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Book Review: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

Title: Winter Halo

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Outcast #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way. The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as she learns more about the facility, Tiger’s mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force. Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself… –Goodreads

The Review:

There are a few reasons why Keri Arthur is one of my top authors:

  • Her heroines are always kickass and fun
  • Her writing is page turning good
  • Her stories are always creative, and
  • Her books are always packed with a great mix of action, mystery, and romance

Where Winter Halo takes it one step further is the love story. Many urban fantasies hit you over the head immediately with a love interest (or two). In this case, all we’ve gleaned so far is the potential for a good love story, which is both promising an excellent payoff down the road and allowing the story to focus on all the other aspects that make it so good. Like how strong the main character is.

Tiger is a lab-created shifter/vampire hybrid bred for subterfuge during the apocalyptic war between shifters and humans. Her specialty is seduction and intelligence-gathering, a combination which led to some “steamy” moments. Even with such a unique backstory, it’s Tiger’s actions and motives that make her so interesting. Having not been able to save children under her care during the war, she’d go to the ends of the earth to help them now. And, as the overall arc of the series so far is finding and rescuing some missing kids, it’s a combination that is as compelling as it is heart-wrenching. I love Keri Arthur’s characters (Riley Jensen being one of my favorites from a past series), and Tiger is just as good.

Awesome characters, great writer, and understated love story aside, it’s the overall mystery of the series that has me chomping at the bit for the next one. Arthur did a great job weaving all of her plot points into a complex storyline. If I had just one complaint it’s that many of these plot points are revamped (no pun intended) ideas from her other series. However, They were spun freshly enough that I found them more nostalgic than tiresome.

If you’re looking for an urban fantasy that’s interesting and slightly off the beaten path, City of Light is a great place to start – the series only seems to be getting better and better!

I’d like to thank Penguin Group Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, Keri Arthur, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review a reviewer copy of Winter Halo.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur

winter-halo-by-keri-arthurTitle: Winter Halo

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Outcast #2

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: December 6, 2016

The Overview: When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between worlds, they allowed entry to the Others. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay…. The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way. The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as she learns more about the facility, Tiger’s mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force. Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself… -Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

 I’ve been a fan of Keri for years (her Riley Jensen series is still one of my favorites) and I love that she still manages to pop out one excellent series after another. City of Light (book #1) was awesome. Even though it had a few story elements I’d read in her other works, the bulk of it screamed originality. I love the hybrid main character, how fast-paced and exciting the plot was, and the futuristic/urban fantasy setting. I don’t see any reason why Winter Halo won’t be just as good – I can’t wait!

What books are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur

City of Light by Keri Arthur

Title: City of Light

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Outcast #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between this world and the next, they allowed entry to the Others—demons, wraiths, and death spirits who turned the shadows into their hunting grounds. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay…. As a déchet—a breed of humanoid super-soldiers almost eradicated by the war—Tiger has spent her life in hiding. But when she risks her life to save a little girl on the outskirts of Central City, she discovers that the child is one of many abducted in broad daylight by a wraith-like being—an impossibility with dangerous implications for everyone on earth. Because if the light is no longer enough to protect them, nowhere is safe…

The Review:

Keri Arthur has been a staple in my urban fantasy/paranormal romance arsenal for many years now, and I’m convinced she gets better and better with each new series. City of Light was the fantastic combination of unique setting, great characters, and good storytelling that I’ve come to expect from her, and I think it a strong start to what promises to be a great series.

The basic plotlines surrounding the paranormal creatures and their proclivity for mischief was very similar to that in Arthur’s Riley Jensen series (my favorite of hers to date). It can be risky recycling old ideas, but Arthur presented it in such a different way that it made me nostalgic rather than disappointed. She has a way of weaving complex supernatural cultures into giant hodgepodge societies that somehow work. It made for an atmosphere that was fresh, exciting, and easily one of the best elements of the story.

But, by far, the best element were the characters. Tig was a strong female lead, which is to be expected, but my favorite thing about her was her rich back history and experiences that shaped her motives and decisions throughout the entire novel. She was such a well developed character that it made the novel special rather than just good. All of that praise is in addition to the cool aspect of how she came into being (lab-grown) and the cooler combination of DNA that made her unique (white tiger shifter with a hint of vampire… plus some other genetically superior upgrades). I was yet again reminded of Riley, but in a way that made me appreciate how well each heroine stands on their own despite their similarities. All of the characters surrounding Tig were equally interesting, and I have the feeling we’ve only just scratched the surface of their potential in this first book.

Overall, City of Light was a strong first novel in a series I can’t wait to devour more from. Fans of Keri will definitely appreciate it, and urban fantasy lovers in general will hopefully like the paranormal/futuristic infusion is much as I did. Fair warning though: sexual content and language.

I’d like to thank Penguin Group Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, Keri Arthur, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review a reviewer copy of City of Light.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Urban Fantasies! (10/8/2013)

Top ten Tuesday pink

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m a little bit of a TTT rebel. This week’s topic is supposed to be about the best and worst series endings. Since I’ve already done a Top Ten Book Beginnings/Endings several weeks ago, I’m going in a totally different direction:

Top Ten Urban Fantasies!

I have a difficult time picking out which one of these fantastic series is my favorite because I like them all for different reasons. Richelle Mead Is my favorite author and the Succubus series is my favorite work of hers, so that’s definitely a contender. But the Riley Jensen series by Keri Arthur is the one that first sparked my love for the genre. Let’s not forget T.A. Pratt who remains one of my writing idols. Then there is Kim Harrison who keeps getting better and better with each book. All I have to say is, there’s a lot of good reading up there!

