The end of the third book in the Charlie Davidson series was emotionally draining and somewhat traumatic. Betrayal all around, and I wondered how Charlie was going to come out of this one.
Well, she doesn't exactly. Which was a stroke of brilliance by author Darynda Jones to make her seem more human and real. She is no longer the Grim Reaper and PI Extrodiarre, she is also Charlie - the woman who was hurt, betrayed, and tortured - trying to come to terms with what she's going to do next and looking for comfort in her credit card and home shopping channels.
It takes a new case to start to bring her back to herself. And this case was pretty interesting. I loved the look at the psychology behind our memories and what trauma can do to them. There were some pretty nice twists in it as well, and while I sort of had things figured out, there was one really big surprise that I didn't see coming at all. I understand that Charlie's cases need to be action-packed and exciting, but I'd like to see her come of out one without a near-death experience.
Reyes is back and not in Charlie's good graces. But he has a few things up his sleeve still to try and make things right with her. I'm incredibly curious to see where their storyline goes as we find out more and more about Charlie's unknown abilities and Reyes' background and motives.
I think the narrator for this audiobook is one of my favorites. She tells the story so well and is very easy to listen to.
At the end of Shadow Play, Rebecca was in a really bad place. I'm so glad I could just jump right into book two and watch her get right back on her feet ready to fight.
And by fight I mean go up against some of the most powerful Fae ever without fully understanding her powers or even knowing what they are. Enter Fenodree - exiled Fae that just might be able to teach Rebecca what she needs so that she won't die in the battle to come.
Her time with Fenodree wasn't just spent learning about her magic but falling in love with Lochlan. They have a lot to overcome, and I times I got a little frustrated with their on again, off again, on again, let's have sex right now relationship.
But in the end, it all paid off (both the training and the relationship), and I loved how the story unfolded and come to an almost ending. While this is a duet, there are a few characters whose story is yet untold that are coming up next, and I can't wait.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Shadow Play introduces us to Rebecca the world of the Fae - and yes, she's totally surprised to find out they exist. On top of it all, she discovers that the necklace she's been wearing her whole life is actually a Fae charm with some pretty remarkable abilities - and consequences.
Rebecca is thrown into the world of the Fae along with her best friend Ashley when she takes a job at a museum in Belfast. The Fae politics and factions are confusing, and Jill Ramsower does a fantastic job of introducing people and concepts as Rebecca discovers them. I could feel her confusion and lack of understanding without feeling totally confused myself.
As Fae danger and intrigue envelop Rebecca's world, she finds herself deep in the world of the Great Hunt and trying to keep the rest of humanity safe from the Unseelie and Shadow Fae that are sneaking through portals. When rumors of war and the return of Merlin surface, no one is quite sure what to think.
I loved the diverse characters and setting of Belfast was beautiful. There is a lot of intrigue and excitement. And I will warn you, there is a not so pretty cliffhanger at the end - but spoiler - while there's nothing to make what happens to Rebecca not awful - the second book uses it to make her a stronger person.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Title: Lost Souls (Soul Charmer #3)
Author: Chelsea Mueller
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Get out of Hell free card? Not for Callie Delgado, Gem City’s newest soul charmer. Sin and salvation collide in this gritty and action-packed urban fantasy.
Callie’s magic is finally her own. She and Derek dispatched Ford. They should have been able to breathe, but layers of sin run deep beneath Gem City. Another mob boss quickly rises, and his sights are firmly set on Callie—and her family.
Mobile soul rental shops begin to bite at the Soul Charmer’s business. His retribution is wicked, but the blowback threatens to crush Callie. If she can’t maintain the tenuous balance of souls in Gem City, more lives will be lost.
Only the more magic she uses, the more danger finds her. A break-in, pools of blood, and bare shelves at the Soul Charmer’s store force Callie to choose the fates of others. But which can she live with? Losing her city, her love, her family …or her very soul?
Lost Souls Excerpt
©2019 Chelsea Mueller
“I’ve worked security at four other buildings.” Benton held up as many fingers. His nails were short and black. Whether from blood or dirt, Callie didn’t care to guess.
She stood behind him and leaned forward to speak into his ear. Stale cigar stench clogged her nose. “You’ve worked jobs, but haven’t paid the Soul Charmer.”
Benton surged closer to the bar. His whiskey sloshed over the lip of the glass and onto his fingers. He slammed his shoulder backward and shifted to face Callie. The wide, milky eyes and taut tendons in his neck eased. Idiot. He licked the spilled liquor from his fingers. “I have experience, but they still won’t even let me take their exam.”
She gave two fucks about his ability to get a job. “That must suck. You owe the Charmer.”
“What do you mean?”
That’s not how this worked, and he knew it. “Cash or souls.”
