Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Thursday, January 31, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Alexandra Ivy with reviews of the second and third books in her IMMORTAL ROGUES TRILOGY: My Lord Eternity and My Lord Immortality. 

Click on either the author's name or the book titles above to go directly to the updated review.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Kate Cross with a review of the second book in her CLOCKWORK AGENTS SERIES: Touch of Steel. 

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Stephanie Tyler with a review of the second book in her ETERNAL WOLF CLAN SERIES: Dire Wants.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Monday, January 28, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Laura Resnick with a review of the fifth book in her ESTHER DIAMOND SERIES: Polterheist.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Saturday, January 26, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Karina Cooper with a review of the second book in her St. Croix Chronicles: Gilded.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Friday, January 25, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for E. S. Moore with a review of the third book in his KAT REDDING SERIES: Blessed by a Demon's Mark. 

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Thursday, January 24, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Ben Aaronovitch with a review of the third book in his PETER GRANT/RIVERS OF LONDON SERIES: Whispers Under Ground.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for J. D. Tyler with a review of the third novel in her ALPHA PACK SERIES: Black Moon.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Monday, January 21, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Laura Wright with a review of the fourth novel in her MARK OF THE VAMPIRE SERIES: Eternal Beast.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Saturday, January 19, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Thea Harrison with a review of the fifth book in her ELDER RACES SERIES: Lord's Fall.

Click on the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Friday, January 18, 2013

UPDATE! Shawntelle Madison's COVETED SERIES


I have just updated a previous post for Shawntelle Madison with a review of the second novel in her COVETED SERIESKept.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Lynn Viehl with a review of the second book in her LORDS OF THE DARKYN SERIES: Nightbred.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Ilona Andrews with a review of the fourth and FINAL book in her THE EDGE SERIESSteel's Edge.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Saturday, January 12, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Juliana Stone with reviews of the second novella and the second novel in her JAGUAR WARRIORS SERIES: "To Hell and Back" and King of the Damned.

Click on either the author's name or the book titles above to go directly to the updated review.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Author:  Beth Ciotta (aka C. B. Scott, pseudonym for a partnership between Beth Ciotta and Cynthia Serra)
Plot Type:  Steampunk, Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence--4; Sensualiity--4; Humor--3
Publisher and Titles:  Signet Eclipse
          Her Sky Cowboy (11/2012)
          "His Broken Angel" (e-novella, 5/2013)
          His Clockwork Canary (6/2013)
          Her Majesty's Mechanic (Spring 2014)

     This post was revised and updated on 8/1/13 to include reviews of the first novella and the second novel in the series: "His Broken Angel" and His Clockwork Canary. Those reviews appear first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of novel 1:   

          E-NOVELLA:  "His Broken Angel"                   
     The action in this very short novella is set between novels 1 and 2 and features a character we met in book 1: Doc Blue (aka King Bluebell, named by his Peace Rebel father after Martin Luther King, Jr.). Doc is a 21-year-old first-generation Freak with healing skills who betrayed Tuck and Amelia in book 1 and is now searching for redemption.

     At the center of the story is the romance, which has a brief (approximately 48-hours) time frame. This is the fastest meet-lust-love-marriage story I've ever seen, and I've read thousands of quick-love paranormal romances. The gist of the story is that Doc is called in to heal a teen-age girl who has been badly injured and blinded in a battle on an airship and who is currently being cared for by Doc's estranged younger brother, Jasper, and his crew. When Doc discovers that the girl is Tuck Gentry's sister, Lily, he decides that if he heals her, Tuck will forgive his previous transgressions. Back in book 1, Doc betrayed Tuck because he trusted a fellow Freak, who promised him a reunion with Jasper, but that promise turned out to be a lie. 

