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Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance v. 4.0


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On 3/31/2020 at 1:23 PM, RedEyedGhost said:

@ants  Have you read The Black Sun's Daughter books by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)?  They seem to fit your tastes.  

I just started False Value by Ben Aaronovitch, after finishing the most recent novella - The October Man - yesterday.  Big fan of this series.

Hmm, I thought I had but quickly checking makes me think I haven't.  Although I'd swear I've got it somewhere in paper version.  I may not have read it as a little searching makes me think I was confusing it with Marjorie M Liu's Hunter Kiss series.  

So, I'll have to try out Black Sun's daughter.  Thankyou!

False value was very enjoyable, I love that series.  

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Recently discovered "Oddjobs".  There are about 5-6 books in the series, I'm up to book 4 (although I am flagging a bit).  The premise is a little illogical, and the style is aimed for that crazy/humorous style of character, with a number of points of view.

The main premise is that the end of the world is coming, due to creatures called the Venisarlan (sp?) which are already here.  Worldwide governments have decided they can't fight back, don't want to all commit suicide, so they'll just manage the end of the world to be as efficient as possible.  As I said, the main premise is illogical.  The book focuses on a team based in Birmingham who are managing towards these goals for the government.  So making sure the apocalypse doesn't start earlier than necessary, while keeping the public ignorant. 

If you like quirky characters with slightly crazy attitudes, they're generally fun books.  

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Based on comments on this board I have been meaning to try the Alex Versus series but stubbornly waited several years until the first book in the series - the ebook kindle version - finally went on sale for $1.99 this week.  It's still on sale if anyone else has been waiting to try this series.  I've only just started it so no thoughts other than the beginning got me interested enough to continue.

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7 minutes ago, lady narcissa said:

Based on comments on this board I have been meaning to try the Alex Versus series but stubbornly waited several years until the first book in the series - the ebook kindle version - finally went on sale for $1.99 this week.  It's still on sale if anyone else has been waiting to try this series.  I've only just started it so no thoughts other than the beginning got me interested enough to continue.

I do like that even the most recent book in the series was only $7.99 when it was just released.  

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1 hour ago, RedEyedGhost said:

I do like that even the most recent book in the series was only $7.99 when it was just released.  

Yes I like that too.  I'm willing to pay $7.99 for an ebook that I am interested in reading.  Just reluctant to pay it for the first in series when its unknown territory.  But I will pay for the others if I enjoy this one.

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I just finished reading all 13 Jane Yellowrock novels over the course of about two or three months. I can't say I much cared for the ending of the series [I'm a huge Leo fan] but it was overall one of my favorite vampire series. I have to say there's nothing quite like a really solid politics and undead intrigue book.

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2 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I just finished reading all 13 Jane Yellowrock novels over the course of about two or three months. I can't say I much cared for the ending of the series [I'm a huge Leo fan] but it was overall one of my favorite vampire series. I have to say there's nothing quite like a really solid politics and undead intrigue book.

I unexpectedly really love this series and also Hunter's Soulwood series which is set in the same universe and intertwines with the Yellowrock series. I usually ditch a series long before book 13 because the quality goes downhill so much but she's really held it up. One of the very few series of this genre which works great on reread as she plants a lot of little details to discover later.

13 isn't her last JY book. For some reason, her contract is usually renewed only a few books at a time so who knows how long it'll go but it causes a lot of confusion with people thinking every book is the last. Since she just did a total reset, I'm thinking she's not ending it soon at least by choice.

Her new Soulwood book is out in July and she's working on the next Jane Yellowrock now.

Spoiler

Also a big Leo fan. She left a loophole at the end of 13 to bring him back. Hoping she decides to follow through with it.

Just checked her blog and 14 is titled True Dead.

http://www.faithhunter.net/wp/2020/04/18/title-reveal-2/

 

 

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The Sooty Feathers series (by me) is gothic urban fantasy set in 19th century Scotland, primarily in Glasgow.

Bodysnatchers Hunt and Foley make a living selling the dead. When a corpse goes missing, they stumble into Glasgow’s supernatural underbelly, learning diabolical truths and finding a war they cannot escape.

