Review: Monsters, by Steve Turnbull

Monsters, by Steve Turnbull
Genre: Near-Future Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

This is one of the longest books I’ve read in a while, and although it has a hefty word count, it never felt long. There were a lot of characters, but not so many that I couldn’t keep track of them. The pacing is excellent, with each character getting a short scene before moving on to the next. 

The evolution of the main character, Chloe Dark, was interesting to see unfold. Her motivations were clear and realistic, given the fantastic situation she found herself plunged into. 

It’s only too easy to see the world falling into this dark future, if the human race experienced a fracturing where some people mutated into “freaks.” 

The only part I had trouble with – and I understand the motivation – is that the ending was weak, leaving a lot of questions unanswered, and leaving it feeling like there definitely needs to be more. But it wasn’t as bad as when authors just end a book with no sense of climax, assuming you’ll continue reading. Usually with a first book in series, I prefer a clean ending, but in this case I enjoyed the first book enough that I’ll be looking for the sequel anyway. 

Review: Black Market

Black Market, by Alexis Blakely

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4 stars

This is one of those stories you can just sit back and enjoy… let it wash over you. The pacing is quick, the read easy, with just a few missing/added words sprinkled throughout but no major errors jumping out of the page.

Alex finds herself in a mess again, investigating the murders of old men… but nothing is as it seems. There weren’t a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, but the story was still entertaining. Teaming up with Chase, her best friend and thief, they need to call in some favours to try to figure out what’s going on. Be prepared to hear how a witch and a mage are different, repeatedly. And I don’t mean that you’ll learn a new facet of how they’re different, I mean you’ll hear how witches are slow and mages are fast several times throughout the course of the story, just in case you forgot.

I enjoyed the three sets of “villains” in the story. And I mean that I really hated one group, and the other two were sort of popcorn villains, so big and bad that they’re almost funny.

The end of the story was really worth reading the whole book for. Some mind-bending stuff goes on, and it’s satisfying. I will likely pick up the third book in the series.


There’s an announcement coming later this month, but I’m changing gears with the blog. It’ll be mostly reviews from here on out. If you would like me to review your book, please don’t send it to me. Just let me know about it and I’ll check it out. If it looks like something I’d be interested in (action, adventure, intrigue, fast paced, non-erotic/romance) then I’ll probably pick it up and give it a whirl. I don’t rate books that I can’t finish, because I don’t think it’s fair to judge a book I didn’t get through. If your book hasn’t seen an editor, odds are I won’t read it.

Review: Auckland Allies

Auckland Allies, by Mike Reeves-McMillan

Genre: Urban fantasy

Rating: 5-stars

Three low-powered magic users work together to uncover a conspiracy that threatens their way of life. The story is well written with a quick pace and enjoyable characters.

I like Sparx a lot… the non-toxic masculinity was refreshing to see. The banter between the characters was great, and there was a lot of action which always keeps me hooked to a story.

I will definitely continue on with this series, and recommend it highly!

Review: Black Magic

Black Magic (Black Records Book 1), by Mark Feenstra

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4 stars

Alex Black is a mage who, while capable of things that would impress an ordinary person, isn’t particularly powerful among her own kind. She does a bit of consulting work, but it’s hard to find jobs when you’re part of a secretive subset of the population. When she’s hired to find a magical murderer, she might have taken on a job that’s too much for her to handle.

Set in Vancouver, it was refreshing to read something set in Canada. The idea that fae (a term given to all magical creatures) live among us in not-small numbers is fun. Seeing how Alex interacts with them, and mundane humans, acting like a bridge between worlds adds to the complexity of her character. The pacing was excellent, with plenty of drama and action to keep my head in the story.

My only quibble (and it’s a small one) was that the magic seemed uneven. At the start of the book, a big deal is made of using magic. It has some unpleasant aftereffects, and can’t be used for long without draining the mage. Replenishing magical energy is not trivial for Alex, taking a very long time to re-energize without aids. She spends much of the book tired or even exhausted, yet continues to cast spells. By the end of the book, she’s casting quite a few more spells, and holding them for longer periods of time. Given that it was stated earlier in the book that it takes a great deal of studying to improve your control over magic, it felt like she was gaining strength at an unnaturally quick pace. Also, I can’t figure out why mages would use wards if they’re so easy to disable. Or maybe Alex is just very good at that sort of magic.

Either way, the plot of the book was good, with a few surprises along the way. The characters were entertaining, with almost everyone you meet having a deeper background that unfolds over the course of the story.

I liked the eventual pairing of the two characters who work together at the end. While Alex says she couldn’t have succeeded without her partner, if you reverse the camera, there’s no way in hell he could have dealt with the problems. Non-magic people just aren’t a threat to mages at all. But her partner isn’t useless, either. It’s nice to see two characters who both have their virtues, instead of having one come off as useless while the other saves the day.

I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for something fun to read, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series!