     The most problematic part of the story is the high speed romance. After the couple shares a passionate kiss an hour or two after they first meet, Lily starts imagining their future together. Doc resists for about 5 minutes and then gives in. By the second day of their acquaintance, they're planning their wedding, and Doc is thinking, "Maybe he wasn't the perfect man for her, but Doc loved Lily with all his heart." Lily knows "in her heart they belonged together." She tells Doc, "I love you, King. I could name a hundred reasons why, and I bet by the end of the week I could name a hundred more." He responds by telling her that she is "a girl who knows my heart." I can't imagine what Lily's "hundred reasons" would be, beyond the fact that Doc is one hot and sexy Freak. The combination of these preposterous declarations of devotion and the unbelievable high speed of their romance makes their relationship the weakest part of the story, and since it's the main plot, well...what more can I say?

     This novella promises that another love story is in the makingbetween Jasper and P. J. Darcy, a distant cousin of the Darcy siblings. P. J. is one of Jasper's pilots and is obviously in love with him. At the end of the novella, Jasper and his crew are heading out to prove that they did not cause the explosion and fatalities in the airship battle that wounded Lily and killed and injured many more. Jasper has all kinds of emotional hang-ups that go back to his difficult childhood, so that will no doubt be an angst-filled story.

     One last nit-pick: The novella has some sloppy copy-proofing errors, particularly in word usage. Here are two examples: 
     "...they were all born with kaleidoscope eyes, a uniformed trait... (No, the eyes don't wear uniforms; the word should have been "uniform," without the "ed," or, better still, "identical.")

    "Now she knew her destiny lied with one of Tuck's crew." (No, her destiny did not "lie" to anyone; it "lay" with him. "Lied" means "made a false statement," while "lay" means "to cause to be in a particular state or condition." To avoid the whole lie/lay situation, the word "was" would have sufficed.)

          NOVEL 2:  His Clockwork Canary                   
     In the second book, we follow the youngest Darcy brother, Simon, as he searches for the clockwork propulsion engine that powered the Mods through time from 1969 back to Victorian times. This story begins just a few weeks after the death of Simon's father in a huge explosion, and Simon is full of hurt and anger over a newspaper reporters' front-page description of his father as a madman who brought ridicule on himself through his ineffective inventions. When that very same reporterwho uses the by-line "Clockwork Canary"insists on  joining Simon on his quest and promises that he has inside information, Simon grudgingly allows him to come along. 

     The Canary, though, isn't what he seems. Indeed, he is really a sheWilhelmina Goodenough (aka Mina, Aka Willie G), a first-generation Freak who has disguised herself for ten years as a male Vic because she knew that no newspaper would ever hire a Freak. Willie and Simon have a teen-age romantic history. Back when Willie was 16 and Simon was 19, they had a brief, passionate affair that was supposed to culminate in their elopement to Gretna Green.  Unfortunately, their assignation never took place, and each blames the other for betraying their relationship. Willie is determined that Simon will not figure out her true gender or identity, but he does so almost immediately, and their sexual attraction picks up right were it left off. As a Freak, Willie has two supernatural powers: time-tracing and extraordinary night vision. Time tracing means that she can read a person's memories by just touching their skin. 

     Beyond her fake identity, Willie is keeping an even bigger secret. She is being blackmailed by a mysterious man who calls himself Strangelove. This is actually Lord Bingham, the sociopathic, power-mad flatliner we met in book 1. Bingham/Strangelove is determined to become the technology kingpin of the world, and he has information-gathering minions all over the world. Bingham knows Willie's true identity and he threatens to destroy her family (which consists of her mentally unstable father and her reprobate brother, Wesley) if Willie doesn't spy on Simon and report his activities to Bingham. This story line plays far in the background for much of the book, with just a few scattered scenes starring Bingham as he sexually abuses his robotic housemaid and generally acts like the madman that he is. The end result of Bingham's blackmail of Willie plays out in the inevitable climactic showdown between the good guys and bad guys at the very end of the book. At that point, we also learn the true identity of the "Stormerator," the weather-controlling Freak who caused Tuck and Amelia so much trouble in book 1.

     As Simon and Willie track down clues as to the whereabouts of the engine, they visit Mina's father, who provides some new information about Mina's mother, who was a technologically talented Mod. Mina is shocked to learn that her mother had a major role in the engine's disappearance.

