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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Royal Street & River Road by Suzanne Johnson (Blog Tour)

Royal Street


Sentinels of New Orleans Series, #1


by Suzanne Johnson


Publisher: Tor Books (April 2012)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult
Format: eBook (337 pages)
Source: Blog Tour
Purchase: Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 stars)
Summary
As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.
Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

At A Glance
The characters were awesome but half of the time I was bored.

The Good
I loved the concept of Royal Street. Having the normal world and the Beyond, which is another dimension where historical undead people remain alive and can cross over to the real world and interact, was a fun idea. I also found reading about New Orleans pre and post Hurricane Katrina to be interesting and informative. The wizard and magical element was refreshing for an urban fantasy novel.

Drusilla Jaco (DJ), a wizard, is charged with finding her mentor, Gerry, after he disappeared after Katrina. With the help of Alex, an enforcer for the wizards, and his flirty cousin Jake, DJ finds the mystery of Gerry and the ritualistic killings sprouting up post-Katrina to be a hard nut to crack.

DJ was a fun character. She's not like most urban fantasy heroines. She doesn't know how to use a gun and she isn't the best at fighting. She may have her wizardry skills, but they are limited. DJ is more about the funny. She has a great personality and strong loyalty. Her empathetic abilities really play a big part in her life and has shaped who she is today.

Alex is all around awesome. He is tough, sexy, and hilarious when he wants to be. He takes rules very seriously and doesn't let anything faze him. Except for DJ. I loved watching his resolve fracture a little when Jake comes into the picture. Jake is so freaking charming it's ridiculous. And he just loves pushing Alex's buttons by flirting with DJ. Then we have Jean, who is both scary but sexy. He is also violent, but what can you expect from a pirate? His character really interested me.

The action was good and each and every character felt well fleshed out. I loved the setting and the drama that came along with it. Who doesn't love New Orleans?

The Bad
I felt like for half the book we were being told what was happening instead of shown. And most of that stuff was so boring or unnecessary. I could easily put this book down. Very slow pacing.

This is a tiny bit spoilery...you've been warned. So DJ finds this magical staff. She can use it to pump up her natural power and to zap people. It's pretty cool. And she uses it like 2 times. *head...desk* I don't know about you but if I had this kickass staff that stops the bad guys I would use it more often.

The plot was a little all over the place for me. Too many things happening all at once. Some storylines could have been cut out to make everything more streamline.

The ending was just okay for me. I didn't feel the excitement or fear like I should.

The Snuggly
I actually liked this love triangle because it wasn't really a love triangle. Alex and Jake are both hot in their own ways. Alex is serious, hardcore, and deadly. Jake is laid back, easy to talk to, and flirtatious. Both obviously have feelings for DJ and DJ likes them back, but there is no hardcore pursuit. Just flirtatious friendship building.

There is no sex, but there is kissing and touching.

Final Thoughts
It really is too bad that the pacing was slow and half the book was boring, because the other half was pretty good. This is the kind of series you want to give another chance though. Which I did. So make sure to read my review of the second book below. Recommended if you don't mind a slow kind of urban fantasy.
Quotes
“I always hated it when TV reporters stuck a microphone in the faces of people who'd just lost a home or a loved one, wanting to know how they felt. They felt like shit. They hurt, and they didn't know how they were going to get through the night. They wanted to scream and cry and hit the guy with the microphone.”  


"I know you think I'm hot.' Then the grin faded. 'Of course, you think Jake's hot, too, and Jean Lafitte, who's not even alive. You're really screwed up, you know that?"

River Road


Sentinels of New Orleans Series, #2


by Suzanne Johnson


Publisher: Tor Books (Nov. 2012)
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult
Format: eBook (336 pages)
Source: Blog Tour
Purchase: Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★½☆ (3.5 stars)
Summary
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.
Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

At A Glance
Johnson knows how to write characters you love easily. I just wish there were less boring parts.

The Good
I will admit, River Road was better than Royal Street. I felt like the characters were more fluid. And with a stable setting, the plot felt more structured. I LOVED the addition of merfolk and nymphs. The more supernatural creatures, the better.

Now that the borders between the Beyond and our world have fallen, supernatural creatures are starting to make their home in present day New Orleans. When someone starts poisoning the water, making the merpeople sick, and wizards start showing up dead, DJ and Alex have to work together to find the culprit or supernatural war number two is about to break out.

