The Burning Bush by Kenya Wright

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: The book is set in Santeria, a caged city for supernaturals. Soon after the humans discovered the existence of supernaturals, there were the Human-Supe wars, in which the humans, with the advantage of having weapons, won. Now, throughout the world there are caged cities, where the supernaturals are contained by the humans and are allowed to lead their lives. They have their own society and rules and have also got human cops called habbies. There are two types of supernaturals, the purebloods and the mixbreeds. Lanore Vesta is a Mixie with the power to control fire, and has spent the first book in this series (Fire Baptzied) helping Rivera, a habbie, solve a murder mystery, with the help of her boyfriend Zulu and and ex-boyfriend MeShack, a were-cheetah.

In The Burning Bush, two girls have been found murdered and tied to the eponymous burning bushes. The fire is intact and the bodies are unharmed, leading Lanore and Rivera to the conclusion that this is an act involving magic. As Lanore tries to solve this mystery, she has other problems to deal with. Lanore and her friends have to try and take down a scary, age-old vampire businessman Dante Botelli. Lanore becomes involved in a dangerous turf war with disastrous consequences for all of them.

My Thoughts: Wow, I did not expect to like the book quite so much. I certainly did not expect to almost turn into a desperate fangirl waiting for the next book. Here’s what I thought:

What I liked: Let’s start with the cover; I think it’s great, and I don’t usually like the covers of most contemporary YA/urban fantasies. Most of them have pictures of girls in huge gowns or couples staring at each other. I like how this cover displays one of the key scenes in the book. The book began with a bang. I liked the action and the fact that the author has maintained a fast pace till the very end. This book gives us a much greater insight into the world of Santeria and the work put into creating an intricate world is evident throughout. Not having read much from this genre, I still couldn’t say if the concept of this world, its history and creatures are altogether unique but I do like the way it is written. The idea of Human-Supe Wars and caged cities is fascinating. The traits and behaviour of the old characters are consistent with the first book, though many back-stories are revealed, which I found interesting. The characters that are newly introduced are also well written. I liked the way the author uses this world to draw parallels with ours. There are so many underlying themes in the book, like family, race, abuse, justice. But the message is sent without making it too obvious, unlike in most books and I like the discrete symbols more than anything.

What I didn’t like: The love triangle and the throwing around of “I love you”s reminded me of Twilight (in a bad way.) I don’t think there was any other purpose of Lanore not being able to choose between MeShack and Zulu other than to attract readers (the kind who like Twilight.) It was also sort of sickening to see an otherwise uncharacteristically strong and confident woman to turn weak and desperate around both of the men. Not to mention, the fact that the only way she was ever able to say “No” to either of them was by burning them. If only the author had cut down on the mushy romance a bit, this book might have been a lot more interesting, but that might just be my opinion. Another thing I absolutely loathed was the cliffhanger ending. The only reason I avoid reading series is because there is a chance that the ending might be left hanging and I was extremely furious when I realized that this book did not have a conclusion. It is infuriating to have to wait for an entire new book to release to find out what happens next. Every book in a series should stand alone.

Thanks to that cliffhanger ending, it is no wonder that I’m going to read the next book. If you are a fan of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, I’m sure you’ll like this book. I recommend you to start reading the series too before the third book comes out! Grab your copies right here.

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

Summary (partly from here): Since
the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver
brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species. Lanore Vesta
is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens
shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire
only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop
having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress,
she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to
stop finding dead bodies in her apartment. Enlisting help from her
Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she
is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence
sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her
The book has a fast pace, it begins with action, rather than
an introduction to this new world we’re in. The characters are strong and
realistic, in that, in spite of the stereotypical traits, they do manage to
surprise you. The book deals with race and gender and discrimination in a clear
way, without overdoing any of it. I found the romance, sex and the love
triangle a bit overdone, unnecessary and irritating, but that may just be
because I don’t like romance novels. I couldn’t say the idea of this book
is different or new, because I can’t really confirm that, but it is genuine. It
makes sense and it seems complete and well thought out. It also creates a
perfect place to set a series in, with endless possibilities. I would love to
find out what happens next! 
Let me just say: this is not the kind of book that I usually
read. I can think of many people who can overlook the problems I had with it
and find it amazing. If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, urban fantasy fiction,
contemporary fiction, do make it a point to read this book – it’s one of the
better ones. For me, though, it’s both good and bad at the same time. It’s the
first book in a series, and the one thing that makes me lean more towards
calling it good, is the fact that I definitely want to read the sequel. And I hope you do too, because Book Two, titled The Burning Book is coming out in mid-September.  
You can buy Fire Baptized (Book One) here. Go read it before the next one comes out! For more reviews, visit Goodreads.