[Book Review] Magic, mayhem, and other stuff they didn’t cover in the police academy.

Soul Breaker by Clara Coulson

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YES. The book gods have heard my whining and sent me this book. Shout it from the rooftops, it’s urban fantasy with plot.

Detective Calvin Kinsey is  a rookie in a paranormal investigative branch of the police force –a pseudo hush-hush operation in charge of catching supernatural criminals of the werewolf, vampire, and nonhuman sort. Calvin’s first murder case, though,  puts him in a face-off against an ancient and angry entity slashing and burning its way through the city, one victim at a time.

Oh, where to start with this one. I love books I can’t predict, and Soul Breaker delivered. The mystery in Soul Breaker is mysterious, melodrama is kept low-key, the investigation isn’t solved with some nonsense handwaving, and the fight scenes are gritty, fast, and unexpected. There a dash of romance, plenty of desperation in the face of overwhelming odds, and some inter-species politicking.

From chapter one, the book launches you into a well-paced, quick-moving, non-stop suspense. A thoughtful main character who’s not above the frequent blunder, Calvin joins Harry Dresden in my short list of favorite Urban Fantasy heroes who just can’t catch a break.

Beyond my relief and delight at finding this lovely bit of urban fantasy though, one canary did get knocked off the reading perch for the stiff dialogue. Let’s face it, when the narration sounds more natural than anything spoken out loud, that’s a problem. Another canary flew the coop over some odd characterization choices. But then it came back, because the non-stop suspense was just that good and it couldn’t resist.

 

Canary verdict:

I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

Book provided for review by the author.

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[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.”

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Today’s Book Blurb: Life is hard

Oh the puns. The puns. They’re daring me to pick this book up off the shelf.

Must. Resist.

 

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“Suddenly desperate, the inexperienced ex-rich girl was forced to take the only job she could get: as a tour guide in a cemetery. But a grave situation took a turn for the worse when a head-on collision with a headstone left her with an unwanted ability to communicate with the disgruntled deceased . . . and now Pepper has a whacked Mafia don demanding that she hunt down his killers — and threatening to haunt her until she does.”

– Don of the Dead (Pepper Martin #1) by Casey Daniels

[Book Review] Not your grandmother’s San Diego: Dogs, dragons, and shady dealings

Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

Wowza. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed an urban fantasy novel that packed this kind of punch.

Here’s the setup. Kai is a Stalker, a freelance mercenary who hunts down deadly magical beasties for a bounty, in a California where our world and the fae world merged and magic and technology exists side by side. When a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego to set up his own Court, Kai is strong-armed into doing a job for him. It’s supposed to be a simple escort run up the coast, but becomes something so much more as Kai’s secrets, sidhe politics, and family feuds collide.

Looks like Black Dog Blues was Ford’s first foray into fantasy, and it’s a gorgeous, action-packed piece of work. This book hits all the right notes for me. An alternative modern day world that combines high tech with magic, a main character with terrible secrets and a brutal past he’s trying to escape, fast-paced action, dangerous and deadly monsters, vicious plotting, magic, smart dialogue, clever characters, an array of possible romantic entanglements, and some painful questions of identity, family and humanity. Continue reading

[Book Review] World-ending conspiracies and much romantic subplotting

Unhidden (The Gatekeeper #1) by Dina Given

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Oomph.

Here’s the premise. You’re Emma Hayes, mercenary, ex-soldier, ex-foster kid, loner who lost her family – and memory – in a car crash ten years ago. You’ve made something of yourself, served in the army, built your own business, and life’s pretty good.

And then you learn that everything you thought was a lie. You’re not Emma. You’re probably not even human.

Amnesia? Check. Quippy banter in the face of death? Check. Government conspiracies? Uh-huh. Evil Supernatural Baddies? Yup. Handsome blokes with mysterious agendas? Check. Continue reading

[Book Review] Snake Agent – best book ever.

Once every blue reading moon there comes a book that renews my faith in a genre. Snake Agent by Liz Williams is that book.

“Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department’s snake agent – the detective in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations. Chen has several problems: in addition to colleagues who don’t trust him and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended and a demonic wife who’s tired of staying home alone, he’s been paired with one of Hell’s own vice officers, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls.

Political pressures both Earthly and otherworldly seek to block their investigations at every turn. As a plot involving both Singapore Three’s industrial elite and Hell’s own Ministry of Epidemics is revealed, it becomes apparent that the stakes are higher than anyone had previously suspected.”

– description from Goodreads

Gorgeous cover.

Isn’t the old cover gorgeous?

Oh man. Where do I start? I’m gonna try to write a coherent review, but this all would be so much easier if I could just fill the page with heart gifs and exclamation marks. Continue reading

Indie Book Review: Hell’s Belle by Karen Greco

Hell's Belle (Hell's Belle, #1)

Half-vampire Nina Martinez is a member of an elite secret team of government agents tasked with policing the secret underworld of magical creatures – vampires, banshees, demons, witches – and keeping their existence quiet. On the side, she helps her aunt with her bar and finds herself flirting with Max, bar regular and FBI agent.

But witches are being murdered in her town, and an old enemy has resurfaced. Nina has to navigate all her double lives – Max’s human investigation into the murders, Nina’s job as a government agent, the age-old mystery surrounding the death of Nina’s parents, and the threat of an assassin who is still hunting Nina after 30 years.

But here’s the thing, canaries. This isn’t really an urban fantasy detective story with a military edge, and it doesn’t really deal with a government agency trying to protect the world from evil. In fact, it’s more a kind of coming-of-age story for half-vampire Nina as she realizes almost everything she’d known about herself and her parent’s deaths was a lie and has to navigate the clumsy attentions of two hunky dudes as Mr. Baddie tries to kill her.

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