The Book Barrio

A Blog for Fantasy and Romance Readers


Urban Fantasy

Review: Iron and Magic (Iron Covenant 1) by Ilona Andrews


Thank you to Netgalley for giving me an advance copy.

I so loved this book. It’s been a while since I last stayed up late because I couldn’t put a book down. We were promised Hugh’s redemption story and that’s exactly what we got.This story starts off somewhere after Magic Binds (book 9). This is about Hugh (villain in the previous books) finding a home and taking a stand. Hugh enters into an arranged marriage in order to get shelter and food for his people. In return he has to provide protection for his new bride, Elara and her people. There is a lot of violence and magic and sex, which is to be expected for a book about Hugh. The authors did not pull back and I loved every bit of it.

Here are some of my spoilery thoughts, read at your own peril:


1. That horse is a unicorn!

2. I am Filipino, and it made me super happy to see a Filipino creature featured in one of my favorite book series. It felt like receiving an unexpected gift out of nowhere.

3. Elara is a well developed character, but Hugh definitely takes the spotlight and outshines her in every page. The authors kind of kept a lot of Elara’s past a mystery, we have a few hints here and there but not enough for me to love her as much as I love Hugh’s character.

4. Hugh is his usual arrogant, manipulative self. The dialogue between him and Elara are a joy to read. He has met his match. Elara is just as manipulative and secretive. The sex is hooooot.

5. I liked the dynamic between the Iron Dogs. Bale and Lamar bickered like an old married couple.

6. That scene between Hugh and Raphael making peace over Aunt B’s death was just… I have no words.

7. Hugh’s fight scenes were really really good. They’ll keep you on the edge, just like Kate. 

8. Hugh gives out some of the best lines ever. That part when he tells Roland, “You’ll never get your hands on Kate’s kid. I’ll kill you first” was the ultimate best. Uncle of the year. It completely sealed the deal and made me wish for Kate and Hugh’s reunion. 

9. Yes, Hugh should’ve played the brother card with Kate. I look forward to seeing him do that in the next book.

10. I wish Hugh and Elara would adopt Deirdre in the future books.
Having read this book, I can definitely say that the authors have managed to achieve their goal in making us forgive Hugh. I can’t wait to read the final book in the Kate Daniels series.

Rating: 5 Stars +



Review: Marked in Flesh (Others #4) by Anne Bishop


Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
I’ve been following this book series since Written in Red first came out and wowed everyone with its unique brand of urban fantasy. Re-reading each book in the series has always been a pleasure. I make no exception for Marked in Flesh, the fourth book in the series.

Here, we see our favorite blood prophet, Meg Corbyn grow into herself and discover things about telling prophecy without having to use the razor. And the story gets bigger. It’s not just about Meg and her little world in the courtyard anymore. The conflict between humans and the Others is growing. One mistake can cause the entire thing to collapse. Other parts of Thaisia are also awakening to the dangers posed by these conflicts. We also get to see some of the Elders who are even more otherly than the Courtyard Others. Let me just say that huge changes happen in this book.

Meg and Simon’s romantic relationship is progressing ever so slowly. But whatever progress they have is so sweet and endearing. The Meg and Simon moments are always my favorite parts to read. They’re like little treasures scattered here and there to quietly surprise with its emotional depth.

The real strength of these books are the characters. I could read about Meg receiving deliveries or about Simon hunting meat all day. Similar to the previous books in the series, the plot pace is a bit slow, which allows for introspection and character growth. There were some parts that did bore me, but the tension picks up and the big things that happen in this book are not to be missed.

When I finished the book, I immediately went back to re-read my favorite parts.

Rating: 4 Stars


Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy



Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…


Sweep in Peace is the 2nd book of the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews. I really like the concept behind this series. It’s like a blend of science fiction and urban fantasy. The heroine is an innkeeper.  But the kind of clients in her inn are mostly non-human, such as aliens, vampires, or creatures from other dimensions. And within the inn, the innkeeper is the biggest boss. It is the innkeeper’s duty to protect the inn’s guests.

The heroine, Dina, lost her parents and brother. Her family mysteriously disappeared and she tried to search the galaxies for them but couldn’t find a trace of them. So her solution to finding them is to set up an inn, make it thrive and hope that one day, one of the inn’s guests will recognize her parents’ portrait and give her a clue on their whereabouts.

George from the Edge series, is all grown up now, and is the Arbiter for an intergalactic war for a planet. They need an inn to host their peace negotiations between the Vampires, the Hope-crushing Horde and the merchants. Dina is the only innkeeper who was willing to take them on. It will be dangerous to have three different warring species all together in the inn. Jack, George’s brother is there too.

