Tag Archive | Urban Fantasy

Dark is the Night by Mirriam Neal: Tour/Review!

(image credit: Morgan Farris)

GUYS. A NEW MIRRIAM NEAL NOVEL IS RELEASING THIS WEEK AND I. CAN’T. STOP. SCREAMING! 😀 I’m super excited to be sharing my review for it as part of the blog tour! (Also, is it not GORGEOUS?)


Title: Dark is the Night

Author: Mirriam Neal

  • Date read: October 12, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy / Southern Gothic / Christian Fiction
  • Age: Adult
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Series: Salvation, #1
  • Fave character: Skata and Angel!
  • Source: the author
  • Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author as part of the blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. (No vampires, werewolves, hunters, or shifters threatened me into saying nice things about them. XD) All opinions are my own.

Attention, world! Author Mirriam Neal has a new book out and it. is. spectacular. (Of COURSE.) I love this author’s writing so much (Paper Crowns being one of my top-ten favorite books ever), so I was ecstatic when I heard she had a new book releasing! *muffled screaming*

I don’t exactly read vampire books so imagine my surprise when I read this one and genuinely enjoyed it. I actually beta-read an earlier version of it several years ago, so I’m DOUBLY excited about this book being released to the world, because now I get to shriek about some of my favorite characters and y’all get to read about them—finally! 😀

So, this one is what you might call a Christian vampire-novel.

(I just reeeally wanted to use this gif. XD)

That may seem odd, but this author did a stellar job weaving themes and deep discussions through a paranormal adventure/mystery set against the Southern Gothic setting of modern-day South Carolina. And it’s delightful Urban Fantasy (small town . . . rural fantasy?), too. It features the small town called Salvation, inhabited by vampires, werewolves, shifters, and other people/creatures, fantastical or otherwise.

This is a story about PEOPLE. The multi-faceted characters totally make this book. I LOVE THEM SO. It features a fairly large cast, and every one of them has their own story, some merely hinted at but all totally real. Trying to wrestle out everyone’s motives and secrets and relationships was the best.

For the main characters, we have Skata (vampire-hunter), Angel (vampire house-mate; ooh, awkward), Colton (epic-est preacher of all time), and Easton (who I can’t really describe but she’s the best, okay). They are MY FAVORITE, especially all their interactions/relationships/banter/pasts.

Okay, but ANGEL AND SKATA, THOUGH. Skata is a tough, no-nonsense vampire-hunter on the path of revenge, who ends up stuck in this little dead-end town. Enter Angel, who is the sassiest, snarkiest vampire ever, and happens to have a huge mansion that Skata ends up staying at.

THEY ARE HILARIOUS TOGETHER. I love buddy stories so much, and this is like the ULTIMATE one. (No, I will not stop screaming in caps about them. You can’t make me.) Their snark-offs are my absolute favorite. Angel is so full of himself and his favorite thing is baiting Skata or simply Not Caring. It’s so hilarious.

Meanwhile, Skata is Totally Done with Angel and it’s a miracle neither of them kills each other the minute they meet, let along through the plot. XD I JUST LOVE THEM, OKAY. They are the best thing in this book. 😀

(Skata being Totally Done with Angel 110% of the time)

I love how Easton is sometimes confused about stuff, sometimes tolerates their shenanigans, and at other times is Total No-Nonsense. Simultaneously sweet and also watch-out. Everyone needs an Easton. And a Colton! He’s the most fascinating preacher character ever and I love how he has words of wisdom one moment and a shotgun or a stake to help out with, the next, and he’s not afraid to tell it like it is. He’s unassuming and helpful, but can snark alongside Skata with the best of them, and may have a bit of an anger problem occasionally, but he’s the solid one in the middle of the uncertainty, and let’s just say the bad guys better watch out for this man of God.

There are also FASCINATING side characters, who you spend some of the book not knowing whose side they’re on or if they even have a side, which makes it terribly interesting. But they’re all such vivid characters! A certain… erm… well, Skinner, who’s spoilery but OH BOY; Gideon and Jackson (hothead), vampire brothers (Gideon being the Most Refined But Can Totally Snap Your Neck If He Feels Like It gentleman-vampire of all time); Rukiel, who is mysterious; Cassis, gentle part-vampire who is Too Precious For This Earth; Shannon, the sheriff’s shotgun-wielding daughter; Spencer, techno-genius kid and energy-drink-aholic (energolic)… The list goes on. Seriously though, I love these characters so much! I mean, even the scary ones are fascinating. They are SO ALIVE. (Even the dead ones. *cough*)

Angel and Skata and their banter are my number one favorite thing about this book. (Shhh, I know that’s three things.)

