Raylene Pendle,vampire and thief,is sick of taking silly jobs,such as stealing back homemade “naughty” videos that people regret making,and she’s ready for something exciting. Raylene gets her wish in the form of a card she receives in the mail,at her home,and with her name on it. Knowing that only a few people have this info,she’s instantly intrigued. She suspects it’s a fellow vampire,and her suspicions prove to be right on target. What she doesn’t count on is her client,Ian,is not only a vampire,but he’s a blind vampire,and this case will lead her to a clandestine government program that uses vamps (and possibly other supes),as test subjects to get to their sources of power. With the help of Ian,his human assistant,Cal,and a drag queen that calls himself Sister Rose,Raylene confronts a power beyond anything she could have imagined,and an evil that might threaten her very existence.
First off,I’m a Cherie Priest fan through and through,and I was VERY excited to start her new urban fantasy series. I’ll admit,it took me a while to get into,but I think it’s because Bloodshot is very different from her other novels. We take some time to get to know Raylene,who’s all “me,myself,and I” bluster,but underneath,there’s actually a very vulnerable girl in there,which,for a vampire,is very,very refreshing. Raylene prides herself on being prepared for everything and also for not getting attached. We see some of that vulnerability in her reluctant affection for a street urchin,Pepper,that lives in a storage building that Raylene owns,along with her teen brother. Raylene may be tough (she kicks serious,serious ass),but she’s attached to that little girl,and will go to just about any lengths to protect her (even her snotty brother). When Raylene meets Ian,she’s horrified at his condition and at his dependence on his human assistant. Raylene doesn’t trust ghouls,who in her experience only use vampires for one thing,which is to eventually be made vampire. Her research also leads her to Sister Rose,who’s sister was also one of the subjects involved in the Bloodshot program. A little about Sister Rose:Sister Rose,out of drag,is also a Cuban hottie named Adrian,who,I admit,I have a crush on,and Raylene isn’t immune to his hotness either. However,her real attraction lies with Ian,and I think she’s not only drawn to the man himself,but also to his vulnerability,and there’s a hint of possible romance to come (fingers crossed). If the first half took a bit to warm up,the second half hits full throttle almost immediately,and made me go from “like” to “love”. Even if you’re feeling a bit “vamped-out” with the influx of fang-centric stories lately,don’t pass this one up:it’s not your usual vampire cuisine,and if you haven’t discovered the wonderful Cherie Priest,it will make a fan out of you. Absolutely not to be missed! (less)
Detective Felix Donovan is having a bad time of it. High profile men are being murdered in gruesome ways, and he has no leads, other than he’s sure that a violent gangster that calls himself The Roman has to have something to do with it. A vigilante that calls himself the Ghost is taking crime solving into his own hands, and a rich playboy is fighting the ghosts of his own violent past. Ghosts of Manhattan opens with a bang, with the Ghost violently taking care of a bank robbery in progress, killing most of the thugs and sending one back with a message to give to his boss, The Roman, of course. Ghosts of Manhattan takes place in an alternate New York of 1926 and has got a noir feel to it that I liken to the pulp stories that were so popular during the 30s. The Ghost is an interesting character, but clichés abound. There’s the rich, jaded playboy, disillusioned by the trappings of wealth and struggling with a painful past, the beautiful chanteuse that’s hiding a secret, the harried detective with the weight of a city on his shoulders, and of course, the mysterious mob boss that’s behind the wave of violent crime. There’s plenty of action and a fun scene involving biplanes, but some things felt a bit forced, and some of the descriptives were rather gross, when they really didn’t need to be. There’s nothing startlingly original in Ghosts of Manhattan, but it certainly wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great, and I kind of wanted it to be great. I’m constantly on the lookout for the next good steampunk romp, so maybe I had my hopes up too high for this one. It certainly fit the bill as an “in between book”, you know, the light read that’s sometimes nice between more meaty books. If you like noir adventure with some steampunk elements, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s a quick read, and certainly worth a go.(less)
Jake Hatcher really can't seem to catch a break. One of my favorite new heroes returns in Diabolical, the second in a series after Damnable. We move from New York City to L.A., where Jake is trying to lay low while working in a bar part time. Unfortunately, after receiving a note from a mysterious stranger, he's again drawn in to a massively evil plan designed to open a portal to Hell. There were quite a few twists and turns in this one, and the Carnates, the seductive beings from Damnable, play a major role in this story again as well. Jake, former special ops, is still the conflicted man that he was in Damnable, but this time, when it's possible that his baby nephew has been kidnapped to be used as a sacrifice, he's desperate to find out the truth before it's too late. Nobody is what they seem and Jake is constantly being bombarded by all sides. Not knowing who to trust begins to take its toll as Jake struggles to save his nephew and prevent this evil plan from coming to fruition. Diabolical constantly kept me on my toes, and I love hanging out with Jake, whose smart mouth is still in fine form. If it's action you're looking for, Diabolical is the place to be. The fight scenes are pretty awesome and extremely well choreographed. I found myself being able to picture them quite easily, because Mr. Schwaeble is just that good in his descriptions. He’s also very good at getting into the twisted psyches of his villians, and there are two really icky new bad guys in here that will make you squirm. The lovely and treacherous Carnates are back, and there's a twist that you won't see coming (at least I didn't). I admit it had my jaw hanging open in surprise. Jake Hatcher is a tough-as-nails hero with heart, in one of the best new thriller series in quite a while! I'll follow Jake anywhere! (less)
Deacon Chalk is a man with a mission. After he’s cornered by a young vamp asking for his protection outside his place of business, he knows something’s not right. He kills vamps. He certainly doesn’t protect them, and when he’s jumped by a group of vamps bent on draining him dry, along with a (very) amateur vampire hunter, he’s sure something big is going down. His search for the culprit leads him to a very powerful vamp bent on dominating Deacon to her will, but that’s not gonna happen, and Deacon’s going to make sure of it.
With a genre that’s dominated by female writers, I’m always excited to see an urban fantasy title come out written by a dude. Not to mention that it’s nice to see a fresh voice in the genre, period. Deacon Chalk is a man’s man. He loves his guns, packs a lot of heat, and knocks heads with the best of them. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a heart, because he does, and the author makes that point more than a few times. I mean, the man’s family was brutally taken by monsters, and it’s what drives him to kill them. There’s also no black and white with vamps in Blood and Bullets. They’re evil, period, and they certainly don’t sparkle. Deacon will have some help from unlikely folks, namely a priest that kicks some pretty serious ass, a were-spider, and an immortal with quite a rich history. Blood and Bullets has some awkward bits, but I attribute that firmly to first-book growing pains¸ and all in all it was a fun, fast-paced¸ rocket powered read. I couldn’t help but like Deacon and I’m anxious to see what the author does with the supporting cast in future books. Great action scenes round out a promising start to what looks to be a fun series!(less)