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Book Review: Beverly Hills Demon Slayer by Angie Fox (Series, #6)

September 24, 2014 3 comments

A woman holding a sword stands near a dog wearing star sunglasses.Summary:
Lizzie and Dimitri are back from their honeymoon and are all moved in to their new California oceanfront home.  Lizzie is loving married life, even if she has to deal with keeping her talking dog Pirate’s pet dragon out of trouble.  But one night someone dumps a purgatory creature on their beach, and their search for who did it and why leads Lizzie right back to two of her worst nemeses: a big bad demon and her birth father.

Review:
I was really excited to be able to get an advanced reading copy of this book, since I’ve been a fan of the series from book one.  I also was happy to see that Fox wasn’t going to stop the series just because Lizzie got married.  I think more urban fantasy needs to acknowledge that you don’t have to be single or have a dramatic love life in order to be bad-ass.  This book demonstrates quite well that just because Lizzie got married doesn’t mean that the series will stagnate.

The book’s strength is its opening sequences demonstrating Lizzie’s married life, as well as the first time we see the biker witches’ new permanent digs.  Both show that while everyone is still the characters we first met and fell for, they are also progressing and changing as their life situations change.  The scenes of Lizzie and Dimitri’s new married life are a pleasure to read, seeing them settled into being a partnership and Pirate accepting of the fact that he is now banned from the bedroom.  It’s also pretty hilarious to see them trying to hide the supernatural from their homeowner’s association.  Similarly, the biker witches are still quirky and funny but now they have made a real home out of a motel, including a surprisingly beautiful magical courtyard out back.  These are the characters we love in new situations, and it’s quite well done.

The plot is a bit meh this time around.  We’ve seen this big bad demon multiple times before, as well as the problems with Lizzie’s birth family.  It feels a bit like a recycled plot, in spite of some of the finer details being different.  I think it’s high time Lizzie gets a new big bad to fight.  Additionally, I think a lot of readers will have a problem with the direction the plot goes at the end of the book.  Fox pulls up this thing that is earth-shattering to readers, and should be to the characters, but they kind of just brush it off and don’t really deal with the consequences.  I’m hoping that they will in the next book, but even if they do, it’s still a rough plot for this book.  It starts out ho-hum as something we’ve seen before then in the final third goes suddenly off the rails in a direction a lot of readers won’t like.  Kind of a difficult plot to deal with when it’s wrapped in such cute characters, scenes, and overarching series developments.

*spoilers*
For those who’ve read it, I seriously question the plot having Lizzie kill Pirate with such vehemence when she’s possessed, only to have him brought right back to life.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the idea of having Lizzie possessed after all of her loved ones were possessed by the same demon in the prior book.  That’s an interesting direction to go.  But having Lizzie actually kill Pirate? Gut-wrenching to read.  And then she faces no consequences because he is just brought back to life, and everyone instantly forgives her?  It felt like Fox ripped my heart out for no reason, and then I didn’t forgive Lizzie as fast as her family and friends seemed to.  It was a tough ending to the book.
*end spoilers

The sex scenes are the perfect level of sexy and romantic. They feel just right for newlyweds but also don’t overwhelm the plot.  One character from a prior book is explored more in-depth, and a new character is added.  I wasn’t a fan of the latter, but I enjoyed the former.

Overall, this book handles its urban fantasy heroine’s new married life quite well, balancing the romance with the fighting, dangers, and sexiness readers expect.  Some readers may be bothered by the fact that the plot starts out feeling like a do-over of previous plots, and some may be bothered by the ending of the book.  However, fans of the series should definitely pick this one up to see where Lizzie and the gang are heading, and they will be left wanting to pick up the next one as quickly as possible.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netgalley

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Previous Books in Series:
The Accidental Demon Slayer, review
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, review
A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, review
The Last of the Demon Slayers, review
My Big Fat Demon Slayer Wedding, review

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Book Review: My Big Fat Demon Slayer Wedding by Angie Fox (Series, #5)

July 24, 2014 3 comments

Woman in short wedding dress and black boots holds a sword. A dog in a bow tie is nearby.Summary:
Lizzie Brown, once preschool teacher turned demon slayer, is extremely excited to be marrying her true love, Dimitri Kallinikos, who just so happens to also be a magical shape-changing griffin.  And she’s also fine with letting her adoptive mother run the whole show, even though her mother wants to make the wedding into a week-long event.  She’s not so ok with having to tell her mother about being a demon slayer, though. Or about integrating her mother’s posh southern lady lifestyle with her recently discovered blood-related grandmother’s biker witch gang.  She’s pleasantly surprised that her mother found a goth-style mansion to rent for the wedding.  Maybe the magical and the non-magical can integrate fairly well, after all.  But then it becomes evident that someone in the wedding is trying to kill her.  Plus, they find demonic images around the property…..

