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  • Rachel Paxton 4:00 pm on 2018/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: angels' blood, betsy taylor, danielle monsch, darynda jones, dead witch walking, diana rowland, first grave on the right, , , kate daniels, , magic bites, majorie m. liu, maryjanice davidson, moon called, , , , , stone guardian, tiger eye, vampires and ghosties, white hot kiss, white trash zombie   

    4 Reasons to Give Paranormal Romance a Try if You Haven’t Already 

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    My love affair with paranormal romance began like most people’s—with Twilight. It was my first introduction to the world of vampires and werewolves, and while I may have grown beyond young adult, I haven’t grown beyond my love for paranormal. And I want to share my love for the genre with everyone, so I’ve created this list of reasons to help you sink your fangs into the world of paranormal romance.

    1. Nothing is off limits. We’ve all heard tales of vampires and werewolves, but paranormal romance doesn’t end with those magical creatures. In fact, they’re only the beginning. When you’re writing in a world of magic and wonder, any “monster,” creature, and lore is on the table. For an unexpected paranormal romance, check out Tiger Eye, by Marjorie M. Liu. It features a tiger-shifter named Hari, who’s trapped inside a riddle box and becomes bound to the “master” who opens it. Or, check out Danielle Monsch’s Stone Guardian, which follows human Larissa as she’s saved by a gargoyle named Terak. It also features basically all the magical creatures, including wizards, dragons, and necromancers. And if you’re interested in a YA romance featuring gargoyles, check out White Hot Kiss, by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

    2. No damsels in distress here. Paranormal romance has a reputation for being all about strong men who control women. Not to say that there aren’t any books like that—there are. But paranormal romance also has some of the most kick-butt women to ever encounter the page, fighting creatures of the night and dealing with all sorts of paranormal problems. One of my favorite heroines is Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. The first story (Magic Bites) introduces us to the titular character, a mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical messes. When her guardian is murdered, she goes on a quest for justice, landing her in all sorts of trouble. Luckily, she can handle it. For another amazing heroine, check out Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, starting with Dead Witch Walking.

    3. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Now I’m not saying there aren’t big stakes in paranormal romance. Often, the heroes and heroines are in life-threatening situations. And sometimes, there’s little lightheartedness going around. But, for whatever reason, some of the funniest heroines I’ve encountered have been in paranormal romance. There’s Charley Davidson, a part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, from Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series (start with First Grave on the Right). There’s Angel Crawford, a high-school dropout turned zombie, from Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series. And finally, there’s Betsy Taylor from MaryJanice Davidson’s Betsy Taylor series—accurately described as a cross between Sex and the City and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    4. Monsters are people too. One thing I love about fantasy and paranormal is that it grants you another lens through which to examine the real world. Fantasy offers us an escape from reality, while still allowing us to explore emotions and situations we face every day. After all, romance heroes and heroines are still people who love, get hurt, and face pain—even if they also shapeshift. Or suck blood. For a heroine who’s just trying to live her life without magical interference, check out Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs. It follows Mercy Thompson, a Volkswagon mechanic and magical being, who struggles to find her place in the world. Another book that shows a heroine battling real-world emotions (such as pressure and fear of failure) is Angels’ Blood, by Nalini Singh. It follows vampire hunter Elena, as she’s given the impossible task of hunting down an archangel gone bad.

    What do you love about paranormal romance?

    The post 4 Reasons to Give Paranormal Romance a Try if You Haven’t Already appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ella Cosmo 7:30 pm on 2014/10/17 Permalink
    Tags: elemental assassin series, faith hunter, , , , jennifer estep, kate daniels, , the downside saga, the jane yellowrock series, urban fantasy   

    Bustiers, Bullets, and Black Magic: Four Urban Fantasy Series You Should Be Reading 

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    Jennifer Estep's Black WidowReaders of modern urban fantasy novels know the best of the genre are a heady mix of noir, romance, fantasy, and suspense. Books that invoke images of flashing neon lights, car chases, heated glances, red heels, incantations, and the glint of fangs in the moonlight. And of course, any great urban fantasy novel must have a kick-butt heroine, the type of woman who is as adept at brewing a potion as she is at taking down a bad guy in two moves. Here are four great series that combine all the best parts of urban fantasy and feature tough, beautiful women who never let a love interest, be it human or vampire, get in the way of their mission…most of the time. 

