[Book Review] Girl meets cyborg, starts a war

Book Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

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A mercenary running from a past she can’t remember, a renegade scientist running from a past he can’t forget. What more can you ask for? Throw in a double-cross, explosions, hacking, cyberpunk shenanigans, plenty of heat, and you got something.

It’s a fun read, light on the plot, good with the pacing, with a kind of space opera romance vibe without the space part (well, mostly). It’s a partners-to-lovers story with sizzling romance that builds on the characters’ long history of working and relying on each other. Continue reading

[Book Review] Clocks, souls, and a bunch of pissed off werewolves

Shade Chaser by Clara Coulson

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In the last book, we had rookie detective Calvin Kinsey take on an ancient, angry god-entity as it tried to murder its way through Aurora, Michigan. In Shade Chaser, murder and mayhem are afoot once again. When the former mayor, prominent city witch, and a local ware wolf are found brutally murdered in the basement of a popular city bar, it’s up to Cal and his gang of elite investigators to unravel an interspecies conspiracy.

Things (and buildings) continue to explode all over the place. Bodies are discovered in unexpected places. Cal continues to make questionable life choices. Continue reading

[Book Review] Will the real Sherlock Holmes please stand up?

Book Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

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“With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.”

This is definitely a What If book. What If Conan Doyle’s famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes was actually a woman? The rest of the book flows from that premise.

I am a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan. Seriously, I’ve read and watched ’em all. And in this new addition to the Sherlockian multiverse, all my favorite characters from the series make their reimagined appearance. There’s Lady Holmes, but also a new Watson and Mrs. Hudson. A new version of the inspector, a bare hint of archenemy Moriarty, and an intriguing Mycroft-based character who promises to play a larger role in the sequel.

A Study in Scarlet Women is also one of the few books I’ve read told from the perspective of Holmes, rather than the average-minded Watson. Here, though, we get an inexperienced Holmes, trying to break into the detective business in a world that is not forgiving to women who try to make their respectable, independent way in it. She is also liable to make terrible, silly mistakes when the world – and people! – do not conform to her logical expectations of them. Continue reading

[Book Review] Short stories and Shadowed Souls

Book Review: Shadowed Souls, edited by Kerrie L. Hughes & Jim Butcher

Shadowed Souls.jpgThis has been a great month for short story collections and Urban Fantasy. I just finished Patricia Briggs’ Shifting Shadows, a collection of stories from her Mercy Thompson werewolf world, when this book popped up on my radar. Shadowed Souls. Am I on a short-story-collections-that-have-‘Shadow”-in-their-title kick? Seems so!

So Shadowed Souls. Where do I start? How about with the list of authors:

Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, Anton Strout, Kat Richardson, Kevin J Anderson, Lucy A. Snyder, Jim C. Hines, Erik Scott de Bie, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Rob Thurman.  Just writing out all these author names is setting my heart aflutter all over again. The stories span the entire spectrum of mood and tone, from playful banter and zany world-building, to chilling darkness and regret. Continue reading

[Book Review] Chats with dead people never end well

Canaries, I’m going to need your book recommendations. This is a third or fourth urban fantasy in the last couple weeks whose opening had me clutching a five-star rating only to lose it somewhere among the pages. The clock struck midnight and, lo and behold, the glittering plot turned into a pumpkin and the supporting cast into squeaky mice.

Maybe it’s time to shift genres again. Maybe I want more lit in my genre fiction. Maybe my grandmother lost patience and did some Eastern European voodoo to punish me for not becoming a doctor.

“Oh, you waste life on book blog? I make all book you read taste like bad borscht. ALL BOOK.”

Continue reading

[Book Review] A junkyard underdog in my military space opera

Vick’s Vultures by Scott Warren

Another tasty space opera treat from the book universe.

Vick's Vultures.pngVictoria Marin, privateer and captain of the salvage spaceship Condor, is in the red and in danger of losing her ship if she can’t locate fresh salvage and bring home some new xenotech for profit. It seems too good to be true when her crew catch a distress signal in nearby space. What she finds there, though, is a drifting wreck and an inconvenient survivor – First Prince Tavram, heir apparent to one of the largest and most powerful empires in known space. And there’s a deadly, powerful warlord from an opposing empire hot on his trail.

Vick’s Vultures is a space opera in the military spirit of Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series and David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, with the alien species density per planet of the Star Trek universe.  It’s light on description, great with the action, and tight on the military maneuvers. And unlike the genre’s ubiquitous young, untested commander persona who has to figure things out as crisis looms, we get Captain Victoria, a veteran with a loyal, established team, ready to rumble with the universe. Continue reading

[Book Review] When the main character moonlights as a story framing device

[Book Review] When the main character moonlights as a story framing device

Devil’s Daughter by Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s this: Devil’s Daughter reads closer to Christian fiction than Urban Fantasy. While the story takes some liberties with the religious mythology, it stays true to its themes of redemption and love, what it means to be a good person, the danger of good intentions and shortcuts, the power of choice. You know, the works.

With that out of the way, back to the story:

“Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life human and immortal.

In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer s service.

Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes.”

After reading that blurb, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this story is all about Lucinda’s struggle against Lucifer and quest to figure out where she stands, all culminating in a grand standoff during which she singlehandedly saves the world.

That’s what I thought too, so let me stop you right there. Continue reading