Category: urban fantasy


the-peoples-police-cover

As mentioned yesterday, I’ve got a giveaway for you all. Thanks to the awesome folks at Tor I’ve got two copies of Norman Spinrad’s new novel, The People’s Police, that means two winners.

The giveaway will run from today until next Sunday the 19th at midnight central time and will be open to entries from the United States and Canada.

Standard rules apply: you’ll need to be following this blog to enter, the winners will be selected using a random number generator, and you’ll need to answer a question for your entry here.

So, question time readers, The People’s Police deals with the issues of those in charge caring more about the interests of the richest among us than the people at large. How do you react when it seems like the deck’s been stacked against you and how do you try and make it better?

The Ghost Host: Tour Stop

The Ghost Host

Somehow, I always knew the people I saw hovering around looking aimless were ghosts, and it never really bothered me. Sometimes I talked to them when I was little. They never talked back. Sometimes they would play with me, though. My mom used to tell people what a good baby I was, how I never cried or fussed. She thought she had just lucked out with an easy first kid. Really, I always had someone standing over my crib smiling at me or making silly faces. Ghosts really seem to like being around babies for some reason.

It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized some of my ghostly friends were hanging around for a reason. A few of them were just lonely and either weren’t ready to move on or didn’t know how. I haven’t got a clue about how to send them on their way, so I figure the least I can do is keep them company.

Others, they had messages they wanted to pass on. At first, I didn’t know how to do that without getting into trouble. My mom refused to make phone calls or send my letters to who she deemed were random strangers. I found ways to get the letters in the mail, at least, without her knowing, but it wasn’t easy and they occasionally got sent back to us when the address proved inaccurate. Mom wasn’t happy when she found one and realized what I’d been doing.

Holden was the one who came up with the idea for the webshow. It made things a lot easier since my parents think it’s just a funny hoax we like to pull, and it gives us a hobby and keeps me out of trouble for the most part. That’s the biggest reason they let me do it. As I got older and more capable, more able to help the ghosts, they became more insistent. That’s when things got really bad.

Up until that point, I didn’t know the ghosts could affect my dreams, and not in a good way. The nightmares got progressively worse, morphing into full on night terrors. The headaches followed, though I’m still not sure if the ghosts were trying to talk to me, or just doing whatever they could to get my attention. Sometimes, their presence would become so oppressive as they tried to communicate that I would completely zone out… which sent my grades into the toilet and my behavior into the realm of unmanageable. The worst by far is when they try to touch me.

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Ghost HostThe Ghost Host by DelSheree Gladden

Everyone thinks Echo Simmons is crazy, but being The Ghost Host isn’t just a YouTube hoax like people think. It’s the only way to control the ghosts haunting her…at least until the FBI shows up asking questions.

The first eighteen years of Echo Simmons’ life have been less than ideal. On more than one occasion her parents have considered committing her. They don’t believe she sees ghosts or that they harass her on a daily basis. So when a rogue ghost begins tormenting her, they’re the last people she’s going to tell. Her best friends Holden and Zara are doing their best to help, but ghost attacks are only the beginning of Echo’s problems.

Handling the ghosts by giving them a voice on YouTube through her webshow has been her saving grace—even if her parents think it’s all a hoax—but that gets a little complicated when the ghost of Madeline Crew reveals a little too much about her previous life and the FBI shows up at her door wanting to know how she gained access to long-buried government secrets.

It just keeps getting worse from there. Madeline’s message to her great grandson sparks a strange connection between Echo and Malachi, which leads to Georgia, secrets, mistakes, love, lies, and life changing revelations.

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delshereeAuthor DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist. DelSheree has several bestselling young adult series, including “Invisible” which was part of the USA Today Bestselling box set, “Pandora.” The Date Shark Series is her first contemporary romance series, and her first book in her upcoming new adult series, The Ghost Host, will be releasing 2015.

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$25 Blog Tour giveawayBlog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/29/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Alright folks, lets do this thing.  Halloween is in three days and I’ve got a couple of books ready to find new homes.  This is a short one, three days two prizes, and the usual two ways to win.

Prize one is a once read review copy of C. Aubrey Hall’s Crystal Bones, a teen fantasy novel.

Prize two is a new copy of E.S. Moore’s Blessed By A Demon’s Mark, the third Kat Redding novel.

To enter, follow my blog and comment on this post telling me which prize you want and something that you really enjoy about Halloween.  For a second entry you can follow me on twitter @Tymp3st.

Contest will end at midnight Standard time on the 31st.  I’ll have winners posted on the first.

Remember folks, may the odds be ever in your favor.

