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Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter

Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter (House of Comarré #2)Released: November 1, 2011
Format: e-book
Publisher: Orbit

Series: House of Comarré #2

Source: Purchased

Excerpt: No

With the ring of sorrows still missing, and the covenant between othernaturals and mortals broken, Chrysabelle and Malkolm’s problems are just beginning. Chrysabelle still owes Malkolm for his help, but fulfilling that debt means returning to Corvinestri, the hidden vampire city neither of them is welcome in.

The discovery that Chrysabelle has a brother could mean reneging on her promise to Malkolm, something that might make him angry enough to loose the beast living inside him. And fulfilling her vow could prove devastating for Chrysabelle —- especially when you throw in power hungry witches, dead fringe vampires, and the Kubai Mata.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s been a while since I’ve read the first book in Kristen Painter’s House of Comarré series but it was incredibly easy to get back into this amazing world. My best friend has been visiting this week so I’m way behind on reviews and in a hurry so this one’s going to be a quick post.

The one-line version:

If you want a series with strong, conflicted characters, evocative writing, and a mythology that keeps growing, you must read FLESH AND BLOOD (after reading BLOOD RIGHTS first, of course).

A bit more:

Chrysabelle is mired in self-discovery. She’s no longer comarré in the way that she was raised. Can she still keep her comarré values? How should she deal with Creek and Mal? She’s like a colt finding her legs in a lot of ways, but she happens to be an over-a-century-old fighting machine with newly discovered needs. There’s a lot going on with her. And Mal’s also got a heap of bagagge. Creek’s a breath of fresh air since he’s relatively light on this front but brings a lot to the table as a character and as a potential love interest for Chrysabelle. I’m also really intrigued by the introduction of the Kubai Mata. Can’t wait to see where that goes. There are also some neat developments for all of the other characters that I liked from the first novel so if you’re a fan of any of the secondary characters, you’ll come out of FLESH AND BLOOD feeling satisfied.

That’s it for now! You can always hit me up on Twitter if you want to chat more. 🙂

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Cursed by Angela Addams

Cursed by Angela Addams (The Order of the Wolf #1)Released: July 29, 2014
Format: e-book
Publisher: Samhain

Series: The Order of the Wolf #1

Source: NetGalley

Excerpt: Yes (click on Excerpt tab)

Her biggest mistake comes with fangs…and a nose for tracking her down.

The Order of the Wolf, Book 1

Wherever there’s a lying, cheating scumbag who’s broken a woman’s heart, Vengeance Dealer Darcy Wells is there. So what if she isn’t the most skilled witch around? She’s only using one spell, which leaves the hapless male suffering tormenting lust for one woman. Her.

The beautiful part? This curse comes equipped with a blinding agent, allowing her a clean getaway. Unrequited lust, coming right up! As far as Darcy is concerned, it’s justice served. Her next target: Raven Glock, rock band bassist and drop-dead-gorgeous sex god.

When Raven lays eyes on the luscious Darcy, he gives her what he promises all the starry-eyed groupies who toss their panties at him—one unforgettable night in his bed. Sex with Darcy is so epic that he forgets his cardinal rule: to get her out before morning.

At the crack of sunrise, Darcy serves Raven a face full of cursed ash. But something goes horribly wrong…and she finds herself magically tethered to one pissed-off werewolf.

Worse, breaking the spell could cost her everything…maybe even her life.

Warning: Sexually explicit language, tattoos, piercings, and giant…um…feet. Wet panties are a given. Author assumes no responsibility for spontaneous ravishment of significant others, pool boys, or local pizza delivery personnel.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

CURSED is an interesting read. It starts off as a witch vs. werewolf story but it evolves into something more, which I wasn’t expecting. Reading the cover copy you expect a fairly typical paranormal romance but Addams used CURSED to set the stage for The Order of the Wolf series, which has a mythology beyond a witch vs. werewolf showdown. I won’t say anything else since this is a relatively new release but I will say that it was a pleasant surprise. It meant that I had to pick up the second book in the series (review coming soon). But I’m here today to talk about CURSED so I’m going to get back to it.

The other neat thing about CURSED — besides the groundwork it lays — is the blending of the rockstar genre with the supernatural. Rock star romances seem to be on the rise — even Nalini Singh is putting one out soon — and I do enjoy a good contemporary romance but this is the first time I’ve read a PNR that blends the two together. I’m pretty sure there are other series out there that have a similar vein but I haven’t read them so CURSED felt rather unique in this respect. Because it’s a novella, we don’t see much of the band’s rockstar life but we do get a pretty clear understanding of how Raven enjoys his fame and fortune: groupies. This means, of course, that sex is a major factor in the novella so you probably shouldn’t pick this one up if you’re faint of heart. It’s not the most explicit thing out there but there’s no fade-to-black either, so be forewarned!

