Today’s Book Blurb: Shark punching and Sherlock?

The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.

You don’t have to be a die hard Sherlock Holmes fan (which I am) to appreciate this blurb. (But before you read the blurb, check out the cover. For a split second, aren’t you convinced this is a story about Sherlock Octopus? Alas.)

Letter

“Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham is drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark. “

—The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

 

Canaries, what books have caught your eye recently?

 

Today’s Book Blurb: Pretty Cover Edition (again)

The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.

Okay, this is the second time in a row I’m derailing this series in favor of cover art, but seriously. This is some lovely design work. Who cares about story when you could have this on your bookshelf?

Storm

“They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift—or a curse.

But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.”

– Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

 

What books have caught your eye recently?

 

Today’s Book Blurb: Pretty Cover Edition

The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.

Who cares about book blurbs when there’s a pretty cover involved? This one’s a stunner. Sure, it’s from a third book in a series I haven’t read. But come on. Isn’t it gorgeous? (And, if you’re on Netgalley, it’s a free download.)

Chaos

“Ruxandra Dracula, a 250-year-old vampire, wants nothing to do with the fallen angel that created her. But when fellow vampire Kade tells her a group of magicians in Moscow is going to summon that angel, Ruxandra knows she must try to stop them.

In Moscow, Ruxandra finds herself caught in a web of political and supernatural intrigue. Empress Anna of Russia wants the vampires to be her spies. Her secret police have magic that is nearly impossible to defeat. A cadre of Russian nobles wants them to kill the empress.

And the Alchemist, the beautiful, whip-smart leader of the magicians, wants Ruxandra as more than just an experimental subject.

As the magicians prepare to summon the fallen angel, Ruxandra must choose: will she kill them to keep the angel from coming, or face the angel and find out her purpose on the earth?

– Mother of Chaos by John Patrick Kennedy

 

What books have caught your eye recently?

 

Today’s Book Blurb: Cuz vampires

an-unattractive-vampire

After three centuries trapped underground, thousand-year-old Yulric Bile, also known as The Cursed One, The Devil’s Apprentice, He Who Worships the Slumbering Horrors, awakens only to find that no one believes he is a vampire. Apparently he’s just too ugly. Modern vampires, he soon discovers, are pretty, weak, and, most disturbing of all, good. Determined to reestablish his bloodstained reign, Yulric sets out to correct this disgusting turn of events or, at the very least, murder the person responsible.

With the help of part vampire-wannabe Amanda; Simon, the eight-year-old reincarnation of his greatest foe; and a cadre of ancient and ugly horrors, Yulric prepares to battle the glamorous undead. But who will win the right to determine, once and for all, what it truly means to be a vampire?

– An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel

Today’s Book Blurb: The name should have tipped you off.

263176
“Broken Heart is the city with the highest rate of divorce and highest percentage of single parents in Oklahoma. And I, Jessica Matthews, have been a member of that club ever since my husband dumped me for his twentysomething secretary and then had the gall to die in a car accident. Now I’m not just a single mother trying to make ends meet in this crazy world.”
– I’m the Vampire, That’s Why (Broken Heart #1) by Michele Bardsley

[Pitch Slap] Playing chess with vampires, and other unfortunate encounters

When Vanya Ferreira sent in his short story blurb for a Pitch Slap, we hesitated. I usually don’t look at short stories, but this canary has a weakness for anything to do with vampires, so there you go. Exceptions are made. This is how civilizations end.

In 45 words, the blurb sets out to capture the essence of the story. In general, the fewer words you get, the more tempting it is to be vague – to go broad. But vague language is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It will lure you in by promising to tell the story of your book, and then turn to the reader and say nothing at all.

Resist.

The sharper your words, the less you cry, to reword a recent cooking memoir title.

Here’s what Vanya sent us:

Title: The Story of Lucius Cane

Summary: London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a peculiar vampire, comes upon an opponent the likes of which he has never seen before – a brute with remarkable abilities. But not all is as it seems as their encounter unfolds in a manner that neither of them expected.

Lots of things to like here. Immediately, we get the setting and time period, quick and tight. London, 1795. Now we know place and time, andwith the next five words – the main character’s name and genre. Historical fantasy with a vampire character.

Then, just as I’m expecting the blurb to zoom me into the story…it doesn’t.  It backs off. It goes vague.

London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a peculiar vampire, comes upon an opponent the likes of which he has never seen before – a brute with remarkable abilities. But not all is as it seems as their encounter unfolds in a manner that neither of them expected.