I’ve mentioned being on another Slendy kick multiple times recently, so I thought I would mention that I ordered a copy of House of Leaves due to it being referenced a fair deal in the mythos.  It arrived yesterday, wrapped appropriately creepily in plain brown paper and listed only as being from “Family”.  Even if this wasn’t on purpose, I approve wholeheartedly.  I haven’t gotten far in yet and the beginning is a little on the slow side, but I am enjoying it so far.

In other news, I kind of completely wigged on that review and will be posting it as soon as it’s written.

So, I’m a bit late with this one.  Blame the kitten, Jonesy seems to have decided that the best toys ever are my hands and the cables to my laptop. It would be adorable if it didn’t make me worry that she was going to electrocute herself.  That aside, I’m back to working again and have another review partly done for either later this week or early next week.  All that said, this is a review for one of the books that I got last summer, so it isn’t entirely current.  Enjoy the review!

During World War 2 a group of English children were sent to a small town to keep them safe from the war.  In the time they were there each of them was entrusted with one of thirteen ancient artifacts for safe keeping.  These artifacts are all that stand between humanity and a realm of flesh hungry demons.  Fast forward to the present and the septuagenarian keepers are being killed off one by one and their artifacts stolen.  It will be up to bank teller Sara Miller to take up the broken sword and stop nothing less than the end of life as we know it.

Michael Scott and Colette Freedman’s The Thirteen Hallows had promise.  It wasn’t treading any new territory with the plot of hapless heroes with a magical MacGuffin trying to stop some big mysterious evil from destroying the world.  But there was way too much gratuitous stuff for it to be good, and it can’t all be attributed to the villains’ demonic alignment and the dark magic that they’re using to get at the hallows.  Plus, the characters each seem to be clutching their own personal idiot ball whether it is the detective who insists that Sara is an insane serial killer despite evidence to the contrary or the evil sorceress who can magically track our totally mundane heroine but can’t kill her and take the sword.  This is going to be one of the ones that I get a little long winded about because there’s a lot that could have used a second look.

So, the gratuitous stuff, it’s mostly violence and there’s some sex.  The violence could have been hand waved by saying that the levels of brutality used were necessary in every case that popped up, I think it was mentioned that the keepers had to be terrified and in agony for the magic to work.  But it wasn’t needed for the murder of Sara’s family or the random neighbor who tried to help the first on screen victim.  The sex might have been used once or twice for magic stuff, but mostly it seemed to play into the main villain’s being oh so evil just because they can be and sex is apparently the best way to show that.

Following that, the characters were flat.  The villains were evil because why not, the heroes were only the heroes because the plot needed them to be, and the police were really really dumb.  I can’t stress this enough, the characters were just poorly written and that bothers me.  I like my fantasy novels, or any novel I read for that matter to be character driven and these guys didn’t cut it. The main characters where flat enough that I almost started cheering for the villains, but they somehow managed to be even flatter again, evil for evil’s sake.  The worst case for me was the senior cop, Detective Inspector Fowler.  The writers needed a reason for Sara and Owen to stay on the run rather than turning to the police, this could have been accomplished by having the police laugh them off after they told them everything or by having the villains frame Sara for killing one of the officers that were investigating her family’s murder or any number of other things.  Instead, old cop digs in almost immediately and decides that Sara must be some kind of psycho killer despite her reactions indicating otherwise and the sheer number of statistics that suggest that women generally don’t kill people in that violent a manner.  If he had jumped on after the evil junky’s death, then I would be fine with it because people saw her do that.  On the other hand, the comparison between him and his partner, Sergeant Heath, made her one of the only characters in the book that I came anywhere near liking.

Speaking of Heath, the quality of descriptions in this book were also all over the place.  The reader gets lovingly written scenes of violence and gore and yet the only descriptions we really get for her were that she’s blond, butch, and nicer than her partner.  Again, if there had been better reason given for the attention to gore, like if the police were checking the crime scenes and slowly piecing together what was happening with bits of ritual that were left behind among all the blood and viscera.  That would have been cool, and could have given credence to Fowler’s insistence that Sara was a crazed killer until evidence piled up that it was the Dark Man and his sorceress accomplice or one of their underlings.  But it wasn’t, and that seems like a waste.

So, where does this leave me on The Thirteen Hallows?  It had potential, I can say that of it, but that potential was squandered on hollow characters and overall mediocre writing.  It was a fast read but more in a “when does this get good” way than a “this is amazing” way.  This was the first thing I’d read by either author and, while I’ve heard good things about both in reading to see who they were, it may be the last thing I read by either of them.  The ending left room for more books and anything I can find online suggests that there’s supposed to be a sequel at some point but I have a hard time seeing where I could go from here.  I’m giving this one a one out of five for characters that I couldn’t bring myself to care about and a story that couldn’t seem to decide what it was or what it wanted to be.

So, I’m back after only, what two months now?  I’m not dead.  A little zombified sure, but not dead.  So, behind schedule as always, being crushed slowly by work and classes and all that.  Nothing big, just the usual.  But I do have a review for you lovely people, isn’t that exciting.  Here we go and don’t mind the rust.