I really liked how this book was light and just fun. I loved the humor and how the different side characters we meet are just crazy ridiculous and extreme and funny. One of the inn’s guests is said to be very vicious and an expert with poisons but acts like royalty. She is very proper and well mannered, while anticipating death and violence.  I was also amused with all the fuss for protocol and how one small action can lead to offending the high ranking people. I loved the backstory for each planet’s species. I liked their internal politics. It was a lovely mix of comic and adventure.

I also like how the inn is its own character. It’s alive and sentient. It serves and protects the people living inside the inn. Dina is a good protagonist. We clearly see that aside from her ulterior motives in finding her parents, she also genuinely loves the inn. She takes care of it, feeds it (yes, feed!) and wants it to grow. She also helps the arbiter with the peace summit.

There is not much romance in this book. It just hints on the possible romance that could develop in future books. If you’re familiar with Ilona Andrew’s other work, then you’d know that they are experts on the slow burn, which in my opinion is the best kind of romance. I like it when the characters really get to know each other and warm up, before getting into a relationship.

Overall, I think that this is a good addition to the series. If you aren’t familiar with this series and are looking for a light & fun sci-fi, book 1 can be found here.

Rating: 3 Stars

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Review: Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance 25327426


Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.


Solina Mundy’s twin brother was violently murdered. Four months later, Solina decides to visit Siqiniq to pack up her brother’s belongings and to find out about his murderer. Solina has been having these visions that are connected to the things that actually happen in her life, and one of these visions is of her brother being viciously attacked by a wolf.

Her brother’s death’s investigation is leading nowhere, so Solina takes matters into her own hands and tries to find the killer. Her late brother’s coworkers Skyla and Val help her with this. Thorin, who runs the outdoor adventure store her bro used to work at, mysteriously warns her to stop what she’s doing and go home.

The first part is more like a clue hunt, with one clue leading to another and bringing Solina closer to learning who the killer is. When Solina and Skyla delve further into their investigation, Solina’s place gets trashed, and she gets attacked by a wolf during a kayaking adventure. She also reveals some other special abilities that she didn’t know she had.

Now for the spoilery part.

Turns out Thorin and Val have some Norse mythology roots and are descendants of Odin and Thor. Somehow, the deaths of Solina and her brother may lead to another apocalypse. So then Val and Thorin have to protect her in a love triangle way. There’s also a villain who wants to bring about the apocalypse by killing Solina.

And then suddenly Solina gets kidnapped by the Valkyries who want to give her some free training because she has zero fighting skills. At that point, I really really wanted to give up and not finish the book.

I think Solina just loses track of her goals  halfway through the story. She says that she wants to bring her brother’s death to justice but believes some assumptions based on some mythological analogies with their names. Yes, they just assume the identity of the her brother’s killer, without much concrete evidence to support it. We don’t even learn much about her brother, so we don’t feel her grief and pain over that death.

I know I sound a bit like a mess and its because a lot of things didn’t add up. Like why Solina’s place was trashed if the bad guys’ goal was to kill her. Or why Val and Thorin let her go on investigating when they knew what was going on all along. Or why a group of warrior females would have the time and resources to give our heroine some free combat training out of nowhere. The climax didn’t really feel like a climax at all. I don’t feel like we ever got to that moment of absolute despair and desperation before the final battle. Too many questions and not enough struggle to make it believable.

If there’s one thing that was done well, it would have to be the love triangle. There is enough tension between Thorin, Val and Solina. Thorin’s a real hunk. He’s more like the quiet brooding type, while Val’s the playboy flirty persona.

The premise is really interesting. I’ve never read a book based on Norse myths. The references to Thor, Loki and Odin are really interesting. My main beef is that there are inconsistencies in both plot and character. Sometimes, the dots just don’t connect.

Rating: 2 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Review: Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) by Jennifer Estep

Genre: Young Adult – Urban Fantasy


As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…


Excellent and fun. This is book 2 to Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series. For those who haven’t heard of this yet, book 1 can be found here.

The story is set in an urban setting wherein people have Talents or special abilities such as extra Strength, Sight, Speed, etc. The city is ruled by the Families that have most power. The heroine, Lila is now a part of the Sinclair family, as bodyguard to the heir apparent. And this time, there’s a tournament between the Families to see who the most skilled fighter is. Obviously, our heroine is chosen to compete.

It was such a fun read. I loved the action. The politics between the families provide sufficient intrigue. And not the mention the characters, Lila is so awesome and fierce, and her Transference and SoulSight powers kick ass. We also get to know more about the other characters, and even learn a few things about Lila’s mom. Lila also gains some potential allies for when she will one day take her revenge on the one who destroyed her family.

The writing is light, fast paced and very addictive. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

Rating: 4 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

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