All tagged Urban Fantasy

Three Recent Recommended Reads

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson series)

Night Broken, the eighth book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, places Mercy in a precarious and dangerous situation.

Danger lurks as a threat to herself, her marriage and her pack.

You've all probably at least heard of the Mercy Thomson series, but for the few that haven't, here's the scoop: Mercy is both human coyote. She’s a shape shifter married to Adam, alpha male and leader of the Tri-Cities werewolf pack in Washington. A coyote and a wolf falling in love and marrying stands out as unique. They share a commitment to honor one another and their pack. They are both primal beings and human beings.

More Grit, More Awesome: Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander

When a series progresses to a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to discuss without revealing important facets of the previous installments. Such is the case of Cassie Alexander's Edie Spence series, which is now deep into the series at book number four, Deadshifted.  So uncharacteristic brevity on my part is a necessity when talking about how Deadshifted brings even more gritty badassery than the previous installment, Shapeshifted.

I've written extensively about each of the books chronicles the misadventures of Chicago nurse Edie Spence, who found herself embroiled in the paranormal underworld in an effort to save her drug addict brother. This series has a lot to offer: action, drama, strong narrative voice and, of course, Edie's tumultuous love life--if you can call it that. 

[Note: Very minor spoilers of the sort revealed in the official book summaries follow.] 

Edie's latest exploits arrive while she an shapeshifter boyfriend Asher attempt to decompress from their recent encounter with some very nasty paranormal critters and their stressful day jobs at a health clinic in a tough Chicago neighborhood. They've embarked on a cruise and are basking in that new love glow. A promise of better things to come means that things are looking up for Edie.

Naturally, this being Edie's life, those precious moments of blissful peace don't last.

A Surprising, Satisfying Sequel: Fractured by Sarah Fine

It was a reminder of what we’d lost—and also that my senior year was rapidly coming to a close. I’d barely noticed. Prom was in three weeks, and graduation was only a month after that. It was hard to believe that a few months ago, I’d assumed I’d be here with Nadia, enjoying all of this. Now that Nadia was gone, I had nothing to look forward to except the hope that I could prevent a bunch of evil spirits from overrunning Rhode Island. ”

Sarah Fine's Sanctum was a real surprise when I discovered it earlier this year. It had all the things I love about adult fantasy--grit, flawed characters, adventure, big consequences--in a compelling young adult package. Needless to say, I eagerly anticipated the sequel, Fractured.

[Tiny spoilers for Sanctum ahoy, though I've attempted to be as vague as possible.]

Fractured picks up shortly after Sanctum ended, which narrator Lela back home in Rhode Island. We find the power dynamics between she and love interest and Shadowland Guard Malachi have shifted. She's the boss, with a crew of guardians under her command. They're battling the demon-like mazikin, as in Sanctum, but this time they're on Lela's home turf, and the few people she's allowed to become close to her are all in danger, making the stakes even higher than before.

Life as it was now: a weird intersection of normal and crazy, of life and beyond-life, afterlife, undead, whatever. I put my hand to my heart and felt it beating, remembered feeling Malachi’s pounding through his shirt as he kissed me. Were we alive? Were we here on borrowed time? Did we have a right to live or only to serve as Guards? Did we have a future, or were we headed back to the dark city when we were done? Did anything we did here, apart from eliminating the Mazikin, matter? Could we keep anything for ourselves?”

Second books in a series are a tough thing. In a lot of ways, when a first book is good, the second book's role as the second act in a three-act series (as in the case of a trilogy) can feel more like a bridge to the conclusion rather than a gripping story. Fortunately, Fractured avoided this fate, and is--in many ways--a stronger book than the first.

Shifting the setting from the Shadowlands to modern-day Rhode Island was a bold move, since it radically altered the character dynamics, and it really paid off.

A Fresh Shapeshifter Story: Skulk by Rosie Best

Skulk’s anything but a typical paranormal teen fiction. Shapeshifters in Rosie Best’s novel consist of foxes, ravens, rats, butterflies and spiders—no wolves need apply to this world. And, Skulk is urban fantasy in the truest sense of the term, with a rich city-focused setting of London, complete with graffiti and urban wildlife that’s not what it appears.

At the center of this story is sixteen year old Meg Banks, a teen girl who appears to have it all. Her mother’s a highly-respected member of Parliament and her father’s a genius with money. Meg attends an exclusive school that churns out students headed for only the best universities and the brightest futures. 