Review:
This remains one of my most enjoyed urban fantasy series.  The world Fox has created is bright, witty, imaginative, and a real pleasure to visit, even though sometimes the main character can rub me the wrong way (she’s a bit too straight-laced for me sometimes).  Urban fantasy books can either keep the main character perpetually single or have her get married.  If they choose to get married, the wedding book winds up with a lot on its plate.  It’s hard to integrate the world of urban fantasy with the wedding scene a lot of readers enjoy reading about.  Fox achieves this integration eloquently, presenting an intriguing urban fantasy mystery, the clash of urban fantasy magical folks and real world expectations, and manages to show the wedding is about the marriage, not the party.

My main gripe with the previous book was Dimitri and Lizzie’s relationship.  Primarily that they don’t appreciate what they have, and how annoying that is.  I think the events of the previous book really snapped them out of it, because here, Lizzie and Dimitri have taken their relationship to another level.  They have a trust in and intimacy with one another that manages to withstand some pretty tough tests, and is a pleasure to read about.  It’s easy to see that this is a couple that is ready for a marriage.  It’s a healthy relationship that’s rare to see in urban fantasy.  At this point in the series, I can appreciate that Dimitri and Lizzie aren’t perfect in the earlier books.  Relationships change and grow with time, and Fox demonstrates that beautifully.  Of course, it’s still more fun to read about a happy couple than one bickering with each other over minor things.  But those hiccups in the relationship in earlier books helps make it (and the marriage) seem more real.

Similarly, Lizzie has grown with the series.  Where at first she’s annoyingly straight-laced, now she is not just starting to break out of that but is enjoying breaking out of it.  Seeing her adoptive mother pushes this issue to the forefront.  Lizzie is finally coming into her own, and she, and her loving mother, have to confront that.

[Lizzie’s mother] paused, straightened her already squared shoulders. “Is this type of style…” she waved a hand over me, “appealing to you? You look like a hooligan.” I let out a sigh. “Try biker.” (page 16)

Whereas this confrontation between Lizzie and her mother could have led to the mother looking like a bad guy, Fox leaves room for Lizzie’s mom to be different from her but still a good person and a loving parent.  They butt heads over different opinions, just as real-life parents and adult children do, but they both strive to work through them and love each other for who they are.  It’s nice to see how eloquently Fox handles that relationship, particularly with so many other plot issues going on at the same time.

The plot is a combination of wedding events and demon problems.  Both ultimately intertwine in a scene that I’m sure is part of many bride’s nightmares.  Only it really happens because this is urban fantasy.  How Fox wrote the plots to get to that point is enjoyable, makes sense, and works splendidly.  The climax perfectly demonstrates how to integrate urban fantasy and real life situations.  Plus, I did not come even close to guessing the ending, which is a big deal to me as a reader.

The wit and sex scenes both stay at the highly enjoyable level that has been present throughout the series.  Dimitri and Lizzie are hot because they are so hot for and comfortable with each other.  The humor is a combination of slapstick and tongue-in-cheek dry humor that fits the world perfectly.  I actually laughed aloud quite a few times while reading the book.

Overall, this is an excellent entry in this urban fantasy series.  It tackles the wedding of the main character with a joyful gusto that leaves the reader full of wedding happiness and perhaps breathing a sigh of relief that no matter what may go wrong at their wedding, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as what can go wrong at an urban fantasy wedding.  Highly recommended to fans of the series.  You won’t be disappointed in Lizzie’s wedding, and you’ll be left eager to see her marriage.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Gift

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Previous Books in Series:
The Accidental Demon Slayer, review
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, review
A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, review
The Last of the Demon Slayers, review

Book Review: The Last of the Demon Slayers by Angie Fox (series, #4)

Female legs with sword and dog near tombstone.Summary:
Lizzie is back from Greece with her hunky griffin boyfriend, Dimitri, and the geriatric witch biker gang (not to mention her talking dog Pirate and Pirate’s pet adolescent dragon Flappy) with plans to help the witches finally set up a real home at a New Jersey biker bar after years on the run.  Of course nothing has ever gone according to Lizzie’s plans since the day she turned 30 and inherited her demon slayer powers.  Naturally, her birth father shows up in a pillar of fire begging her to help free him from a bad situation with an even badder demon in California.  Thus, Lizzie and the gang wind up following fairy trails across the country in an attempt to stop the demon, who just so happens to be out to kill demon slayers too.

Review:
Ah, this series. I have such a love/hate relationship with this series!  That’s mainly because I love everyone except Lizzie and Dimitri.  Why why is everyone else in this world so hilarious and relaxed, whereas Lizzie and Dimitri are basically THAT couple.  You know THAT couple.  They’re the ones who met each other during freshman orientation week and proceeded to have the perfect dream relationship throughout all four years of college and promptly moved in together and got engaged after.  They’re the ones where the girl whines and bitches to you about some minor fight she had with her dude during your junior year when you’ve barely slept in three days and haven’t had a date in months. THAT COUPLE.  It’s hard to root for that couple.

On the other hand, though, there’s everyone else.  The geriatric biker witches are amazeballs.  I would pay good money to have a bunch of older women like that in my life.  They’re strong, empowered, and bound and determined to live their life to the fullest no matter what society says they should be doing.  Interestingly, grandma gets a boyfriend this entry, and Lizzie is none too happy about it.  Grandma tells her unequivocally that old people have sex. Yes! What?  Lizzie is the only one who should be making everyone eye-roll with her sexy antics?  I think not.

Then of course there’s Pirate and Flappy.  Hilarious animal characters hit my heart *right here*.  I would put up with almost anything just to see Pirate trying to train Flappy to sit.  Seriously.  Fox has a real talent for writing animal dialogue that is believable without being too sophisticated.  It’s clear she has some critters in her life.  For instance, Pirate runs up to Lizzie excited to see her yelling “Lizzie! Lizzie! Lizzie!” and then proceeds to beg for food.  Typical doggy.

The plot definitely thickens in this entry.  I’m not sure I’m totally happy with how it has.  Essentially, it turns out there are actually more demon slayers, and as a Buffy fan, this just irritated me.  I don’t like being told there’s only one only to have more show up.  Either there are a lot of slayers or there aren’t.  Plus, did we really have to make the new slayer so feminine?  Lizzie is already a pretty extraordinarily feminine slayer.  It’d be nice to have some variety.  On the other hand, the rest of the plot of the supernatural world is interesting.  There’s Lizzie’s father plus a visit to purgatory.  I’m betting that the next entry will start to confront the presence of “good” supernatural creatures, since we’ve now visited hell and purgatory.  If Dante taught me anything, it’s that that leaves only one place to go.

It’s interesting how I can’t stop reading this series even though I can’t seem to make up my mind how much I like it.  I’ve rated entries everywhere from 3.5 to 5 stars.  I think in general the experience of the hilarious side-kicks and minor characters off-sets the annoying main couple enough that I can kinda sorta mostly ignore them.  There’s also always the hope that they’ll break up, which I root for in every book.

Overall, if you’ve stuck with the series this far, you’ll enjoy this entry.  It takes the focus off the griffins and puts it back on Lizzie and her biological family.  The ever-expanding cast of characters all fit together smoothly and hilariously.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Previous Books in Series:
The Accidental Demon Slayer, review
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, review
A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, review

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Book Review: A Tale of Two Demon Slayers by Angie Fox (Series, #3)

December 6, 2010 4 comments

Summary:
Lizzie is ready for a vacation what with having spent the last month first saving her grandmother from the second level of hell and then saving Las Vegas from a hoard of succubi.  Plus lying around on the beach in Greece with her hunky Griffin boyfriend, Dimitri, sounds like quite the treat.  Of course, nothing in Lizzie’s new life ever goes as smoothly as planned. Their arrival in Greece leads to the discovery that someone has stolen something from Dimitri.  Something intertwined with Lizzie and that has put the whole Helios Griffin clan in danger.

Review:
Due to the title and the various repercussions so far to Lizzie sharing her demon slayer nature with Dimitri, I expected this book to deal with that.  Actually, the story it told was far more engaging and interesting.  Can Dimitri with his classical European family of tradition work in a relationship with Lizzie and her globe-trotting work and crazy motorcycle gang witch family?

Although the situations surrounding this romance are highly paranormal, the relationship itself is very normal.  Lizzie struggles to trust in Dimitri’s love for her, let alone allow him to love her.  Dimitri struggles to find balance between his life and family and Lizzie.  It gives a heart to the overall action and story that was missing in the other volumes.

The paranormal aspects are stronger this time around too.  The paranormal world seems to mesh together in a better way.  The addition of more animals besides Pirate make for a more entertaining menagerie.  Dimitri in particular is more fleshed out now that we see his family and where he comes from.  New characters too are well-drawn, particularly Lizzie’s new teacher.

Fox manages to avoid common paranormal romance cliches this time around, although at first the reader thinks she is falling into them.  This combined with drastically improved sex scenes, the better characterization, and the addition of a real world heart to the story makes for a far better tale overall.  I’m glad the humor in the previous two books kept me around for this one.

Overall, this is an excellent example of everything paranormal romance should be–colorful characters, believable paranormal circumstances, the heart of the story relatable to real world circumstances, good sex scenes, and plot twists that manage to avoid cliches.  It is thoroughly entertaining, and I highly recommend it to all paranormal romance lovers.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
The Accidental Demon Slayer, review
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, review