There are some downsides to CURSED, the foremost being the flatness of the characters. I really didn’t like Darcy or Raven that much. They’re not interesting individuals but I got past that because I liked the pace of the novella, the mythology that gets built, and the question of how to break the curse.

If you’re looking for a character driven story, this probably won’t work for you but, if you don’t mind a little lack of character development, you could enjoy CURSED. It’s a quick and easy read and there’s definitely something to be said for that. CURSED is a mixed bag in my opinion so you should check out the excerpt linked above and see if it’s for you.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

 

Claws Bared by Sheryl Nantus

Claws Bared by Sheryl Nantus (Blood of the Pride #2)Released: January 21, 2013
Format: eARC
Publisher: Carina Press

Series: Blood of the Pride #2

Source: NetGalley

Excerpt: Yes

Book two of Blood of the Pride

Rebecca Desjardin, a P.I. and cat shifter, doesn’t normally find herself in strip clubs. But a popular male dancer has been murdered in Pennsylvania, and it looks like the work of a shifter from the local Pride. Rebecca has a duty to help protect her kind—and she needs to find justice for the dead.

Her impromptu trip leaves her boyfriend, reporter Brandon Hanover, unhappy. He’s only just come to terms with the fact that she’s a Felis, and their relationship is still so new… Rebecca is determined to deal with the murder first, then deal with their future.

As her investigation unfolds, she’s met with grudging cooperation and half-truths. Does the Pride want her to find justice, or help them hide a killer? Frustrated and 
unable to shake the sexy local shifter who says he’s on her side, Rebecca can’t seem to scratch out the truth—at least not on her own. But when Brandon shows up, is he there to help or to mark his territory?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

In keeping with last month’s resolution to finally review more Sheryl Nantus, I’m going to talk about CLAWS BARED, the second book in her Blood of the Pride urban fantasy series.

In CLAWS BARED, Rebecca goes on a road trip to the States, to investigate the murder of a male stripper. She’s been called in as a neutral party — one of the apparent perks of being an outcast with investigative skills. It’s a great scenario because it puts Rebecca on the outside on multiple levels and I really enjoyed seeing how she would cope with everything. Nantus has crafted a nice and somewhat unpredictable mystery for CLAWS BARED and the pages flew by as I watched Rebecca get closer and closer to the killer.

There’s also some momentum on the romance front. Rebecca and Bran’s relationship is still a bit unsettled: the feelings are there but Rebecca has commitment issues. Rather than dithering about them for book after book, though, Nantus sets the question up as fairly central and there’s some good exploration of their feelings for each other and Rebecca’s feelings about being with a human rather than a fellow Felis. In fact, the latter are confronted rather dramatically thanks to one of the local Felis, which was a nice touch of temptation.  This also shows us a new side to Bran, which was very cool. He’s a wild card in the Felis world but I’m so happy that he’s not fumbling around all the time. Bran’s secure in himself and wants to be secure in the relationship, which earns him a lot of respect in my books, and in CLAWS BARED.

The benefit of being behind in my reviews is that I have two more Blood of the Pride novels waiting for me so I think it’s time to dive into the next one, but not until I encourage you to give this series a shot. It’s written by a fellow Canuck and I’m pleased to be able to throw 100% of my support behind this great writer. CLAWS BARED is a great story but you should read BLOOD OF THE PRIDE first so that you’re properly immersed in the Felis world.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Amityville Horrible by Kelley Armstrong

Amityville Horrible by Kelley ArmstrongReleased: December 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Subterranean Press

Series: Otherworld #10.8

Source: Purchased

Excerpt: No

Jaime Vegas—spiritualist, entertainer and, unbeknownst to her audience, real-life necromancer—swore she’d never do another reality ghost show after the last fiasco. But when she’s railroaded into a charity gig, she finds herself back on the set, this time with a cast of photogenic college kids, an up-and¬-coming Russian spiritualist, and a tale of missing girls and murder in New England. It’s cheesy, but that’s show business. With her werewolf Alpha lover, Jeremy Danvers, along to keep her nights interesting, it’s not so bad really. Until the bloody ghosts show up. Jaime has never faced spirits like these, and no matter how hard she tries, they won’t be ignored.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jaime and Jeremy on the road again! Who doesn’t want more of Jaime on set with Jeremy looking out for her? AMITYVILLE HORRIBLE is one of those delicious novellas that Armstrong releases through Subterranean Press and, like all of the others, it is an absolute delight.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Jaime as narrator. It’s been a while since we’ve seen things from her point of view and it was so much fun being back in her shoes. Jaime’s narration charms me every time, thanks to her blend of stoic resolve to all things showbiz and necromancer combined with her more joyful and girly moments with/about Jeremy. She’s older than most of the other characters who narrate the series and it gives her voice a bit more maturity, but not in the stodgy mature kind of sense.