Meg’s perfect parents, perfect school, perfect life is nothing more than a tarnished cage locking in an unconquerable spirit who struggles to find self expression, individuality and ultimately freedom from her cruel and demanding mother and her aloof father.

Read the rest-->

Five Thoughts on Maggie Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves

The second installment in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series, The Dream Thieves, is out today and I've been pondering just how to write about it. I've come to the conclusion that this series is so very complex, while also being subtle, that it's nearly impossible for me to "review" the books in this series in a traditional sense. 

In lieu of an actual exhaustive review of The Dream Thieves (you can read our not-review of The Raven Boys here, by the way), I thought I'd completely cop-out and provide you with a list of five things I'm still pondering after reading The Dream Thieves.


#1 The Dream Thieves is even more dreamy and atmospheric that The Raven Boys.  

It was mint and memories and the past and the future and she felt as if she’d done this before and already she longed to do it again.

These novels are rooted in their atmosphere, intricate mythology and tangled relationships that they're going to either work for readers or leave them wondering what the hell they just read. And I mean that in a good way--I adore this series and believe it's different from anything else on the shelves at the moment. Reading this series feels more like I'm experiencing the story, rather than reading a book--it's just that immersive. 

Dear Googler, Volume 5

Dear Googler,

It's been awhile since we've posted an installment of "Deear Googler," the feature in which we answer the questions of Googler searchers who stumble upon Clear Eyes, Full Shelves thanks to the magic of search engines.

You asked, we answered.


Clear Eyes, Full Shelves


Review: Shapeshifted (Edie Spence #3) by Cassie Alexander

I've been holding off on my review of the third installment of Cassie Alexander wonderfully unique Edie Spence series, as the farther along in a series one gets, the tougher it is to really talk book specifics without ruining the earlier novels.

So, please excuse the vagueness and generalities in my attempt to avoid being spoilerific.


Minor spoilers, which are also reference in the book's official summary, follow in this review. If you want to remain wholly unspoiled, read my review of the first novel in this series, Nightshifted.

I cannot express strongly enough how much I abhor being left behind. 

At the conclusion of Moonshifted, much of nurse Edie Spence's "normal" life was reset. The routine and community she'd developed--crazy though it was--fell apart and Shapeshifted finds her trying find a new place for herself in the wild, messy, complicated paranormal world she's embroiled in. This is made all the worst as Edie learns that her mother is terminally ill, and Edie is determined to utilize her, well, unusual, connections to save her.

As always, Edie's trying to go it alone, while also trying to save everyone.

Review: Sanctum by Sarah Fine

When Laura and I chatted with the folks from Amazon Children's Publishing at the ALA Midwinter meeting earlier this year, they were heavily pushing Sarah Fine's Sanctum as "the next Angelfall." While on some level I understand the comparison--Angelfall features angels who are quite demonic, Sanctum is set in an afterlife full of demon-like creatures--the two books aren't read-alikes and likely don't share a audience. 

With that said, as a fan of adult urban fantasy, Sanctum hits where so many other young adult novels billed as urban fantasy miss; it's a creative and unique novel I'd recommend to fans of the genre, teen or adult. 

Lela Santos, who's spent much of her life in the foster care system, is finally settled into a good life at the beginning of Sanctum. She's thinking about college--something she never believed possible; she has an unlikely best friend in the form of Nadia, who's the popular girl Lela never believed would be her friend; she has a stable life in a safe home. That crumbles when Lela's best friend kills herself in a bout of depression Lela didn't see.

Racked with grief and guilt, Lela begins to have visions of her friend tormented in a horrible place.  In her distraught frame-of-mind, she tries to find closure about Nadia's death, but instead (stay with me here--this sounds a bit wacky, but it all makes sense in the story) she winds up dead thanks to a freak accident. Lela plummets into a terrifying underworld, the same place she saw in her visions. Determined to find Nadia and figure out a way for them both to escape, Lela enters the Dark City, a terrifying, shadowy place where lost souls wander. 

This city is a scary place. Food is inedible, demon-like creatures called Mazikin wander the streets looking for bodies to possess, and the guardians of this creepy place are pretty scary too.

Review: Oath Bound (Unbound #3) by Rachel Vincent

The third (and supposedly, final) installment in Rachel Vincent's Unbound series, Oath Bound was one of my most anticipated novels of the year. The unusual, mob-style world and distinctive, yet not overwhelming, paranormal elements have made this series one I've enjoyed immensely, and recommend often.

