Beach read (if you can call reading at a Cancun resort the beach). Quick, intense, sort of depressing, will definitely keep you guessing and play withBeach read (if you can call reading at a Cancun resort the beach). Quick, intense, sort of depressing, will definitely keep you guessing and play with your emotions. Thank you anonymous person who left the book at the hotel library!...more
I've encountered Jaye Wells in a few urban fantasy anthologies that I've read, but this is my first full-length novel by her, and I'll definitely be lI've encountered Jaye Wells in a few urban fantasy anthologies that I've read, but this is my first full-length novel by her, and I'll definitely be looking for more. DIRTY MAGIC equates alchemical potions to the drug problem prevalent in any run-down city, with MC Kate Prospero as a cop on the beat trying to keep the citizens safe from magical menace. She has a history with a bad boy made good, the mayor's darling, and of course they are forced to work together to keep a new, dangerous potion off the street. Kate used to cook dirty magic herself (so called since it's done without the benefit of clean water or sterile conditions) but a death in her family has made her swear off cooking forever. This is the source of many a moral quandary during the book, though Kate's deliberations are realistic and not too much of a flip-flop.
This is straight-up urban fantasy, so there is plenty of streetwise magic and a healthy dollop of romance with a good mystery and lots of background. Kate reminds me of Kate Beckett from the TV show Castle, working hard for what she believes in and protecting those she loves. The "cooking" is a nice mix of scientific principles and alchemy, and sounds believable to this scientist. The side characters are memorable and often funny. I read DIRTY MAGIC fast, and happily, and would gladly check out the next book in the series.
Received as a free digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher....more
If you think vampires working for the FBI sounds like an intriguing proposition, pick up TURNED. You'll find your fill of alpha males and sexy heroineIf you think vampires working for the FBI sounds like an intriguing proposition, pick up TURNED. You'll find your fill of alpha males and sexy heroines and a high sense of tension and violence. Turned into a vampire against his will and then recruited into a secret FBI unit, Ty has to recruit former gang member Ana, who has an in with a group that may be a cult.
The author mixes gang politics and terrorism with vampires in a way that doesn't seem terribly far-fetched for urban fantasy. Ana has had a hard life, and has tried to stay hidden from her past, but of course it comes back to haunt her. Ty is tortured by the loss of his sister and his desire to rid himself of the vampire taint. When the two of them come together, the result is intense: Ty wants Ana, both as a woman and a snack, and Ana craves his protection and body and the information he has on the location of her missing sister, all the while trying to maintain her independence. There is a lot of sexual tension in this book, riding along with the violence, and plenty of sex once the tension is relieved.
Received as a free digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher. ...more
CITY OF THE DEAD is an interesting read. It's a typical crime investigation novel, but it takes place in the 1970s, so instead of the high-tech DNA seCITY OF THE DEAD is an interesting read. It's a typical crime investigation novel, but it takes place in the 1970s, so instead of the high-tech DNA sequencing and facial recognition we're all familiar with through tv shows, this is tough, boots on the ground grunt work. Paul Koenig is the chief medical examiner in New York, and he deals with gritty, dirty death every day. He's out of shape and over-stressed, and in this story, he comes up against a murder that he may not be able to solve, while dealing with some shady dealings with the members of his staff, and his daughter has run off and may or may not still be alive. I'm glad I got a chance to read this author, and I'm surprised there aren't more reviews. I'm glad Open Road Media is bringing it back, so hopefully more people will get a chance to read some real forensic fiction. If you're a fan of crime novels, give this one a shot.
Received as a free digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher....more
This one is tough to rate. I had a chance to read it last year through the Pulseit program, but my browser crashed while I was reading it, and it wasThis one is tough to rate. I had a chance to read it last year through the Pulseit program, but my browser crashed while I was reading it, and it was past the open read period, so I couldn't finish. I read the excerpt, which was still available, and I was intrigued enough to keep an eye out for it. The ebook was awfully expensive, so I turned to the library. No joy there, until last week, when it became available at one of the branches near me. I picked it up in the evening, and was done by the end of work the next day--it's that engrossing of a read. For that, I'd like to give it five stars.
THAT ENDING. The ending screwed up the whole book for me. All the pieces are in place for it to happen; it's not an out of nowhere resolution. But it just didn't seem in character to me. The writing pulled me in, but when I got to the end, I actually flipped back a few pages to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I don't usually do this, but the library hardback copy I received had a pretty serious misprint: it was missing pages 311-326. I was able to read most of those sixteen pages via Amazon's LOOK INSIDE feature, but four pages were missing in that preview (I understand why they do that, but ARGH), so for a while at the end I thought that there had been another misprint. But no--that's the way it ends, and I was left just thinking, "huh."
The author does a great job of making you care what happens to these rather unlikable characters. For that she deserves to be read; but the ending to this book is super polarizing. The parallels to the Amanda Knox trial are obvious; in either case, it's doubtful if we'll ever really know what happens. Theoretically in DANGEROUS GIRLS we discover who the killer is, but we don't actually find out the motive, or how the killer went about the murder. Sure, that's gory stuff, but I feel like that's part of the resolution for most of the crime dramas on tv nowadays, and the lack of knowing the truth makes the ending dissatisfying to me. I also feel like the various other trails of possible killers aren't examined. Once the killer is revealed, I suppose those other trails don't matter, but I guess all the procedural dramas out there have me asking questions.
