Friday, May 22, 2015

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Title: Gunmetal Magic
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels #5.5

Mass Market Paperback, 326 pages
Publication: July 31, 2012 by Ace

Source: Personal Library 

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After eviction from the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea is a wreck. She starts work for best pal PI Kate Daniels. Shapeshifters under Raphael Medrano — Clan Bouda male alpha, Andrea’s ex-lover — die suddenly at a dig site. With Raphael, she seeks killer in deep dark Atlanta. Her feelings for him may take a back seat to saving the world…

Bonus: Kate Daniels novella "Magic Gifts"
I’m behind on the Kate Daniels series and since I had a tiny break between review books, I thought I’d remedy the problem. While Gunmetal Magic isn’t really part of the series it’s still an in-between book since its label 5.5 and I usually don’t read books out of order if I can help it. Gunmetal Magic follows Andrea Nash, Kate’s best friend as she rediscovers herself after getting kicked out of The Guild. Readers will finally learn more about Andrea’s background, her upbringing and why she never embraced her beastkin side and why she never wanted to join the pack. And of course a little snake cult is trying to raise the God of Chaos.

Before reading this book, I read a couple of reviews for it…someone said Gunmetal Magic read just like a Kate Daniels novel if you swapped out Andrea/Raphael and replaced it with Kate/Curran; except you probably wouldn’t love Andrea/Raphael as much as Kate/Curran. Yup, true. While I loved Andrea and Raphael as supporting characters in the Kate Daniels series, seeing them in their own book I didn’t like them as much. Yes, I was laughing-out-loud at all the snarky dialogue and banter but I was just as much annoyed with Andrea and occasionally Raphael. 


Andrea has always been a stickler for rules but in Gunmetal Magic after embracing her beastkin side she started dressing differently and breaking rules left and right. I get it but it came across too attention needy, like she needed to prove herself. I’ve always seen Andrea as a kick-ass heroine but here…every thing she did it seemed like it was being done for show. Every stunt was like a giant flashing sign that said ‘Look at me! I’m not miss goody two-shoes anymore, I’m a badass bouda!’. It got old real fast. I mean, embracing it is fine but don't flaunt it (she was walking all over town in her beastkin form for the hell of it, I don't recall any shifters doing that). Then there was the whole Raphael situation. She was doing everything she could to get him back but when she found out he lied about something to make her jealous, to ‘punish’ her…she flipped out and said she didn’t want to be with him. I think when Andrea dropped Raphael with no explanation and made him think she dead was way worst. That’s just me. This book consisted of Andrea and Raphael running circles around each-other. They were dying to get back together but since their pride and ego were too big they spent 90% of the book beating around the bush, talking smack and tortuously flirting with one another. Honestly, if they just talked it out from the beginning the book would have been about 100 pages.

I also didn’t like the main plot. It was by no means terrible, it’s just I didn’t care for it. For example the big final scene with Anapa, clay Adep and the little cult, I was so bored I started to skim. I love Egyptian mythology, and initially thought it was cool how the authors incorporated it into the plot but as more was revealed I began to lose interest. It’s probably starting to sound like I dislike this book…but no there were some saving points! The three saving points are: Ascanio, pack lawyer Barabas and Roman (and tiny glimpses of Julie and Derek)! Remember when I said I was laughing-out-loud? Well the scenes/dialogue with these three were hilarious. I missed seeing Ascanio and who knew Barabas can be so funny? As for Roman, I haven’t read the Kate series for a couple of years and my memory is a bit foggy but I thought he was charming and funny…even when he wasn’t trying to be!

While I didn’t love Gunmetal Magic like I hoped I would, I still thought it was a good book. It was nice to learn more about Andrea and the pack…and seeing familiar faces. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Kate’s world and it felt so good to be back. Now onward to the next Kate book!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Big Fix by Linda Grimes

Title: The Big Fix
Author: Linda Grimes
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: In a Fix #3

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: May 12, 2015 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Aura adaptor extraordinaire Ciel Halligan, who uses her chameleon-like abilities to fix her clients’ problems—as them—is filling in on set for action superstar Jackson Gunn, whose snake phobia is standing in the way of his completing his latest mega-millions Hollywood blockbuster. There’s only one thing Jack fears more than snakes, and that's the possibility of his fans finding out he screams at the sight of one. Going from hero to laughing stock isn’t part of his career plan.