​Fortunately, Oath Bound met my expectations and while I didn't love it as much as the second book in the series, Shadow Bound, it equalled the quality of the gripping first novel, Blood Bound. However, for an alleged final book in a series, I was definitely left feeling that there was quite a bit more needed in order for the series to achieve closure (though as with the previous books, the story itself comes to a satisfying ending). 

Note: I have made every attempt to not spoil either of the two previous books in this series. While this novel would be best read after reading Blood Bound and Shadow Bound, it could be read as a standalone.​

Here's quick primer on the Unbound world: The best comparison I can make is to Holly Black's Curse Workers series (which I also highly recommend). Some people are Skilled, and are able to utilize their Skills for a specific purpose, such as tracking people with just a name, teleporting via dark spaces, jamming tracking skills, binding contracts in a way that they're unbreakable or seeing future events. Like in the Curse Workers series, these talents are often commandeered by crime families, whose organizations exploit the Skilled for the benefit of their criminal enterprises. These organizations are ruthless, and the particular city these novels take place in are ruled by two rival, ruthless syndicates: Tower and Cavazos.

The Unbound series explores the theme of free will quite extensively, as that's the most valuable commodity in this world.

​Each of the books in the Unbound series are told from two first-person points-of-view. In Oath Bound, one of those points-of-view is Kris, the brother of Kori, who was a narrator in Shadow Bound, and Kenley, an important secondary character in both this novel and the previous installment. The other narrator is a new introduction, Sera, who's the secret daughter of Jake Tower, former leader of one of the Tower syndicates.

Review: Leasing the Tempest by Jenn Bennett

It’s no secret that Jenn Bennett’s Arcadia Bell series is one of my favorite urban fantasy series, up there with Patricia Briggs’ wonderful Mercy Thompson books.

In fact, the two series share a lot of commonalities. Both are packed with memorable, multi-faceted characters, good humor and warmth. 

The long wait between books in this series is mildly torturous (though, thankfully, each wraps up a complete story) but fortunately, Leashing the Tempest is a fun novella which fills the gap between Summoning the Night and the third book, Binding the Shadows (out May 2013). 

Leashing the Tempest finds the series’ core characters—Arcadia (an extremely skilled magician with a complicated past), Lon (Cady’s older demon boyfriend), Jupe (Lon’s charming teenage son) and Kar Yee (Cady’s best friend and business partner)—on a day cruise on the Pacific coast near their hometown in northern California. The contained environment of the boat is the perfect chance to test Jupe’s newly-developed knack (his magical skill) on Kar Yee, who’s agreed to serve as a volunteer. (There’s an amusing ongoing story in the series of 13 year old Jupe’s crush on Kar Yee which adds to the already funny premise for fans of this series.) 

Naturally, it being Cady and Lon, a day cruise can’t be just a ride on a boat, but instead an angry storm is unleashed and something’s suspicious about the boat’s captain. It’s up to Cady and Lon to save everyone on the boat and stop the magical force that’s ruined their day.

For fans of the Arcadia Bell series, Leashing the Tempest will seem familiar.

Review: Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander

Review: Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander - On Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Cassie Alexander’s debut novel, Nightshifted, was one of the more memorable and creative urban fantasies I’ve read in a long time. Needless to say, I was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy of Moonshifted, Nightshifted’s fast-paced and riveting sequel.

[Note: I have made every attempt to avoid spoilers for Nightshifted. Read my review of that book here.]

Moonshifted picks up shortly after the events of Nightshifted, in which nurse Edie Spence finds herself embroiled in a terrifying battle with supernatural creatures, barely escaping with her life. Edie is still a nurse on Y4, the secret ward for paranormal beings of all sorts, as part of a deal to save her brother from addiction. She’s still broke, she’s still lonely and she’s still self-destructive. The only thing that’s changed is that she’s started to form connections with her follow Y4 indentured health care workers, all of whom have a story about why they’re trapped in a dead end job caring for the paranormal.

Floor Y4 catered to the supernatural creatures that no one else knew about: werecreatures in their mortal phases, the daytime servants of the vampires, the sanctioned donors of the vampires, and shapeshifters that occasionally went insane. And sometimes zombies, whom nurses occasionally dated, with poor outcomes. At the thought of my now twice-dead love life, my urge to make small talk chilled.