There is so much snark and banter in this thing (I’m pretty sure I highlighted half of the book in my Kindle app because it is SO QUOTABLE) and if there’s one thing I love, it’s hilarious books. XD The snark and sarcasm in this book is A+ and MAKES MY DAY. Everyone just has the best lines and it’s great. 😀

The plot itself is full of twists and mysteries (including murder-mysteries) and totally keeps you on your toes. The shadowy, mysterious “feel” of the book, just a bit gothic and spooky, but not too over-the-top, is pretty cool. Also, the different classifications/levels of vampire was really interesting. Things get kind of gruesome occasionally and there’s a very real, gritty feel, but it never gets to be too much, because of the humor balancing it out, and all intertwined with themes of faith or redemption that fit together perfectly.

I never would have thought that a book could be so dark but funny but inspiring all at once, with a good dose of feels thrown in on top. Even if I wasn’t sure about a thing or two, and want to know what happens with some loose threads, I still absolutely loved it! It left me with a feeling of “I just read a really good book” and that’s all I can ask of any story—aside from laugh-aloud humor, and characters I just want to HUG. Which this book definitely delivered!

Content warning: lots of blood/violence, a smattering of recent-Marvel-movie-level language, and general scariness.

Conclusion: This is a dark book (I mean, it has it in the title. ;)) but there’s humor and redemption and other good stuff to set that off. Nothing felt there “just” to be creepy—it all fit well into the plot and the feel and the impact. And, I mean, SKATA AND ANGEL. I had a total blast reading this and couldn’t put it down. Even if you’re not into vampire stories, this is a genuinely good, if gritty, book, which is tons of fun. Now WHERE is the next one? I have some suspiciously loose strings that need to be explored and I NEED more with these characters! *grabby hands*


About Dark is the Night

Skata only has one goal in life—to seek out the vampire who turned his wife and kill it. When he finally tracks the vampire to the small nowhere town of Salvation, South Carolina, he realizes he has stepped foot into something bigger than himself.

He’s going to need help—and that help may come in many forms. Between the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and an unusual preacher, Skata may be in over his head.


Book Links

Don’t forget to head on by Mirriam’s blog for all the tour stops!


About the Author

MIRRIAM NEAL is an author frequently masquerading as an artist. When she’s not scrubbing paint off her hands, she’s thinking about writing (actually, if she’s being honest, she’s always thinking about writing). A discovery writer, she tends to start novels and figure them out as she goes along and likes to work on several books at the same time—while drinking black coffee. She’s a sucker for monsters, unlikely friendships, redemption arcs, and underdog protagonists. When not painting fantasy art or writing genre-bending novels, she likes to argue the existence of Bigfoot, rave about Guillermo del Toro, and write passionate defenses of misunderstood characters.

To learn more about her fiction and art, visit her website: https://mirriamneal.com/, where you can find a full list of all her social medias, or join the Citadel Fiction newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/b1h5v9


Well, what do you think? Let me know in a comment below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Flower of the Underworld by Hazel West: Blog Tour!

GUYS! I’m so excited there’s a new Urban Fantasy novel from Hazel B. West, author of my favorite Blood Ties, An Earthly King, and Scars of War Modern Tales of Na Fianna books!

This one is not in that series but is called Flower of the Underworld, and is a modern Greek myth retelling, featuring Hades and Persephone and all of Hazel West’s trademark humor and delightful characters and banter! (At least, that’s what I’m gathering just from the excerpts I’ve seen. ;))

Flower of the Underworld is releasing TODAY!

Read on for all the info, a giveaway, and a delightful excerpt! I’m really looking forward to this one! 😀


Title: Flower of the Underworld

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology Retelling

Synopsis

What happens when the Lord of the Dead accidentally falls in love with the Goddess of Spring? 

Well, when there are brothers with crazy political agendas and overprotective mothers involved, a simple romance may not be as simple as it looks. Hades wants nothing more than to woo Persephone, but his fellow Olympians have other ideas. Zeus and Poseidon seem set on starting World War Three, Persephone’s mother wants her daughter to marry Ares, the insufferable God of War to make sure the earth doesn’t get destroyed in the process, and Hades is being pressured by his brothers to join in a fight he never wanted a part of. He’s definitely going to need some help with this one. Calling on his friends Hermes, Artemis, and Apollo, they do the only thing they can: kidnap Persephone themselves and team up to try and stop Zeus before his plans succeed. 

This modern retelling of Hades and Persephone is part romance, part political intrigue and guaranteed to be a version you’ve never heard before.