Which urban fantasy is your favorite?

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Darkness Splintered by Keri Arthur

16144868Title: Darkness Splintered

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Dark Angels #6

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Release Date: November 5, 2013

The Overview: When Risa loses the second key to hell, she angers several powerful people, and she’s starting to feel the pressure from all sides. She gets a visit from her father, who gives her an ultimatum: Get back the key or he will kill her friends.Ris4a also finds herself under the scrutiny of the vampire council, some of whom consider her a monster who should be destroyed. But they offer her a bloody bargain: Take on the lethal head of the council, Madeline Hunter, and others will support her. As the search for the keys to hell heats up, Risa realizes that she has no choice. For the sake of the people she loves, she must find the keys — and get rid of Hunter — before the second gate is opened and brings the world closer to all hell breaking loose…

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 Nik’s Notes:

  This week’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) I’ve chosen to feature Keri Arthur, the author who got me hooked on the urban fantasy genre. To this day, her Riley Jensen series is among my all-time favorites and I’ve read them several times. As a spinoff series, the Dark Angels has been every bit as entertaining as Riley (who, to my delights, makes some appearances). Although I’m not caught up with this series, I hope to be by the time this one is released in November.

What book are you waiting on?

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Book Review: Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur

Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur

Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur

Title: Dancing with the Devil

Author: Keri Arthur

Series: Nikki and Michael #1

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Overview: Private Investigator Nikki James grew up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst and believes there’s nothing left to surprise her. All that changes the night she follows teenager Monica Trevgard into the shadows-and becomes a pawn caught in a war between two very different men. One fills her mind with his madness, the other pushes his way into her life-and her heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be, but if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in a man who could easily destroy her.

Michael Kelly has come to Lyndhurst determined to end the war between himself and another brother of the night. For 300 years he has existed in life’s shadows, gradually learning to control the life from death cravings of a vampire. Nikki not only breaches his formidable barriers with her psychic abilities, but makes Michael believe he may finally have found a woman strong enough to walk by his side and ease the loneliness in his heart. But will his love be enough to protect her from a madman hell-bent on revenge? Or will it drive her into his enemy’s deadly trap?

Only together can they overcome the evil threatening to destroy them both. But the secrets they keep from each other might prove to be the greatest threat of all.

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The Review:

I’ve had a lot of turmoil trying to figure out how to review this book. I am a huge fan of Keri Arthur and for the longest time ranked her Riley Jensen series as my all-time favorite. I have been looking forward to the U.S. release of the Nikki and Michael series for at least a year… But I was disappointed, and I hate it when that happens.

First of all, I’m pretty sure the publishers are marketing this series as an urban fantasy. For me, everything from the outline to the heavy focus on characterization made it read more like a paranormal romance. The plot was incredibly straightforward with no elements of complexity or even mystery that she does so well in her urban fantasies. I’m sure the marketing strategy was to keep all of Arthur’s books in the same area, but I think this is a book better suited to the romance crowd. I had a lot of issues with it, and I can’t help but think that was because I was holding it to the standard of other urban fantasies I’ve read (specifically Arthur’s). I wonder if I’d picked it up knowing it was a paranormal romance if I would’ve liked it better.

Oddly, for a book I’ve just labeled highly character-driven, it didn’t have very rich characters. Their thoughts and dialogue were pretty generic – the only thing that helped define them was the occasional motive revealed through the book’s extensive inner reflection. Even then, they contradicted themselves often with their actions. I thought the side character Jake, Nikki’s boss, was the most interesting person in the story. We didn’t have any inner dialogue with him, but instead got to know him through his actions and mannerisms – which I think is a far stronger way to develop character.

There was also a great deal of redundant “discoveries” taking place. The bulk of the story revolved around a conflict the audience was already aware of from reading the back of the book: the fact that Michael is a vampire. Nikki, having supernatural abilities of her own and facing down zombies within the first chapter, spent a lot of pages learning about vampires and coming to grips with their existence. That’s the sort of thing that’s usually a given if there’s already supernatural in a story. Instead, it was one of the major conflicts of the book.

I thought the basic writing was good, nowhere near the quality that she’s producing now, but good. There was an awful lot of  “telling” rather than “showing” where the author chose to skip full-blown action scenes in favor of having the character reflect on it in the aftermath. She did, however, use an interesting technique to keep from revealing secrets too early in the plot: she switched POVs any time the subject was about to be brought up – thereby extending the suspense and intrigue.

Overall, for a paranormal romance, it fit the bill perfectly, but as an urban fantasy, it left a few things to be desired. I am a huge Keri Arthur fan – her Riley Jensen and Dark Angel series are definitely in my top ten urban fantasies of all-time and I recommend them to people constantly. I am truly bummed that this one didn’t work for me. They were written quite a while ago, though, so I’m just going to chalk it up as a stepping stone this author needed to get to where she is today. It was still a decent book, I just had incredibly high expectations, and that’s never a good start.

Recommendations: I started out this post with a big old rant on the difference between paranormal romances and urban fantasies. I decided to spare you and deleted the whole thing but I definitely feel there is a different type of customer for each genre. I would only hand this to someone who has read and liked any of the books listed below… (I didn’t care much for those, either, but I know a lot of people did).

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like: