Badass Best of 2014: Urban Fantasy

Best of 2014

Welcome to the Badass Best of 2014. We are once again kicking off the lists with urban fantasy! Take a look below for our ten favorite UFs that we read this year (in no particular order) that were published in 2014 and a few honorable mentions just to be on the safe side.  Don’t forget to tell us about your favorites from this year in the comments!

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Best of UF

 UF Books

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews (Book #7 in Kate Daniels) || Published July 29th 2014 by Ace ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate. As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Why We Love It: The cast of characters is like no other in the urban fantasy world. The lead couple, Kate and Curran, are both badass.  Kate is absolutely amazing in her magical abilities and Curran is, well, let’s just say he takes our breath away. The huge supporting cast is wonderfully eclectic with all kinds of characters that add a twist of humor, danger, and even more badassery.  We finally met Kate’s father in this book and it did not play out like we expected; it was so much better! The Andrews duo always keeps us on our toes.

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs (Book #8 in Mercy Thompson) || Published March 11th 2014 by Ace ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right. Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy. Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Why We Love It: Our favorite part of this book was how Mercy cemented her place as the pack Alpha’s mate without stooping to Adam’s ex-wife’s level.  Even though it was tempting, Mercy kept everything above board and classy.  We also love the sheer diversity of the supernatural creatures in this series; the author’s research really shows. Leave it to Ms. Briggs to come up with new and fresh supernatural lore, like that of the Guayota, in every book.

Skin Game by Jim Butcher (Book #15 in Dresden Files) || Published May 27th 2014 by Roc Hardcover ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day…. Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful. He doesn’t know the half of it…. Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever. It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry. Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….

Why We Love It: Skin Game was brilliant, amazing, and so worth the long wait (18 months!). Though this was number 15 in the Dresden Files, Jim Butcher is somehow still able to write consistent stories set in the same world he created over a deacade ago while also advancing the story line, progressing the characters, and keeping it all brilliantly interesting.

Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire (Book #3 in Incryptid) || Published March 4th 2014 by DAW ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½ || Review

Synopsis: When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious. Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone… The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner. Of course, so do the talking mice.

Why We Love It: In this book, the previous narrator, Verity Price, takes a break and her brother Alex takes over the storytelling.  Alex is a little more studious and serious than Verity, but he keeps the story fun, action-packed, and just a little flirty with the addition of his girlfriend, Shelby.  We truly enjoyed the story and always love learning more about the Baker/Price clan. This story gave us a whole new outlook on their place in cryptid society.  Oh yeah, and we all need our own church griffins now!

Cursed Moon by Jaye Wells (Book #2 in Prospero’s War) || Published August 12th 2014 by Orbit ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magical Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and everyone’s emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon’s impact is especially strong for Kate who’s wrestling with guilt over falling off the magic wagon. After a rogue wizard steals dangerous potions from the local covens, Kate worries their suspect is building a dirty magic bomb. Her team must find the anarchist rogue before the covens catch him, and make sure they defuse the bomb before the Blue Moon deadline. Failure is never an option, but success will require Kate to come clean about her secrets.

Why We Love It: We are seriously enjoying this new series from Jaye Wells! It’s completely different from the Sabina Kane books but still has the biting wit and sarcasm that we loved so much. Kate and Co. got a little darker in this book — a little more angst, a little more drama, and a whole lot of secrets. We’re intrigued to see where Kate’s new acceptance of clean magic will take her.

The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison (Book #12 in Rachel Morgan/The Hollows) || Published February 25th 2014 by Voyager ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering. Rachel must stop the occurrences before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and it becomes all-out supernatural war. However, the only way to do so is through the ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils.

Why We Love It: Yes, we know that The Witch With No Name is The Hollows book on most 2014 lists, but we actually preferred this one.  This book was undeniably strong and presented some really interesting developments in Rachel’s personal life.  Here we have a much different Rachel from when we met her in the first book. Her thought processes have changed significantly; she’s no longer a shoot first, ask questions later gal (ok, maybe just a little bit). Rachel has really become a pivot point in Inderlander society and a lightning rod for change — even becoming an emissary between the demon and elf worlds.

Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep (Book #11 in Poison Promise) || Published July 22nd 2014 by Pocket Books ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: Gin Blanco is hard-nosed, sexy, and lethal. Nicknamed “The Spider,” she’s a stone elemental assassin who brings her unique mix of magic and tact to every assignment, no matter the target. There’s a new drug on the streets of Ashland, and its name “Burn” sums up the potent effect it has on its users. When one of her restaurant employees is threatened by dealers of the drug, Gin steps in to set things straight…

Why We Love It: It’s not often that a series gets better and better with each subsequent book, but this is one such series! Reading this book was like reconnecting with old friends. We love the world that Jennifer Estep has built. The town of Ashland is corrupt, its officials are on the take, and the bad guys are vying to fill in a power vacuum – this is one interesting place. In the center of it all stands Gin Blanco, aka The Spider, a very efficient assassin and an even better cook.

The Line by J.D. Horn (Book #1 in Witching Savannah) || Published February 1st 2014 by 47North ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½ || Review

Synopsis: Mercy Taylor, the youngest member of Savannah’s preeminent witching family, was born without the gift of magic. She is accustomed to coming in a distant second to the minutes older, exquisite and gifted twin she adores. Hopelessly in love with her sister’s boyfriend, she goes to a Hoodoo root doctor for a love spell. A spell that will turn her heart to another man, the best friend who has loved her since childhood. Aunt Ginny, the family’s matriarch, would not approve. But Mercy has more to worry about than a love triangle when Aunt Ginny is brutally murdered. Ginny was the Taylor family’s high commander in the defense of the bewitched line that separates humankind from the demons who once ruled our realm. A demon invasion looms now that the line is compromised. Worse yet, some within the witching world stand to gain from a demon takeover. Mercy, entangled in the dark magic of her love spell, fighting for her sister’s trust, and hopelessly without magic, must tap the strength born from being an outcast to protect the line she doesn’t feel a part of…

Why We Love It: We loved this book and thought it was a wonderful introduction into a new Urban Fantasy world. As long-time UF readers, we are always looking for something fresh and unique and this book provided just that!  J.D. Horn created a great twist on typical witch lore and packed the world with enough sultry details to make you feel like you were in Savannah.

The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey (Book #6 in Sandman Slim) || Published August 26th 2014 by Harper Voyager ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½ || Review

Synopsis: Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude-not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer-James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil-the Wildfire Ripper-is stalking the city. No ordinary killer, The Ripper takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He’s also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. The trouble is, he’s also Stark’s worst enemy . . . the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice.

Why We Love It: Reading this series makes us wonder what really goes on in the author’s head because this is such a dark and gritty universe. The end of the world is nigh, body parts are stacking up, and once again, Stark must save the world. The very first scene with the Angra cult and the chain saws just set the tone for this book. It was gross and bloody and utterly disturbing… just how we like our Sandman Slim stories.

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews (Book #1 in Hidden Legacy) || Published October 28th 2014 by Avon ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Synopsis: Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire. Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive. Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Why We Love It: When we first heard that Ilona Andrews was planning a new series, we couldn’t stop jumping for joy. They are a Badass Book Reviews favorite author, and we were very excited to get a hold of an advance copy.  We never would have thought we could love a book as much as Kate Daniels, but this book proved us wrong!  It was so much fun to read that we all breezed right through it.  We’re crazy about Nevada and Mad Rogan and can’t wait to see what other surprises this world has in store.

 

Honorable Mentions:

UF Books HM

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop (Book #2 in The Others) || Published March 4th 2014 by Roc ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Book #2 in Cainsville) || Published August 19th 2014 by Dutton ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter (Book #1 in Crescent City) || Published May 13th 2014 by Orbit ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Shaman Rises by C.E. Murphy (Book #9 in Walker Papers) || Published June 24th 2014 by Harlequin Luna ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennett (Book #4 in Arcadia Bell) || Published May 27th 2014 by Pocket ||  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  || Review

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Other Badass Best of 2014 Lists:
Speculative Fiction
General Fiction
Romance (Part One)
Romance (Part Two)
YA & NA Romance
YA & NA Speculative Fiction
YA & NA Contemporary Fiction
Our Best Discoveries
Our Literary Slambook
Our Most Anticipated Reads of 2015

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