    Elemental Assassin series, by Jennifer Estep
    This eleven-book series (including two novellas) takes place largely in Ashland, a fictional city in the deep South, where magic is a part of everyday life. Many of Ashland’s inhabitants have the power to control an element of nature, either fire, water, air, or stone. Gin, the heroine of the series, is an elemental, part-time student, and co-owner of a soul food restaurant, aptly named the Peach Pit. Gin is also the most dangerous assassin in Ashland. Throughout the series, she takes on all manner of foes, from vampires to the deliciously evil Mab Monroe, the queenpin of Ashland’s criminal underworld. From the first book, Spider’s Bite, Estep chooses to focus more on Gin’s work as an assassin and less on her potential love interests. But don’t get it twisted: when Gin finally gets around to falling in love, she gives it all she’s got, and for readers, it’s well worth the wait. The latest installment in the series, Black Widow, comes out November 24.

    Kate Daniels series, by Ilona Andrews
    Kate Daniels is trouble, or at least trouble seems to find her no matter where she goes. It’s set in a futuristic, grittier version of Atlanta, where the return of magic has wrecked havoc on everyday life. Kate works as a freelance mercenary who can’t seem to stop herself from getting involved in other people’s (usually supernatural) problems. In a genre populated with sexy, tough women, Kate stands out because of her absolute fearlessness, combating everything from necromancer-controlled vampires to werehyenas. Seriously, Kate doesn’t back down from anybody. And because the authors (a husband and wife duo writing under the pseudonym Ilona Andrews) take the time to build Kate’s compelling back story from the first book, Magic Bites, to the most recent in the series, Magic Breaks, readers can readily believe that beneath Kate’s tough exterior is a woman who’s willing to sacrifice everything to protect the people she loves.

     Downside Ghosts series, by Stacia Kane
    An urban fantasy with a dystopian edge, the Downside Ghosts series chronicles the misadventures of Chess Putnam, a tattooed ghost debunker for the Church of Real Truth, a vast government-like entity that presides over a world where the dead have come back to life. The Church has  sworn to protect the living from the risen dead and provides monetary reimbursement to any person truly haunted by a spirit. As a debunker for the Church, Chess investigates whether someone is truly being bothered by things that go bump in the night or just trying to get some of that sweet, sweet Church money. In addition to struggling to survive her job and a world populated by tortured spirits and hardbitten city inhabitants, Chess battles with a drug addiction that she just barely manages to control and a tendency to fall for completely unsuitable men. This series is dark, like really really dark. But the series, and Chess, are worth it. Kane is a nuanced writer who gives even the most morally ambivalent characters real depth and emotion, and Chess has a biting sense of humor that provides levity at truly unexpected moments.

    The Jane Yellowrock series, by Faith Hunter
    Set largely  in a fictional version of New Orleans, Hunter’s series does an excellent job of making the city as important as the characters. Hunter’s New Orleans is one filled with spicy étouffée, the rhythmic beat of jazz music, the fragrant smell of night-blooming jasmine…and vampires. Lots and lots of sexy, bloodsucking vampires. Which is why New Orleans is the perfect place for Jane Yellowrock, a mercenary with a talent for hunting “vamps,” as she likes to call them. Jane is a skinwalker, a gift of her Native American heritage and a legacy she grapples with throughout the series. In the first book, Skinwalker, Hunter introduces readers to giant mountain lion “Beast,” with whom Jane uneasily shares her body and spirit. Beast has her own personality and beliefs, and the relationship between the two characters is one of the story’s most compelling aspects.

    What urban fantasy books do you love?

  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 pm on 2014/07/16 Permalink
    Tags: , book of life, , , , , , , hannu rajaniemi, , joe abercrombie, kate daniels, lisa jensen, max gladstone, , , , , the last policeman, tom holt   

    July Sci-Fi/Fantasy Roundup: Quantum Entanglement, Supernatural HR, and Captain Hook’s Side of the Story 

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    Trippy sci-fi books

    In this roundup of July’s most exciting sci-fi and fantasy titles, you’ll discover adventures that will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go, from inside the bowels of a quantum computer, to a postapocalyptic survivalist community, to a world facing extinction, and even…a magical HR department? (Like I said, anywhere.) Here are your can’t-miss SF/F titles for the month:

    The Causal Angel, by Hannu Rajaniemi
    The next installment in the Finnish mathematical physicist’s Jean le Flambeur series, following The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, concludes the adventures of gentleman thief Jean, the mercenary Meili, and her sentient ship, Perhonen, as they seek to overthrow a galaxy-ruling dynasty of formerly human hive-minded, godlike beings. The first two volumes proved Rajaniemi does mind-bending hard sci-fi better than pretty much anyone out there (I mean, just parse that last sentence), inventing fantastically probable future technology and a whole new take on what human consciousness will look like in a few thousand years without sacrificing compelling characters or engaging prose. All the series’ hallmarks are here, including maddeningly complex plotting that will basically force you to enjoy it twice. (Available July 15 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK)