No man or woman, be they brigand or bishop, are safe from newly arrived fanatics seeking to liberate a city from the shadow of darkness lingering over it.

For twenty years Lady Delaney has waged a quiet war on the Sooty Feather Society ruling Glasgow from private clubs and country manors, but that war is about to turn noisy, and in young actress Kerry Knox, she may have found an apprentice in whom to teach manners and murder.

In a city ruled from shadowed crypts by the undead, these people are Glasgow's only hope as an ancient evil returns seeking power and vengeance.

Resurrection Men and Lord of the Hunt (by David Craig) are available now, books 1 & 2 (of 4) in the Sooty Feathers series.

From the sandstone splendour and dung-choked squallor of Glasgow to the forbidding forests and shadowed glens of the Highlands.

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On 4/23/2020 at 12:58 PM, lady narcissa said:

Based on comments on this board I have been meaning to try the Alex Versus series but stubbornly waited several years until the first book in the series - the ebook kindle version - finally went on sale for $1.99 this week.  It's still on sale if anyone else has been waiting to try this series.  I've only just started it so no thoughts other than the beginning got me interested enough to continue.

 

Thanks for this recommendation @lady narcissa. I've sent the information to Allison, over at Galaxy Books, as a recommendation for the book club she runs. 

 

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Unfortunately the sale doesn't apply to Amazon.co.uk.  Rats, my original books in the series are all paperback.

Started reading two books in the last week, and both have been really good.

The One Who Eats Monsters (Wind and Shadow Book 1 of 1)
This book by Casey Matthews is absolutely brilliant.  Although it claims to be the first in the series, its now been 3-4 years since it was written.  However, it is fine as a stand alone book.  The main issue is you will want more books!

The heart of it is the story of an exiled Deva (Monster/Creature/Goddess?) who has been forbidden to be in civilization for thousands of years (at least).  She hunts monsters, both of the human and non-human variety, but her understanding of humans is low, and her interest in learning more is also low.  As a result of specific circumstances, she gets the opportunity to move to the USA.  Asked if she had a home, she mournfully said there were no wild places anymore.  So she heads to the USA in the absence of anywhere better, and with the issue of having to learn how to live within civilisation with these humans.

What she definitely didn't expect, is to also start falling in love.  The very slow blossoming of a relationship between Ryn (who is also learning what humans, family and friendship means) and Naomi (who thinks she has her whole life planned out) is beautifully written, and incredibly touching.  The dance between the two, with a bit of juggling by Naomi's friend Denise, is both sad and simple.  A story about love and acceptance. 

Overarching this is also a lot of action, much of it very violent as Ryn doesn't really have any hangups about hurting (and eating) people she deems as monsters.  Ryn is pulled into a conflict between two Deva, where Naomi is a target.  So there is a significant action element to the book in addition to the romance.  

The way this book made me feel is similar to McKinley's Sunshine, although the styles are very different.  Both books deal with a main character learning new things about themselves, with someone who rocks their world view.  Both really draw you in, and make you want to explore it again.  The blend of the action, romance, and just following Ryn learning about the world and how humans view it is brilliantly done, and eminently re-readable.  I've done so three times already! lol.  The characters are rich, the world building is solid, and the cast of friends and villains is extremely well done. 

Magic and the Shinigami Detective (The Case Files of Henri Davenforth Book 1 of 5)

I'm currently part-way through the third book.  Written by Honor Raconteur and Katie Griffin, the books are mostly from the point of view of a Magical Examiner (Henri) who is partnered to the Shinigami Detective.  The Shinigami Detective (Jamie) is actually an FBI agent from modern Earth who was dragged across worlds to the planet of the novel,  The world of the novels have technology from around the early 1900s, but which is supplemented with magic.  Although the bulk of the book is the case notes of Henri, Jamie certainly doesn't hold back writing comments in the margins, and adding some mini-chapters.  Seeing her notes is a fantastic light element, especially when they go back and forth.