Interpretation: Mr. Vampire and his opponent are playing chess. Being a vampire chess player is hard. Everyone tries to schedule the match close to dawn and don’t get me started on the unfounded accusations that you use bats as a distraction.

Now, in the real story, Mr. Vamp and Mr. Opponent are probably not playing chess.* There’s a higher likelihood that the vampire gets into a fight with someone over something and something happens.

Which…is the summary of pretty much every vampire/adventure story ever. And the very definition of a story.

Here’s what happens when I switch in some concrete, specific plot:

“London, 1794. Lucius Cane, an ancient vampire, comes upon a dangerous hunter, the first creature in more than three hundred years to be a threat – a brute with the teeth of a shark and the eyes of a lost soul. But though a vicious fight leaves both injured, Cane cannot shake the feeling he’s met this creature before.”

“London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a bespeckled vampire, is searching for the Librarian – a brute with the power to absorb words from books and throw them like hunting knives. But not all is as it seems as Lucius gains the Librarian’s help and his book hunt leads the two to a lost colony of angry unicorns.”

“London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a playboy vampire, finds his match when he meets a butler who refuses him entry to the country estate – a brute who seems immune to Lucius’ hypnotic powers. But as Lucius tries to get an invitation to enter before sunrise ends the party inside (and him), he can’t figure out how he is foiled at every turn by a mere mortal…”

“London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a powerful vampire who often escorts young ladies home from their parties, finds his evening snack interrupted by a hooded  figure – a brute who walks with a limp and knows Crane’s name. Crane ends up losing his dinner. Is he about to lose his life, too?”

 And, of course, the chess story:

London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a vampire and chessmaster cursed to have to finish every game he plays, finds himself stumped by a player who matches his every move – a brute with the muscles of an ox and the eyes of a mastermind. As night creeps towards dawn, Crane knows he has to win soon or his curse will keep him trapped there past sunrise.

The original blurb does itself no favors by trying to create an aura of mystery and playing coy. It’s the details that make the readers’ ears perk up.

Be crisp about what’s happening. Show us what’s at stake.**

Canaries, over and out.

*Though how cool would it be, if they were? Someone, write this story!
**Pun absolutely intended.

Do you have a pitch or synopsis that you’d like to send to the sacrificial altar? Email it our way  to canarypost@gmail.com. You can also read more Pitch Slaps here. 

[Indie Book Review] Vampires hiding on the high seas

Indie Book Review: City of Promise by Dawn Prough

In the not-so-distant future, Misty works as a maintenance diver at Gideon, a city floating in the middle of the Atlantic, a haven for the undead. She’s good at her job; it helps that she doesn’t need to breathe. But during one night dive, she discovers a dead body, weighted and tangled in the nets. In a world where all vampires are one deportation away from execution, Misty wants nothing to do with corpses and criminal investigations. But then she meets Li, a man with a death wish, a dangerous past, and a connection to the body Misty found.

This book was a welcome addition eBook addition to my vampire-filled shelf. Prough does something different in her novel, City of Promise by moving her story and vampire heroine out of the urban fantasy setting into the 2063. From the delightful gritty details of the world (based on a real-world proposal of a city extension off Boston in the 1970s), to the (sometimes) over-the-top action, to the (scrappy) dialogue, the novel kept me tapping the screen for the next page. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] Vampire town seeks human doctor. Apply within.

Redemption by Susannah Sandlin


Aidan Murphy, master vampire, has a problem. His people are under attack and his town doctor was one of the first victims. So when Doctor Krystal Harris comes to Penton with her resume, he’s more than ready to hire her. Except, Krys isn’t stupid; she can sense Aidan’s weird, mob-boss vibe a mile away. She’s outta there.

But Aidan can’t afford the time it’ll take to find another doctor. Solution: he kidnaps Krys and sticks her in the basement.

Redemption is the quintessential paranormal love story (think JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, etc). Vampire kidnaps girl. Girl does not appreciate being kidnapped by hot vampire. Vampire’s evil brother starts blowing things up. Girl reconsiders.