     The love story is the focal point of the book, with the search for the engine in close second place. Towards the end, Amelia and her Sky Cowboynow newlywedsmake an appearance and wind up helping Simon and Willie find the engine. We also get an indirect update on Jules' adventures as he tracks down the Mod engineer, Dr. Maximus Merriweather, who has even more knowledge about the Mod's time-traveling journey back in time. He also has a daughter, so I'm pretty sure that's who Jules will be falling for. 

     The biggest plus for book 2 is that the author includes a historical time line and glossary, making the mythology much easier to understand. I wish she had done that in book 1. Beyond that, the story line is O.K, but not nearly as exciting as book 1not a single airship battle and only a few gunshots. The hero and heroine are completely different from the pair in book 1. Simon is a brilliant, eccentric engineer and inventor, but he's definitely not an alpha male street fighter like Tucker Gentry. Unlike the sheltered Amelia, Willie has lived on her own in a male world for the past decade. Her male life style has made her a stronger person. She has had to surmount unbelievable obstacles just to keep her male gender and Freak race hidden, and in addition to that, she's been supporting her father all that time. This book tells a much quieter story than the first one, but that story is a compelling one that involves the building of trust and the recognition of love. 

     I do have one stylistic criticism, and that is the author's extreme overuse of the word "whilst," which is the British equivalent of "while." The problem is that this is practically the only British term that is used in the book, and it is used hundreds of times, frequently unnecessarily. Its use is an annoying affectation that should have been ditched by the editor. After a chapter or two of having the word    pop up every page or twosometimes multiple times on a single pageI became supersensitive to its constant presence, and it became an irritating distraction. 

     Given that there are only three Darcy siblings, I'm guessing that novel 3 (Jules' story) will culminate in an HEA for each of them, but there will probably be a few more novellas (or perhaps, novels) for other characters' love stories one for Jasper and P. J. and one for Phineas (Phin) Bourdain, Jules' air-pilot BFF, and Dr. Bella Caro, the Freak bionics expert who put Jules' legs back together after they were blown apart in an explosion during the Peace War.

     I'll begin by stating that in the first book, figuring out the world-building in this series is not easy, by any means. The author definitely does not do an info-dump of background; instead, she drops pertinent facts into the narrative and dialogue as if she's using an eyedropper. The first solid information doesn't come until about 3/4 of the way into the book. Since there is absolutely no plot-spoiler reason for this holding back of facts, I'm going to go ahead and explain the mythology in this section of my review. Luckily for readers, book 2 has a historical time line and an Alternate World Glossary, so the going is much easier.

     The series begins in England in 1887. Members of the Darcy family, who are at the heart of the series, have been labeled by society as being eccentric and slightly batty. One reason for this is that they are related to Briscoe Darcy, an inventor who created a time machine for the Grand Exposition of 1851 and then used it to disappear in a spectacular, rainbow-colored explosion at the height of the Exposition. As it turned out, Briscoe's machine worked, and he travelled forward in time to 1969, where he was captured and imprisoned by a highly suspicious U.S. government.

     If you remember your history, 1969 was a time of war protests by hippies chanting, "Make love, not war." These peace protesters, fearing that the world was headed for an apocalypse, created a copy of Briscoe's time machine that they used to travel back in time to 1856, where they planned to ensure that there would be no World War I, World War II, or any other type of war, thus guaranteeing that the world would not end in a 20th century cataclysm. Here's some information about the time travelers: "Upon their arrival, the Peace Rebels had numbered sixty-nine plus, a mix of Brits and Yankees, a combination of men and women—mostly men—and a few smuggled babies (who constituted the plus). All rebellious fanatics of peace from several fields of expertise, all under the umbrella of the arts and sciences." (p. 102) They had been "convinced that, in their time, the end of the world was fast approaching. Events such as a cold war, a missile crisis, Vietnam, and nuclear reactors advancing the globe toward annihilation. (p. 201) Unfortunately, the 20th century peace fanaticsnicknamed Peace Rebels—were not welcomed by the English Queen or by anyone else in authority. Eventually, their pacifistic preaching and Utopian mind-set backfired and sparked the four-year transcontinental Peace War (1860-1864).   

