Early Review: Darkness Raging by Yasmine Galenorn

, by Kt Clapsadl

Darkness Raging by Yasmine Galenorn
Otherworld #18

The New York Times bestselling author of Panther Prowlingreturns to the Otherworld where one of the D’Artigo sisters faces a terrifying challenge that’s more personal than she ever could have imagined.

We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Camille is a wicked-good witch. Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. And me? I'm Menolly, a vampire married to a gorgeous werepuma. As the war in Otherworld arrives, Blood Wyne, Queen of the Vampires, summons me. Apparently, my position as Roman's consort entails more than I imagined...

As the Demon Lord Shadow Wing creates his own sinister version of the Keraastar Knights—the guardians of the spirit seals—to destroy the portals and free himself from the Sub Realms, his ally, the necromancer Telazhar, leads an assault from Otherworld into the streets of Seattle. And my sisters and I are caught dead center.

Then, on the eve of war, my wife, Nerissa, is captured. The enemy demands we surrender the rest of the spirit seals, or they are going to kill her. I will do anything to save her. Even if it means leading an army of vampires into the very depths of the Subterranean Realms...

This series has been very long running, and in my review of the last book I had mentioned that I felt it has been going on almost too long. There was a lot of rinse and repeat it felt, and I have to admit I was a bit leery to read this one as a result. That being said, DARKNESS RAGING felt a lot fresher than recent installments, and I found myself enjoying it a good bit more. It reads almost like a series ending book which I appreciated. From what I understand, Yasmine will be publishing further installments on her own, but she ended this last book with her publisher in a place that will leave readers satisfied if they choose to stop. Again this is something I appreciate as the series wasn't really working for me anymore. But who knows, I still may give future books a try, but if not, I'm largely happy with how things turned out. So fans of the series should be pleased with DARKNESS RAGING and the progression/resolution of many of the long running threads.

One complaint I did have with the book despite the resolution was the romance, which frankly led me to skim parts of the book. As much as I enjoy romance in my urban fantasies, I have to admit this one drives me a bit batty. Sure, Menolly and Nerissa have a really strong love for one another, but I feel like that fact is constantly pounded into my head due to the complication with Roland. There was a glimmer of hope for a better balance in the mid part of this book, but even so, it seemed every interaction between the three of them had to mention/reinforce that while Menolly and Roland have a bond, it will never be anything compared to her and Nerissa. It was just too much of the same point over and over again, leaving me a bit frustrated.

But back to the good, there's plenty of action this time around, and things with Shadow Wing finally come to a head. I won't spoil things, but suffice it to say that overall DARKNESS RAGING kept me entertained and satisfied by the end with both the book and the series. Fans of this long running series should be pleased as well.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Previous Books:
     1. Witchling
     2. Changeling
     3. Darkling
     4. Dragon Wytch
     5. Night Huntress
     6. Demon Mistress
     7. Bone Magic
     8. Harvest Hunting
     9. Blood Wyne
     10. Courting Darkness
     11. Shaded Vision
     12. Shadow Rising
     13. Haunted Moon
     14. Autumn Whispers
     15. Crimson Veil
     15.5. Flight from Hell
     16. Priestess Dreaming
     17. Panther Prowling

Release Day Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin
SPI Files #3

Men in Black meets Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum in the new urban fantasy novel starring seer Makenna Fraser and her fellow agents at Supernatural Protection & Investigation.

The agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) know that fighting evil is a full-time job, especially when a new designer drug—with mind-blowing side effects—hits the streets...

It’s called Brimstone. And after the first few hits, you’ll see every supernatural beast sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with you. After that, you’ll start seeing the really scary stuff.

I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for the SPI. And the collateral damage caused by Brimstone is something I’d like to unsee: dead drug dealers missing their hearts—and souls. Because your local pusher doesn’t stand a chance against the new cartel muscling its way into New York. And since the drug can only be produced with magic and molten brimstone fresh from Hell, that means a rift to the underworld is open somewhere in the city.

And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, well...

It’s going to be Hell on earth.