Seems like a simple enough job to Ciel, who doesn’t particularly like snakes, but figures she can tolerate an afternoon with them, for the right price—which Jack is offering, and then some. What she doesn’t count on is finding out that while she was busy wrangling snakes for him, his wife was busy getting killed. When Ciel goes to break the sad news to the star, she finds out Jack was AWOL from her client hideaway at the time of the murder.

Ciel begins to suspect Jack’s phobia was phony, and that he only hired her to provide him with an alibi—but if she goes to the police, she’ll have to explain how she knows he wasn’t really on set. Up against a wall, Ciel calls on her best-friend-turned-love-interest Billy, and her not-so-ex-crush Mark, to help her set up the sting of a lifetime.
I can’t believe it’s been over a year since the last book in the series was published. I didn’t even realize the gap was that big. The Big Fix is the third installment in the ‘In a Fix’ series following Ciel, an aura adaptor and her friends and family. In The Big Fix, Grimes takes Ciel and the gang to Hollywood! Ciel’s latest job is to fill in for an actor who has a snake phobia. But the situation quickly goes south when the actor’s wife is found murdered and it is up to Ciel to clean up the mess and find the killer.

One of things that I loved about the last book, Quick Fix was the introduction to Ciel’s family. They were a fun quirky bunch! I was so ecstatic when The Big Fix turned out to be a family affair, readers will get to see more of Ciel’s family and also this time…Billy’s side of the family! There are a lot of adaptors in the family, so you know mischief and high-jinks ensues. Ciel always manages to find herself in dangerous and questionable situation, but I guess that’s part of the fun…to see her get into the mess and out of it herself. It's hysterical.

For those following this series, you know Ciel been dating Billy for a couple of months now. I love seeing their relationship develop, more so because they started as best friends/honorary cousins (but not really related!) in the beginning. Their relationship has really grown since we first met them. There are still a few bumps and kinks they’re working through but that’s part of all relationship. There was a small moment of a love-triangle with Ciel’s ex (or not ex) crush Mark. Okay, technically it wasn't a love-triangle since she IS with Billy but it looked like she had thoughts of straying for a second there! Something happens in the book, where Ciel made a colossal mistake, predictable, but I was still shocked it happened. But I also see why the author did that because Ciel, I think, knows now what she has with Billy is real and won’t have any more self doubts or questions about their relationship. I REALLY want their relationship to work, I love the two of them together…so I hope we'll see wedding bells in the future (please Mrs. Grimes make it happen)!

All in all, The Big Fix was an excellent addition to the series. If you haven’t read this series yet, you need to get on it A.S.A.P! If you’re looking for an original urban fantasy series without the plethora of supernatural beings, eccentric characters that will make you fall in love them and a book that will make you laugh till you cry then you definitely need to read this book/series! I hope we won’t have to wait another year and half till the next book because now that I re-familiarize myself with the world and characters…I don’t want it to end! Loved The Big Fix and I can’t recommend this series enough!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Love is Red by Sophie Jaff

Title: Love is Red
Author: Sophie Jaff
Genre: Suspense, Horror, Paranormal
Series: Nightsong #1

Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication: May 12, 2015 by Harper

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Katherine Emerson was born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she isn’t aware that this future awaits. However, there is one man who knows the truth: A killer stalking the women of New York, a monster the media dubs the “Sickle Man” because of the way he turns his victims into canvasses for his mesmerizing, twisted art.

Unleashed upon Manhattan after lying dormant for centuries, the Sickle Man kills to harvest the precious hues of his victims. As his palette grows, so too does his power. Every death brings him closer to the one color, and the one woman, he must possess at any cost.

While the city hunts the Sickle Man, Katherine must decide what to do about two men who have unexpectedly entered her life: handsome and personable David, and alluring yet aloof Sael. Though she’s becoming increasingly torn between them, how well does she really know them? And why is she suddenly plagued by disturbing visions?
Love is Red was bloody fantastic and freakin' scary as hell! The book is follows duo narratives, one with the serial killer dubbed ‘The Sickle Man’ since that is his tool of choice and his main prey Katherine Emerson, a freelance writer. I've read many books that have blended genres, but Jaff takes it to another level, effortlessly combining multiples genres; Horror, Romance, Paranormal, Thriller, Suspense and Mystery all in one package. Jaff’s style of writing grabbed me from the first page. The Sickle Man’s chapters were written in second person, which I don’t think I've ever seen done before and she did it spectacularly. I was seriously disturbed by The Sickle Man yet fascinated by his POV. As for Katherine’s chapters they were written in third person and is for the most part normal. However, a bit pass the midway point the author added a Q&A session Katherine had with a therapist which added another scary-interesting aspect to the novel. The duo narratives in itself was pretty clever all on its own, but to lend a hand to the paranormal part the author also included scans of pages from the book of ‘The Maiden of Morwyn Castle’ which is linked to a prophecy Katherine doesn't know she is part of which I thought was cool.