While on her lunch break with one of those co-workers, Edie witnesses a man being struck by a hit and run driver. Except the man isn’t actually a human—he’s a werewolf. Edie and her coworker save the werewolf, but it lands her in the position of caring for the werewolf who’s in a coma on Y4. Meanwhile, in the midst of this, Edie’s also roped into further involvement with Anna, the teenager vampire she saved in the previous novel. 

It’s not long before the injured man’s werewolf pack descends on the ward and Edie finds herself entangled in an internal conflict within the pack, and with her interesting piqued by Lucas, who is in line to becoem pack leader, should Edie’s patient die.

Joint Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Note: This is a joint review by Sarah, Laura & Rebeca aka Renegade.

Blue had two rules: Stay away from boys, because they’re trouble, and stay away from raven boys, because they were bastards.

Without a doubt, the first book in Maggie Stiefvater’s new series, The Raven Boys, was one of our most anticipated novels of the year. All of us adored her 2011 standalone novel, The Scorpio Races, and couldn’t wait to see what sort of world Maggie created next. 

Blue Sargent has been warned her entire life that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When she and her clairvoyant mother hang out in the local graveyard on St. Mark’s Eve—as they due each year, for the first time, Blue sees a soon-to-be-dead person. This boy speaks to Blue and he’s a Raven Boy—one of the students at the exclusive Aglionby Academy in her Virginia town. 

Soon, Blue finds herself entangled in the Raven Boys’ world, a world filled with magic and mystery. 

The World/Setting

Laura: I love the setting of a boarding school in a small town, with the push and pull that comes from those who live there year-round and the revolving door of students. It reminded me quite a bit of the dynamics of Ithaca, New York where I attended college. In both cases, so much of the town’s economy and cultural vitality is dependent on the student population, yet there is still a tension between those who consider it home and those who come off as entitled, sweep in and out at will and live separately when they are there.  

Sarah: I am a sucker for boarding school in a small town books (there were a lot when I was a kid, okay?), so that alone makes me happy. The tension between townies versus the Raven Boys is really interesting and felt very vibrant. The magical world that’s alive beneath the surface of their town is really brilliant. I love how Maggie always takes a tiny bit of folklore (in this case, the Welsh sleeping kings) and makes it into something I completely believe in. The magical elements are thoroughly developed in this first book, but I also feel like there’s a roadmap for even more in this world’s mythology in the future books. As I was reading, I could feel the layers unpeeling. The way she melds the contemporary world and the paranormal is really distinctive in The Raven Boys, even more so than in the Mercy Falls series

List-O-Rama: Five 2013 Releases I've Already Preordered

There’s something crazy-making about forthcoming books by authors I love.

I obsess over their release dates, cover art, blurbs—and I know I’m not alone in this. Since I discovered the whole preordering thing a couple years ago (yeah, I was late to the party on that one), I take special care to preorder books I’m hotly anticipating in order to ensure that I’m not going to somehow miss one I’m hotly anticipating. Even though we’re barely into fall of 2012, I’ve already pushed that preorder button on five books coming out next year. 

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder

Falling for You, Lisa Schroeder - January 1

When I first learned that Lisa’s next YA novel was not going to be in verse, I was a bit bummed out—The Day Before is one of my favorite reads and I just adore her approach to the verse format. However, now that I’ve come to terms with it, I’m actually very excited to see what she’ll do with a traditionally formatted novel. Lisa described this book as mysterious and about “darkness and light,” which really intrigues me, since that’s a theme I usually enjoy in novels. I have to admit to muttering some not-very-grownup words of jealousy when I saw half of Twitter talking about how they snagged ARCs of this one at ALA this year—and I rarely come down with ARC Envy Syndrome. 

{Amazon | Goodreads}

Gayle Forman, Just One Day - January 8

I really liked If I Stay, but Where She Went is one of my favorite reads ever—I was just completely gutted by Adam’s story. I was lucky enough to hear Gayle speak at a little event in Seattle this year and was really impressed with her thoughtfulness and insights into storytelling, so I’m an even bigger fan now. Like the If I Stay series, her next two books will be a duology form two different characters’ points of view, and I really like that style. I’m even more excited that this series is going to deal with the transformative power of travel, because that’s something that was very important to me at the time I was the age of the main character in Just One Day.

