Normally, I don’t really pay attention to Young Adult novels. Hey, I have been a young adult – didn’t like it back then, don’t really want to read about the angst, you feel me? But the fourth or fifth time it caught my attention, and having an evening which really called for something light, I went ahead and picked it up.
Huh. The heroine is 17, and a touch telepath, which is interesting to me. Can you imagine touching some boy in your high school and knowing everything he is thinking about? Actually seeing what is on his grubby little hormone-crazed mind? Euuu. Just. EUUU!!!! Gross. And yes, I sound like a high schooler!
Anyway. The good part is the heroine. She has her stuff together. She has been switched from school to school as the bullies and weirdos glory in someone even weirder than them. Being different amongst one’s peers is pretty much like being chum thrown in amongst the sharks. But I liked her. Life is tough, but she handles it, though it hurts.
After being ‘outed’ at yet another school, and left with pretty much no place to turn, her famous father/attorney to the stars in Hollywood is moving them to Texas. Texas?!?????! Well, at least there won’t be as many people around to touch, right? But things are not all what they seem at the new school her father will be working for. And before Tess knows it, her life takes a hard left and roars off into a new, and even more painful direction. Like Really. REALLY. Painful.
The storyline is good. The characters are interesting. Overall, it should have been a pleasant evening read. But then, the whole thing goes off the tracks. Why WHY do authors not invest in Editors?!?! Come ON PEOPLE!!! Most of the book was well done, editorially, but then the whole train ran off the tracks and plot holes you could drive a freight train through reached up and slapped me in the face, ripping through Discontinuity Land with no brakes. Totally ruined the whole thing for me. Ugh. I was right there on the whole “recommended for people who get a kick out of paranormal for the YA audience”. Now? Not so much. Sigh.
If you aren’t upset by discontinuity issues, the book is OK for its audience. Otherwise, I would give it a pass. And I hate that. It had such potential!
Ah! César and friends are back again – and this time, his murder case may just kill him. That is, if his boss doesn’t kill him first. After the action in the second in the Preternatural Affairs series, Silver Bullet, César is in big trouble. He used a cell phone he shouldn’t have, and the VP of the Office of Preternatural Affairs is out for César’s guts – literally. And if César doesn’t pass his Aspis exam, to become Shield to Director Fritz Friederling, she just might have said guts for garters.
Could things get worse? Well, sure they can! For there is a vicious demon on the loose, a demon strong enough to kill a Kopis by simply being in the area. With more bodies dropping, all brutally savaged, the race is on as César, his partner Suzy, Isobel the necrocognitive, and Fritz all scramble to find the demon. A demon who may be unkillable.
As always, Reine does a wonderful job of writing a tight narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat, using a level of creativity that I truly admire. There is terror and blood, but also a great deal of subtle humor in Reine’s works. I enjoyed the first two in the series, and can hardly wait for Sara’s next César book!
Highly recommended. If you haven’t read the first two, I would suggest reading them first. They are really good books, but if you haven’t read them, you can catch up easily enough in this volume. However, it won’t be nearly as much fun!
I received Hotter Than Helltown from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.
About the Author:
Hi everyone! My name is Sara, and I’m the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author of urban fantasy known as SM Reine. I collect swords, cat hair, and typewriters (which I do use for writing!). You can usually find me writing on my treadmill desk at 2am on any given day.
If you would like to know the instant I have a new book available, you should enlist in my Army of Evil! I’ll only email you when I have a new release, which is generally no more than once a month. I can’t write any faster than that. 🙂
The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause. – Baltasar Gracian
Like hatred, jealousy is forbidden by the laws of life because it is essentially destructive. – Alexis Carrel
I hadn’t set foot in the human world for more than a few hours in over three and a half months. So begins the third in the Dowser series by Meghan Ciana Doidge, one of the better Urban Fantasy series I have found. Creativity and depth define the works of Ms. Doidge in all of her stories, but especially in the Dowser series.
If you haven’t yet read Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic, or Trinkets, Treasures and Other Bloody Magic, you can still read Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic – but why would you want to read the one without the others? They are, in a word, wonderful. In my review of Cupcakes I said; “Jade is a sweetheart. A nice young half witch, half human (maybe. . . ) with a nasty tempered foster sister, a wild earth witch grandmother, and a cupcake bakery. A very popular cupcake bakery with a reputation for ‘magical’ tasting cupcakes. She has a quiet life, happy with her baking, her trinket making and her quiet, apparently fulfilling life.
Then, of course, things change. And not in a nice way. Poor Jade. Life will never be the same. Apparently she isn’t who she thought she was. But then, who is she?
