Urban Fantasy

Night Shit Dragons (DFZ #3)

Night Shit Dragons (DFZ #3)

By:

Rachel Aaron

Blurb:

They say family always sticks together, but when you’re your dad’s only lifeline and the whole world—humans, dragons, and gods—wants you dead, “family bonding” takes on a whole new meaning.

My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m in way over my head. I thought getting rid of my dad’s bad luck curse would put things back to normal. Instead, I’m stuck playing caretaker to the Great Dragon of Korea. That wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t such a jerk, or if every dragon on the planet wasn’t out to kill him, or if he was my only problem.

Turns out, things can always get worse in the DFZ. When a rival spirit attacks my god/boss with the aim of turning the famously safety-optional city into a literal death arena with Nik as his bloody champion, I’m thrust onto the front lines and way out of my comfort zone. When gods fight, mortals don’t usually survive, but I’m not alone this time. Even proud old dragons can learn new tricks, and with everything I love falling to pieces, the father I’ve always run from might just be the only force in the universe stubborn enough to pull us back together.

Review:

Night Shift Dragons is the conclusion of the DFZ trilogy. We get a resolution to everything, which was exactly what I wanted. The ending was properly climactic as well. I was happy with this story.

So, when last we saw Opal, she had saved her father and been eaten by the DFZ. When we join her, it’s been two months, and during that time she’s been training to be a shaman while her father remains unconscious. She’s afraid to make herself a target, so she’s let the DMZ hide her, which means Nik has no idea where she is or if she’s safe. I wasn’t a fan of that. It came off as very selfish on her part, making her feelings for him seem less.

Like the previous book, I felt for Nik. He made a really bad decision based on his infatuation for Opal and ended up paying a huge price. However, I like that this story revolved around Opal saving him. He finally got the attention he deserved from her.

Opal’s relationship with her father has been a significant driver of the series, and we finally get a resolution. I loved how this was worked out. These are two incredibly stubborn characters, and neither was able to see things from the others side. I thought how Aaron resolved things worked beautifully.

My only complaint is that I wish the series was longer. I wanted more. I was delighted to read the author’s note at the end that said Aaron would be writing more books set in that universe. I have no idea when the next one will come out, but I’m looking forward to it.

4/5

Part-Time Gods (DFZ #2)

Part-Time Gods (DFZ #2)

By: Rachel Adam

Blurb:

Life in the magical mess of the Detroit Free Zone is never easy. When you’re laboring under the curse of a certain prideful, overbearing dragon, it can be down right impossible.

My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner. At least, I used to be. Thanks to the supernatural bad luck that turns everything I do against me, these days I’m more of a walking disaster. Getting rid of this curse is the only way to get my life back. Unfortunately, dragon magic is every bit as sneaky and deadly the monsters behind it, and just as hard to beat.

But I’ve never been one to take her doom at face value. Cornered doesn’t mean defeated, and in an awakened city that rules herself, dragons are no longer the biggest powers around.

Review:

We learned more about Opal and her relationship with her family in Part-Time Gods. We also got to see the relationship between her and Nik develop. His devotion to her is so sweet and obvious. However, there was a conversation at the end that made him almost seem obsessed.

Opal is figuring out a way to work around her father’s curse. There’s a lot of trial and error and, of course, a gunfight because nothing can be easy for her. I’m curious if that’s curse-related or just because of her. Maybe we’ll find out in the next book.

For whatever reason, everyone wants to take Opal’s freedom away. Her father, in a way Nick, and now the spirit of the DFZ. None of them think about it that way, but it’s almost identical in the case of her father and the spirit of the DFZ. It’s kind of weird, and I have no problems seeing her side of things. I do feel some sympathy for Nik, we learn more about his life, and it’s easy to see why he feels the way he does. It doesn’t make it right, though.

The next book is the last in the series, and there are a couple of things I want a resolution on. I have faith that Aaron will be able to deliver, though. Heartstrikers had even more threads to tie up, and she handled that well.

3.5/5

Minimum Wage Magic (DFZ #1)

Minimum Wage Magic (DFZ #1)

By: Rachel Aaron

Blurb:

Making a living is hard. In a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, it can feel downright impossible.

Good thing freelance mage Opal Yong-ae has never let little things like impossibility stop her. She’s found a way to put her overpriced magical art history degree to use as a Cleaner: a contract municipal employee who empties out abandoned apartments and resells the unusual treasures she finds inside for a profit. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one–there’s a reason she wears bite-proof gloves–but when you’re neck-deep in debt to a very magical, very nasty individual, you can’t be picky about where the money comes from.