Amateur detective Anne Marshall and her fiancé Jason Perry are headed down to Florida for Thanks Giving vacation with his parents only to find that his mother’s best friend Maude has been murdered.  The only clue is a fragment of a nursery rhyme pinned to her shirt.  “Pocket full of poesies.”  Anne dives into the mystery, finding out that the victim’s brother had been killed months earlier with a similar note attached to his body.

Jackie Fullerton’s Ring Around the Rosy is, at its core, a book that doesn’t seem to quite know what it is.  It combines the out matched heroine of a cozy mystery with urban fantasy’s just kind of there magic with a romance novel’s dead end love triangle.  Anne makes for an interesting heroine because she knows that she shouldn’t be digging into the police’s investigation.  Her friends tell her not to, her dead father tells her not to, but she does it anyway apparently because she’s the heroine.  So she stumbles around trying to figure out what could cause someone to try to wipe out an entire family.  And of course she’s torn between the comfortable love that she has with her fiancé and the shock of lust she feels for Detective Reynolds.  She’s also teamed up with her father’s ghost who, despite later in the novel revelations about the nature of the other side, seems to mostly exist to be a plot dump and to comfort her about her attraction to Detective Reynolds.  So the book kind of feels mushed together between several genres in ways that don’t really work for me.

The villains are also a bit of a problem.   Carl Martin is teamed up with his own ghost, Jeremiah, in trying to murder this family.  This could have been awesome if the protagonists had been aware of Jeremiah earlier in the novel.  As it stands, Carl is being pushed to take revenge for Jeremiah because of their mutual dead families and grief, but Carl and the reader are the only ones aware of Jeremiah for the first three quarters of the book.  It makes it impossible for the protagonists to figure much out, so they spend pages and pages spinning their wheels until accidents happen to move the plot along.  Plus, again, Anne’s father was following people to find out as much as he could why, after they identified Carl, wasn’t he aware of the other ghost?  Especially given that Jeremiah seems to have known everything he needed to regardless of whether he should’ve or not.

Given all that, Ring Around the Rosy winds up being just sort of flatly mediocre.  It isn’t bad even with a few instances of overly romanticized dialogue and plot troubles, but it isn’t good either despite decent side characters and what could honestly be an interesting dynamic between Anne and her father.  So where does this leave me?  I’m honestly not sure.  As I’ve said, it isn’t a bad novel and some of my issues with it almost definitely come from having read it out of sequence, but I don’t think I would read the other two based on this one.  All in all, it’s a three out of five book that could have used some whittling down and focusing on its plot.

Halloween Giveaway

Because Halloween is awesome and books are awesome I decided to combine the two and run a giveaway from Halloween until the Saturday after.  I’ve got three prize packs up for grabs, all of them books, all of them well worth reading.  And you, my readers, get to choose which ones you want to enter to win.

The prizes are:

Murder and Mayhem:

A copy each of Tess Gerritsen’s The Surgeon and Erica Spindler’s See Jane Die.

Behind the Masquerade:

A copy each of Rachel Caine’s Ill Wind and Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

The final prize is a copy of Ilona Andrews’ Gunmetal Magic.

So, how do you enter to win?  It’s easy, follow this blog either by email or through WordPress, comment here telling me what prize you want to be entered for and something about Halloween, then check back Sunday evening when I post the winners.  You can get an optional extra entry by also following me on Twitter @Tymp3st, but that will not qualify you to win on its own.

Best of luck everybody and have a great Halloween!

So this is an interesting situation.  I did totally intend to have this posted a couple of days ago but haven’t felt well for the last couple of days and more or less ignored it.  Bad at being timely.  Enjoy the review!

Paranormal investigator Savannah Levine is a powerful magic user, but after a case that tore a family apart she would give all her power to fix things.  Something heard her.  Now she stuck dodging witch hunters and searching for answers as a threat to the entire supernatural world rears its head.

When I requested Kelly Armstrong’s Spell Bound for review I didn’t realize that it was part of a series, much less the penultimate book of a thirteen novel series.  That said, it didn’t bother me nearly as much as it usually does to jump into the middle of a series and the book stood quite well on its own.  The characters were, for the most part, quite likeable and written in such a way that it didn’t feel like I was missing major parts of their development having missed several books.  I did find the whole thing with Savannah losing her powers frustrating because of how utterly helpless she thought of herself as being and how much other characters insisted that she wasn’t.  It was a little too real world for what I normally read, but also kind of endearing because people actually have moments like that.

All said and done, I definitely enjoyed Spell Bound, enough even to go back and read the other eleven when I get the chance.  I give it a four out of five for being a totally worthwhile read with a minimum of issues.