Since then, Jade’s life has become so very much more than it was, and she is so much more than she ever expected to become. And not all of it makes her terribly happy. Will she, and her friends, ever be safe again?
We rejoin Jade’s story in book three as she reenters our world through a magical portal from the reality of the Dragon Guardians, protectors of the earth and heavens, where she has been training for the last three and a half months. Three and a half months spent preparing to kill her psychotic, blood witch sister, Sienna. It is Jade’s intention to find and kill the wicked witch (yea, yea, I know, but I couldn’t resist…) all on her own.
Only things don’t exactly go according to plan. She is followed from the portal by Drake, a thirteen-year-old fledgling Guardian, alternately cocky and wise beyond his years. A trip to the castle of the sorcerer Blackwell results in terrifying news, and the addition to her little group of Jade’s best friend Kandy, a green-haired werewolf, and Kettil, or Kett, Executioner of the Conclave of Vampires, who Jade is linked to through a life debt.
Many things happen in this third novel, as the search for Sienna comes to a head. New alliances are made, old friends are lost, new ones gained, and the war may be won, or lost, on whether old alliances can be regained.
Once again, Meghan does a fabulous job of telling a compelling story of love and power, life and death, and the strength and weakness of family. This is a great story, and is high on my list of best loved reads!
Note: I am proofreader for Meghan’s works. I received a copy for proofreading from Meghan, and write this review based upon that copy. No matter – this is still one of the best Urban Fantasy series with strong, well-written heroines on the Urban Fantasy scene today. Highly recommended!
OH, yummy! Now I am going to have to go make rich, gooey DARK Chocolate cupcakes, then find my athame and have a party! Yippee, skippee, Rah Rah YUM!!!!
Meghan Ciana Doidge is an award-winning writer based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She has a penchant for bloody love stories, superheroes, and the supernatural. She also has a thing for chocolate, potatoes, and sock yarn.
If you haven’t read The first two books, pick them up today and prepare yourself! The cover reveal will be on my site on MAY 1 and I would love for you to drop by and see it.
These new covers are beautiful!
I’d been thinking about rebranding the Dowser series for awhile, and knowing I was about to publish the third book in the series this seemed like the perfect timing. I adore Irene Langholm, who has done ALL of my book covers up to this point, but together we thought another cover designer might bring some lightness or playfulness to the covers.
It was the morning of her twenty-sixth birthday, and Liv Johnston couldn’t shake the feeling that today was no ordinary day. Thus begins a supernatural romp through the streets of Glasgow, with side stops that cross dimensions and lead to worlds within worlds that a simple internet advertising office plodder, sending out emails that people hated to receive and tossed without a thought. But today is, truly, no ordinary day.
Out the door on her way to work, Liv is interrupted by a courier – a courier with a very strange message, instructing her to fly from her home in Boston to Glasgow, and there to proceed to a certain house, on a certain street. Along with the message, there is an even stranger package. The Celtic Myths and Legends, by C.L. Dryfus. Huh? What in the world could it all mean?
Tossing it all aside to think about later, Liv gets to her office, only to find that her job has been made redundant, as have the jobs of everyone else in her branch of the company. Well, darn. So, having a bit of savings, and an encouraging friend, Liv hops a plane to Glasgow, certain this must be some sort of joke – but who could resist a bit of mystery and adventure? Especially when you don’t have a ‘day job’ and could really use a bit of vacation.
Liv soon finds that life, as she knows it, will never be the same. Thrust into a world she neither knows or understands, she still somehow feels at home, safe and secure. Though she truly is neither safe nor secure – and things are about to get a lot weirder.
The hero character and love interest is Bastien, a Fomoiri Demon. Having lost his love over two hundred years ago, Bastien has withdrawn into himself and become even more of what he is – a warrior for the Guild, a group whose sole purpose is the protection of humans from the dark, whether it be physically or in the form of knowledge of the other races.
Liv is a strong character, taking her new situation in stride while showing a lot of backbone and more than a bit of temper. I really liked that about her. She takes no nonsense, and doesn’t fawn and whine over Bastien, the (of course) hunky and drool-worthy Demon. She handles herself well under the circumstances and doesn’t back down from anyone – even a bad tempered, hostile Demon who is determined to cut her out of Bastien’s life – and out of life all together.
There are great women characters in the book. A meddling Witch, Carman: Carman had worked for ages to build a solid reputation as an evil Witch so that most other beings, especially humans, left her alone to do as she pleased.” I loved her to pieces, good hearted (though inept) meddling and all. Leanan is the mother of all Vampires, has a wicked sense of humour and is more than willing to get into trouble right alongside Carman. Well, she is the mother of the good Vampires, that is. Those bad ones? They are called Droch Fhola, and are the descendants of Abhartach. . . Well, that is a whole other story. Then there is the Kelpie, the Grandmother who isn’t a grandmother at all, and one bad ass Warrior Goddess with a nasty attitude and an even worse temper. How cool is all that?
The only thing I didn’t like about the book, honestly, is the cover. TERRIBLE cover for this particular book. Yes, yes, you are all pretty with your naked, oiled up chest. Get over it. This book is more about Liv than the not-quite-bright Demon Boy. And yet, she is nowhere to be found on the cover! That stinks. Really. Ok, right, fine. Some people want to get all hot and bothered over covers, and Demon Boy is pretty as a ‘picture,’ I will give you that. But this is a LOT more than erotica, and the cover really blows for a book with a good story line and great characters. I hope it gets changed, but I won’t hold my breath.
I received this book from Bookplex in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
I first came across Deanna Chase in 2012 with her book Haunted on Bourbon Street. The book, featuring Jade Calhoun, was set in New Orleans and features Jade, an empath, and a creative and interesting group of friends, including a couple of strip club owners, a coven, and couple of ghosts with very different agendas. Since then, I happily enjoyed both Witches of Bourbon Street and Demons of Bourbon Street. There are still two more (that I know of) in the series that I have already purchased and are sitting in my TBR pile waiting for their turn. And I am very much looking forward to them.
Influential Magic is also set in New Orleans, and is the first in a series subtitled Crescent City Fae. This new series stars Willow Rhoswen, owner of The Fated Cupcake and part-time vampire hunter for the Void. Oh, and she is also a faery – complete with wings and flight capabilities. Well, when she isn’t around vampires, whose walking death drains her earth magic, and thus her life force. A very uncomfortable position to be in when your evil faery auntie, who is also the Director of the Void policing agency partners you with a vampire in order to investigate dastardly deeds by the local vampire corporation. Especially when that vampire happens to be your ‘used-to-be-human’ boyfriend. A boyfriend, who suddenly dumped you with a quick text message (jerk!), then turns up later turned – literally.
What happens to Willow in this volume of the Crescent City series is a neat bit of creative urban fantasy, but it also carries an undercurrent of politics and xenophobia which reflects what is happening in this world, this reality, even now. I am, admittedly, not a ‘vampire groupie’ as so many are these days. Been there, done that, would really like for that whole ‘cold, dead, walking corpses’ to be over already. I mean, come on – have you ever felt a real corpse? Gross. I couldn’t imagine kissing cold, dead lips, much less getting down and dirty with other parts! However, in Chase’s alternate universe, her vampires are, though still cold and walking dead, much more ‘real’ people than others in the genre, with lives and families whom they love – even if they are still overwhelmingly entitled, making them both vicious and brutally efficient killers when crossed.
Overall, I really liked Willow. She takes a lot of damage, both physically and emotionally in this first book, and overall she handles it well. I did find her rather naïve at times, railing against those who would take care of issues in a vigilante fashion, while openly acknowledging that the governmental agencies are deeply corrupt. At the same time, I honestly admired her for understanding the siren song of power and how it can so easily corrupt.
The fantasy storyline is creative, well written, and believable as an alternative reality of a world which evolved under magical conditions, while still aligning closely with our own. There is a bit of a triangle aspect, between Willow and David, the vamp ex boyfriend and Talisen, her childhood friend and mentor who is another faery. The triangle seems to correct itself at the end, and I honestly hope that the concept doesn’t carry on through the other books, as I find those sorts of story lines to be crutches for poor story development. However, the Shih Tzu that turns into a wolf? Awesome! And I hope that Willow will be spending more time in her bakery, creating magically infused cupcakes, and more time with her best friend, Phoebe, a witch. There were a lot of ends left free, leaving room for a great deal of really good story development as we learn more about Willow, her skills, and her family and friends. And having listened to the Audible Edition, narrated by Gabra Zackman, one of my favorite narrators of all time, there was a whole other level of enjoyment that I was able to gain from the book. And right now, Influential Magic is only $1.99 for the Audible Edition! What’s not to like? Especially when it is also text-to-speech enabled for the Kindle edition. I prefer the Audible editions, as I can download them onto my Zune and pop it into my pocket while I am doing other things, but having it in both editions means I can read it any way I wish. Cool…
Looking back at my review of Cupcakes, the first in The Dowser Series, I realize that I talked more about the cupcake recipes that Meagan came up with. Well, the cupcakes sound awesome so who can blame me? But I never really said anything about the story other than how much I enjoyed it. And I should have, because the story is wonderful.