     People in this world are sharply divided in their opinions about the anachronistic technology that has leaked into the general population. Basically, they have divided themselves into three groups: 
>>Old Worlders like the Queen, who wish the Peace Rebels had never arrived. They fear technology and change simply because it is different.
>>New Worlders like the Darcy family (an obvious Pride and Prejudice reference), who want to use futuristic technology to create a Utopian world in which people do good things for their neighbors and for the world at large. 
>>Flatliners like the primary villain of the series—cold-hearted, money-loving pragmatists who look out for their own well-being no matter who is in power or what is happening with technology.
     As the years passed, some of the twentieth-century some Peace Rebels married other Peace Rebels, giving birth to offspring called Mods  Other Peace Rebels married 19th-century Victorians (aka Vics), and their children are called Freaks. Freaks are generally looked down upon by people in this world because of their half-breed heritage, and they are feared because of their preternatural abilities. Each Freak is born with some type of supernatural talent, and each can be recognized by his or her kaleidoscopic, rainbow eyes. Their magical gifts range from mind reading to super strength to brilliant intellect to weather manipulation to healing, and more. As the Freaks age, their powers strengthen and intensify. 

     Freaks are not allowed to marry Vics, and they are prohibited from voting and attending college. Many vocations are closed to them, and they suffer verbal and physical abuse by the Vics. Three decades have passed since the Mods arrived, and the eldest of the Freaks are approaching the age of thirty. Some of these mature Freaks are furious at the civil limitations and social constraints forced upon them by the government, and they have joined together as the Freak Fighters to lead the Freak Rebellion, which is just getting started as the series begins. As the heroine of book 2 explains, "Suppression and intolerance are fueling discontent amongst Freaks. Causing some to branch out as mercenariesusing their supernatural gifts for dubious gain. Whilst otherslike the Freak Fightersband together to instigate change for the better. The remainder simply try to blend, to be invisible, denying who they are even to themselves." (His Clockwork Canary, p. 118)

     I must admit that this mythology is quite fresh and inventive, but it would have been nice to have had more background information up front. As it is, I felt somewhat lost for much of the book, hoping that someone would spill some concrete facts about the events that various characters kept broadly alluding to in passing. The whole hippie-peace part of the mythology is kind of weird, particularly when some of the Freaks dress in Mod fashion styles, listen to Janis Joplin songs, and flash the peace sign in Victorian England.

     This series puts me in mind of Theresa Meyers' LEGEND CHRONICLES, a paranormal/steampunk series in which three brothers search for a magical book and find their supernatural mates along the way. In that series, as in this one, each book covers the same time period, but follows a different sibling on his part of the search. Click HERE to read my reviews of the books in Myers' series.

          NOVEL 1:  Her Sky Cowboy          
     As book 1 opens, Amelia Darcy's father blows himself up in an ill-fated experiment with rocket power. While her twin brothers, Simon and Jules, are home for the funeral, all three siblings receive personal invitations to enter a contest to locate the most important "lost or legendary technological invention of historical significance" that can be found. Since the family is nearly destitute, all three go off in different directions in search of an artifact that will win the huge monetary contest prize and save the family. This book follows Amelia as she flies off on her father's kitecycle, a winged bicycle powered by steam. Shortly after take-off, Amelia nearly collides with a much larger aircraft and crashes her kitecycle into smithereens. The captain of the aircraft is Tucker Gentry, a disgraced former U.S. Air Marshall who has been on the run from American authorities since he escaped from their jurisdiction. Tuck is suspected of grand theft and murder, but since he is the story's hero, we know from the beginning that he is totally innocent of those crimes.

     Amelia and Tuck soon fall for one another, and Tuck agrees to help Amelia win the prize money. The artifact that Amelia is after is one of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions, which is supposedly hidden away in a remote cave in Tuscany. The trip from England to Tuscany is, of course, filled with both romance and danger. The danger originates from the villainous Lord Bingham, who believes that Amelia is after the prototype of Briscoe's time machine, which was modeled after one designed by da Vinci. Bingham sends a black-hearted Scottish air pirate to abduct Amelia from Tuck's ship, and his presence is a threat all the way through the book. 