That said, don’t get me wrong. The romance is steamy. The dialogue is witty. And hey, the characters are not quite as far off the deep end as my summary suggests; Krys and Aidan are rather aware that their instant attraction is ridiculous. Krys makes a few efforts to find her balance amid the action and vampire revelations, even as Aidan tries to confront the moral dilemma of abducting a woman for the greater good. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] Dakota Frost: The Other Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

Frost Moon by Anthony Francis

Dakota Frost novel #1

My first impression of Frost Moon was overwhelmingly positive. It sounded like I would be getting an Urban Fantasy written by a male author about a freakishly tall, lesbian (turns out she’s actually bi) magic-tattoo artist in a world where magic is in the open, but still on the margins of mainstream society. As the story begins, we learn that our heroine’s ex was a doctoral candidate who–to better research vampires–became one, and a werewolf with control issues wants the reluctant Dakota Frost to tattoo him with a Nazi charm. Call me intrigued.

The novel’s main strength is in its concepts–the world it builds (but isn’t able to maintain to any degree of believability) is intriguing and the main character screams promise. It doesn’t hurt that ever since our MoonBlindCanary put out her award-winning tattoo-and-demon-magic short story, I’ve been hopelessly fascinated with seeing how different authors use tattoos in Urban Fantasy. Continue reading

Top Five: Vampires and Werewolves

Happy Halloween, Canaries! It’s that time of year, and I bring you some fun werewolf and vampire stories. But this isn’t a top five of Anne Rice or Bram Stoker style classics. Here are those fun, action-packed, oft-time creepy, sometimes-romantic vampire and werewolf novels that might have slipped under your reading radar. Let’s start with the honorable mentions….

Honorable Halloween Mentions:

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Nathaniel Cade was turned into a vampire in the year something-hundreds and then bound by a voodoo witch to serve the US President. Now he is a Secret Service agent, protecting the US against demons, witches, Frankenstein’s monsters and aliens.

This is a series written as if to be turned into a TV show, but it wins an honorable mention for the following excerpt:

“I thought vampires were sex gods with the ladies.”

Cade looked  at him. “What gave you that idea?”

“Uh, late night TV mostly…”

“Humans are our food. Do you want to have sex with a cow?”

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Years ago, Elena was bitten by someone she trusted. Now she’s a werewolf that lives in the city and refuses to have anything to do with her pack. Sitting squarely in the paranormal romance genre, this book stands out from the masses for the way it weaves together Elena’s struggle to come to grips with the fact that she will never be human enough for the human world she lives in.

The Sight by David Clement-Davies

While not a “werewolf” story per se, The Sight follows a pack of sentient wolves in the forests of Transylvania. Larka is born with the Sight–a trait that sets her apart from the other wolves and a trait she shares with Morgra, a wolf hell-bent on destroying Larka and her pack.

The novel combines prophecy, magic, and some heartbreaking adventure and creates what I can only call a Wolf Epic.

And now for the Top Five:

5. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Having almost nothing in common with the 2007 movie of the same title, this YA novel follows Vivian, a young werewolf who is trying to deal with the death of her father, the confusion in her family, and a lone wolf trying to take over the pack. When she sees the very human Aiden sketching werewolves in his notebook  at school, she’s sure that she’s found someone who will finally understand her.

This novel sets itself apart from the many paranormal YA novels with their heavy handed romance plots; Klause takes a sober look at the divide that separates Vivian and Aiden. Sometimes, thinking you’re in love just isn’t enough.

4. Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is the perfect addition to your shelf. Hambly brings the characters and the chilly London atmosphere to life.

“Oxford professor James Ahser, once an agent for the British government, is forced to help the vampires of Edwardian London, who are being destroyed one by one through exposure to sunlight as they lie sleeping in their coffins.” (From Publishers Weekly)

3. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

The first installment of the Morganville Vampires series, this YA novel took me by surprise.  The pace of plot is relentless, but it never leaves the characters behind to wallow in their own personal stories.

Claire is a sixteen year old in her first semester at a university in Morganville and dreams of transferring out to MIT. But Morganville isn’t just a small backwater town and leaving is a whole lot harder that moving in.

“Run first,” Shane said. “Mourn later.”
It was the perfect motto for Morganville.

2. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

When I first saw this book on the shelves in ’03, I couldn’t believe my eyes. McKinley? Writing a vampire romance novel? Oh me of little faith. McKinley could rewrite the phone book and make it enthralling.

A cook at the local bakery, Sunshine has a boyfriend, and wonderful friends and family. But her life turns upside down when she goes off to find some quiet time by the lake…

“They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion-within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight.” (Amazon book description)

McKinley’s keen ear for style and attention to character detail brings this story to life in a way that I haven’t seen for a long long time.

1. Agyar by Steven Brust

In a word, creepy.

But I am not going to tell you about the plot, because this is a book best served cold, without preamble. So check it out!

What are your favorite vampire or werewolf reads?