Speaking of the paranormal, it’s been awhile since a book made me scared, like REALLY scared. I have a tendency to read late at night…I’m talking about at midnight to 1-2 in the morning…which was a bad idea on my part. For example when the painting of a woman suddenly smiles at Katherine or when Katherine saw the same woman from the painting…naked and bleeding standing outside her window. I got major chills and literally had to stop reading! Then again when Lucas talked of his imaginary ladies and drawing special pictures of his ladies, I was super creeped out! You’d think I’d be more scared reading The Sickle Man’s chapters since readers get up close and personal with him; we're able to see what he’s doing to his victims, how he goes about it and what his thoughts are…they’re undoubtedly scary but the scenes with Lucas were more scary….ugh those pennies (You’ll know what I mean when you read it)!

Love is Red was an enthralling and chilling start to a new trilogy which will have readers at the edge of their seat! This is yet another stellar debut I've read in less than 2 days, and so far I love what I’m seeing coming out of 2015. I highly recommend Love is Red to everyone! Jaff not only incorporated many genres, but her writing is hauntingly beautiful with her description of every emotion you can imagine on the human spectrum… it was amazing. And on top of that she adds her own personal spin on the concept of the hunter and the hunted making for a fresh and unique debut! I really loved Love is Red and can’t wait to see what’s in store for Katherine in the next Nightsong book!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

Title: Church of Marvels
Author: Leslie Parry
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: May 5, 2015 by Ecco

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs. 

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother’s spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family’s star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband’s vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young woman of ethereal beauty who does not speak, a girl with an extraordinary talent that might save them both.

As these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York—a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger.
I’m not one to usually read historical fiction, if you follow my blog you’d know. But when I was pitched this book for review I was intrigued by its cover, but there was something else… my gut was telling me I must read this book. That beyond the beautiful cover is a story that needed to be discovered. Even the synopsis (not the one above) didn’t prepare me for what I was about to read. Church of Marvels, is unlike anything I've read before. For real this time. The writing was flawless and lyrical; the characters so realistic, it's like you've known them forever and you feel all their emotions right alongside them. And the setting of Manhattan/Coney Island 1895 so vividly and painstakingly detailed that you can imagine yourself walking the streets of Manhattan with Odile searching for her sister, breaking out the asylum with Alphie and cheering in an abandoned building as Sylvan fights to make another coin for another day.

Church of Marvels is centered on four different individuals; the Church sisters, Alphie and Slyvan. The book is narrated in third person; alternating between the three main characters every other chapter (Belle has only two parts). Within the chapters itself the story jumps back and forth to the past and present to give readers an in-depth look at the characters and their background, which adds another intricate layer to the already complex characters/plot. I’m not a fan of ‘flashbacks’ but they were well-done and are essential to the story (or stories) being told.

I love character driven novels, and Church of Marvels is a perfect example of how it’s done! For most books, it takes a good chunk-while to introduce and establish believable characters. Parry did it in less than 35 pages! The prologue and first three chapters introduced us to the main characters, and though it was only the beginning I learned so much about the characters, and connected to them immediately. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the characters or plot because it's something you’d want to savor and discover yourself. The book starts out slow as readers will no doubt have questions upon questions about what is going on, and how can these people’ lives be entwined? But I loved every moment of it. All I can say is that once the characters' secrets are revealed and the characters’ separate story line converge toward the end it will all be worth it! So, so worth it! Just when I thought Parry unload all the characters’ secrets and I was done being shocked; Parry threw me for another loop when she expertly ties everything up in the epilogue that was so explosive and jaw-dropping it knocked me off my seat!