Makenna and crew are back at it again, and boy is this one a doozy. Considering these events start just two days after the last book's crazy events, it made things even more intense. Sure, crime never takes a holiday, but geeze, at some point a girl needs a break. Well more of a break than forced infirmary visits that is. In fact, it's rather impressive how much character growth and development the author is able to pack into these books considering how frenetic the pacing is and how short the timeline is. I fell in love with Mac even more in THE BRIMSTONE DEFECTION. She's snarky and fun, fierce and yet so vulnerable all at the same time. The dance she and Rake are doing around one another is nothing short of fully amusing. Sure I'd have liked a bit more progression there with the romance part of that, but again given that seriously short timeline, it makes sense to have the bit of a slower burn. Now I just have to wait until next year to see what happens next.

It's a shame this series has only released one book a year as they are incredible reads that as soon as I finish I only want more. They are truly urban fantasy at its finest. There's the incredible world, fantastic characters full of depth, heart pounding action, and so much more. Trust me if you haven't started this series yet, you'll want to move it to the very top of your list. THE BRIMSTONE DEFECTION only serves to further prove that The SPI Files is one heck of a series that is not to be missed. I can't wait for more!
 
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Vampire Book Club

Previous Books:
     1. The Grendel Affair
     2. The Dragon Conspiracy

Review: Driven by Kelley Armstrong

, by Kt Clapsadl

Driven by Kelley Armstrong
Otherworld Stories #13.6

Cains are known for being big, brutish and not-too-bright. The mutt clan embodies all the supernatural world’s worst stereotypes about werewolves. But not even the Cains deserve to be hunted down and skinned like animals.

When young Davis Cain comes to the Pack for help, Alpha Elena Michaels can’t refuse him. It isn't about morality or justice. It’s about not letting anyone think they can do this to werewolves and get away with it.

But Elena is also dealing with the Pack’s homegrown monster—Malcolm Danvers, onetime enforcer, full-time psycho. Malcolm is now under Elena’s control, as part of the most difficult decision she’s had to make as leader. But if she has to let Malcolm in, she’s going to make full use of him…and the best person to catch monsters is one who knows exactly how they think.
I'm always amazed at the quality of these longer novellas Kelley puts out through Subterranean Press. Everything part about them is perfect, not only the stories themselves but the imagery as well, and DRIVEN is no exception. Despite the series technically ending at book Thirteen, there has been so much going on afterward, and I love seeing things continue. This time around really felt almost like it's own full novel with the main plot and dangers therein, not to mention the Malcolm issues taking full stage as well. Add in the dynamics between the growing pack and seeing the twins mature even more, and this was one heck of a treat to read. Sure it's a bit short compared to the full lengths, but it's got so much packed in that shorter length, the only thing you're missing is the longer drawn out stuff you'd find in a full length book. Trust me, this read is well worth the price.
All in all, Driven is an absolute must read for fans of the series.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     One Book Two
     Paperback Wonderland
     The Armchair Librarian

Previous Books:
     1. Bitten
     2. Stolen
     3. Dime Store Magic
     4. Industrial Magic
     5. Haunted 
     6. Broken
     7. No Humans Involved
     8. Personal Demon
     9. Living With the Dead
     10. Frostbitten
     11. Waking the Witch
     12. Spell Bound
     13. Thirteen
     13.1. Brazen
     13.2. Bounty Hunt
     13.3. Forsaken

Review: Of Flame and Promise by Cecy Robson

, by Kt Clapsadl

Of Flame and Promise by Cecy Robson
Weird Girls #6

Cursed by a spell meant to destroy them, Taran Wird and her sisters instead developed unique magical talents. With the power of fire and lightning literally at her fingertips, Taran doesn’t fear much. Demons, vamps, whatever—bring ’em on! Only one thing terrifies her: commitment.

Taran is crazy about her boyfriend, Gemini, a sexy were with the incredible ability to split into two separate wolves. But after watching her sister go through heartbreak with the pack’s Alpha, Taran knows not to count on happily ever after—despite Gemini’s desire to claim her as his mate. Reluctantly, she agrees to meet his very traditional and conservative parents. Taran’s a badass with a mouth to match, and Gemini loves her for it. She’s just not positive these attributes will please Mom and Dad.

Unsurprisingly, every attempt by Taran to bond with Gemini’s folks proves disastrous. But in the end, Taran finds that winning them over means unleashing her powers . . . and proving that this foul-mouthed fire-starter is a force to be reckoned with.