But even Opal’s low standards are put to the test when the only thing of value in her latest apartment is the body of the previous tenant. Dealing with the dead isn’t technically part of her job, but this mage died hiding a secret that could be worth a lot of money, and Opal’s the only one who knows. With debts she can’t pay due at the end of the week, this could be the big break she’s been waiting for, but in a city of runaway magic where getting in over your head generally means losing it, the cost of chasing this opportunity might be more than Opal can survive.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
This is the first in a new series set in the same universe as my Heartstrikers books, but you don’t need to have read those stories to enjoy this one. MINIMUM WAGE MAGIC was written to stand by itself, so if you haven’t read the others, don’t worry! I wrote this book with you in mind. Thank you so much for reading! 

Review:

I’ve had Minimum Wage Magic on my kindle for quite a while at this point. I really liked Aaron’s Heartstriker series, so when this popped up on my radar, I bought it. One thing led to another, and I ended up forgetting about it. Now, for the first time in seemingly forever, I don’t have any library books. So I surfed through my kindle, re-read a few favorites, and then decided to read this.

Minimum Wage Magic is set in the same universe as the Heartstrikers series in the city of the DFZ, Detroit Free Zone. It’s a fascinating city, and I was thrilled to see more of it. Also, since Opal isn’t a dragon, we got to see a new side of things. Her relationship with dragons is completely different from the previous series, and I loved the contrast. It was seeing things from the other side, basically.

Opal is reckless. When she reveals things about her past, she seems more calculating but considering she’s had months of bad luck, that may have a part to play. When someone is backed into a corner, they aren’t always logical. She is fighting for her freedom and is willing to do just about anything to get it. Except, she doesn’t. She has a line, and even when on the other side is the answer to everything, she doesn’t take it. That’s a character quality that I love, possibly because I’m not sure I could do the same.

A potential romantic interest is introduced in the form of another Cleaner named Nic. He’s part machine, and Opal is a bit afraid of him. But he saves her and will probably wind up being a cinnamon roll—another favorite trope.

I liked Minimum Wage Magic, and as soon as I was finished, I jumped into Part-Time Gods. It’s a short series with only three books, but I hope it’s not the last series we see in this universe. Really, Aaron has spent so much time fleshing out this universe, and it’s incredibly interesting. I could read more set here. I love the idea of a universe with books from all kinds of genres being written in it. Not sure if that would actually work, but at the very least, I’d love more books like this one.

4/5

Blood Heir

Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder #1)

By: Ilona Andrews

Blurb:

Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.

Review:

Blood Heir started as posts on Ilona Andrews’ blog. I read the first few but stopped and decided to wait for the book release. I think they actually stopped posting them once the story got bigger than planned. The main character is Julie, Kate’s ward from the Kate Daniels series. I always liked her, but there are apparently a lot of vocal fans that don’t, so that’s why it started as a blog post book instead of a traditionally published one.

Anyway! Julie has changed a lot since we last saw her riding off into the sunset with her grandmother. She’s got a whole new face and everything. At first, I was concerned that she would be too much like Kate, but she’s got a confidence that Kate didn’t have at the beginning. She’s also smarter. The parts I love most about Kate are in Julie, though. Her drive to help those weaker than her and her love of family are some of my favorite character traits.

Julie, now Aurelia, is in Atlanta for the first time in almost a decade, but to keep her family safe, she can’t let her family see her. It’s complicated and makes sense in the story, but it also serves the purpose of allowing Aurelia to shine on her own. She’s as much of a badass as Kate, and it’s so much fun to read her story. I’m excited for more.

4.5/5

Sunshine

Sunshine

By: Robin McKinley

Blurb:

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her…

Review:

I was at the library recently with a list of books touted as being similar to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Sunshine was on several lists, and it had people I trust raving about it. The library also had it on the shelves. I’m not a huge fan of vampires, but I really, really want to find a new urban fantasy author. So I checked it out.

The book is written from Sunshine’s point of view. She is the narrator of the story and not very reliable. She’s prone to long info dumps, and when action is going on, she gets overwhelmed and doesn’t explain what’s happening very well. It was a stylistic choice that I couldn’t get behind. Things would get exciting, and then there would be pages of world-building. The world created was interesting, but I needed more interaction with people and less mopping around.

Sunshine had a long-term boyfriend that was not super serious, but they would hook up, and it was comfortable. So I hoped that there wouldn’t be any romance between her and the vampire. When she described him as having gray skin and swamp water eyes, I figured I was safe. It also helped that she had to force herself not to pass out in terror for most of the book anytime she was near him. And yet—there was a moment where they almost had sex. It was so random and annoying and nearly had me putting down the book. I have no idea what the point of that scene was, and it felt so out of place.

The world was interesting, and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more, but this isn’t a series. It ends with an obvious opening for more books and more than a few questions unanswered, but there isn’t anything currently published. I was able to find mention of a book possibly being written, but McKinley’s website is under construction, and I have no idea if or when it will be coming out. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’d read it even if it did come out.

2/5