If you can only read one book this year, let it be Church of Marvels. No, it HAS to be Church of Marvels. I knew before I even read it that it was going to be a good book, but instead I was blown away at how utterly amazing it was. I highly, highly recommend Church of Marvels. This is Parry’s first book and yet it felt like a seasoned author wrote it. Parry’s writing will have you rapt from the first page to the very last. She wasted no time or words developing 1895 New York and her characters. And if this is any indication of what we can expect from Parry’s future work, signed me up now for all her books! If I can give it more than five stars I would…this book is like10 stars. If you’re looking for a unique, unforgettable, unpredictable, and un-put-down-able book, Church of Marvels is the book for you. Read it now, you won’t be disappointed!


Friday, May 08, 2015

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly




Title: Seriously Wicked
Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 208 pages
Publication: May 5, 2015 by Tor Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.

Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch...will that mean she’s wicked too?

Tina Connolly is best known for her adult fantasy series, Ironside about faeries. But now she has branched out into the young adult genre with witches in Seriously Wicked. Seriously Wicked was a cute, fun, light read. The writing seems to be on the lighter side of YA, I’d say even borderline MG but I think people of all ages will like it. I’m definitely not the intended audiences (MG/YA) but I still enjoyed it!

Seriously Wicked is narrated by 15-year-old Camellia ‘Cam’ who’s living with her witchy aunt but isn't a witch herself. Poor Cam is constantly bossed around like a personal assistant for her aunt; forced to run crazy errands to find ingredients such as goat blood, pig’s ear, and hopes & dreams all because her aunt refuses to leave the house. And whenever Cam doesn't complete her tasks or chores, she is punished in the strangest ways like getting turned in a salesperson or locked in a giant pumpkin...but then again maybe not that strange since her aunt is eccentric. What’s even more troubling is when Cam finds out all the ingredients she’s been collecting is for a spell to summon a demon to help her aunt take over the world!

For most of the book Cam kept referring to her aunt as ‘The Witch’, she rarely called her by her name…or even the word 'aunt'. I never understood why, and I don't think that part was ever explained. I thought that was pretty weird (I still do as I type this review). Then there were the tasks/chores and punishment. I felt so bad for Cam but never once did she complain! So, much props to her because I wouldn't have had the same restraints as she did! Overall, Cam was a likable heroine. She was very mature for her age, and other times she acted like the 15-year-old she should be…trying to study for Algebra 2, handling the mean girls at school and crushing on the new boy. It was refreshing to see that while there is drama around Cam, she herself was drama-free.What I also liked about Cam was that she showed everyone and her aunt that she didn't need to have powers to stop a demon or her aunt from taking over the world. What I got from reading Seriously Wicked is that, with a little studying, hard work and faith…you can accomplish anything. Which I think is really good-important message to young kids.

The book started a bit slow and dragged in some parts but it eventually picked up midway where everything started coming together. All the questions I had since the beginning (not 'The Witch  reference lol) were finally answered and it made so much sense! And the twists! Omg, the twists…I did not expect that ending. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Connolly’s new book. It shows that she can write in any genre, for any audience and no matter what we’ll still get a wonderfully written book. Seriously Wicked was a fun and quick read, if you’re looking for some light reading or brain candy, I’d suggest picking up this book.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Title: Day Shift
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Series: Midnight, Texas #2

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication: May 5, 2015 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 

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There is no such thing as bad publicity, except in Midnight, Texas, where the residents like to keep to themselves. Even in a town full of secretive people, Olivia Charity is an enigma. She lives with the vampire Lemuel, but no one knows what she does; they only know that she’s beautiful and dangerous.

Psychic Manfred Bernardo finds out just how dangerous when he goes on a working weekend to Dallas and sees Olivia there with a couple who are both found dead the next day. To make matters worse, one of Manfred’s regular—and very wealthy—clients dies during a reading.

Manfred returns from Dallas embroiled in scandal and hounded by the press. He turns to Olivia for help; somehow he knows that the mysterious Olivia can get things back to normal. As normal as things get in Midnight…
Day Shift is the second book in Harris’s Midnight, Texas series following an eclectic group of characters in a small town with a population of about 13 people. I read Midnight Crossroad, my first book by Harris earlier last month and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. And much like the first book, Day shift is told in multiple point-of-views in third person but focuses mostly on Manfred, the psychic and the mystifying Olivia when the two both go on personal trips to Dallas, only to have three strangers end up dead between the two of them; and Manfred becoming a murder suspect.