At their heart, the books are detective stories, with a strong dash of bromance (maybe romance in the future?) between the main characters.  These books wouldn't work if the main investigations weren't interesting and good mysteries.  The actions taken by the detective pair is realistic (allowing for magic), and has spurts of action followed by the grind of detective work. 

The grind could get boring, but is not because there is so much going on between the main characters and the broader cast.  Including Jamie from modern earth is an inspired touch, as it lets her talk about the world as someone from our one would, both learning about the magic and systems she finds herself in, and takes us along for the ride.  At the same time she introduces concepts and technology from our world, and is definitely a disruptive figure!  Henri meanwhile has a huge curiosity, and so the two learn about each other and their two worlds.  A bachelor foodie who is a bit of an academic, he is also a pragmatist who approaches crimes with solid logic, but also a strong curiosity.  He also is absolutely scathing of other characters, which is always funny! This curiosity and openness to new things serves him well with his new partner.  The broader cast is also strong, with a feeling that even minor characters are real and have some depth.  

There is a very dry humour that infuses the entire books, meaning that at any stage there is always some element that makes you smile.  The character cast is broad, strong, but also written to make every one have an element of humour.  At the same time, certainly some of the cases investigated are quite dark.

Overall, the blend of humour, detective work, bromance, and fantasy magic is expertly welded into novels that are a delight on any number of levels.  As I said, I'm up to number 3, and plan to race through all five!  

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By the way, because my urban fantasy reading is sometimes a little more low brow, and I'm often willing to give many authors a chance, I get some, well, not particularly great books recommended to me by Amazon (whose change in recommendation system several years ago was SHITHOUSE).  

A number of these books declare themselves as "reverse harem" novels.  What exactly draws people to these books?  I read some of the Merry Gentry books, and I have tried some of these books, and don't really get it.  What makes it interesting the idea that one character will have 4-5 of the other gender (not that that really matters) all falling in love with the main character?  It just seems really strange to me, that this is not only a thing, but one where they put it into the Amazon title?

And did this ever occur on the other side?  As far as I'm aware, at least in urban fantasy, there aren't any standard harem books.  Maybe the old GOR books (I've never read them)?  Or is this really just aimed at female characters?  I can think of one fantasy book which was set in a world where females outnumbered males by about 15:1 (can't remember the title), but no others.  Not that there aren't any number of books where the male protagonist wades through a swathe of females, its just usually there isn't a romance element, and they're not all at the same time!  

I don't know if its sexist, empowering, or something in between,  It just seems bloody odd, and a poor way to do romance.  

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On 4/22/2020 at 8:20 AM, ants said:

Hmm, I thought I had but quickly checking makes me think I haven't.  Although I'd swear I've got it somewhere in paper version.  I may not have read it as a little searching makes me think I was confusing it with Marjorie M Liu's Hunter Kiss series.  

So, I'll have to try out Black Sun's daughter.  Thankyou!

False value was very enjoyable, I love that series.  

Speaking of the Black Sun's daughter..

 

 

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Every once in a while I will dip my toe into the PR pool. This time around it's the first book in Nalingi Singh's Guild Hunter series called Angels' Blood. I tried to read it once before but tossed it aside after a few pages. I couldn't get into it after struggling with a few chapters of a Kresley Cole book (A Hunger Like No Other).This time around it seems perfect pandemic reading. 

I really think my resistance stems from the contemporary urban setting. I can suspend belief for a historical book with vampires or lycan or whatever, or a contemporary YA setting. Or maybe it's the generally not to me sexy passages in these stories. I cringe a lot. Not that I could do better but that's neither here nor there. Anyways, so far so good Nalingi Singh. If this doesn't work out I'm going to seek out some Regency romance. 

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2 hours ago, kairparavel said:

Every once in a while I will dip my toe into the PR pool. This time around it's the first book in Nalingi Singh's Guild Hunter series called Angel's Blood. I tried to read it once before but tossed it aside after a few pages. I couldn't get into it after struggling with a few chapters of a Kresley Cole book (A Hunger Like No Other).This time around it seems perfect pandemic reading. 

