A collection of 13 short stories from the Jane Yellowrock series, including several new stories and several previously published pieces. I love all of...moreA collection of 13 short stories from the Jane Yellowrock series, including several new stories and several previously published pieces. I love all of them, though the new ones were obviously my favorites. This is the first time I've read stories from a perspective other than Jane's so that was an interesting take. Fans of the Jane Yellowrock books will love this collection and won't be disappointed. People who are new to the series should start with the books first, so they are well grounded in the characters and world before diving in to the short stories as you'll enjoy them more. A fun, fast read and just the perfect pre-holiday treat. (less)
Peter Grant has investigated some weird stuff but that all goes up a notch when he finds himself searching for a Jazz Vampire. It's not the best name...morePeter Grant has investigated some weird stuff but that all goes up a notch when he finds himself searching for a Jazz Vampire. It's not the best name for whatever is killing London's jazz musicians but Peter and his boss, DCI Nightingale, can't come up with a better one. Nightingale is still on medical rest and must take a back seat as Peter tries to figure out what's going on. Add to that the unexpected re-appearance of a dark wizard and suddenly London is a very dangerous place to be an apprentice wizard.
Just as fast paced and fun as the first Peter Grant mystery this one drags readers along for a madcap adventure. The language, descriptions and characters are all spot on and the plot twists keep things interesting. I really love that Aaronovitch doesn't give his characters easy outs - there are real consequences in their world and just because magic exists doesn't mean it can fix everything. In fact, it's more likely to mess things up. Leslie's appearance and continued struggles are ample proof of that and it lends a credence and realistic factor to the story that is sadly missing in so many Urban Fantasy stories today. Peter Grant is definitely one of my favorite characters and his series is going on my favorites shelf. (less)
Peter Grant is a junior constable when he stumbles into the middle of a grisly murder spree. If only he hadn't seen the ghost that night everything mi...morePeter Grant is a junior constable when he stumbles into the middle of a grisly murder spree. If only he hadn't seen the ghost that night everything might have been different. Now he's been reassigned to Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale of the London Metro Police - in a department that consists of only the two of them and can best be described as the department of weird shit. Ghosts, magic, elementals, vampires, Nightingale has dealt with them all and now Peter has to deal with them too as he races to find a supernatural killer intent on making London his public stage.
The characters and language of this book are excellent. The descriptions are the absolute best and Aaronovitch has a way with language that just makes me grin. The plot drags a bit toward the end but then speeds up. Overall I think the book could have been edited down a bit, but those are minor quibbles. There are too many other fantastic aspects not to give this book a go. I really appreciate that magic is actually hard work in Aaronovitch's universe and his characters and supernaturals conform to physical laws. Everything is so probable and well handled that you could almost believe the story possible, which is the best kind of urban fantasy. The language is gritty at times but it fits with the story. A good read and I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.(less)
In this latest installment of the Jane Yellowrock series, Jane finds herself in Natchez hunting rogue vamps against Leo's wishes. These rogues are tou...moreIn this latest installment of the Jane Yellowrock series, Jane finds herself in Natchez hunting rogue vamps against Leo's wishes. These rogues are tougher to kill, however, and something about the whole situation just doesn't seem right. Add in some witch magic, Rick and his government buddies nosing in and an old school friend of Jane's and suddenly things are getting pretty interesting for Jane.
Another fun, fast romp. Exactly what I want from an urban fantasy: characters I love, lots of action, great writing and a plot that isn't predictable. The ending felt a bit rushed after all the lead up but hopefully that's just because the next book is going to expand the events in this one. (less)
It's hard to find a good anthology where the majority of the stories are well done and worth a read. I can usually find one or two stories I like in m...moreIt's hard to find a good anthology where the majority of the stories are well done and worth a read. I can usually find one or two stories I like in most anthologies, but more than that is rare. An Apple for the Creature had 7 out of 13 stories that I enjoyed. Not a fantastic record but certainly better than most. For that reason, and the fact that I really enjoyed some of the stories a great deal, I'm giving the overall anthology a 3.5 rating. Individual ratings and reviews for each of the stories are below - I've done my best not to give away spoilers on any of them.
Playing Possum by Charlaine Harris (2 stars) Sookie Stackhouse short story- Sookie and a witch combine forces to thwart a crazy man intent on shooting up the local elementary school. needlessly long with all of the action and events packed int o the last quarter of the story. I'm sure the story will appeal to long-time Sookie Stackhouse fans, but overall it leaves me cold.