    The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness
    The conclusion to the best-selling All Souls trilogy (following A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night) is finally here! Back in the present after a harrowing trip through time, bookish witch Diana Bishop and her vampire scientist husband, Matthew, must hunt down a crucial missing manuscript that may reveal hidden knowledge from the past—and just might save the future. Fans should be satisfied by the twisty, action-filled climax, featuring vampiric family squabbles, a vengeful killer, and a climactic birth. (Available July 15 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK)

    Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie
    So the guy who burst onto the fantasy scene with a super-violent trilogy starring an amoral, bloodthirsty barbarian warrior is writing a YA novel? Haha, yeah right. Does it come out on April 1? But no—Abercrombie really has (somewhat) tamed his penchant for lopped-off limbs (and foul-mouthed killers) in the first installment of a new trilogy aimed at the younger set, but filled with the complex characters and political machinations (oh yeah, and violence) that longtime readers expect. Born with half a hand, Prince Yarvi trained for life as a scholar, never expecting to take the throne. Yet circumstances change when his father and brother are killed, forcing the once peaceful boy to pick up a blade, vow revenge, and defend his kingdom. (Available July 15 in hardcover and NOOK)

    California, by Edan Lepucki
    Even if you think you’re burned out on postapocalyptic lit, you won’t want to miss this one. Lepucki’s acclaimed debut novel explores a bleak landscape that isn’t suffering from vampire plague, zombie virus, or atomic fallout, but merely lacks the comforts and structures of civilization we’ve come to depend on. Struggling to survive as the world falls away around them, Cal and Frida are forced to leave the isolated refuge they’ve managed to build for themselves when Frida discovers she’s pregnant. Venturing to the nearest community of survivors, they face a greater threat than mere forces of nature. (Available July 8 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK)

    Magic Breaks, by Ilona Andrews
    The latest installment of the Kate Daniels series offers up more supernatural intrigue from one of the best urban fantasy authors around. While fending off the looming threat of a fearsome figure from her past, mercenary-turned-investigator Kate must balance the politics of the wolf pack with her relationship with its leader, the Beast Lord, all while hunting down the murderer of one of the Masters of the Dead—or risk an all-out supernatural war. So, no pressure or anything. (Available July 29 in hardcover and NOOK)

    World of Trouble, by Ben H. Winters
    In the concluding volume of Winters’ Philip K. Dick Award–winning, genre-destroying pre-apocalypse mystery series The Last Policeman, Detective Hank Palace has finally holed up in a safehouse with the remaining members of the Concord police force to await impact by the world-ending asteroid hurtling toward Earth when, once again, the lure of solving one last case, and righting one last wrong, proves too strong. Despite the looming extinction of the human race, Palace is determined to save his endangered sister, at least for a little while. A satisfying, elegiac conclusion to a truly unique take on the detective genre. (Available July 15 in paperback, audiobook, and NOOK)

    The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice, by Tom Holt
    Tom Holt publishes high-concept, hilarious, convention-skewering genre novels faster than I can read them. Following the quantum theory sci-fi comedies Doughnut and When It’s a Jar, he makes the jump into fantasy territory with a book about the clerical work that goes on behind the scenes of your average sword-and-sorcery epic. If you’ve ever wondered who manages HR responsibilities for legions of goblins or helps coordinate insurance coverage for the risky job of dragon slaying, this book will answer all your questions, as well as reveal what happens when the system breaks down and parallel worlds start colliding. (Available July 15 in paperback and NOOK)

    Full Fathom Five, by Max Gladstone
    Max Gladstone once again manages to mix seemingly unpalatable flavors in the latest installment of his loosely connected legal procedural–meets–urban fantasy series. In a world where paying tribute to all-powerful beings drives politics and the economy, Kai is a literal godmaker, constructing made-to-order deities. When one of her creations begins to waste away, Kai’s risky, ultimately doomed attempt to rescue it is used as an excuse by her enemies to paint her as mentally unstable. But who are those enemies, exactly? Part of a larger conspiracy, no doubt. I see you’ve read a book before. Another fast-moving, funny entry in perhaps my favorite ongoing series. (Available July 15 in hardcover and NOOK)

    Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen
    History is written by the victors, which means you’ve likely never encountered the real story of one Captain James Benjamin Hook, a highly educated privateer (don’t call him a pirate) cursed to continually play the villain in an endless conflict with a malicious forever-child named Peter Pan. Like Wicked, Jensen’s imaginative novel pokes holes in a story everyone knows to reveal the “true” motivations lurking beneath. (Available July 8 in hardcover and NOOK)

    What sci-fi and fantasy titles are you reading this month?

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