blurb: 

Okay, so jogging through Central Park after midnight wasn’t a bright idea. But Margrit Knight never thought she’d encounter a dark new world filled with magical beings–not to mention a dying woman and a mysterious stranger with blood on his hands. Her logical, lawyer instincts told her it couldn’t all be real– but she could hardly deny what she’d seen and touched. 

The mystery man, Alban, was a gargoyle. One of the fabled Old Races who had hidden their existence for centuries. Now he was a murder suspect, and he needed Margrit’s help to take the heat off him and find the real killer. And as the dead pile up, it’s a race against the sunrise to clear Alban’s name and keep them both alive.

The Review:

It has been years since I read this one the first time, and before this I would have said it was on my Keeper shelf, but now I am not so sure.

First, I love the world of Old Races. The races feels fresh and unusual, even the standard fantasy races like Dragons and Vampires.  I loved that each of the races represented an element.  But everything isn’t perfect among the longlived Old Races.  They live their lives in the shadows, avoiding discovery by humans. 

It is a delicate balance, and Alban’s decision to approach Margit disturbs it.
Soon, Margrit juggles her normal workload, her quest for Alban’s innocence and  an suspicious cop boyfriend.  I loved how everything slowly dragged Margrit into the world of the Old Races.   
How it all felt connected, but I admired Margrit for her courage and her sense of justice.  She butted heads with  Dragons and Vampires, refusing to show any fear.  
She ignored the grumbles of her boyfriend, that they yet again is on differing sides of a case. Add in the fact that her lover is a cop, and that she is spending a lot of time with a suspected murderer. .   I am amazed that she managed it.  (No, honestly. I would have collapsed, but maybe it is something they teach you in law school. ) 

Despite the fast paced plot, what made the book for me were the characters.  Margit has core of honor that pulls at her through the book. She is sharp, and bargains with powerful men. And, as the plot races on she really wants to tell her roommates, not to mention boyfriend, what is going on.
Alban… His soul is battered, but  being around Margrit is pulling him back into the Old Races from his exile.  I loved how Alban’s past were a red thread in the book, and how smoothly it was woven into the plot.

The romantic subplot was bittersweet, since both of them knew that they couldn’t happen.  

So, what I didn’t like with this book. Despite the intriguing world and plot, there were an invisible barrier that stopped me from sinking into the book.  It might have been the fact that I decided to read it with the intent of reviewing it.

Review: Cast in Shadows by Michelle Sagara:

The particulars: Fantasy, Luna, available as ebook and in print.
The Grade: B-
The Blurb:
Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered — and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin . . .
Since then, she’s learned to read, she’s learned to fight and she’s become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and immortal Barrani, she’s made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth.
But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging, Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can’t trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers — powers that no other human has. Her task is simple — find the killer, stop the murders . . . and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies!
The review:
What I liked about it:
I picked up this one on Fictionwise, since I had wanted to read it for a long time.  I am glad I bought it.  It is a fast paced read, that at times feels like it is an Urban Fantasy.  It hooked me from the start.  From the opening scene, with Kaylin being awakened by the mirror. If the day started bad, it gets worse when she is told that she has to go back to Nightshade, the fief she grew up in  To make things worse, she has two partners  that she cannot quite trust. (  I loved that Kaylin makes no secret about the fact she would love to kill Severn.)   But then Kaylin is courageous, sometimes bordering on reckless. She faces Lord Nightshade several times, alone. ( Lord Nightshade gave me goosebumps.)  She faces her own memories again, albeit reluctantly. Kaylin is loyal, and would do anything for a child.   And that is what really puts her in trouble. 
Through the book, it feel as if everyone knows more about the reasons, and about the probable source about Kaylin’s power. This causes a layer of suspense  that give the book another layer.
What I didn’t like about it:         
What kicked this down from A to B-, was that Kaylin failed all classes, except Barrani.  Despite this, she was allowed to become a hawk.  Yes, I know it is fantasy but there should be some classes that are required to pass. 
A fast paced fantasy, with a tone of Urban Fantasy.  Will I pick up the next book? Probably.

Review and Giveaway: Spirit Dances by C.E Murphy

Spirit Dances (Walker Papers, #6)Spirit Dances by C.E. Murphy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Book: Spirit Dances by C.E Murphy

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Luna, available both in print and e-book

Why was it in my TBR? I love, love C.E Murphy

The Review:

The blurb:

As half of Seattle’s only paranormal detective team, Joanne Walker is a sassy urban shaman who has tangled with her share of odious creatures. Dark alleys might not raise her pulse, but her new assignment does: Recently, homeless people have been disappearing even more quickly than they can be identified and the killer seems to be materializing as a creature one would expect to meet only in hell. Vivid, realistic first-person narrative; empathetic characters.

My impressions:

To say that I loved this book would be an understatement. But, I have also struggled with this review. How do I tell that without spoilers? Well. I’ll try.

This book rocked me, from the start to the end. It made me laugh, and go aww. The book was a tightly written rollercoaster. Filled with interesting characters, and unexpected plottwists. I didn’t dare stop reading, in fear of missing something. The only thing that annoyed me was the end. But, it was the good kind of annoyance. The end is a big, honking cliff-hanger. The kind that want you drop this book, and pick up the sequel. The problem? It is a year to the next one..

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The Giveaway: 
The giveaway runs from 2011-04-17 to 2011-04-24.
To celebrate that Spring is here, I am giving away two copies to two lucky winners, of Spirit Dances OR Urban Shaman, for those of you that haven’t read The Walker Papers.

Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations, #1)Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Luna, available both in print and e-book

Why was it in my TBR? I know Laura Anne Gilman writes books I love.

The Review:

The Blurb:
Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations
A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can’t touch—crimes of magic.
My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work—so off I went.
Two days later I’m a PUPI—me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.
The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We’re sniffing out things they’d rather keep buried.
Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along…

My impressions:

For me, Laura Anne Gilman are one of those authors that you gradually get hooked on. And this is Gilman at her best.
This novel is set in the Cosa Nostradamus universe, just like her Retrivers novels. But while the Retrievers mainly are focused on Lonejacks, this one gives a glimpse into how someone raised by a Council mentor thinks. The Cosa is in upheaval, the tension between Lonejacks, Council and Fatae ( non-humans) are increasing. The founding of P.U.P.I create strong feelings in the Council.
It was fascinating to read about what happens when something new is formed. The training required, how others reacts. The plot were well written, and filled with unexpected twists.
What made this stand out were the characters. I loved how she displayed the headbutting that always occur on a workplace. Also, I liked how she deftly wove the uncertainty of the sitaution into the plot. First, Bonnie’s nagging doubt if she would get a job at all. Then, the worry if they would get to keep the job.

The thing that keeps this from becoming 5 stars is the ending. It felt cut short, on the other hand they are investigators, not cops.

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Enchanted No More by Robin D. Owens

Enchanted No MoreEnchanted No More by Robin D. Owens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Guilt-ridden by a mistake that cost her family their lives, half-Lightfolk, half-human Jenni Weavers turns her back on her magical heritage…until her remaining brother who hates her is trapped and she’s the only one who can step into an alternate dimension to save him.

This is Robin D Owens at her best. She have taken common fantasy races, and turned them into something unique. The plot grip you from the start, and keeps you on the edge, wondering what happens next. And the characters. All the characters felt like they had a function, like they moved the plot forward.


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