Street Magic (Black London #1) by Caitlin Kittredge

Street Magic black London #1 review

Street Magic Description

Pete Caldecott was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life  mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete’s eyes.

Now a detective , Pete is investigating the case of a young girl kidnapped from the streets of London. A tip has led police directly to the child but when Pete meets the informant, she’s shocked to learn he is none other than Jack.

Strung out on heroin, Jack is a shadow of his former self.  But he’s able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget’s kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fey.

Even though she’s spent years disavowing the supernatural, Pete follows Jack into the invisible fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget—and what happened to Jack on that dark day so long ago.

My Review of Street Magic

Street Magic (Black London, #1)Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The writing was a bit clunky and awkward. I found it was often difficult to follow what was going on, and why they are doing things.

There wasn’t much of an atmosphere to it, I didn’t get a feel for London itself, and Black London was brushed over. Pete and Jack dipped in and out of it but what it is and what it’s like wasn’t explained so it never came to life for me, I couldn’t picture it

The magic was hard to understand too, but it is a series so maybe it’s explained more in later books.

Main character Peter grated on me. I’m not convinced she is really an Inspector because she acts more like an impulsive child, shouting and whining and making daft threats to criminals. She never did any actual police work so it was hard to understand the professional side of her.

And some of the things she did were odd, like why didn’t she report the first tip off from Jack? Why keep it a secret?

I can’t remember that she what she looks like was described either. She was just a bit bland. Towards the end of the book she was getting a bit more badass, so again maybe she gets better later in the series!

I did like Jack, but I don’t understand why he holds such a grudge against Pete? He dragged her into something she didn’t understand then got upset when she ran scared. And he’d held on to it for 12 years then suddenly changed his mind?

I also liked attraction between Pete and Jack. It was building up towards the end of the book with some moments between them that sparked. I think it holds potential for future books.

Overall there just wasn’t enough magic and not enough of the police work I’d been hoping for. It didn’t hold my interest and I ended up speed reading the last third.

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Street Magic
Black London
Caitlin Kittredge
Urban Fantasy

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Book Description

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. In the skies of Eretz  something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theatre that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

My reviews of Other Books in the Series

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

My Review of Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last book in the series got off to a slow start. I found it a bit overly dramatic, and it took me nearly 200 pages to get back into the story. The addition of an entirely new character that became very important to the story didn’t help, I felt like it was a bit late in the story to throw a new person and a new story arc into the mix!

I did like Eliza though, she was interesting, smart and funny. When the things settled down and got going how she fit into the wider story started to make sense.

And there was a lot of story crammed into the second half of this book. The war between the Chimaera and the seraphs was the focus of the first two books but this one seemed to move away from that into a bigger story about the fate of all the worlds. There had been hints of this dropped in here and there so I knew there would be more eventually but it was all resolved in what felt like a mad rush at the end.

But I still enjoyed reading this, I liked the story and the writing has been wonderful throughout all three books.

Supposedly a young adult book it has more intelligence and emotional depth than most adult books. It has a strong anti-war message, and even though it got too dramatic sometimes (all the feelings, all at once) and too caught up in trying to hammer home that message it does well at showing that war isn’t this honour and glory thing it is often portrayed as.

In fact, I’m putting it up there as one of my favourite fantasy series. I’ve been hooked on Karou’s story since I started reading. The writing is beautiful and the world’s Laini Taylor creates are rich and vivid and I’ve loved losing myself in them.

I even liked the way it ended, which is unusual for me with this kind of book. The romance between Karou and Akiva was handled well, but I wish they had more time together in the book. I’m sure they didn’t have one proper conversation all through it!

It’s a series I’m going to keep on my shelves and I’m already looking forward to re-reading it.

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Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
March 26th 2015
613

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1)

the ninth rain

Book Description

Jen Williams, acclaimed author of The Copper Cat trilogy, featuring THE COPPER PROMISE, THE IRON GHOST and THE SILVER TIDE, returns with the first in a blistering new trilogy. ‘An original new voice in heroic fantasy’ Adrian Tchaikovsky

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall… 

My review of The Ninth Rain

The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #1)The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jen Williams has written a wonderful fantasy book here, with a cast of warm and lively characters.

Lady Vintage is a travelling scholar, researching the remains of what appear to be alien ships that crashed to earth in a failed invasion attempt. She has a strong and kind personality and she doesn’t let problems stop her, almost refusing to acknowledge them. Vintage is still mourning the loss of her Eboran friend (lover?) Nanathema who disappeared 20 years ago.

Tormalin is an Eboran who Lady Vintage has hired to help and protect her on her travels. Tormalin left his home in Ebora 50 years ago to escape the Crison Flux disease that is slowly killing his people.

Noon is a fell-witch, drawing on a life source she is able to summon green fire. Fell-witches are feared and hated and she has been locked in the Winnory prison since she was young. This is a horrible place that mistreats the women and houses in squalor while profiting from their witch talents.

The story and the world Jen Williams has created has some original and inventive ideas, making it stand out from the bog-standard fantasy norm. She has included some diverse characters too, and the women aren’t just damsels in distress but major players in the story.

