Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Vampire a Day: Blood and Snow by RaShelle Workman

I love re-imagined fairy tales. I love writing them (Bride of the Midnight King, Fashionista) and I love reading them. I'm always pleased when someone comes up with an inventive new twist on an old story, as Christine Pope did with her sci fi Beauty and the Beast novella Blood Will Tell. RaShelle Workman's contemporary paranormal version of Snow White is now a multi-book series that's sold more than a million copies and it's easy to see why. You can get book one free on kindle, and move on from there.

Workman's version of Snow White is a thoroughly contemporary young woman who doesn't own any makeup, is hopelessly out of fashion compared to her fashionista friend, who is prone to bouts of TMI, and generally doesn't think she has much to offer. She's sympathetic, relatable, and likable. And SHE HAS A CHARACTER ARC!!

And the author has worked out a history and a mythos for her vampires. And there are consequences for people's actions.

I liked this book a lot. If you like heroines who have character, and plots that involve real emotion, you will like this series.

Bonus: I really liked the font used for this story. So many ebooks look like they were typed on a typewriter or use some generic font that is just ugly. The font here is very feminine without being overwhelmingly girly/swirly.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Another one for the TBR pile (bookcase)

I am an absolute sucker for books on the "secret history" or the "history you never learned" books. This one caught my eye on a Library Thing give-away and I'm not the only one fascinated by this kind of material. Something like 600 people have already put their names in the hat to win 100 review copies. So yes, that's a one in six chance but the month is still early. And I can't wait. so I'm off to snag my kindle copy of Spies, Sadists, and Sorcerers by Dominic Selwood. (The painter of the Shroud of Turin was found in the 1300s!!! I cannot wait to read this book.)

A Vampire a Day: The Vampire Maid by Hume Nisbet

First of all, don't bother to download this "public domain" novel from Amazon. The type is spindly and hard to read and the formatting is atrocious. (Words like "kind" are split.) But because the story was written in 1901, the good people of Project Gutenberg have made it available online in a much more readable form. (Find it here.)

It's a wonderfully Gothic kind of story that makes me wonder why we haven't heard more about Hume Nisbet. Turns out he was a really interesting guy. He was an artist and a poet who also wrote books on art in addition to lots and lots of ghost stories. He also wrote a fair number of romances.His paintings are all quite moody--his most famous is probably "the Flying Dutchman," and are full of clouds and fogs and so forth.

I really enjoyed this short story and think you will too.

A Vampire a Day: Vampires Rule by Kasi Blake

Like ohmigod, I thought when I saw the title of this book, thinking it was going to be a story about teen vampires in high school or something. As it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
The cover is a better clue to the content. It's got that angsty thing going on and despite the kind of cheesy typeface, the image clearly depicts the kind of isolation the young vampire narrator experiences.

The book begins with a very emotional and very effective scene as "a boy with no name' pays a visit to his childhood home and sees that the cheery yellow his mother chose has been painted over with a muted olive green. He nearly panics t the thought that his brother Billy has sold the farm, but as it turns out, losing the farm is not the worst problem facing him.

A Vampire a Day: HEARTBLAZE by Shay Roberts

I don't know about you, but if I see ONE MORE paranormal book where the heroine is a passive little twit, I'm going to throw up my garlic pizza. HEARTBLAZE is a refreshing change.
Right from the start, author Shay Roberts serves notice that this is not going to be an ordinary paranormal romance. Yes, there are vampires and werewolves in the story, but there’s also a richly detailed paranormal world, where there are rules and reasons for what happens. Then there’s the setting—Rhode Island, a place steeped in history that comes alive, particularly in the sections of the book set in Emma’s past life. That past life element is very appealing, especially since there are “real life characters” woven into the tale. (Watch for a great bit involving the birth of the national anthem.)
Written in a briskly cinematic style—we’re plunged right into the action as heroine Emma Rue finds herself acting in inexplicable ways for reasons she doesn’t understand—and told from multiple points of view across two timelines, HEARTBLAZE delivers on all levels. There’s a vampire hierarchy, complicated clan politics among the shifter characters, and a vengeful ghost who has an agenda related to the larger world. And there’s a romance that’s deepened not just by conflict, but by intelligence. Emma is not a silly little girl and her pursuit of the truth about herself, about who she was and who she is, draws us in. And bonus points for the spooky old mansion! Both Gothic and contemporary, this book is a treat for readers who are tired of the same-old/same-old.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Vamprie a Day: Vampyre: Legal Chronicles by C.C. McKenzie

This book caught my eye because I'm a sucker for urban fantasy stories that combine real-world type situations with paranormal creatures. I love Batton Lash's WOLFF & BYRD series and have always thought it would make a fantastic television show. (I love the tagline for the series--"Beware the Creatures of the NIght. They have laywers.") At first I didn't notice that the little red squiggle at the bottom of the cover was a name (MARCUS), I just thought it was part of the design. This book is part one of a three-part series, and all of the volumes are available, both as individual books and as a boxed set/collection. That's always good.

This is actually billed as a vampire romance, but while the writer did a good job with that element of the story, what interested me more was the way the corporate backdrop played out against the magical elements. And it's not just vampires on the loose here, there is magic--true, and DARK magic.

The vampires (the spelling with a Y just annoys me, so I'll use that and not  the spelling the author prefers) have a history and have personalities. Duncan Gillespie, a vampire elder and a vampire prince, is ancient but not entitled, and he immediately stands out in a sea of "alphahole" vampire princes preying on gorgeous young people.

Right from the start, the author gives us bits and pieces of a wider world. Gillespie, for instance, wonders if he's beginning the life transition known as "the Fade." (Even vampires don't live forever.) But we know that Duncan is not one of the people on the cover--the male vampire is presumably the "Marcus" of the title and the woman (despite her less-than-corporate attire) is most assuredly Anais, the ambitious lawyer we're told Marcus has been mentoring.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Vampire a Day: Daughters of Darkness: Victoria by W.J. May

There are a lot of vampire novels (or in this case, novellas) out there, and I realized I had about a bazillion of them on my Kindle. I decided to see how many I could read in a month. I'm aiming for one a day. Here's the first one.

This is a novella, which is exactly the bite-sized bit of story I was looking for today. I like the setup of the daughters of Vlad being scattered all over the place and so numerous that they don't necessarily know each other. That makes sense to me. After a couple of centuries, it would be easy to lose count of your progeny, particularly if you move around a lot.

The title character is a "hunter," and as the story opens, she's after a girl who's a witch. But complications ensue when she finds out that the witch is actually one of her (many) sisters. And then, it gets really complicated.

Victoria (or "Tori" as her hunting partners call her), is a tough chick in the obligatory skin-right black leather outfit. She doesn't have a lot of patience with humans or half-vampires who can't keep up. (But who does really?)

A lot of this feels like it's been filtered through the UNDERWORLD movie franchise (vampires versus werewolves), but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I like adding the witch element, especially when we find out that the witch in question is untrained and having to "wing it" as her magic is activated with a heavy blood scent. I prticularly liked it when Tori corners her prey and the witchling's newborn powers seem to be fizzling out. Because you could see that happening!

Tori starts out with a little Katniss action (she's armed with a bow and arrow) and then switches to guns, but before the story's over, we get ultraviolet guns and gizmos. It's fun. The writer also gives us a sens eof a larger universe at work, with talk of "the Council."