Armstrong has written a tidy little mystery for us and it’s as unpredictable as her longer novels. There are some spooky moments and chilling ghosts, plus an ending that you’ll find quite satisfying. She even manages to give us some small moments of romance so that we can remember just how good Jaime and Jeremy are together. (And it makes me sad all over that Jaime probably won’t ever show up on Bitten.)

My standard complaint of “I want more” notwithstanding, Armstrong delivers a great vignette into Jaime’s life. It’s a must read for fans of the series and it’s extremely affordable as an e-book for those who don’t want to shell out the $45 for the print version. Enjoy!

Changes by Jim Butcher

Changes by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #12)Released: March 1, 2014
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Roc

Series: The Dresden Files #12

Source: Library

Excerpt: Yes

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover-until she was attacked and left struggling with the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Now, she needs Harry’s help. Harry’s enemies have found the secret she has hidden for so long, and he will have to unleash the full fury of his untapped power.

Because this time, he’s fighting to save his child.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Holy. Crap.

I’m a few books behind on the Dresden Files and I knew that CHANGES had some big, well, changes in it but Jim Butcher just about killed me this time around. The Dresden Files is a truly solid series and I’ve loved every book in the series but CHANGES takes the cake.

Some of you may know what happens if you’ve been better about keeping up with the series but I don’t want to spoil anything. The main thrust of the novel is Harry’s quest to find his daughter, Maggie — a daughter he never knew he had with Susan. And this is just the first change we get, on page 1. I’d been hoping Susan would come back again and Butcher gives her an excellent part in this story. We get to see a bit of the old Susan but also a lot of the new, harder Susan who lives life on the run, killing vampires and then moving on, in an endless cycle. It’s no life for a child, and neither is Harry’s, which is why Susan gave up their daughter. It’s perfectly sensible but you can see it tear at both Harry and Susan throughout the novel. Family is a touchy subject for our hero and it’s a theme that resonates throughout CHANGES.

The other titular events? Well, they’re part of the surprise so I don’t want to say anything about them. I will say that we get some quality moments between Harry and Molly, and some of my most beloved characters make appearances. We also get some awesome Mouse moments, which is probably no surprise since he’s a most excellent dog-who’s-much-more-than-a-dog. Butcher also gives us some amazing Murphy scenes and they cement my love of this character. Murphy’s such a strong character — a smart, tough human in a supernatural world — and I love her practicality, her loyalty, and her relationship with Harry. And of course, Butcher wouldn’t be Butcher if the novel didn’t end with a last amazing chapter. Wow.

I really wish I had GHOST STORY on hand so that I could figure out how Butcher is going to resolve the final event in CHANGES but I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what Harry’s next crazy adventure will be.

Twisted Miracles by AJ Larrieu

Twisted Miracles by AJ LarrieuReleased: April 7, 2014
Format: eARC
Publisher: Carina

Series: The Shadowminds #1

Source: Netgalley

Excerpt: Yes

Cass Weatherfield’s powers come with a deadly price.

Cass knows it was her telekinetic gift that killed a college classmate five years back, even if no one else believes her. She’s lived in hiding from her fellow shadowminds ever since, plagued by guilt and suppressing her abilities with sedatives. Until the night her past walks back into her life in the form of sexy Shane Tanner, the ex-boyfriend who trained her…and the one she left without saying goodbye.

When Shane tells her that his twin sister, Mina–Cass’s childhood friend–is missing, Cass vows to help, which means returning to New Orleans to use her dangerous skills in the search. But finding Mina only leads to darker questions. As Cass and Shane race to learn who is targeting shadowminds, they find themselves drawn to each other, body and soul. Just as their powerful intimacy reignites, events take a terrifying turn, and Cass realizes that to save the people she loves, she must embrace the powers that ruined her life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’m sorry to say it but I’m rather ambivalent about TWISTED MIRACLES. There was no insta-love or need to read. I was really intrigued by the cover copy and it has some nice elements but I can’t recommend this book as a Must Read. I’d say it’s more of a try-an-excerpt-and-see-for-yourself kind of book.

