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Werewolves

Review: Four Weddings And A Werewolf by Kristin Miller

18464648Be leery of silence. It doesn’t mean you won the argument. Often, people are just busy reloading their guns. ― Shannon L. Alder

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t. – Audre Lorde

 

Back in early September, I was lucky enough to win a copy of Four Weddings and a Werewolf by Kristin Miller. It is book two of The Seattle Wolf Pack. As I already had the first book, Gone With The Wolf, I was tickled to no end to win the second. And it didn’t let me down.

Veronica is not exactly happy about her newest wedding planning job, seeing as how the family includes werewolves. And Veronica is not happy with werewolves. Because Veronica’s sister was viciously attacked by a werewolf, a werewolf that changed her beloved sister, the only family she has left. Now, though she sometimes sees her sister, her life will never be the same. And Veronica is certain that werewolves are, animals. Completely incapable of controlling their anger.

But now, Veronica is in danger, hunted by another of their kind. And only a werewolf may be able to save her life.

There is a lot of humor in Kristin’s series, but there is a great deal of pain as well. The pain of loss and fear, and the heart pounding fear of a mad stalker, intent on taking not your life, but your very soul.

This is a paranormal romance, sure. And a fun one at that. But Kristin does more, reaching beyond the simple to something better.

As I said, I won the book, and was tickled to do so. All thoughts are my own.

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Review: Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

dirtyIt is funny to consider an urban fantasy to be “charming” but that is just what Dirty Blood is – blood, guts, gore, murder and all. Without looking up how it is placed on the genre ladder, I would say that this qualifies as young adult, or new adult, but I found it extremely readable as an adult urban fantasy novel as well. Tara is 17-years-old, but she seems more mature, while still throwing the occasional temper tantrum. Of course, if I were her, I would have thrown a fit and fallen down in it at the way she is treated by those around her.

You see, Tara thinks that she is just a normal girl, with a normal boyfriend she has been friends with most of her life. Well, until he turned into the football obsessed moron who ditches their dates for recruiters, agents and interviews. But nevertheless, normal school, normal activities, normal life. That is, until a girl turns into a wolf right in front of her and proceeds to try her best to rip Tara’s throat out. From that point on, you can toss ‘normal’ straight out the window and go for spectacularly weird all the way around. For Tara is a Hunter, from a long line of Hunters. Genetic killers, born to kill werewolves.

As Tara’s life becomes more and more surreal, she begins to realize that her whole life has been a lie, and that she has been left open to the perils of her blooming talents and the scent of Hunter that the wolves can sense, with no training to help her survive. While her mother may have been ‘protecting’ her, she has also left her open to attack with no defense.

This is a very fast paced read. Tara is thrown into the metaphorical deep end of the pool, left to struggle to learn to fight and kill with the help of member of “The Cause” a group of Hunters and Werewolves who are trying to stop the fighting between the breeds – to create peace from the ashes of war. It is a lot for a 17-year-old to take in – especially when her mother is determined to bury her head in the sand and pretend that Tara can simply spend her life on the run, hiding from those who would kill her. Or would use her for their own ends. For Tara is something more than a Hunter, and what she is puts her at odds with both sides.

There is a love interest in the story, and it is incredibly well done. Her new boyfriend, Wes, is very special himself, a “Dirty Blood,” a hybrid of Wolf and Hunter, an abomination to those who would keep the war going to appease their own hatreds and superstitions. With a small group of friends around them, Wes and Tara have a hard job ahead of them, Tara’s harder than anyone’s as she tries to overcome the ‘protection’ of those around her which actually does more harm than good.

Overall, I would recommend this for any UF fan, male or female. I don’t normally care for YA and all the attendant ‘sturm und drang’ but this is not your typical YA. Tara is a great hero – she is strong and brave while still showing her lack of training and the shock and fear that such a tremendous change to her life, along with her fear for the safety of those she loves engenders. Of course, my favorite part of the book is during “the” big battle scene (there are several in the book) when her grandmother walks into a building full of warring Wolves and Hunters and commences to staking Wolves as if she is picking daisies. Awesome.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. The next book in the series is Cold Blood. Tara has been shipped off to Hunter Boarding School, where she will be safe and cozy and well-trained. Well, the well-trained thing might happen. The rest of it? Well, that is highly doubtful….

Review: Hard Spell: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 1

hardspell“My name’s Markowski, a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”  – Markowski, Hard Spell

Death is when the monsters get you. – Stephen King

Scranton, Pennsylvania fifty years after WWII is a different place than one might expect.  When millions of Americans poured into Europe to fight in the war, they picked up a little something extra to bring back home besides war wives and interesting STD’s. Quaint little things like cases of werewolves and vampires and zombies (oh, my!) Needless to say, it changed the way life is lived in the good ol’ US of A. Instead of McCarthy going after ‘Commies’ he gets to do real, honest-to-goodness witch hunts – for real witches. . .

There is a lot to like about Hard Spell. There is humor and a great deal of creativity that I got a kick out of. Gustainis writes an engaging tale with a strong noir flavour which reminds me quite a bit of the feeling I get from the Nightside stories by Simon R. Green – one of my favorite series of all time. There is a feeling of reality in the very unreal situations of the book, which was pleasing. However, the role of women characters in the book was, well, I hesitate to say “demeaning” but it comes very close to the razor edge of treating women as lesser beings – something that I found less than enjoyable. Even the female SWAT team member was portrayed in a less than admirable manner – something that irritated me to no end. I wanted to shake the author and remind him that “noir” doesn’t equate with “testosterone poisoning.”

I listened to the book – the Audible edition. As much as I enjoyed Gustainis’ work, I cannot say the same for the narrator. He was, in a word, completely irritating. What narrator worth his salt cannot be bothered to check pronunciations?!?! The guy STINKS at pronunciation! Come on – you don’t know how to pronounce “were” as in “werewolf??” Weer (like a Bostonian we’re)  is not even close to correct, Peter. It is rather insulting to the author that you can’t be bothered to take a moment to learn pronunciations.  Especially for such common terms.

Overall, I knocked a full star off for poor narration. Another half star for some problems with trite characterizations (especially the handling of Markowski’s first partner) and with his tendency to treat his characters with something less than respect. Overall, however, this was a completely bad introduction to the series. I hope to find a more well rounded volume with the next in the series, Evil Dark: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 2 – though I won’t be buying the Audible edition. Five more minutes of Peter Brooke and I may have been forced to throw my reader across the room. . .

 

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