After a long and totally undeserved break, I’m back! With summer break just starting an a to read list longer than my arm I should be busy for awhile.  I’m sorting out my library at the moment, so there may be a couple of giveaways down the road for some books that I, unfortunately, just don’t have space for anymore.  It’s good to be back though so, as always, on to the review!

James R. Tuck’s Blood and Bullets is a mix of urban fantasy and action movie with a main character who is a study in over done manly man-ness.  Chalk is a larger than life, gun toting, monster slaying badass and he’s going to tell the reader about it at every chance he gets.  This gets old really quickly.  Chalk is supposed to be the big tough monster hunter who shows up and gets things done, the problem is he reads a lot like a bad self insert from a kid who wants to be the tough guy that solves problems.  This could have still worked out alright if the story had been in third person, the plot itself is fairly solid if a bit underwhelming.  The book is in first person though with the world’s most talkative know it all narrating everything that he does no matter how insignificant it is.  Even with that I would have been alright were it not for the repeat descriptions, Chalk describes his guns and himself at least three times.  His apparent effect on some women is also brought up repeatedly.  I don’t know if Tuck ran out of things to write with these descriptions or just didn’t trust his readers to remember any of it.

The plot, as I said before, is fairly decent.  Good guy gets attacked by more vampires than any of the major players in the city should have been able to put together, discovers the big bad’s existence, and has to figure out how to beat her without losing his rag tag team of monster hunters.  It’s been done, but that doesn’t stop it from working here.  To my mind the things that bring down the plot are, yet again, Chalk’s reiterating things too much, the big bad’s throwing logic out the window because she wants to have sex with Chalk, and the dues ex machina character that shows up towards the end.  I’d have really liked to have seen more of the secondary characters doing what they’re supposed to be good at rather than just taking Chalk’s word for it, it seems like most of them could do pretty well as protagonists on their own.

At the end of the day, the blurb for the next book sounds interesting but this seems like more of a series to borrow from the library than one that I would purchase the rest of.  I’m giving Blood and Bullets a three out of five for decent premise but a miss with the main character.

I’m working on getting my backlog of review copies reviewed and posted so the schedule may be a little wonkier than usual from now until a bit after finals. Things probably won’t get back to what passes for normal here until I’ve got a job for the summer and have gotten my computer checked out for why it’s running slow.

Ana Cordona has been left to defend the remainder of her pack since all the males were killed when someone poisoned their well.  She’s had to fight off the advances of her neighbor, Sean Taggart, another Alpha who wants both her and her land for his own.  When an old flame shows up offering protection for her and her pack it’s enough to accept his conditions and become his mate.

I started reading Katie Reus’ Alpha Instinct expecting a somewhat trashy romance novel with a tough female lead and a thoughtful, maybe a bit sorrowful male lead.  What I got instead was a trashy romance novel with a “strong” female lead and a bull headed male lead who was too wrapped up in being the Alpha and doing what was “right” for Ana to consider how she’d feel or react to his decisions.  The reader is told that Ana has been leading the remainder of her pack fairly well since her father, the previous Alpha, died.  But then Connor Armstrong shows up out of nowhere to claim his woman, his woman who he left for no apparent reason over fifty years ago, and suddenly Ana’s not only not the Alpha of her own pack anymore but she’s also relegated to being a painfully minor character while Connor and his brother go off to hunt down any and all threats.  While the boys are away, Ana stays mostly at home taking care of her sisters and being neurotic about Connor’s actions since he left all those years ago.  She also can’t do anything apparently because he’s the Alpha, this includes sitting down and figuring out what needs to be done to protect all that land that she knows better than he does and has been protecting herself for months.

There was some stuff with the shifters themselves that might have been interesting were it explained better or introduced slower.  There are Alphas, like Connor and some of his men, who are both alphas and warriors and are the one who apparently do all the actual leading.  Then there are alphas, like Ana, who are dominant to betas but aren’t warriors so they can’t lead properly because of something.  It needs to be expanded on a lot before it makes much sense.  Ana can’t complain about Taggart to the werewolves leading body because if she does it means that they’ll send her a man to take over her pack for her, not because she isn’t an Alpha mind but because she’s female, so that’s another thing that needs explaining.  Why are the human with attached animal self werewolves bound by the behaviors of wild animals by their government?

I’m not liking this world of Reus’, its logic doesn’t make all that much sense for me and its characters aren’t terribly likable.  Male wolves here apparently recognize their “destined” mates on sight and that aspect of it isn’t done well enough to keep me from having a knee jerk ick reaction to it.  The male characters take action, and the female characters just are for the most part.  I would read more about the only female in Connor’s pack, Erin, but only if she wasn’t being paired off with some dude as her main role.  I give Alpha Instinct a two out of five.  The writing was pretty average over all, I just couldn’t enjoy it because of the characters.