“I ain’t got anything on me.”
“How are you paying for that Wild Turkey?”
Benton shot scattered looks in either direction. “It just you?”
It was, and normally she hated that. Her boyfriend Derek typically made these collection calls. He looked the part. Hulking and covered in leather and scars. She hid her wounds on the inside, and wielded dark eyeliner as war paint. Not exactly scary mofo material. Callie needed more from Benton than a simple rented soul, though, and that information need to be acquired alone.
About Chelsea Mueller
Chelsea Mueller writes gritty contemporary fantasy. She founded the speculative fiction website Vampire Book Club, blogs about TV and genre fiction for numerous websites, and is co-chair of SF/F charity Geeky Giving. She loves bad cover songs, dramatic movies, and TV vampires. Chelsea lives in Texas, and has been known to say y’all.
For the latest updates, join her email list at ChelseaMueller.net or follow @ChelseaVBC on Twitter and Instagram.
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I loved Third Grave Dead Ahead. Some amazing characters are introduced in the form of a biker gang - and I'm not sure if I'm really supposed to be rooting for them, but I want to. They are a super rough bunch of guys - but super sweet as well.
When Charley's dad tells her she needs to get out of the business - there's a huge falling out - and this comes into play big time as the book wraps up. It triggers some pretty major revelations about Charley that you won't want to miss.
Meanwhile, Reyes seems to be haunting her dreams - so she decided not to sleep while she searches for another missing woman with an over-controlling husband with a nasty history.
Another beautiful job narrating. I always get such a kick out of these books and I have a hard time pressing the pause button to go back to real life.
Second Grave on the Left was full of amazing information on some of my favorite characters. Charley is on the hunt for a missing woman that is friends with best friend, Cookie. The case has Charley chasing a trail of clues with some pretty surprising twists and turns.
Meanwhile, it turns out Reyes is far more than what we thought at first. When Charley finds out he's the Son of Satan (like, for real), she's forced to accept that she doesn't know all there is to know about the world around her and even her own abilities.
Second Grave on the Right not only includes an awesome mystery, it sets a huge stage for some pretty amazing things to come. Darynda Jones doesn't disappoint with Charley's sarcasm and sense of humor. Her personality plays so well with Cookie's, and their conversations are some of the best I've ever read.
Title: Two Witches and a Whiskey (The Guild Codex: Spellbound #3)
Author: Annette Marie
Genre: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Three months ago, I landed a job as a bartender. But not at a bar—at a guild. Yeah, the magic kind.
I’m not a badass mage like my three smokin’ hot best friends. I’m not a sorcerer or an alchemist, or even a wussy witch. I’m just a human, slinging drinks like a pro and keeping my non-magical nose out of mythic business. Seriously, I know my limits.
So why am I currently standing in a black-magic ritual circle across from a fae lord?
Somewhere behind me, my three mage friends are battling for their lives. Somewhere near my feet is the rogue witch I just knocked out with a stolen spell. And I have about five seconds to convince this very angry sea god not to shmoosh me like a bug.
I’m pretty sure this wasn’t part of the job description.
Two Witches and a Whiskey Excerpt
©2019 Annette Marie
Footsteps creaked on the stairs, and I could tell by the sound who it was. Huffing nervously, I opened the door and stuck my head out.
Kai paused with his hand on his bedroom doorknob, laptop tucked under one arm. “Hey Kai!” I said brightly.
His eyes narrowed immediately.
“What?” I demanded, wounded by his wariness.
Faint amusement touched his features. “Tori, if you don’t want to seem suspicious, don’t act so sweet and sugary.”
“Oh, come on. Why is me being cheerful suspicious?”
Leaning back against his door, he looked me up and down like I might be carrying concealed weapons. “What do you want?
I smiled hesitantly. “Wanna take me for a ride on your motorcycle?” His guardedness returned in full force. “A ride where?”
No matter how I answered that, he’d be suspicious, so I batted my eyelashes and chirped with all the sweet sugar I could muster, “It’s a surprise!”
He stared at me—then threw his head back in a laugh.
Fifteen minutes later, I was gripping Kai’s leather-jacket-clad waist as his motorcycle rocketed down Dunsmuir Street. Yellow streetlamps and red tail lights flashed past as we weaved through traffic. I pointed over his shoulder and he careened through a left turn, cutting it way too close to an oncoming car.
Ahead, the skyscrapers opened up. Squatting among the giants was an old-fashioned building with a stone exterior, four-story-tall columns marking the dramatic entrance, and a domed roof. The structure, once a courthouse, was over a hundred years old.
I looked around for a parking spot, but dozens of sleek cars and SUVs, most of them black with the occasional silver or gunmetal gray, were parallel parked bumper to bumper. Kai slowed the bike, and I gestured helplessly toward the gallery as we passed it.