I really would recommend reading this book if you can brace yourself for the ending. For some people, the ending is well done and wraps up the story. Unfortunately, it leaves me wanting to know more. I suppose that reflects on the current state of justice today--facts can be twisted if you know how to act, money begets freedom, and perhaps most terrifyingly, any person can seem a criminal if seen from only one point of view. Five stars for the writing, three stars for the ending, so I'll average it to a four. I can't see myself reading this one again though. I don't think I'll have to, because of that ending being seared into my brain....more
What a fun venture into steampunk alternate American history! Our heroine Kit doesn't believe in magic, and makes her woman-in-a-man's-world way by deWhat a fun venture into steampunk alternate American history! Our heroine Kit doesn't believe in magic, and makes her woman-in-a-man's-world way by debunking "curses." However, her gender and her profession make her a target for those who peddle magic and those who believe women should stay in the kitchen. Kit goes through several close calls, has to work with two men, one who wants to seduce her to his own ends, and one who doesn't believe she can be a good investigator since she's female.
There is a surprising amount of plot in this unexpectedly short story--hidden identity, is-it-or-isn't-it real magic, thrilling peril, sewer diving, the plight of repressed women--all mixed into the alternate timeline where the British Empire still holds sway over America. Sometimes this alternate setting is confusing, since most of us are conditioned to picture steampunk as taking place somewhere in Europe, but it's a nice change.
I felt a little disappointed when I realized the ending would be a cliffhanger, because I was enjoying the story so much. I'm looking forward to the next installment so I can find out what happens to Kit, and how the overarching story (Kit solves her original mission, but it opens up so much more plot) will move along. I just wish I didn't have to wait for the rest of the first novel; it seems odd to cut a book down to such small chunks. I would have gladly spent more time on this as a longer novel, which I understand it will be once it gets a paperback release....more
It's another story about an obscure Holmes relative! No, really. I get that Sherlock Holmes is hot right now, and for good reason. There just seems toIt's another story about an obscure Holmes relative! No, really. I get that Sherlock Holmes is hot right now, and for good reason. There just seems to be a rather huge Holmes bandwagon. This is one of the more fun variants. We have Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock, as our protagonist in A STUDY IN SILKS. Sherlock does make some cameos, but he is not the focus of the story. No, here we have several POVs, which can be confusing sometimes, but offer an intriguing glimpse into the alternate reality the author has crafted. Steam rules England here, just as it did during the Industrial Revolution, but instead of just providing power, steam (and the barons that control it) gives immense political clout, and in order to preserve their monopolies of the stuff, magic (which could serve the same function) is essentially outlawed. But what does Evelina have? Magic, of course, and a fascination with the mechanical--and a way to fuse the two.
So we have not only a murder mystery to solve (a servant is murdered in Evelina's friend's rich household), but also keeping Evelina's magic a secret, and we also have a love triangle between the rich playboy who wants to be an engineer, and the circus knife-thrower who shares Evelina's past (and perhaps some of her magic). The author keeps the reader guessing about the whodunit, and tension is high as everyone tries to protect their secrets. The characterization leaves a little to be desired; not everyone has clear reasons behind their actions, and some of the "bad guys" just seem to be bad for bad guys' sake. The book is also quite long, and maybe could benefit from some judicious trimming. But the setting is nicely written, the mystery is solved, and the ending shows that there will be more to this series. I'm happy the next book will come out soon, so I can continue the story.
Received as a free digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher....more
THE MURDER BIRD gets better as it goes along. I picked this one up because one of the main characters is a cellist, and I love music. While this wasn'THE MURDER BIRD gets better as it goes along. I picked this one up because one of the main characters is a cellist, and I love music. While this wasn't a book that made me feel the music as some do, it had an interesting storyline: a mother presumably commits suicide, and her daughter is convinced she was murdered, though no one else does. It took a while to get into this one, perhaps because of the changing viewpoints (side note: maybe it was the advance e-copy I received, but there wasn't any division between POVs, and quite often I found myself having to go back and reread a section once I realized the POV had shifted), but the mystery is gradually unraveled to most folks' satisfaction. There are some brilliant pieces of prose in this, and near the end the twists keep coming. It wasn't quite as thrilling as some mysteries, though there are certainly action sequences, and I didn't guess the ending, which is always good for a mystery. I have another book by this author in the pipeline, so I hope it's good too.
I received this as a digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher....more
I've read a bunch of fantasies in a row, so it was fun to take a break and read a mystery. I've read one Blaedel book already, and the publisher was nI've read a bunch of fantasies in a row, so it was fun to take a break and read a mystery. I've read one Blaedel book already, and the publisher was nice enough to reach out to me to offer an advance ebook, so I was looking forward to this one. It's a good story, and it makes you think, not only about whodunit, but about cultural norms and trying to fit in. Being a typical self-centered American, I don't usually think about immigrants in other countries, but obviously it happens. I had to wrap my head around the idea that families from Jordan might end up in Denmark, or that Denmark has Jehovah's Witnesses (I mean, intellectually that makes sense, what with their evangelicalism, but I never placed them there until now). But once you get past the exotic (and not cold--this story takes place in a Danish autumn) setting, you can see that kids can be bullied wherever they are, and blood can be thicker than water, no matter what country you live in. The author doesn't flinch at putting gruesome detail on the page, but it's presented matter-of-factly, not spectacularly, so it's not gratuitous. We learn who the culprit is along with the characters, and it makes sense, in a horrible way, who did it and why the crime happened. It was nice to read an intellectual mystery that didn't presume its readers knew legalese but also didn't dumb things down for the casual consumer. I found myself pausing to think things over while reading this, but then going back so I could find out how it ends. I'll be glad to read more books by this author.
Received as a digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher....more