The good: It was fun to read a series about “shadowminds”, basically different flavours of psychics. There are some neat powers and the history that is slowly revealed is very interesting. Larrieu has some nice world building going on, and it’s definitely one of the strength of the novel. You get a really authentic sense of Louisiana, probably because Larrieu is a native of the state.

The bad: Cass is a weak protagonist. I’ve got no quibble with characters who are damaged or anything like that (hello, I love Shiloh Walker, who writes some of the most broken people ever) but Cass is weak in the sense that I didn’t feel like she had much personality. It’s like she was so busy trying to dampen her gift that she forgot she was a person. A main character who doesn’t grab me is a kiss of death and it made it hard to get invested in Cass’ journey, especially since she’s surrounded by more interesting people.

I don’t have much more to say because of my ambivalence. TWISTED MIRACLES didn’t make a great impression on me but I hope it will find fans out there somewhere. If you liked it more than I did, I’d love to hear why.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Dead Things by Stephen BlackmooreReleased: February 5, 2014
Format: e-book
Publisher: DAW

Series: Eric Carter #1

Source: Purchased

Excerpt: Yes

Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it’s a title Eric Carter is stuck with.

He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.

When he left LA fifteen years ago, he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him.

But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.

 Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patrion saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him.

Carter’s going to find out who did it, and he’s going to make them pay.

As long as they don’t kill him first.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[Admin note: Sorry for the late post. I’ve been swamped with work so I wrote it on the train to London. I’m heading to the capital for some quality time with the British Library and a public lecture. Who knows how to have an exciting weekend?]

If I had to keep it short and sweet, I’d just say: DEAD THINGS is the tits!

If you have a bit more time to read, here’s why. DEAD THINGS is a very cool entry into urban fantasy, bringing us a necromancer unlike the others that populate the literature. Eric Carter is a man without a home, voluntarily exiled from Los Angeles to keep his sister alive. He’s been roaming for 15 years, talking to ghosts, banishing them, killing when necessary, living completely off the grid. He’s covered in tattoos that help him in some way — protection, spellcasting, etc. (even he can’t remember what they all do) — and he’s got a little bit of reluctant hero vibe. He’s capable of noble deeds — after all, he left LA to keep his sister Lucy safe and he does a fair bit of smiting — but he’s also a loner with a lot of emotional baggage. He literally has no physical baggage since he’s a vagabond by choice, which was quite interesting because his lifestyle reminds me a lot of what you see in post-apocalyptic stories, where people don’t have many possessions because they’re so focused on survival.

Of course, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if Eric was just running around doing a case of the week so Blackmoore drags him back to LA by killing Lucy.  No one in LA can figure out what happened but Eric’s gifts make him the man for the job. Plus, he has no one left to protect now that Lucy is dead so there’s less keeping him out of the city. The mysteries of who killed Lucy and why Lucy was killed were unpredictable and well motivated so you know I loved that aspect of the story.

The world building is also outstanding in DEAD THINGS. Blackmoore draws on various mythologies to populate his world. Eric interacts with a range of deities/supernaturals including Baron Samedi and the Aztec goddess Santa Muerte. Like my fave Kevin Hearne, Blackmoore isn’t restricted to a particular pantheon; instead, everything seems to be fair game in Eric Carter’s world. I love it when authors do this because it means the possibilities are so broad. Many of Eric’s key interactions in DEAD THINGS are with Santa Muerte but there are also ghosts of people he killed, gangsters, and more to keep him busy in between his encounters with Santa Muerte.

The book ends with a very interesting revelation and I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #1)Released: November 29, 2011
Format: ebook
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Series: Charley Davidson #1

Source: Library

Excerpt: Yes

First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.
  
Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
 
This is a thrilling debut novel from Darynda Jones, an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.
 
First Grave on the Right is the winner of the 2012 Rita Award for Best First Book.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Quick review this week because I’ve been absolutely swamped at work…

My Team Tynga’s Reviews co-blogger Lili has rhapsodized about the Charley Davidson  books so I thought it was high time I tried them out. And I really liked what I’ve seen so far, in FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT.