Before I get started into the real review I want to note a frustration. While I enjoyed OF FLAME AND OF PROMISE, I did find it rather frustrating that it went backwards in the timeline of the series. It wasn't a prequel, but jumped back to all the relationship issues between Celia and Aric. In fact going back to all that drama was annoying as I was glad to be past that in the main series, and it kept me from enjoying this book as much as I could have. I feel like this would have been a stronger read if it had been released during its proper time in the series timeline. But to be fair I'm going to continue on with this review and rating as if the book was it's only entity rather than continue to hold this one issue against it.

This was a very short read so there wasn't a whole lot of space for action and series progressing events, but due to it being set in the "past" it didn't have to be. OF FLAME AND PROMISE was largely about Taran coming to terms with her feelings for Gemini and both the strengths and vulnerabilities that come with loving someone that much. It's a love story at the core and one I thoroughly enjoyed. It was really interesting to see the events in this series from Taran's point of view. She definitely has a much more fiery personality than Celia and her experiences were colored to match this. She's very passionate and goes from zero to sixty in two seconds flat. Normally this kind of personality grates on my nerves, but somehow in Taran, it works. Sure she's rather insecure and very quick to fly off the handle, but at the core she cares so deep despite how much it scares her, and I loved her for it

All in all OF FLAME AND PROMISE adds a new dimension to an already loved series, and I can't wait to see how the series continues to progress with Taran at the helm.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality
     Addicted to Happily Ever After
     a GREAT read

Previous Books:
     1. Sealed with a Curse
     2. A Cursed Embrace
     3. Cursed by Destiny
     4. A Cursed Bloodline
     5. A Curse Unbroken

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Early Review: Wickedly Ever After by Deborah Blake

, by Kt Clapsadl

Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blake
Baba Yaga #2.5

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one…

Having triumphed over a powerful enemy and ended up with both a wonderful guy—Sheriff Liam McClellan—and an adorable adopted daughter to raise as a Baba Yaga, Barbara Yager is ready to welcome her happily ever after.

But first she must bring Liam to the Otherworld and get the Queen’s permission to marry him. The Queen, however, is not so easily persuaded. She gives them three impossible tasks to complete in two weeks’ time—and if they fail Barbara will have to watch Liam slowly age and die like all humans, and kiss her happily ever after good-bye forever.

This was a quick and fun read bringing the story back to Liam and Baba. I always love follow up novellas like this as they give glimpses into the couple's lives after the original happily ever after. There's just something so satisfying at seeing where characters you loved are now, and that really was the case here. I enjoyed seeing Liam, Baba, and little Babs interact and navigate their new lives as a family all the while juggling three impossible tasks from the Queen. Even better, the rest of the Baba Yagas play a role as well making this novella tie everything together even more.

Overall, a fun treat of a read in an enjoyable series that keeps me coming back for more.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Cat Among the Pigeons

Previous Books:
     1. Wickedly Dangerous
     2. Wickedly Wonderful

Kirsten Reviews: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Broken Earth #1

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

The Fifth Season
, the first book in the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin is set on the continent as the Stillness, where Essun, a seemingly ordinary woman, returns home one day to discover that her husband has murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. At the same time, the empire of Sanze, suffers a tragedy as many of its citizens are killed. All of this while the Stillness has been rent by a rift which is spewing forth ash from deep within the planet, threatening to darken the sky for what may be years, or possibly hundreds of years. These three things happen on the same day, which is a good indicator that nothing is going as it should be for anyone except anyone with bad intentions.

The Stillness would have been destroyed many times before if it wasn’t for the efforts of the Orogenes, people who have the power to manipulate the planet’s energy and even shape the land itself. However, instead of being revered for their abilities and the fact that they have prevented all-out catastrophe, the Orogenes are viewed with suspicion and even violence. This is partly because their powers can cause as much damage as the disasters they work to prevent, particularly if they are unable to control their talents. This means that any child who shows signs of these talents is immediately removed from their home and forced to undergo rigorous training, except for those that are murdered by frightened neighbors, or even their own parents. As Essun is an Orogene, concealing her powers, when she finds her son murdered, she realizes what her husband must have done, and sets out to find him

Essun’s journey to avenge her son and rescue her daughter propels her across the Stillness, and it's one which will pit her against the forces of the continent, as well as those who would see her dead, even though the Orogenes are essential to maintain the balance of the land. Since this is only the first book in what promises to be a complex series, there are many questions left unresolved for future installments in the series, it sets up a web of politics, betrayal, and family drama set against an interesting world that deserves a great deal more exploration.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     The Bibliosanctum
     Fantasy Review Barn
     Paranormal Haven

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