Spellcaster 2.0 by Jonathan Mayberry (2 stars) When someone sabotages the spell database a group of college kids is assembling, the demon summoning ritual their professor performs goes very wrong. Slow pace, long drawn out denoument. Semi-interesting characters but they feel like cardboard caricatures.
Academy Field Trip by Donald Harstad (4 stars) A special task force recruits a young law enforcement rookie to help hunt down a real life vampire. Nice twist ending, great descriptions, dialogue and characterization. Really good story overall.
Sympathy for the Bones by Marjorie M. Liu (4 stars) Clora is the local witchy woman's assistant, chafes at her mistress's hold on her and plots a way out. Interesting characters, good descriptions and pace. Good story overall.
Low School by Rhys Bowen (1 star) Hell manifests as the proverbial high school nightmare featuring demonic bullies, impossible tests and monstrous teachers dealing out torment. So utterly cliche it's cringe worthy. Predictable and filled with overdone tropes. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes throughout the story and wincing at every other paragraph. This story aims for literary analogy, trying so desperately to be clever it's like one of the pathetic students given lip-service in the narrative.
Callie Meet Happy by Amber Benson (1 star) Calliope Reaper Jones is sent to remedial Worm Hole Conjuring class and ends up opening a worm hole to another dimension just in time to save a ditzy actress and her hard-pressed personal assistant. The writing is clunky and uneven, each sentence filled with so many adjectives they practically out weigh any action in the narrative. I cringed at having a character named 'Happy' and the characters overall were very one-dimensional.
Iphigenia in Aulis by Mike Carey (4 stars) Melanie is trapped in a special school where the children are strapped in their chairs for lessons and never, ever touched or shown any affection. Really well written, interesting characters and a tiny bit of a twist. The surprise twist is predictable but in an enjoyable way and handled well. Great descriptions and dialogue.
Golden Delicious by Faith Hunter (4 stars) Rick LeFleur is sent to Psi-LED for training to become part of a special all paranormal task force, but he can't graduate unless he solves a violent and politically volatile murder case. Another fantastic addition to the Faith Hunter world and series. This one stands well on its own, however, for anyone who hasn't read the series. Great writing, good pacing, and characters you can't help but love.
Magic Tests by Ilona Andrews (4 stars) Julie ends up testing out a new school her adoptive parents want her to attend by helping find a missing girl. Another great addition to the Kate Daniels word but also a good stand alone story. I really like the character development Julie gets in this short piece. Well paced, well written and an engaging read.
An Introduction to Jewish Myth and Mysticism by Steve Hockensmith (2.5 stars) When a colleague's abusive ex moves back to town, a mild-mannered professor steps in with his supernatural talents to run the abuser off. This story left me tepid - it's not particularly bad but it's not great either. There is some truly cringe-worthy dialogue and the Hulk references were utterly cliche and annoying. The pace was rather slow and the twist ending was too little, too late and with too little interest.
VSI by Nancy Holder (4 stars) A pair of FBI detectives are forced to attend special training over the Thanksgiving Holiday, only to discover that vampires are real and at least one vamp has turned serial killer. Really good characterization, well written with good dialogue, pacing and a nice twist. Definitely an author I'll check out in future.
The Bad Hour by Thomas Sniegoski A fallen angel turned PI investigates strange occurrences at a local dog kennel and obedience school. I'm not a huge fan of talking animals, as they are so rarely done well. This is another case in point. The dogs in this short story are annoying and grate on the nerves. The plot seems thready and the action uneven. I wasn't a terribly big fan of the main character either. A disappointing read overall.
Pirate Dave and the Captain's Ghost by Toni L.P. Kelner While at a werewolf retreat a solo wolf is haunted by a belligerent ghost when he learns her boyfriend is a vampire. Based on the ridiculous story name and the overdone werewolves and vampires trope, I expected to thoroughly hate this story. I was wrong. This short story is the perfect example of how a good writer can make something out of even the most implausible idea and beaten to death theme. Great dialogue, a bit of a twist, good description and likable characters. There were a few aspects, in regard to the ghost's actions in the ending, that stretch credulity but overall this was a fun read. (less)
Mercy Thompson is thrown once more into a heap of trouble when the entire pack, including her husband and alpha werewolf, Adam, are kidnapped. It's up...moreMercy Thompson is thrown once more into a heap of trouble when the entire pack, including her husband and alpha werewolf, Adam, are kidnapped. It's up to Mercy to figure out who took them and why.