Jade is the daughter of a witch (father unknown), granddaughter of one of the strongest witches on the West Coast, and foster sister of yet another witch. Best friends all their lives, Jade trusts and loves her sister Sienna with all her heart. Happy in her life, running her bakery, “Cake In A Cup” and making ‘trinkets’ from bits and bobs infused with the magic of their former owners, Jade has a happy, calm, and peaceful life. Well, until the vampire shows up staring through her bakery window. And then, her whole life changes. Dead werewolves, blood magic, and other horrors change and twist Jade’s life. Yes, some of the changes are good, as she begins to grow into her strength, to become what she is meant to be. However, there is deep and cutting pain that must be absorbed, betrayals and hatred and horrors. Jade’s life will never be the same. But she grows, adapts, and begins the journey to her new life as an unknown power in the magical world.
You want to believe that there’s one relationship in life that’s beyond betrayal. A relationship that’s beyond that kind of hurt. And there isn’t.- Caleb Carr
There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, in the second edition, Trinkets, Treasures, and Other Bloody Magic (The Dowser Series 2) Jade continues to grow into her new Dowser powers. A magical ‘finder’ much like a water dowser, Jade tracks and finds magical objects – and apparently, also magical people. The story opens in the incredible Squamish forest of the Northwest outside of Vancouver as Jade enjoys her second to last piece of single-origin Madagascar chocolate and contemplates which of her two teachers, Kett the ancient vampire, or Kandy, the werewolf, will try to jump her this time as they teach her how to protect herself from the world of magic creatures. What they find in the forest is strange and new (to Jade) and proves her powers are even more than she first believed. Here starts a tale of yet more growth and change for Jade. And pain that she had only recently thought could not be more overwhelming.
More betrayal overwhelms her life in this edition, and yet there is also hope and new friendships, new discoveries about herself and her powers. Doidge weaves a tale with layers and depths not found in many of the other urban fantasy series on the market today. The beliefs that Jade has built her life upon are ripped out from under her feet, and nothing will ever be quite the same again. But as been said, and proven, over millennia, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – and Jade is coming into her strength.
There were some things I didn’t like about the book – Jade is much too forgiving of people who would dismiss and demean her, both as a person and a magic user. But that seems to be a theme with ‘family’ issues, where those who you thought loved you and believed in you truly don’t believe you are strong at all, who have no faith in your abilities . . . I wouldn’t be as forgiving as Jade was. However, I have a feeling that Jade will show that person that she is stronger, and “more” than anyone ever could have believed.
The end was shocking, and wonderful, and heartfelt. It has me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next volume. I highly recommend that you read Cupcakes first, then Trinkets. They can be read stand-alone, but you will enjoy it more if you read both. Then, when you are done and waiting for the next, I highly recommend that you read Meghan’s other works, especially Spirit Binder (The Cascadian Chronicles #1). The second of that series is another book I am drooling to get my hands on.
Again, highly recommended to anyone who loves Urban Fantasy, strong women characters, and beautiful writing.
My review for Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic
Meghan, Meghan, Meghan! I am expecting cupcake stocks to sail through the roof, and a run on cupcake ingredients at local markets just from reading this book. Whee!!!
OK, listen to this . . . Bliss in a Cup – peanut butter-iced fudge cake (did I say fudge cake? OMG wait a sec, I have to go get a towel . . . whew, there) Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Sex in a Cup – chocolate butter icing with a wallop of cinnamon and cocoa in the batter. Or, this particular favorite of mine, Buzz in a Cup – mocha fudge cake with mocha butter icing . . . oh, yes, I could go on, but I might swoon from pure overload. . .
Jade is a sweetheart. A nice young half witch, half human (maybe. . . ) with a nasty tempered foster sister, a wild earth witch grandmother, and a cupcake bakery. A very popular cupcake bakery with a reputation for ‘magical’ tasting cupcakes. She has a quiet life, happy with her baking, her trinket making and her quiet, apparently fulfilling life.
Then, of course, things change. And not in a nice way. Poor Jade. Life will never be the same. Apparently she isn’t who she thought she was. But then, who is she?
Cupcakes, hot werewolves, cupcakes, mystery, oh, did I mention cupcakes? Yummy, luscious, delicious, chocolate, fudge. . . Oh. My. Goddess. The hardest thing about reading the book? First, I am dying for cupcakes now. And second? Hurry! Hurry! Write the next one, Meghan! Please!