With the second book in the trilogy, readers delve deeper in uncovering some of the secrets of Midnight. While all of the characters got their page time, Manfred was once again at the forefront. However, we didn't learn anything new about him. And this time around Bobo and Fiji are more like side characters with Day Shift focusing on Olivia, the reverend and a boy thrust into the Reverend’s care. Olivia has been a giant question mark since the beginning of Midnight Crossroad, all readers really knew about her is that she’s a tough chick helping people locate items or dispatching trouble/evidences and that’s she dating the town’s only vampire. Readers will finally find out why she is the way she is and how she ended up in Midnight of all places. I was shocked and sadden to learn about Olivia’s background, and while readers got to know her a little better, there’s still a lot left unanswered. Then there’s the reverend and the boy. I never gave the reverend much thought, since he rarely spoke in the first book. But things get interesting now that he’s tasked to watch over a child that seems to be growing/aging faster than a regular human with lilac eyes.

The murder mystery plot involving Manfred took a good chunk of the book which I thought was well done. Just when I thought I knew who the murderer was, Harris throws in a twist I didn't see coming! Harris pretty much wrapped it up (sort of) but the book also had a subplot involving the renovation of an abandoned hotel which was left open-ended. The Midnight Hotel’s opening is a big change for the town, so I’m guessing we will see the outcome of it in the next book.

All in all, I thought Day Shift was an excellent sequel to Midnight Crossroad. The more I read of this series and its characters, the more things I find to love about it. Once I began the book I didn't want to leave, being so caught up in the characters’ lives. Too bad this series is a trilogy; I don’t think I’d ever be tired reading about Midnight, Texas. I loved Day Shift and can’t wait to read the last book in the series when it comes out. I highly recommend this series! To get the entire vibe and experience, it’s best to start at the beginning with the first book, Midnight Crossroad.



Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Exile by C.T. Adams

Title: The Exile
Author: C.T. Adams
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Fae #1

Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publication: March 10, 2015 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 

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Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists—and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna's apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn't believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.
The Exile is the first book in a new series by author C.T. Adams, co-author of the Blood Singer series. I've read the first 3 books in the Blood Singer series and enjoyed it. So, when I heard Adams was starting a new series on her own, and about the Faes I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. I love all things Faeries!

I thought the world-building was well-done, even if it’s your standard urban fantasy with the usual Faes, Gargoyles, Seers/Oracles, Pixies, and Trolls variety. The book is set up in a closed world, meaning the humans don’t know that magic and supernatural beings exist. Brianna Hai, is half-human, half Fae and she has been living in the human world for years and it isn't until someone attacks her beyond the veil does she go back to Fairy. I’m really big on world building, I expect it to be both complex (but not overwhelming) and believable…to have that oomph, but I didn't see it in The Exile. It’s was good but there was nothing new that we haven’t already seen in other urban fantasies. Also, the plot has been done before countless of times. I was waiting for a big revelation or twist to make this book stand out but it never came. Plus, it didn't help that the part of Fairy (The Palace) we explored was built to mirror the human world. I was expecting to see a magical and exotic plane, but I didn't get that. I hope this little issue will be remedied in the next book so we can see beyond the palace since the characters were only in two locations for most of the story; Brianna’s shop and King Leu’s Palace.

Brianna was a likable heroine, as were most of the other characters. But even after I finished reading it, the characters felt one-dimensional and that I didn't connect or relate to them at all. There were multiple POVs and while I usually don’t have a problem with it for once I think having so many narratives actually hurt the character developments. Since everyone was vying for equal page time we didn't get to know the characters beyond the basic facts/info presented at the beginning of the book.

As for the pacing of the story, I thought it was a bit shaky. At times it would flow smoothly but a few pages later it would get interrupted by a tedious scene. This happens on and off throughout the book. I would find myself riveted one minute and bored the next. But it isn't for the lack of trying; the book is full of action and commotions within the first chapter till the very end but it was written in a way that didn't work for me…I don’t know why though, everything just felt a bit off.

Overall, I liked The Exile, just not as much as I hoped. Despite the rocky start and flaws, I think it’s a good start to a new urban fantasy series. I am curious to see what’s in store for Brianna and Co, so I might check out the sequel when it comes out. I’d still recommend it to UF fans, I think it’s worth checking out…if you can, read an except/sample before buying or borrow it from the library.