Tour’s Books Blog

November 13, 2010

Paranormal and Urban Fantasy – New and Old

Well, that whole reading challenge thing was good for something.  It got a bunch of books, mostly mystery and paranormals out of my to-be-read mountain of books and out the door.  I was also in a bunch of other swaps and had even more reading to do.  Alas, much of it was wasted on very average mysteries.  Not a fan of anthologies, I did find one I sincerely like and it’s coming out in mass market – Must Love Hellhounds.  I also found the first book of a new series which gets two thumbs up from me, Grave Witch plus and old favorite returns with his best book so far with Werewolf Smackdown.  So, here are some reviews recent reads.

  • Title: Grave Witch
  • Author:  Kalayna Price
  • Type:  Paranormal – UF; Alex Craft Book #1
  • Genre:  A witch of limited power who chats with Death comes into her own hunting a serial soul stealer
  • Sub-genre:  Combination mystery, adventure and self discovery
  • My Grade: B+ (4.2*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel 90,000 words for $6.99; discounts available
  • Where Available:  book available at any bookstore
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

Grave Witch was an impulse buy and one of my better ones.  I’d not heard of Kalayna Price, so this new to me author was quite a pleasant surprise.   Perhaps the single most impressive part, she caught me by surprise with one of her ending twists.

Welcome to America after the Fae have revealed themselves in an effort to prevent their fading away.  Alex Craft, formerly Alexis Caine,  is the disowned daughter of one of the leaders of the city of Nekros City, a member of Humans First Party, one that openly disdains witches.  When his eldest daughter displayed talent at an early age, John Caine sent her away to a private witches academy where she barely managed simple spells, but she did have one special talent, she could raise and speak with the souls of the dead.  She also saw and occasionally chatted with Death himself, a good-looking Death who just did his job collecting souls.  Alex now also consults for the police department and is due in court on a murder case where the soul of the murdered person will testify at the trial of her killer, all thanks to her gift.  Then her long estranged sister Christie calls.  The body of the Governor Theodor Coleman, vice-presidential hopeful, has been found murdered and Christie wants Alex to speak with his soul to make sure their father, the Lieutenant Governor now Governor, is not involved.

Alex contacts police detective friend John Matthews and arranges to see the body of Coleman off the record in exchange for a favor on a murdered girl  he needs help with.  But nothing is as it seems.  Coleman’s body might be in the morgue, but not his soul.  And Alex can see strange writing all over him, writing no one else can see.  And there’s an anxious ghost who obviously wants her attention.  They all do, that’s why she hates morgues.  The young murder victim is something else entirely, a tortured soul that’s still screaming.   Detective Falin Andrews interrupts John and Alex.  He has the Coleman case and no one is to mess with it.  As they leave the building, Death shoves Alex down the steps as a shot rings out.  John is hit instead.  Falin and Alex find they need to partner up to uncover a serial killer who’s been stealing bodies.

Ms Price does a good good job with her characters, her twisting plot, and motives as Alex learns about herself and she and Falin slowly develop a tentative trust and respect.  Clues come from unlikely places, including the ghost from the morgue, who turns chatty and seem to not mind hanging around now that he found Alex.  I found Death one of the more characters and I look forward to just how Ms Price develops him.  The one element I found a bit lacking was a physical sense of Nekros City.  While certain buildings and such worked, I couldn’t get a feel for the geography to put some of the events in place spatially, both for the city itself and how it related to the country in general, other than not being not too far from Atlanta.  A small thing thing, but a problem that crops up in a lot of invented cities, though Jennifer Estep does a pretty good job of it in her Elemental Assassin series.

Grave Witch is a clever and interesting read with a well paced plot, good characters, and very readable writing style.  Told in the first person, Alex is good narrator and a mature, engaging, intelligent guide.  I liked her and liked the story itself.  For me it was a winner and will go my list of series to follow.

Is Grave Witch worth $6.99?  You bet!!!!  Fans of the Gin Blanco and Persephone Alcmedi series will enjoy this one.

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  • Title: Werewolf Smackdown
  • Author:  Mario Acevedo
  • Type:  Paranormal – Mystery series; Felix Gomez Vampire Detective
  • Genre:  Felix gets hired by Charleston werewolves to solve a problem
  • Sub-genre:  The death of an old lover turns a refused job into a vendetta
  • My Grade: B (4*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel 90,000 words for $14.99; discounts available; mmpb available Nov 30 $7.99
  • Where Available:  book available at any bookstore
  • FTC Disclosure:  Acquired through and online book swapping site

I started reading the Felix Gomez series about the time the third book was published.  Of everything he did, my personal favorite remained X-Rated Bloodsuckers, book 2 of the series.  Several of the books were kind of lame in my opinion, but Werewolf Smackdown was the best in the series so far.