{List-O-Rama} Memorable Reads: 1st Half of 2012, Take 2

Well, CEFS contributors may not be known for their “blind acquiescence” but I’ve finally managed to scrape up a list of my favorite books so far in 2012.

Note: we just happened to randomly remember a few of the same books. Please disregard any repeats, as they have absolutely nothing to do with Sarah’s excellent taste. Her head is big enough already.

YA Novels

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols - I finished this book last night or, more accurately, early this morning. When a book is better than sleep you know you’ve found a keeper. Echols does an excellent job portraying some wounded, imperfect characters you can’t help but love. {Review | Amazon | Goodreads}

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - If Nicholas Sparks drives you nuts, this is the book for you. It’s an incredibly moving, honest, cliche free exploration of illness and mortality. And it still managed to make me laugh (sometimes through the tears.) Though I generally prefer less serious subject matter, this book is special, and worth the red eyes. {Review | Amazon | Goodreads}

Urban Fantasy

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - In an attempt to save up for my trip to Europe, I decided not to buy the insanely expensive ebook (Sarah complained about this too) and instead got on the endless waiting list at the library. I lasted several days before I online stalked the non-holdable library copy, and raced in to snatch it up like the desperate reader I am. This is devotion. As the third novel in Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, this book explores some of the ramifications of earlier plot developments. And yes, it was worth the trouble. {Amazon | Goodreads}

Tracey, our latest Book Matchmaker victim lucky participant, filled out our extremely sophisticated Book Matchmaker questionnaire in search of recommendations for some fresh reads with romance, but also with strong female characters.

You’d think this would be an easy one—but snooping on her Goodreads profile, Tracey had already read a lot of our go-to recommendations. But we came up with some good ones—or at least we hope so. 

Tracey’s Responses

YA or Adult: Surprise Me
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy
Multiple POV
Swoon Factor: 4
Gross Out Factor: 3
Smut Factor: 4
Fluff Factor: 4
Likes: “On the Island, loved the character development. And multi-POV. Hunger Games, Graceling, Wicked Lovely, Enders Game, Feed, Divergent! Strong women, romance—but great characters and strong writing are a must”
Dislikes: No quest books, no sagas that need maps and a glossary to keep track of everyone! Bad writing and bad character development. 

The Results

Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped & Thumped by Megan McCafferty (YA)

I know. It’s shocking to think that the government would try to stick its nose in our ladyparts.

This satire by the author of the fabulous Jessica Darling series is recommended by Laura as a great read for someone looking for a something fresh in the cluttered dystopian shelves. 

{Review} Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent


Note: I have made every attempt to write this review free from spoilage about the first book in the series. 

It was with both trepidation and excitement that I cracked open* Shadow Bound, the second book in Rachel Vincent’s Unbound urban fantasy series.

Excitement because I adored Blood Bound, the first book in the series.

Trepidation because, well, I adored Blood Bound, the first book in the series. 

You know how it goes: When a series starts out strong, it sets the bar high. This was doubly the case with Shadow Bound because the main characters in the second book differ from those in the first. I loved Liv and Cam in Blood Bound, their story was incredibly compelling, and Kori (one of Shadow Bound’s main characters) did not impress me in the first novel. She was and unlikeable. 

However, I enjoyed Shadow Bound even more than the first book in the compelling and creative Unbound series.

Taking place in world in which some humans are (un)lucky enough to possess highly-valued abilities and mob-like syndicates rule, Shadow Bound finds Kori Daniels, a shadow walker (basically, she can transport herself and people she’s touching via darkness), suffering the consequences of her role in the events of Blood Bound. Jake Tower, leader of one of the major synidcates, has deprived Kori of the darkness she craves and subjected her to terrible torture (it’s quite painful to read, even though nothing is described in detail—it’s just so harrowing).

{Review} Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

The only thing I truly know about my future is the inevitability of my death. Like everyone else, I’d prefer that the time and manner of my death be peaceful, painless… and postponed for as long as possible. But perhaps that’s not to be. I don’t know the future.

But what if we could know the future?

In the case of a fluid future, in which our decisions could change the outcome, we’d all like to think that we’d act in a noble, self-sacrificing manner (see: Kyle Chandler, Early Edition).

Why yes, we do use any and all excuse to include a gratuitous photo of Coach Eric Taylor on this blog. Whereas a lot of us would more likely act in a self-serving manner (see: Biff, Back to the Future Part II).