DJ handles herself even better this time around. She is still a little reckless and still doesn't know how to shoot a gun, but her elven staff is all she needs to protect herself. She is still hopelessly attracted to the same dangerous men. But that's okay, it makes things so much more interesting. I love how DJ's mind works in this book. She focuses on her responsibilities and doesn't let up until it's all over.

Alex has become a little more laid back. He is still sexy as hell and still a stickler for rules, but I can see that stick being slowly removed from his butt. Jake is a whole other person in River Road. His life has changed the most since Royal Street, and not for the better. He spends most of this book fighting his new demons. Jean is oh so yummy still. But we now see a softer more romantic side of this pirate. He is more actively perusing DJ and that makes for some entertaining encounters. I also loved the addition of the surly mermen. They have much hate for the wizards which makes DJ's life even more complicated.

I think the plot was much better than the first book and had more interesting moments. The writing even flowed better. This book felt like a real urban fantasy. The ending was way more satisfying too.

The Bad
This was better than the first book but I still found myself getting bored quite often.

This book is set three years after Royal Street. But none of the characters have really grown, nothing much has happened. It feels like days later, not years. The time skip felt off to me.

The Snuggly
Though I love Alex, Jake, and even Jean, I think it's pushing it to have three men going after DJ. I loved Alex's jealously toward Jean though. Those parts made me laugh. Though I do feel like Alex and DJ have taken a large step back in their "relationship."

No sex, but some heavy petting and kissing.

Final Thoughts
If River Road is any indication of the series, I think it's going to get better and better each book. It wasn't perfect by far. Still boring in a lot of spots. But definitely an improvement. Recommended to urban fantasy lovers.
Quotes
“Until you stop dating the undead Pirate Of The Caribbean, you have no room to laugh.“


"Strong hands slipped over her shoulders as Alex joined us, standing so close, I could feel his body heat radiating up my back….He squeezed my shoulders a little hard for it to be a show of solidarity. I’d probably have bruises. He was marking his territory."
Author Bio
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities.  She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis' birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.


 

26 comments:

  1. I agree that River Road was better than Royal Street, really gives us something to look forward to with Elysian Fields. Better and better. Thanks for the reviews. Team D.J.

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    1. I sure hope Elysian Fields is even better. :)

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  2. I liked the world that Suzanne created. Especially the mers.

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  3. I also though the book were getting better and better, i do love this series and want book 3!

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    1. I agree. I can totally see this series getting better and better.

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  4. I am looking forward to the third book. Team Alex! (But Jean has a special place in my heart too!)

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  5. I'm glad you liked the characters and that the second one was better than the first. Shame you were bored so much though :(

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    1. I know, I wanted to like it more, but I couldn't help but be bored often.

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  6. I sense a theme, awesome characters with otherwise boring parts.

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  7. i haven't read these books yet. thanks for the reviews :)

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  8. I flat out loved these cupcake and while I am glad you enjoyed them, and especially book two I feel bad that you were bored. I kind of expect the world building to slow the pace down in book one of a new series, so maybe that's why I didn't feel it...plus I was kind of gaga over the setting..LOL. I am stoked for book three. Great review!

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    1. I agree, the setting was amazing. I so wish I wasn't bored. I don't really even know why. I guess something that just happens.

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  9. I love that with UF, it does seem to get better book by book in the series. It doesn't work that way in other genres usually. The mention of her not being a usual Urban Fantasy heroine is interesting to me. I'm very curious about her staff. I like the grittiness of the covers as well as the thought of the setting in New Orleans. I really enjoyed reading your reviews :D Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

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    1. I really love when books are set in New Orleans. I will for sure continue this series. And I agree, UF does tend to get better book by book.

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  10. Thanks for the honest reviews

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  11. oooh I still haven't read this series yet! I don't know how I feel about the 3 year leap right in the second book but I'm sure there must be a reason. Thanks for your reviews!

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    1. I am wondering if the three year thing has to do with how long it took New Orleans to rebuild after Katrina? Not sure.

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  12. Great review!!! I appreciate the honesty in the review. Perhaps this is a series that builds and gets better with each book. Melody @ JC's Book Haven.

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    1. I sure hope so. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. Too bad that you did not like these books. But that is a good sign that book was better than book 1. How often does that ever happen? I so often read an amazing book 1 and then book 2 falls flat. Still 3/5 stars and 3.5/5 stars isn't so bad!

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    1. For some reason, I find in urban fantasy, book 2 is often better than book 1. I don't know why.

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