Felix Gomex, veteran of the Iraqi war and vampire, is now a detective in Denver, Colorado.  On occasion, he finds himself working for the Arenum, a kind of ruthless vampire governing body.  Vamps have little to do with shifters, neither liking the other, but Eric Bourbon, a Charleston lawyer and werewolf clan alpha calls Felix in and asks him to kill his competition for the open slot of territory alpha, Randolph Calhoun the alpha of the rival Charleston clan.  Felix refuses.  He’s a detective, not a hit man.  Besides, vamps and weres stay out of each others business and no way is he getting involved in werewolf politics.  Not even $50,000 could tempt him.  But he has the rest of the money that Bourbon sent and plans to spend a few days enjoying Charleston.

Plans go awry when two vamps try to kill him by dropping a giant stone crab on him and get even more bizarre when Calhoun more or less kidnaps him tell him ‘the other side of the story.’  Then things get worse as repeated attempts on Felix’s life keep happening, from both werewolves and vamps.  Felix is convinced that  vamp attacks are an old enemy from X-Rated Bloodsuckers, crooked cop and vamp Julius Paxton.  Is he working with one of the werewolves and putting the Great Secret – the existence of supernatural beings in the world – at risk, or worse trying to reveal it and set off a war with humans?  When his old lover, a dryad, now a spy for the Arenum watching the werewolf packs, is murdered, it turns very personal.

Between getting away from would be killers, having some innocent bystanders victims of Paxton, double crossing vamps and weres, and having a fling with a werewolf, Felix is kept really busy staying alive and finding his nemesis – and Paxton’s allies.  A long book that never lags, this is by far the best that Mario Acevedo has written in the series.  His werewolves were especially well done and grounded the story far better than some of his more flight of fancy ‘aliens’ that never quite seem to work for me.   Werewolf Smackdown blends elements of Jim Butcher’s classic Harry Dresden, Marc Del Falco’s Connor Grey, and Robert B Parker’s wise cracking tough guy PI Spenser with a dash of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Is Werewolf Smackdown worth $14.99 sold as $10.27?  Yes – and at $7.99 YES!!!!!!!!!!  Noir with claws, fangs, and fur.

*************************************************

  • Title: Must Love Hellhounds
  • Author:  Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook
  • Type:  Paranormal – 4 novellas that have a hellhound in them
  • Genre:  Mixed – UF, fantasy, paranormal romance, angels
  • Sub-genre:  True paranormal
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  4 novellas 90,000 words; mmpb available $7.99 as of Sept 2010; discounts available
  • Where Available:  book available at any bookstore
  • FTC Disclosure:  Acquired trade paperback through and online book swapping site

I’m generally no fan of anthologies, but on occasion, they work.  In Must Love Hellhounds, the stories themselves share only one common element, at some point there is a hellhound.  Charlaine Harris wrote a novella in The Britlingers Go to Hell about 2 female bodyguards taking a client to hell to retrieve a magical sphere he stole from Satan.  Amusing bantering, entertaining, and it moves along at a good though the tunnels get a bit boring.  It does press credulity when she adds Amelia Erhart to the captives.  Still a cut above the usual anthology fare.

Nalini Singh’s Angel’s Judgment left too many unanswered questions for my taste, though again, it moved quickly, had good, snappy dialogue and read like an action romance with a touch of suspense.  Then came Magic Mourns where the secondary characters from her Magic series, Raphael and Andrea, get to solve their own crime.  This was more a UF style story and my personal favorite and a nice balance of paranormal romance and UF.  Finally was Meljean Brook’s Blind Spot became my stumbling block.  I couldn’t seem to get into it for some reason, perhaps just overload of styles hit.  It seemed good enough and if I had more time I would have gone back and likely finished it, but the book was taken in a swap and I had to mail it out, so this story is not part of my book rating.

Few anthologies have real gems, but this did have solid, quality novellas that were long enough to be worthwhile reads.  The jumps in style and content means it’s best read  piecemeal.  A good choice for paranormal lovers who like reading a whole story in one sitting and never have enough time for a whole novel.  This gives you 4 nights of entertainment  – a complete story each nite.

Is Must Love Hellhounds worth $7.99?  If you like the novella format then this is about as good as you’ll find, with more substance than the usual ultra light fare served up in most anthologies.

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4 Comments »

  1. Hi
    Kalayna Price also writes the successful NOVELS OF HAVEN series for my small press. I’d love to send you a review galley for the first two series titles (a third book is coming out this winter.)

    All best, Deb Smith, Editor.
    http://www.bellbridgebooks.com
    editor@bellebooks.com

    Comment by Deb Smith — November 14, 2010 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

    • I’ll be in touch and thanks for the offer.

      Comment by toursbooks — November 22, 2010 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  2. I’m reading Once Bitten now — get a copy from Deb and read it. 😀

    Comment by ming — December 1, 2010 @ 1:56 am | Reply

  3. If I remember correctly Bell Bridge promoted through NetGalley

    Comment by ming — December 1, 2010 @ 1:58 am | Reply


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