     Having led an extremely sheltered life, Amelia is very immature and hopelessly naive about people and conditions in the real world. She considers herself to be "a New Worlder, a Utopian, someone intent on steering humanity away from the wars and atrocities that, it they continued unchecked, would ravage the globe for decades, reaching a tumultuous boiling point in 1969." Amelia has any number of TSTL moments—never listening to good advice and always getting herself into dangerous situations from which Tuck and his men must rescue her. Tuck's world view, on the other hand, was shaped by his father, who debunked the Peace Rebels' fanaticism and advised his son to "Live for today...Not in fear of tomorrow." (p. 201) Tuck is a Dudley Do-Right kind of guy (but sexier), with a strong sense of fair play and extremely high standards of morality (except when it comes to bedding the virginal Amelia). He's almost too good to be true.

     Steampunk elements abound in this book, from the various mechanical means of transportation to animals and men with custom-made metallic parts. Amelia's pet falcon has metal claws and beak; Tuck flies through the air on a live horse with mechanical wings. Many of the gadgets have typical steampunkish names: Tuck's gun is an Annihilator; his airship is powered by blasterbeefs; Amelia uses an astronomical compendium to navigate.

     If not for the mishandling of the world-building, I would consider this to be a relatively well-written book. Once one gets enough facts to understand what the characters are talking about, the story moves along quite nicely, with romantic scenes alternating with action scenes. The final resolution of the Amelia-Trent romance is a bit too easy, but still acceptable. Now that I know what's going on, I feel better equipped to approach the upcoming e-novella, which will tell the love story of Doc Blue (a Freak) and Lily (Tuck's sister). The second novel will follow Amelia's brother, Simon, as he tries to win the contest prize money and finds his true love along the way.

Thursday, January 10, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Steven Harper with a review of the second book in his CLOCKWORK EMPIRE SERIES: The Impossible Cube.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best Steampunk Novels of 2012

     It's time once again to highlight the best steampunk fantasy novels that I read and reviewed during the previous 12 months. Here are my six picks for the Best Steampunk Novels of 2012. The level of steampunk in these books ranges from just a touch to a rich assortment of gadgets, goggles, gears, and clockwork.

     If you are new to the genre, steampunk is an alternate history, generally set in Victorian London, but it can take place at other times in the past (e.g., the Old West, the 1930s or 1940s). Steampunk is rooted in the writing of Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and H. G. Wells. Although steampunk characters tend to stick with the social mores and mannerisms of their time period, women are generally very independent—at least the heroine is. The primary difference between a steampunk novel and an historic novel is the addition of steam-powered and/or gear-driven transportation (e.g., dirigibles) and weapons. In other words, all kinds of gears, goggles, and gadgets. Click HERE for more information on steampunk. 

     Authors are listed in alphabetical order, and each entry includes a quotation from my review. Click on a "pink link" to go directly to my review for any given book. Each review post includes a chronological list of titles in the series, an overview of the world-building, and reviews of the books to date.

     Click HERE to read my picks for the Top Ten Urban Fantasy Novels of 2012. Click HERE to read my picks for the Top Ten Paranormal Romance Novels of 2012.

Best Steampunk Novels of 2012  

>>Kate Cross’s Heart of Brass, the first novel in her CLOCKWORK AGENTS series, which is set in an alternate London world in which steam-driven devices proliferate and a growing number of human special agents are being modified with metal bones and internal organs. This story has a romance element, but it also has plenty of action and a strong supporting cast of interesting characters. In my review, I wrote, "The author does a great job of blending the steampunk aspects into the story line. Instead of overwhelming the plot...they support various aspects of the investigation and add interest to our view of the everyday lives of the characters."   

>>Delilah S. Dawson’s Wicked As They Come, the first novel in her BLUD series, which is set in the fantastical realm of Sang, which has similarities to 1800s London and which includes a variety of steam-driven oddities. This fantastically inventive world has two distinctly different groups of inhabitants: the Pinkies, who are normal humans, and the Blud, who have vampire-like characteristics. In my review, I wrote, "I love the world of Sang, with its furry, carnivorous bunnies and its quirky characters....Criminy is a terrific hero—sympathetic, but naughty; playful, but protective. He's a cross between Mr. Darcy and Captain Jack Sparrow."        