There’s a lot to the story, but information and clues are fed to us slowly allowing us to build our own picture of the world and make guesses at what is happening. There are no big information dumps here!

While I liked the story, the characters are what make this book so enjoyable. Their relationships and banter are funny and intelligent and they all just sprang to life in my mind.

The magic, monster fighting and witches that fly on giant bats just make it even better!

The Ninth Rain for me is the book equivalent of a warm blanket and a big cup of tea or snuggling with my partner. It left me with a warm, happy feeling after reading it.

I’m not happy about having to wait for the next book. I had to go out yesterday and buy the first one of The Copper Cat series to keep me going.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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The Ninth Rain
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy
Jen Williams
Fantasy
February 23rd 2017
544

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning (Fever #9)

Fever Series Playlist

Book Description

#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning returns with the epic conclusion to her pulse-pounding Fever series, where a world thrown into chaos grows more treacherous at every turn. As Mac, Barrons, Ryodan, and Jada struggle to restore control, enemies become allies, right and wrong cease to exist, and the lines between life and death, lust and love, disappear completely.

Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the Earth. Yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: the Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.

The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the Earth. But to achieve these aims, sidhe-seers, the Nine, Seelie, and Unseelie must form unlikely alliances and make heart-wrenching choices. For Barrons and Jada, this means finding the Seelie Queen who alone can wield the mysterious song, negotiating with a lethal Unseelie prince hell-bent on ruling the Fae courts, and figuring out how to destroy the Sinsar Dubh while keeping Mac alive.

This time, there’s no gain without sacrifice, no pursuit without risk, no victory without irrevocable loss. In the battle for Mac’s soul, every decision exacts a tremendous price.

My Review of Feversong

Feversong (Fever, #9)Feversong by Karen Marie Moning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So this won’t be a long review because I rushed through Feversong in just over a day. I think that says something about just how readable this series is, it’s never taken me longer than 2 days to read one.

With Feversong it felt like some of the magic from the first five books was back. The characters just seem more true to how they were originally, in some of the later books they felt a bit like they’d been changed just to fit the story.

But there was some nice character growth for Mac and for Jada / Dani. It was nice to see how Mac has evolved from the first book, and Dani has become my favourite character by far. She seems much more mature now and her point of view is interesting rather than irritating. And Mac and Barrons finally seem to have a mutually respectful relationship.

I liked the story and it ended well bringing the latest story arc to a close, no cliffhangers! I hope this isn’t the end of the series though, I would like to see more of Dani.

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Feversong
Fever
Karen Marie Moning
Urban Fantasy
January 17th 2017
512

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Book Description

Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. But she’s never seen anything like this.

He is a broken man. The ambitions which once drove him are dead. Now he has new dreams – of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.

Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city.

And home to a killer opening doors into the dark heart of humanity.

A killer who wants to make you whole again…

My Review of Broken Monsters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a few days to decide what to write about this one. I was on the fence whether to give it 3 stars or 4.

I enjoyed the serial killer / paranormal thriller storyline. It draws you in straight away with this, and the ongoing investigation held my interest. I thought it ended well without going so far into the paranormal side that the resolution is nonsense.

There are a few different viewpoints that the story keeps switching between, but because the characters are all realistic, unique and well developed I found it easy to keep up and keep them separate.

My main problem with the story was the detective’s teenage daughter Layla. She was self-obsessed and veered between acting old for her age and being very childish. All very true and normal for a teenager, but for me she got in the way of the story and became very irritating very quickly.

But Lauren Beukes’ writing and her skill in creating imperfect but likeable characters are what lifts this book above the norm. I even felt sorry for the murderer at times!

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Broken Monsters
Lauren Beukes
Thriller
August 1st 2014
528

Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3) by China Miéville

iron Council book review

Iron Council Description

It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.

In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers…

It is the time of the Iron Council.

My Review of Iron Council

Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3)Iron Council by China Miéville

Although any book of China Mieville’s is always a treat, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the previous two books in the series. I think maybe it just didn’t have the same atmosphere. The first book had New Crobuzon, The Scar was set on the floating city of Armarda and both of these were rich and vivid, full of life. A lot of Iron Council is set out in the wide world, it’s almost a wild west novel, and there is no strong sense of place that China Mieville normally does so well.

The journey across the landscape was interesting and eventful, and I loved the parts set in New Crobuzon. I also liked the descriptions of all the different races and the remade, and there’s a lot of magic in this book, which is always a good thing!

I actually really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book, but after that it gets into the heavy subjects and it gets very serious, and maybe a bit bogged down in it. The right at the end, things start happening so fast it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Iron Council is a very political novel, it’s about imperialism, corporatism, terrorism and revolution, touching on prejudice and discrimination. It’s interesting to read about and certainly made me think, but it was difficult to get through the end. I had to make myself go back to finish the last 40 pages.

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Iron Council
New Crobuzon
China Miéville
Fantasy
May 6th 2011
614

Made For Sin by Stacia Kane

made for sin book review

Description

A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.

But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.

Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.

The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.

My Review of Made for Sin

Well I really enjoyed reading this one, it was one of those books where I could happily have turned the world off and stayed at home curled up on the sofa until I’d finished it.