Another fantastic addition to the Mercy Thompson series. I keep waiting for this series to head south and lose its appeal. Book number 7 fails to disappoint, thankfully. The story isn't as complicated and twisty as Briggs normally gives us and while it's a bit longer than some of the earlier books in the series this was SUCH a fast read. I tore through this book and it was over all too soon. The main conflict resolution happens in the last quarter of the book and that part surprised me with how quickly it was dealt with. That's my only real complaint. I would have liked that main conflict drawn out more throughout the rest of the book. There were some really cool story possibilities there that Briggs never touched on. No surprise that I would have liked a longer book from one of my favorite authors.
Despite that tiny quibble, the book is well written, fast-paced and with the usual cast of characters I've fallen in love with over the years. Frost Burned makes me fall in love with them all over again. For fans of the series this is an absolute must-read they'll really enjoy.(less)
Mae Koskinen is a super-soldier in disgrace after attacking another soldier at a colleague's funeral. Mae's punishment is to babysit super genius Just...moreMae Koskinen is a super-soldier in disgrace after attacking another soldier at a colleague's funeral. Mae's punishment is to babysit super genius Justin March, a playboy and failed religious investigator exiled from the Republic of United North America (the RUNA). Justin is given a chance to return to the RUNA if he can solve a series of bizarre murders that may have a religious tie in. Religion is a four-letter-word in the RUNA, viewed with suspicion and barely tolerated. But whether the RUNA leaders like it or not the old gods are stirring, ready to wage a war for believes and power and the RUNA is about to become the gameboard for their machinations.
I love Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy and Bloodlines YA series. Sadly, I have yet to find one of her adult series that I care for. This is another case in point. This is a romance novel loosely wrapped in the guise of an urban fantasy. I could get over that, except I really, really, really don't like the male lead. Both main characters have the morals of rabbits when it comes to sex and seem perfectly happy to get it on with anyone, anywhere regardless of any feelings they may have for each other. And Justin is basically just a narcissistic, self-destructive, womanizing pretty boy with some serious neuroses and few redeeming factors. The premise is interesting and had a lot of promise and there were aspects of the book I enjoyed. However, my lack of connection with either of the main characters left me feeling meh about the entire book. I won't be reading the rest of this series.(less)
Izzy Brannick grew up fighting monsters, it's all she's ever known. Home-schooled with her sister Finn Izzy can't even imagine a regular kind of life....moreIzzy Brannick grew up fighting monsters, it's all she's ever known. Home-schooled with her sister Finn Izzy can't even imagine a regular kind of life. Brannicks are warriors and there's no other choice, even if Izzy, her mom and Finn are the last three Brannicks left. When Finn disappears, Izzy's mom puts all her energy into finding Finn and sends Izzy on her first solo mission: dealing with a violent ghost. Unfortunately for Izzy that means she'll have to brave something truly terrifying - high school.
I'm a big fan of Rachel Hawkins Hex Hall series, and I enjoy her writing in general. School Spirits is a spin off from Hex Hall and it delivers just as much action, humor and just as many intriguing characters. This is a fun, fast read that left me wishing for a much longer book. Or a sequel waiting on my shelf already. (less)
Lily Ivory is a powerful witch hiding her talents and running a second-hand clothing shop in San Francisco. When an elderly woman she buys some vintag...moreLily Ivory is a powerful witch hiding her talents and running a second-hand clothing shop in San Francisco. When an elderly woman she buys some vintage clothing from turns up dead in the middle of a pentagram, the police come knocking on Lily's door. Soon Lily is trying to discover who murdered the old lady, why local children are going missing and all while breaking onto the fashion scene in trendy San Fran.
Fans of the Queen Betsy series or the Charlie Davidson series by Darynda Jones are likely to enjoy this book. It has a similar feel.
This is a fairly stock mystery with urban fantasy elements thrown in. Very much lighter fare. There are some plot holes and assumptions that nagged at me, and Lily's willingness to overlook obvious issues was rather maddening. Her whole attitude and naivete pressed my buttons and I found it hard to sympathize with her. The obvious future love triangle set-up was another annoyance, but I read too much and get tired of circling the same old tropes. There was little that was fresh or interesting in this book and none of the characters caught my fancy. There were a few laughs, but overall, for me at least, the story was largely forgettable. (less)
The 5th Jane Yellowrock book delivers as much action and fun as the last four. Things are heating up in the Vampire community when a mysterious vamp b...moreThe 5th Jane Yellowrock book delivers as much action and fun as the last four. Things are heating up in the Vampire community when a mysterious vamp begins challenging other masters and taking them down with a deadly plague that can render them true-dead. Jane, as Leo's enforcer, has to help stop the mystery vamp only to discover her own actions in Asheville are being used as a thinly veiled excuse for this all-out vamp war.