>>Rob Deborde’s Portlandtown: A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes, which is currently a stand-alone novel, but Deborde is working on a sequel. This series introduces the Wylde family of 1887 Portland, Oregon, as they deal with a zombie invasion led by the bloodthirsty Hanged Man. This is a spooky, interesting world that depicts a quirky frontier town with just a touch of steampunk. In my review, I wrote, "This is a terrific book with a fresh and inventive premise and wonderful characters, each with a dark back-story that the author reveals gradually, detail by detail, as the story lines advance and merge. Once you get started, this is definitely a can't-stop-reading kind of book, with compelling action and suspense building from the very first chapter."           

>>Susan & Clay Griffith’s The Kingmakers, the final novel in their VAMPIRE EMPIRE TRILOGY, which is set in an alternate world in which the vampires live in the northern latitudes and the humans live in the tropics. Although romance is a key element in this series, there’s plenty of bloodthirsty action to keep up the pace. In my review, I wrote, "In every book, characters must grapple with issues of morality, loyalty, and justice, and they consistently do it in interesting and compelling ways. The Griffiths have created a marvelous world in this trilogy, and I highly recommend it."        

>>Bec McMaster’s Kiss of Steel, the first novel in her LONDON STEAMPUNK series, in which the vampires (called Bluebloods) are elite members of the English aristocracy. This is a romance series, with each book following a couple to their HEA, but the compelling action plot and eccentric characters contribute dark and gritty depth to the story. In my review, I wrote, "The steampunk isn't overwhelming; there's just enough to flavor the story (e.g., steam carriages, robotic soldiers).The author tells a good story, and she threads the angst through the story lines in a skillful and graceful manner, for both the main and supporting characters."       

>>Devon Monk’s Tin Swift, the second novel in her AGE OF STEAM series, the second novel in her Old-West AGE OF STEAM series, which moves the series from the Pacific Northwest into air over the Rockies and then to Kansas. This series has some romance elements, but there’s lots of action and plenty of quirky characters in each book. In my review, I wrote, "For all you steampunk fans, there are plenty of goggles, gadgets, gears, and guns. The descriptions of the airships are fascinating in their fantastic detail, and the air battles are full of action and danger."      

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten (Plus 2) Urban Fantasy Novels of 2012

UPDATE!  On March 8, 2016, I updated this post by adding links to my "Best of" lists for the years 2010 through 2011. Just click on the pink-links below to go to any of those posts. 

Here is the original post for the Top Ten (Plus 2) Urban Fantasy Novels of 2012:
     It's time once again to highlight the best urban fantasy novels that I read and reviewed during the previous 12 months. I couldn't stop at ten, so here are my picks for the Top Ten (Plus Two) Urban Fantasy Novels of 2012 and the Top Six Paranormal Series That Ended in 2012.

     Authors are listed in alphabetical order within each of the two lists, and each entry includes a quotation from my review.

     Click on a "pink link" to go directly to my review for any given series. Each review post includes a chronological list of titles in the series, an overview of the world-building, and reviews of the books to date. 

     Click HERE to read my picks for the Top Ten Paranormal Romance Novels of 2012. Click HERE to read my picks for Best Steampunk Novels of 2012.

Top Ten (Plus 2) Urban Fantasy Novels of 2012

>>Alex Adams’s White Horse, the first novel in her WHITE HORSE TRILOGY, in which we are introduced to a post-apocalyptic world in which a plague has killed most of the populace and left the rest in isolation and confusion. In my review, I wrote, "Adams writes with elegance and dark humor, punctuating her narration and dialogue with punchy references to popular culture as well as metaphors relating to history and literature. The clues and surprises keep coming all the way up to the very last line of the book."

