Thursday, September 24, 2015

Old Town Nights (Blood & Company Book 1) - Linda Lee Williams

If you like your romance with a bit of a bite, you may like Old Town Nights.

Ambrose Slater is part of a family that has run the popular Slater's Bakery chain in Chicago for many years. But the real family secret is that everyone in the family is a vampire. In the world of this novel, vampirism is hereditary. Those who suffer from the condition can withstand sunlight, although they burn easily. And they can eat and drink regular food, but they also need blood -- preferably human blood -- to survive.

Ambrose has his eye on a woman named Abby Lawrence. He spotted her in a park one day as her boyfriend was yelling at her, and was smitten at once. Ambrose wants her for his own, but he's certain Abby will never agree to marry a vampire. So he decides his best course of action is to kidnap her.

That's right -- he's a stalker and a would-be kidnapper. But really, deep down, he's a good guy. And Abby does fall for him, with help from a few love bites. But the real drama begins when she realizes that he wants to have children -- babies to whom she would have to feed blood as well as milk.

I had a few problems with the editing. It seemed to me that there was too much telling and not enough showing. Also, Williams begins too many of her sentences with an -ing verb, and at times the construction doesn't make sense. The -ing form indicates an action that's ongoing. "Kicking off her sandals, she rested her feet on the coffee table" implies that she put her feet up while still in the act of taking off her sandals -- which I suppose is possible, but probably not what the author meant to say.

In addition, there were some instances where words like "yesterday" and "last night" were used with a verb in the past perfect tense. For example, "All he'd done was toss and turn last night" sounds wrong to me. I would have replaced "last night" with "the previous night." If Ambrose had said, "All I did was toss and turn last night," that works fine, because everything is in simple past tense.

Does that make sense? Maybe it's just me. If that sort of thing doesn't trouble you -- and if you like vampires and romance -- then maybe Old Town Nights is for you.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shadowcursed - Gelo R. Fleischer

Shadowcursed is the story of an aging thief who takes one last job, and gets more than he bargained for.

At 42 or so, Bolen is not as spry as he once was, but he's convinced he can still pull off one more job. So he agrees to break into the home of the City Lord, Falasade, and steal a ruby statuette from the man's vault. The risk is great -- they don't call Falasade the Mad Lord for nothing. But there's something enticing about that statuette. Something...magical.

Still, he fences it. And then he's forced into another job, this time for an anonymous employer: to steal the statuette he's just fenced.

To sort out the mess he's in, Bolen will need the help of the clergy, all of his wits, and maybe even a meeting with the Mad Lord himself.

I really enjoyed this fantasy novella. They story moves along at a fast pace, with plenty of unexpected twists. I didn't see any editing issues. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kitty Saves the World (Kitty Norville #14) - Carrie Vaughn

Now this is more like it. With Kitty Saves the World, Carrie Vaughn wraps up her 14-book urban fantasy saga, and she does it perfectly.

Kitty Norville, werewolf and Denver late-night radio talk-show host, has put out a tasty bit of bait for the vampire who wants to rule the world. The idea is to lure Roman, a.k.a. Dux Bellorum, out of hiding so that Kitty and her allies can trap and kill him. The vampire bites, you might say, but the assassination attempt fails -- and it's now clear that Roman is making his final moves in the vampires' Long Game. The head of the vampire coven in Denver passes a message to Kitty -- leave town now, or you and your family are dead. At the same time, she receives an offer out of the blue from a shady producer to put her radio show on TV, but only if she moves to California. What a coincidence, huh?

I've said before that with this series, Vaughn had me at Denver and radio. In this final book, she puts Kitty back in her natural setting -- the radio show, the werewolf pack's territory, and her life with husband Ben. It reminds the reader of everything Kitty personally stands to lose if she can't defeat Roman.

I skipped over book 13 of the series because Kitty wasn't the main character. While some readers seemed to think that book was crucial to understanding what's going on in this final volume, I didn't feel like I missed out on all that much.

Anyway. If you've been a Kitty Norville fan previously, you'll love Kitty Saves the World.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) - Joe Abercrombie

I got sidetracked from my plan to review one trad-pubbed book a month, didn't I? Now here it is, September. This year's World Fantasy Convention is happening in just two months, and I still have a whole stack of dead-tree books from last year's book bag that I haven't read. The Kindle is just so much more convenient... Anyway, I took this one along with me on vacation a few weeks ago, and ended up liking it very much.

Half a King is YA epic fantasy. Our protagonist is Yarvi, the younger son of the king and queen of Gettland, who was born with a deformed left hand. Without two good hands, he is useless at most things involving physical labor -- including fighting -- and so is deemed a weakling by his father. But Yarvi has a quick mind, and he is training for the ministry (somewhere between magic wielder and royal adviser) when he learns that his father has been killed in a raid. Yarvi's elder brother is also dead -- which means Yarvi is now king. Or half a king, as he tells himself bitterly -- too crippled to lead his people effectively. Or so he believes.

Regardless, his uncle forces him to lead a raid of vengeance on a neighboring king. Treachery ensues, and Yarvi ends up sold into slavery as an oarsman on a pirate ship that sails the Shattered Sea. Yarvi must somehow escape and make his way back to Gettland before he can see justice served.

I liked Yarvi, despite the fact that he comes off as a whiner in a good chunk of the book. He's always picking on himself because of his disability, but perhaps it's excusable. He's just parroting all the people around him who are telling him the same thing. The plot is tight, the treachery believable. And Abercrombie throws in a few twists along the way that I should have seen coming but didn't.

I think readers of epic fantasy would enjoy Half a King.