The book was action-packed and fast paced with strong writing, strong characters and great description. There were a few things I wasn't too fond of, however.
(view spoiler)[I really wanted to hear at least a bit about Molly. I know Jane had to kill her sister in the last book but for goodness sake Evelyn was willing to sacrifice all of her sisters for revenge and Jane basically saved the other witches by taking Evelyn out. Molly's absence from the story felt wrong. Same thing with Rick. I need to go back and reread book 4 because I don't remember the whole star-crossed lovers we can't every be together gambit. That took me by surprise. My biggest quibble though is with Jane's reaction to Bruiser and Leo. How on earth can she even think about a relationship with a man bound to Leo who will ALWAYS put Leo first? And as for Leo, she needs to stake his ass. The whole scene where Leo forces her to drink from him is basically a rape scene. And she's still working for the bastard, which almost condones the act. I can see finishing up the war and making sure that the vamp plague is ended - BUT afterward why the hell doesn't she either stake Leo or take off. As you can tell that point annoyed me. I don't like books where the female is victimized and it just slides. (hide spoiler)]
I love the new characters that are introduced and hope to see more of them in the next book. Can't wait to see where this series goes. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** I've torn through the Dresden Files books in the past year. I love the characters. Love the stories. And I frequently suspend my dis...more**spoiler alert** I've torn through the Dresden Files books in the past year. I love the characters. Love the stories. And I frequently suspend my disbelief and overlook minor plot holes or issues because I love the characters so much.
I have to admit that in the last book, Changes, I was upset when Harry is shot at the end. Heck I was furious with him for becoming the Winter Knight and crossing the line by murdering the old Winter Knight and later Susan. No Harry! No! But Changes was still a good book so I gave it four stars and didn't feel the need to put in a detailed review. If you're reading the later Dresden books you already love them and they're a bit formulaic (in a good way) so there's not much to say other than "Yay! New Dresden book. Happy, happy, joy, joy." They consistently deliver a fun, fast, character-driven read.
Then there's Ghost story. I almost stopped reading this book halfway through I was so mad. Every character I've loved in this series was turned on their head and not in a good way. They were different characters altogether. Harry was different. The pace was slower, overall. BUT, here's the thing. This book, not the last one, is the book with the most character progression and change. Harry DID cross a line in Changes and he recognizes it in this book. He goes from act-first, think-later Harry to someone a bit wiser, more cautious and canny. He's a stronger character at the end of the book. I'm glad I stuck it out and got to the end, it was worth it.
I was furious that Thomas was missing from the novel and then Butcher neatly ties that into the end. He also neatly pulls everything together and explains what happened at the end of Changes and everything with Molly and Harry's death and by the last page I was speechless because when all is said and done Butcher is a freaking genius. Ghost Story will never be my favorite Dresden book (seeing all my favorite characters fall apart and turn into strangers pretty much assured that) but it will be one I respect and reflect on frequently. Well written and well played.
I can't wait for the next book in the series.(less)
A nice collection of all the Dresden Files short stories to date. I loved these and read the appropriate stories between each book. A fun, delicious l...moreA nice collection of all the Dresden Files short stories to date. I loved these and read the appropriate stories between each book. A fun, delicious little read and the perfect treat at the end of the day. Now that I'm through with these and Ghost Story, I'm desperately eager to read the next Dresden Files book!(less)
The latest book by Illona Andrews follows Kate Daniel's friend and business partner, Andrea Nash - a were-Jackal. Andrea has appeared in several short...moreThe latest book by Illona Andrews follows Kate Daniel's friend and business partner, Andrea Nash - a were-Jackal. Andrea has appeared in several short stories and in every book in the Kate Daniels since the first. This book is a stand-alone story for Andrea and Raphael. Kate and Curran make only tiny cameos.
As with all Andrew's books it's well written, fast paced and a fun read. We get a lot more background on Andrea and learn a little more about the Pack and the world of Magic/Tech Atlanta. There are shifters, gods, murders, kick-ass fights, a bit of intrigue, some laughs and a dab of romance as well. This book is a nice addition to the series but definitely leaves me eager for the next Kate book. I like Andrea a lot, but I love Kate.(less)