>>Cassie Alexander’s Nightshifted, the first novel in her EDIE SPENCE TRILOGY, the first novel in her EDIE SPENCE TRILOGY, in which a young nurse learns that vampires and werewolves really exist when she gets a job in a big-city hospital that caters to a widely diverse supernatural population. In my review, I wrote,  "Edie is a strong and intelligent heroine who consistently tries to help others (frequently to her own detriment) and to deal with the extraordinary events that keep coming her way."   

>>Jacqueline Carey’s Dark Currents, the first novel in her AGENT OF HEL series, in which we meet Daisy Johanssen, Hel’s liaison between the human community and the eldritch folk—the underworld community. In my review, I wrote, "The mythology is fresh and inventive, the plot is suspenseful and relatively unpredictable, and the action just keeps on coming." 

>>Glen Duncan’s Talulla Rising (the sequel to his The Last Werewolf), in which we watch Jake’s lover, Talulla, as she gives birth, loses her baby to kidnappers, and tracks down the villains who took him from her. In my review, I wrote, "Yes, Talulla is a monster, but she is also refreshingly free of inhibitions and social restrictions. She has an agenda, and she's going to finish it and damn the consequences and the bystanders, innocent or not. This is motherhood in the raw—and it's definitely paranormal fiction for grown-ups."          

>>Kate Griffin’s Stray Souls, the first novel in her MAGICALS ANONYMOUS series, in which Matthew Swift plays a supporting role to Sharon Li, who starts a self-help group for people/creatures who are having problems with their magical side. In my review, I wrote, "Stray Souls is definitely not your typical urban fantasy genre novel; it's a darkly humorous magical take on urban problems that we face in real life, voiced by an odd lot of fantastical, offbeat misfits whose statements and conversations are based on a chimerical version of mundane existence."
>>Kim Harrison's A Perfect Blood, the tenth novel in her HOLLOWS series, in which Rachel deals with the ramifications of the events in Pale Demon that occurred when she inadvertently created devastating changes in the everafter and began her new life as a demon. In my review, I wrote, "One important focus in this novel is on Rachel's relationship with Trent, which has taken a dramatic turn in the past two books….Harrison does a great job with showing the hesitancy on both sides as they take baby steps toward a true friendship—one that may well become much deeper."     

>>Stacey Jay’s Blood on the Bayou, the second novel in her ANNABELLE LEE series, in which Annabelle must deal with all three men in her life as she searches for a hidden cave that holds a laboratory that is manufacturing drugs using fairy venom. In my review, I wrote, "This is a fast-paced story with a compelling plot, lots of action, and plenty of new information added to the series story arc….The plot is full of twists and turns and….the world-building…is fresh and inventive."      

>>Seanan McGuire’s Discount Armageddon, the first novel in her INCRYPTID series, in which we are introduced to a world in which Verity Price defends and protects the supernatural  creatures of Manhattan—who are called cryptids. In my review, I wrote, "McGuire does a great job portraying the emotional pressures caused by the duality of Verity's life…She's determined to prove to her family that she can live a successful independent life, but she's also torn between duty and personal fulfillment."  

>>Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook, which is currently a stand-alone novel, but may eventually become a series, in which we are introduced to a marvelous world filled with all manner of people with other-worldly talents and/or weird physical traits—all controlled by a secretive group of powerful and eccentric bureaucrats. In my review, I wrote, "This is the best paranormal fiction book I've read in a long, long time. The mythology is inventive and fresh, the world-building is unbelievably detailed, the clever humor is witty and sly, and the characters are quirky and fully developed to the nth degree."

>>Stefan Petrucha's Dead Mann Running, the second novel in his HESSIUS MANN series, in which Hess deals with the aftermath of the chakz riots and flashes back to scenes from his childhood. In my review, I wrote, "The pieces of the plot fit together perfectly, like the pieces of a finely crafted jigsaw puzzle….This is a great follow-up to Dead Mann Walking, with its compelling plot, non-stop action, and a shocking ending that takes Hess on a bittersweet flashback to his childhood."  