Purchase Links

Add it on Goodreads • Amazon Paperback (coming soon!) • Amazon KindleSmashwords


About the Author

Hazel B. West is the author of several novels including historical titles like On a Foreign Field, By Blood or By Bond; Wolfsblood, a book about werewolves in Roman Britain and the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series, which feature modern Irish warriors with swords and fast sports cars and lots of faeries.

As to what she prefers to consume (aside from bacon and coffee) she can often be found with her nose in dusty tomes about mythology and folklore, serial killers, and other dark and gruesome things. She has an almost unhealthy penchant for stories about siblings, particularly brothers, and you can probably win her over by alerting her to any books or shows that feature this. She is a true book dragon and has a lovely hoard of books (and Pop Figures). When she’s not writing, she’s probably still being antisocial, reading books, drawing, or binge-watching the same shows over and over because there’s nothing else quite like Supernatural and Merlin. She also likes to listen to music because, who doesn’t? Hazel’s particularly fond of modern folk and classic rock, which is usually what makes up the majority of her book playlists.

Author Links

WebsiteTwitterGoodreadsInstagram


Giveaway!

Be sure to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Flower of the Underworld! Enter via the Rafflecopter HERE! (Commenting on the posts in the blog tour gets you extra entries into the giveaway! :))


Hazel will be hosting a live Q&A on her Instagram account on Thursday night (April 25th) from 8-9PM EST so get your questions ready for her! She will also be taking questions from Twitter for those who don’t have an Instagram account during the same time. Feel free to ask questions about Flower of the Underworld, or just writing and books in general, Hazel isn’t afraid to go off topic. If you’ll be asking questions on Twitter please make sure to tag @artfulscribbler with the hashtag #FlowerQ&A.


Excerpt!

I smiled back a bit awkwardly. I know I only ever came just to sit in the garden and never bought anything, but the girl never seemed to mind and she was one of the only employees I had ever seen. I began to realize I probably looked a little out of place there with my unkempt charcoal grey suit, minus the jacket and my red shirt rolled up to the elbows, but I didn’t really care either.

“Yeah, I’ve been busy,” I told her. I was not the best conversationalist. One of the main reasons I stayed as far away from Olympus as possible. The good thing about the dead was that they didn’t much care for conversation anyway, and the other denizens of the Underworld weren’t much better. “But the garden here is a nice place to sit and just relax for a while.”

She put the pot she was carrying down on the edge of the pond. “I like to think it is. Have you ever thought about starting a garden at home? It provides a nice place to relax, and gardening is a good form of stress relief.”

“Hm,” I replied regrettably. “Don’t know how well that would work out.”

“Well,” she said and looked me up and down. “I’m going to take a guess at office job?”

I raised an eyebrow but nodded in confirmation.

“How about a plant for your desk?” she asked. “It really does make a room brighter.”

I smiled but shook my head. “I’d like to, but I really don’t live in a good climate for plants in general.”

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Er…down south.”

“Florida?” she asked knowingly.

I shrugged, considering. “Close enough.”

“In that case,” she said, beckoning me forward toward the garden center portion of Olympus Landscaping. “I think I might have the perfect plant for you.”

Curious, I followed her inside, again marveling at how beautiful everything looked. There were no half-dead hardware store plants here. They were all as fresh as they could be.

She went over to a shelf and plucked a tiny pot from it, and handed it to me. “I would say start with an air plant. It’s almost impossible to kill, and they do well in practically any environment.”

I took the tiny pot and stared down at the little green plant, which kind of looked like grass, but had a sort of velvety feel to it.

“Thank you,” I told the girl, smiling at her. “I think I will like to keep this on my desk.”

“He should be a good first plant for you,” she told me. “His name is George.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “George? Do you name all your plants?”

“Of course.” She smiled, and I honestly couldn’t tell whether she was teasing or not.

“Okay then,” I nodded, thoughtfully looking down at my new green friend. “And how much do I owe you for George?”

“Oh, he’s a gift,” she insisted and stopped me before I could protest. “Just take good care of him.”

“Well, I shall certainly endeavor to do so,” I promised. “By the way, I never caught your name.”

“Oh, it’s Persephone,” the girl said with a smile. “What about you?”

I hesitated. I never went by my actual name when I was among mortals. It kinda got a bad rap. Nothing closes down a conversation quicker than admitting you’re the Lord of the Dead. “Oh, well, you can just call me H,” I told her.

“H,” she said, seeming to consider it as her eyes narrowed. “So, you’re a man of mystery; I suppose I can deal with that.”

The sparkle in her green eyes made me unable to keep from smiling and Persephone smiled back. “Well, I’m glad to hear that,” I told her. “But I’m afraid I have to go for now. I will take care of George, and, thank you for him, by the way.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied. “I hope to see you again soon.”