I really think my resistance stems from the contemporary urban setting. I can suspend belief for a historical book with vampires or lycan or whatever, or a contemporary YA setting. Or maybe it's the generally not to me sexy passages in these stories. I cringe a lot. Not that I could do better but that's neither here nor there. Anyways, so far so good Nalingi Singh. If this doesn't work out I'm going to seek out some Regency romance. 

I think often having an alpha male in a modern setting can be a little cringeworthy.  In a historical setting at least you can understand the social/cultural drivers for people to rate that and desire it.  For example, in Pride & Prejudice Elizabeth being wowed by the wealth of Darcy's properties is fine.  Put it in a modern context, and you would look a bit down on someone changing their preferences based on a suitor's wealth.

I think there is also a lot of badly written paranormal romance.  

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3 hours ago, kairparavel said:

Every once in a while I will dip my toe into the PR pool. This time around it's the first book in Nalingi Singh's Guild Hunter series called Angels' Blood.

I read the first three of these about 10 years ago.  I ended up not continuing.  My vague recollection is I just had a hard time with the angels in the story.  I do enjoy stories with angels but I am picky about how they are portrayed.  I do have a super great memory of reading the second one though...it was on a flight between Chicago and Stockholm and I had a priest (one from the Vatican in his full black silk robes and hat ensemble) sitting next to me and I just kept inwardly laughing at reading a book with sex scenes with an archangel in it while sitting next to a priest!  Even though it wasn't that sort of archangel.

34 minutes ago, ants said:

I think often having an alpha male in a modern setting can be a little cringeworthy.  In a historical setting at least you can understand the social/cultural drivers for people to rate that and desire it.  For example, in Pride & Prejudice Elizabeth being wowed by the wealth of Darcy's properties is fine.  Put it in a modern context, and you would look a bit down on someone changing their preferences based on a suitor's wealth.  

My own experience with having read romance novels in the 1970s/80s/90s was for all those decades you had the alpha hero as the norm and the all encompassing standard in both contemporary and historical romance novels.  Then in the 90s people began to question the alpha hero and there was a movement away from them and they became less acceptable, especially in contemporary romances.  They continued on a bit longer in historical romances because people would use stereotypes about history and womens' supposed lack of agency in history to justify the role but eventually even in historicals there was a movement away from them.  However, some people despite all this just really liked the dynamic of the alpha hero in romance novels.  And that is when paranormal romance became popular with vampires and werewolves and angels because here was a scenario where the alpha hero could sneak back in.  It was no longer acceptable for a human hero to be an alpha asshole but an inhuman hero...especially one that was hundreds or thousands of years old, well of course there was going to be that dynamic when they encountered a 23 year old mortal female.  But even then the alpha hero was hard to sustain indefinitely in the face of criticism against it and as romance shifted away even from that, that is when erotica, or at least much more graphic sex scenes than had been the norm in the past, really took off in romance.  Of course, I am generalizing, there was and are always exceptions to this.  But that was the general trend I witnessed.

As for my own current reading...I guess I have been on somewhat of an UF reading kick.  I read and enjoyed the latest Peter Grant, as mentioned above.  Then I read two novels by former YA authors that were billed as Adult Fantasy but really made quite a lot of their locations which were integral to the stories so I think they qualify more as UF than just pure Fantasy.  Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth which takes place in two alternative Chicago's had an interesting premise - what happens to the chosen ones after the big bad has been defeated and they have to go one leading "normal" lives again?  But it ultimately went a different direction and was somewhat dissatisfying.  Then Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas takes place in a purely fictional location but the city was pretty well detailed and an integral part of the story.  I'd put it more in the Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy category.  I enjoyed this one a little more but wished it had been better.

Then I read the first three Alex Versus books.  I like the idea of the premise of the Alex Versus series.  I really like the characters a lot.  I like Alex - mage with a magic shop in London.  I love Elementals and I love that they are in this world.  But I could not love this series because of the actual storylines the characters are put through in each book.  With each book I just wanted to read about Alex and Luna and then Anne - just in different stories.  I really hate to compare books and try to enjoy them for themselves but I just could not stop comparing these to the Peter Grant books as much as I tried not to.  And I just kept wishing they were more like the Peter Grant books.  I might continue with the series someday but I think I am going to stop for now.