>>Diana Rowland’s Sins of the Demon, the fourth novel in her KARA GILLIAN series, in which someone tries to frame Kara for a series of murders and a demon keeps trying to summon her to the demon world for nefarious purposes. In my review, I wrote, "This is one of my favorite UF series. Kara is a strong, tough heroine with just enough insecurity and self-flagellation to make her vulnerable and likeable—much more real and down-to-earth than the usual multi-weapon, black-leather-clad, whiny heroines that proliferate in the UF world."  

>>Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds, the first novel in his MIRIAM BLACK series, in which we meet Miriam, a tough, street-tough young woman who can touch a person and see the moment of his or her death. In my review, I wrote, "Miriam is profane, sarcastic, gritty, and gutsy. She isn't out to hurt anyone or cause any trouble, but she has learned to carry defensive weapons and she doesn't take any guff from anyone. Everything about the book is fresh and inventive, from the imaginative world-building to the cynical tone and coarse humor, to the well-developed characters, both primary and secondary."

The Top Six Urban Fantasy Series That Ended in 2012

     Six enormously popular urban fantasy series ended in 2012. Over the years, each gave us heroic heroes and heroines, lots of kick-ass action, and satisfyingly complex story arcs. To read my review of any of these series, just click on the series name below.   

>>D.D. Barant's terrific BLOODHOUND FILES series, in which we follow the heroine's adventures after she is transported unwillingly from the mortal world and sent to another realm where she is commanded to track down a serial killer. This series features two rarities in urban fantasy: sentient golems as supporting characters, and a minuscule human population that is subservient in every way to the majority, which consists mostly of vampires and werewolves. In my review, I wrote, "Thank you, D.D. Barant for creating the always-fascinating character of Jace Valchek and then placing her in the magical, mystical world of Thropirelem. Undead to the World is a fantastic ending to a great series."       

>>Susan and Clay Griffith's VAMPIRE EMPIRE steampunk series, in which a masked vampire adventurer and a young human queen fight to save the worldand fall in love along the way. In this alternate world, the vampires live in the northern latitudes and the humans live in the tropics. Although this series has elements of both romance and steampunk, there is more than enough gritty, dark action to keep it in the urban fantasy realm. In my review, I wrote, "In every book, characters must grapple with issues of morality, loyalty, and justice, and they consistently do it in interesting and compelling ways. The Griffiths have created a marvelous world in this trilogy, and I highly recommend it."   

>>Sophie Littlefield's AFTERTIME zombie apocalypse series, in which we follow a few survivors of a government-orchestrated apocalypse that resulted in a huge and fierce zombie-esque population called Beaters. I love the idea that the plague in this world resulted from humans eating a plant that grew from seed the government distributed in an attempt to prevent a famine. Talk about irony!  In my review, I wrote, "Littlefield has created a terrific world here, with fully developed characters and compelling story lines. This has been a top-notch series from book 1 to the end, and I hate to see it end."   

>>Devon Monk’s ALLIE BECKSTROM, a pure urban fantasy series, in which we follow Allie as she deals the effects and the after-effects of magic in a world in which magic is available to everyone. In my review, I wrote, "These books tell the story of a magical community in which each one of the supporting characters has a back-story and a personality and faces challenges that force him or her to adapt to difficult circumstances. What makes this such a strong series is the combination of personalities who work together and support each other even though they bicker all the time and disagree frequently about the best way forward."  

>>David Wellington’s LAURA CAXTON series, in which Laura relentlessly fights numerous battles against the bloodthirsty, Nosferatu-like vampires who are loose in this world. In my review, I wrote, “Wellington is inventive in the way he gathers the surviving characters in one place to set up the final confrontation and loops the key element in the story—the titular 32 fangs—directly back to Congreve, the very first vampire Laura ever met (and killed). Right down to the final moments, we can't predict what choices Laura will make as she faces down her undead enemy." (Although this series leans more towards horror than urban fantasy, I couldn't let it end without giving it the recognition that it deserves.)  

>>Jaye Wells’s SABINA KANE, another pure urban fantasy series, in which Sabina tries to achieve a balance between her dual genetic heritage: vampire and mage. In my review, I wrote, “The final book is a satisfying ending for the series, as its heroine finally achieves harmony in her personal life, and the dark races live on in peace—still hidden from the human world.”