“Me too.” I turned with great reluctance and left the landscaping center, heading back toward the spot Charon had parked the Bugatti.


I can’t wait to read more about this fun Hades and Persephone and of course George the plant! *grins*

There will be more excerpts in the other tour stops and since I’ve had a sneak peek at those, I know that you won’t want to miss them. XD So be sure to follow the tour the rest of the week — check out all the info on Hazel’s blog!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to enter that giveaway! 😀 Thanks for reading!

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5 Thoughts: Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares (by Shaun Hume)

Good morning (or afternoon, or whenever), my dear Pagelings!

I’ve got a British, Urban Fantasy, academy-ish sort of book to share with you today!

Title: Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

Author: Shaun Hume

  • Date read: February 19, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Age: MG-YA
  • Year pub: 2018
  • Pages: 339 (Kindle)
  • Series: Ewan Pendle, #2
  • Fave character: Rusty, Enid, Enola, Jack Mangrove, Ewan, etc. I LOVE ‘EM ALL.
  • Source: The author
  • Notes: I was given a free ebook copy of this book from the author (thanks!). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Blog

Ewan Pendle is back! I enjoyed the first book in this series (Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith) and I’m pleased to say that this sequel is just as enjoyable, and in fact adds new awesomeness. 😀

5 Thoughts on Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

I love these characters, getting to read more about their adventures, relationships, and interactions, and also their backstories and mysteries. Some questions are answered, while others are hair-raisingly raised — and there was one reveal in particular at the end that more or less had me jumping up and down going “I KNEW IT! YESSS! :D”

The setting is fun (a hidden academy in modern-day London for people who know about the existence of Creatures and have lessons in things like sword-fighting? And includes an adventure to Scotland? Sign me up!) and I just feel rather at home in this world and at the Firedrake academy and with these characters! (Plus, the fact that the author lives in England, I believe, only makes it that much cooler because I feel like it’s authentic!)

The plot hits a good balance between adventure and some slower times to get to breathe and enjoy the characters and mysteries. It’s exciting and cozy and fantastical and mysterious all at once, and I love that! It’s a bit long (though shorter than the first one), but I felt like it really picked up about a third of the way in! Some errors and typos were minorly distracting, but for the most part I was too busy having a blast to care at all. XD

More awesome things:

  • The new (if brief) addition of a suitably dragon-y dragon — I hope to see more of him in the future! I LOVED how dragon-like he was!
  • Adventure that includes an attack by a flaming skeleton wil-o’-the-wisp in a bog in Scotland at night. Can you say exciting?
  • Dream world intriguingness! O_O
  • Problems like trolls and goblins and the titular Castle of Nightmares — keeps things interesting!
  • Reveals about Ewan and his backstory that have me even MORE curious. :O
  • More of our young hero Ewan, Enid the pirate (she’s AWESOME), my favorite Rusty who is in it a bit more (hurrah!), Matilde and Max of course (need those loyal friends!), tantalizing hints of Brigid and Betony and Jack Mangrove (NEED MORE!), and of course the mysterious Enola Whitewood! I adore this cast. 😀 They’re awesome and my friends. ^_^

Perfect for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events (but without the gloom) or Harry Potter (but without the magic, exactly), or for anyone who loves a good acadamy adventure, or an urban fantasy set in modern-day London and Scotland! I feel like all teens would enjoy this, and some of us who are a bit older too and just enjoy a good book. Other than some slightly scary parts, it’s suitable for all readers, and is just a blast! ^_^

A Favorite Quote

‘However, for now, your chief task during these dedicated Vanguard sessions will be the taking of notes.’

The enthusiasm in the session suddenly wilted like petunias left in a hot car.

‘Notes? We’re only going to be taking notes?’ moaned Enid, scandalised. Something told Ewan she would have zero qualms about tackling a ferocious Creature with a sword in only her first week as a Grade Two.

‘Oh well there goes my hopes,’ Rusty offered from Ewan’s side, ‘I kind of fancied being thrown headlong into the action, after that rather tame first year.’

‘Tame?’ whispered Rosie Prince, the ends of her short blonde hair fizzing at the mere suggestion, ‘we nearly all got killed by a white wraith!’

‘Ah,’ Rusty replied with blithe nonchalance, ‘there was only one of those. And that wasn’t even during Lyceum hours. It’s like being a detective and going on holiday, init? Someone gets offed in your guesthouse, and everyone else expects you to solve the murder … Then it’s just annoying. The sessions last year were a world class yawn in comparison.’


Review for book one:

What do you think? Sound intriguing? What’s your favorite academy tale or British-set fantasy? Thanks for reading! 🙂