I liked Speare and Ardeth, they were both interesting and the attraction between them sizzled nicely. I want more of them, it can’t end the way it did! And I want to see Ardeth again, using her thieving skills more, and generally being clever and winding Speare up.

The only thing that felt a bit off for me was that I couldn’t picture Speare very well. Near the end of the book it says that he’s tall but other than that I didn’t get a good mental picture of what he looked like.

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Made for Sin
Stacia Kane
Urban Fantasy
August 30th 2016
266

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight Description

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My reviews of Other Books in the Series

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight Review

Days of Blood & Starlight reviewDays of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first book and loving the bits set in Prague as much as I did I thought I just wouldn’t like the second book. I thought I’d miss the cosy, magical world of the first book. Well, I was wrong. If anything I think I like Days of Blood & Starlight even more!

There are some big themes running through this book, war and vengeance, and how violent revenge will only cause more violence. The war is the main focus of the book, with the Chimera almost wiped out and Karou working as a resurrectionist, building new bodies for dead chimaera soldiers.

Love is still here too, but it’s certainly not the teenage insta love from the first book. Karou and Akiva are on opposite sides of the war, Akiva has a lot of guilt for his part in killing the Chimera, and Karou cannot forgive him. It’s very dark and heavy on the emotions at times, but the story manages not to get too bogged down in it.

The magical atmosphere from the first book is still here though. The writing is beautiful and lifts the story out of the depths of misery. There are moments of hope thrown in for us too, and Karou’s best friend Zuzana adds some humour and light into the story. There is more actual magic, Karou is building new chimaera and Akiva is using his magic to do what he can to stop the slaughter of the survivors from the chimaera villages.

I’m seriously considering taking a day or two off work to read the next one.

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Days of Blood & Starlight
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 15th 2013
528

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Book Description

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.”

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My Reviews of Other Books in the Series

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

My Review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I absolutely loved this one, I finished it in around a day. It’s a beautiful novel and the setting of Prague adds a layer of atmosphere that makes it even richer. I could imagine myself there while I was reading. I’m visiting Prague for the first time early next year so I was making a list of places to visit while I was reading!

The first half of the story moved between Prague and the chimaera Brimstone’s shop, a place reached by portals, where human teeth are exchanged for magic wishes. Karou was raised by Brimstone and now she runs errands for him out in the human world where he can’t go.

I loved how Karou was described, a tattooed art student living in Prague who has wished her hair blue and fills her sketchbooks with drawings of ‘monsters’ from Brimstone’s world, and her friends from the human world. She could easily have tipped over into being too perfect but Taylor gave her enough flaws to keep her realistic; falling for an arrogant actor and wasting magic wishes for trivial things like her hair colour and getting the table she wants in a cafe.

The second half of the book introduces a Romeo and Juliet style romance between Karou and Akiva, an angel warrior. The story takes off in a new direction as we learn the truth behind who Karou is, and while I was a bit disappointed it moved on from Prague and Brimstone’s shop, it still held my attention.

It has a serious cliffhanger ending, and I seriously can’t wait for the weekend so I can go out and get the next book in the series.

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 5th 2012
420

Slipping by Lauren Beukes

Slipping review

Description of Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

In her edgy, satiric debut collection, award-winning South African journalist and author Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls, Moxyland) never holds back. Nothing is simple and everything is perilous when humans are involved: corruption, greed, and even love (of a sort).

A permanent corporate branding gives a young woman enhanced physical abilities and a nearly-constant high.
Recruits lifted out of poverty find a far worse fate collecting biohazardous plants on an inhospitable world.
The only adult survivor of the apocalypse decides he will be the savior of teenagers; the teenagers are not amused.

From Johannesburg to outer space, these previously uncollected tales are a compelling, dark, and slippery ride.

My Review of Slipping by Lauren Beukes

Review of Slipping by Lauren BeukesSlipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading this collection of short stories Lauren Beukes is now firmly on my favourite authors list. Clever and very relevant, the stories are a mix of sci-fi, weirdness, and commentary on modern life.

None of the stories here are very long so it’s easy to dip in and out of. Though saying that, normally I find myself having to stop between stories in short story collections but with this book I couldn’t do that, I had to start the next straight away. I think that was partly because they are short and I knew I wouldn’t have to stop reading half way through one (I hate having to do that), and partly because these stories are just that good I didn’t want to stop reading.

There weren’t any stories that I disliked, but my favourites were:

Slipping – about a contestant in a futuristic Paralympics event where the athletes can have exosuits, implants controlling their hormones, remote controlled bodies, or they can even remove their organs to make them run better.

Confirm/Ignore – a look into the mind of someone that creates fake online personas by copying other people’s photos and quotes.

The Green – pure sci/fi! Workers on a remote planet searching for plants or chemicals the company they work for can make money with.

Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs – a lolita punk pilots a Japanese fighter robot and battles monsters to save Tokyo.

Dial Tone – a story that’s about loneliness really.

Ghost Girl – a teenage girl haunting a university student.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing
Lauren Beukes
Sci-Fi
November 29th 2016
288