And that was way more than I expected to post tonight!

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1 hour ago, Darth Richard II said:

So I like Peter Grant, Ninth House, last smile in Sunder City, and I’ve been told Gladstone’s Craft Sequence counts as UF. Anyone want to throw some reccomends at me that ARNT Dresden?

Well, in my case  look at the second post in this topic for my view on completed series.  Unfortunately I haven't read the Ninth House, or Last Smile in Sunder City, so don't know their style.  For Peter Grant, a similar kind of series is the one I mentioned above (The Case Files of Henri Davenforth) which also have a strong, realistic detective bent, although in a higher magic world and with more emphasis on the humour.

Gladstone's craft sequence is definitely brilliantly, and probably (just) qualifies as Urban Fantasy.  It is extremely high end magic.

As far as ongoing series, assuming that based on Peter Grant and the Craft Sequence you're not so interested in strong romantic or over-the-top humourous series (such as Karen Chance), then the series I'd recommend would be:

  • Ales Verus by Benedict Jacka: I think these are one of the best ongoing series, with a huge weight of "gray" to their view of the world and who "wins" each book (not always the good guys).  This does make them a bit dark, and the main characters do go through a lot of crap.  The characters use magic extensively, within the modern world which isn't aware of it.  
  • The October Daye books by Seanan McGuire are fantastic.  Its based around a half-faerie knight, so a lot of the books are spent in faerie and very high magic, but each one usually focuses on a mystery.  The books don't have an arc per se, although what has been going on has been building and the latest book(s) are very much tying off (or continuing) knots from earlier in the series.  Some of what happens to October sucks, but the series overall is fantastic.  A little troublesome getting them on kindle via the UK website.  
  • Michelle West's cast series is a fantasy urban fantasy (i.e. it is urban based in a fantasy world), which is extremely high magic.  Like the Craft series is just urban fantasy.  A little deus exy, in the way storylines get completed. but this series is one of my favourites and Michelle West would arguably be my favourite author.  
  • A current favourite of mine is the Alice Worth series by Lisa Edmonds.  Hi magic, quite a lot of action.  
  • The King's Watch series might be up your alley if you enjoyed Peter Grant.  By Mark Hayden.  The main character has a number of similarities to Peter Grant, if Peter was happy to cross over the line more and was more arrogant.  Again, quite good detective books.  
  • I'm enjoying Keri Arthur's Lizzie Grace series.  Definitely a simpler story telling style, but good fun.  Concentrates on two witches who have opened a coffee shop, have a back story, and are helping stop the magic that's been going wrong on the "werewolf reservation".  The magic is simple although high level, and the world building is interesting.  As an Australian I like that she set it in Victoria, but its a little annoying she didn't go the whole hog and swap out Werewolves for Were dingoes/wombats or something.  
  • I enjoy the Alex Craft books which are nearing completion.  The main character is very interesting, with a rather unique set of magics and drawbacks.  The series is a little more "popular" style, but very good.  
  • Debra Dunbar's Templar series is another which has a more comfortable reading feel to it, which you might or might not enjoy.  But quite an easy reading series.  
  • And slightly different, the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman is an absolute delight.  But very high magic.  
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On 3/31/2020 at 3:23 AM, RedEyedGhost said:

@ants  Have you read The Black Sun's Daughter books by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)?  They seem to fit your tastes.  

I just started False Value by Ben Aaronovitch, after finishing the most recent novella - The October Man - yesterday.  Big fan of this series.

What did you think of it?, I’m also a big fan of this series, while I enjoyed it a lot, I didn’t think it was quite as strong as some of the others.

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4 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

So I like Peter Grant, Ninth House, last smile in Sunder City, and I’ve been told Gladstone’s Craft Sequence counts as UF. Anyone want to throw some reccomends at me that ARNT Dresden?

Mike Carey's Felix Castor books are pretty good.

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