“Here?” he shouted in disbelief over the road noise. “Yeah.”
His helmet swiveled as he scanned the street. The engine revved, then he spun a one-eighty into the opposing traffic and shot back down the road. With a squeal of tires, he cut across the pavement and onto the sidewalk. Slowing to trolling speed, we passed a grand three-sided staircase that looked like it had spilled off the second-level terrace. The gallery entrance was tucked into the inner corner of the L-shaped building.
Stopping the motorcycle beside a row of trees in concrete planters, Kai killed the engine. I loosened my death grip on him and looked around. Yeah, this wasn’t a parking space, but who would complain? The felonious rogue we were about to meet?
About Annette Marie
Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.
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I'm a bit behind the times on getting started with this series, but I'm so glad that I finally did. Charley Davidson is a complete riot. Her "squirrel" moments of easily distraction and rapid through-train changes made both her internal and external dialogue amusing and somehow perfectly timed for every moment.
As the grim reaper, souls that haven't crossed yet can find her to help them cross over or take care of unfinished business. Although not all of them want to, like the intriguing Mr. Wong that hangs out in a corner of her apartment. I keep waiting for him to do something - and maybe he will eventually.
With the ability to see the departed, Charley is an invaluable asset to Uncle, a detective on the police force. As she navigates her place in the investigation, often providing information that no one else can, she seems to stroll through life in her own cloud of uniqueness. The departed each have their own unique personalities as well. From Angel, the teenage gang banger, to the ones involved in her uncle's most recent case.
Throw in the "Big Bad" aka Reyes - who is smoking hot and more than what he seems at first, and you have a hint of romance along the way - maybe. It's not entirely clear where this arc will go, but I really can't wait to find out.
Title: The Night Docket
Author: Michele Lang
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content Rating: R
Release Date: February 26, 2019
When you do your part to kill a necromancer, death isn’t the final goodbye.
No, it’s not the end.
Instead, it’s more like pouring gasoline on a dumpster fire…
By day, solo street lawyer Nicole Farmer represents the down and out in the tough town of Amistad, Connecticut. Bankruptcies, divorces, criminal defense, foreclosures…Nicole’s clients are the hardest-luck cases in a hard-luck rustbelt city.
Fighting the good fight, Nicole has to hustle just to make a living. And by night, unquiet spirits call to her on the dream plane, seeking revenge and healing…and demanding that she solve the coldest cases of all.
Powered by coffee and a sparkly pink cell phone with uncanny mojo, Nicole was made for trouble and badassery. But even she can’t go 24/7 without a break. Sooner or later, she knows she will crack.
Everything changes when Evangeline, the spirit of a murdered young woman, invades Nicole’s dreams. Her killer, a power-hungry and psychopathic warlock, wants to strike again.
Nicole commits to hunting Evangeline’s killer…and opening the Night Docket means all hell breaks loose in Amistad.
Attacked by enemies living and undead, Nicole must face her own past, call in all her favors, and find a way to achieve cosmic justice — without losing her own life and soul…
You will love Michele’s new contemporary urban fantasy series! Read it now, and instantly disappear into the otherworldly, dangerous landscape of Amistad and the Afterworld.
About Michele Lang
Michele Lang writes fantasy, science fiction, crime, and romance, as well as non-fiction. Her Lady Lazarus WWII historical fantasy series was published by Tor Books, and her short fiction has been published by DAW, PM Press, and WMG Press, among others. Her story "Sucker's Game" was included in the Anthony Award-nominated anthology, Jewish Noir.
Michele is a recovering lawyer who has practiced the unholy craft of litigation in both New York and Connecticut. She returned to her native New York shortly before 9/11, and now lives in a small town on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband, her sons, and a rotating menagerie of cats, hermit crabs, and butterflies.
The King takes us back to the very first couple in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Wrath and Beth. I really loved these two, and I was excited to see an entire book revisiting their relationship and showing that there's still life after the initial HEA. And that life isn't always roses.
As the war with the Lessening Society rages on with no end in sight and the Band of Bastards has taken a toll on the king himself. When Wrath makes the announcement that he wants no children to follow him into this life, it comes at a time when Beth was deciding that children were something she desperately wanted to have.
I feel like this was one of the most "real" issues faced in the series so far. I imagine many married couples end up on opposite sides of the having kids coin for various reasons. It made them seem like like fictional characters or more like a couple that could be living right next door (minus the whole everyone is out to kill them part).
Both seek their friends and family for advice - some of which was quite on point and some of it was quite hilarious. There's a lot to consider before bringing a child into the world, and I think Ward did an excellent job of highlighting that part of the relationship between Wrath and Beth.