Charley is the wise-cracking-est protagonist I’ve read in quite some time. Sometimes the humour is dry, sometimes it’s a little slapstick, and sometimes it’s quite sly, which is when I’ve enjoyed the narrative the most. Charley’s internal monologue is absolutely delightful and her out-loud comments can be even better! Charley could be such a mess with all the ghosts and whatnot but she’s remarkably well grounded from someone who can remember every instant of her life and has been interacting with spirits for just as long.

In contrast to the humour in the narrative and Charley’s speech, the plot has some serious, heavy moments. Charley’s job as a reaper is an important one and she’s lucky to have family that believe in her and are willing to work with her to solve mysteries. She helps ghosts find resolution, and often helps her uncle solves crimes while she’s at it. Her current mystery involves three dead attorneys who won’t go into the light because of their unresolved issues, which are primarily their deaths. It’s fun watching Charley interact with their ghosts while pretending not to be talking to the air. She has to be seriously grateful for the invention of cell phones!

While solving the attorneys’ murders, Charley is also trying to figure out what to do about Reyes. Without spoiling it for you, Reyes has links to Charley’s past and also her abilities, which makes him quite the mystery. Charley finds him in the strangest place when he comes back into her life and it’s a very intriguing storyline. Jones had me on the edge of my proverbial seat, wondering what the outcome would be. And Jones doesn’t keep us waiting beyond FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, which makes me really happy. She reveals Reyes’ connection to Charley and, as a result, I’m very curious about the next book in the series.

Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood

Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood (Ree Reyes #1)Released: July 10, 2012
Format: ebook
Publisher: Pocket Star

Series: Ree Reyes #1

Source: Personal shelf

Excerpt: Yes

Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire the Slayer in this original urban fantasy eBook about Geekomancers—humans that derive supernatural powers from pop culture.

Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.

When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.

Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was really excited to read GEEKOMANCY. I figured it was the perfect book for me: urban fantasy, geek references, a spunky heroine. Sadly, GEEKOMANCY was a letdown for me.

Ree is a nice character. She’s got a lot of spunk and I loved her sense of humour. I also appreciate reading a book with such an unabashedly geeky heroine. She’s a full-on geek, with all of the interests and hobbies you could ask for. She makes a lot of references to comics, movies, games, etc. and Underwood assumes that you, as the reader, are just as geeky as he is because there’s no explanation offered, not even for the more obscure ones. My own geekiness was affirmed when I understood pretty much all of them but I don’t think that it’s necessarily the best way to win over readers who are urban fantasy fans but who don’t have as much interest in, say, comic books. There’s either a great deal of assumption here, or a general lack of accommodation for readers who aren’t as deeply embedded in these aspects of geek culture.

The other characters in GEEKOMANCY aren’t quite as well developed. I really liked Ree’s friends and her boss but we don’t know that much about them beyond surface descriptions. Their feelings aren’t discussed in depth, which is okay since they’re not as important to the plot, but I would have liked to know them a bit better. We do get more page time with Eastwood but that wasn’t great news to me because I really didn’t like him. He’s cocky and self-absorbed and not the kind of mentor I would want introducing me into the crazy world Ree finds herself in.

In terms of plot, I found GEEKOMANCY to be fairly predictable. There are a couple twists that I were interesting but generally the storylines were easy to predict. If you’re looking for a truly original novel, Underwood delivers in terms of the world that he’s created but not in terms of plot.

Generally, GEEKOMANCY was just too over-the-top for me. It’s not a bad idea but I wasn’t engaged by the story and finished more out of a sense of obligation than one of wonder. It’s not how I want my reading to be. But I hope you’ll let me know if you’ve enjoyed the book or know folks who have.

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur LaffertyReleased: May 23, 2013
Format: e-book
Publisher: Orbit

Series: The Shambling Guides #1

Source: Edelweiss

Excerpt: Yes

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city – for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her resume — human.

Not to be put off by anything — especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker — Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble — with Zoe right in the middle.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

If I had to sum up THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY is two words, I’d have to go with “absolutely delightful”. Mur Lafferty has crafted an original, witty urban fantasy around a profession I once thought about getting into myself: travel writing. It gives THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY a really unique entry into the genre and it got me hooked from the get-go.

Zoe is a great main character. She’s very average in a lot of ways but she excels at travel writing and being stubborn. She keeps applying for the job at Underground Publishing even though many other characters are trying to dissuade her, including the owner. Obviously, from the title, she does persevere and ends up as the only human member on the staff of the publication company; everyone else is coterie, all of the supernatural who inhabit this world. There are your usual vampires, incubi, and zombies but there are also some less common supernaturals, and the introduction of a new group, the zoetists, people who give life (e.g. create golums). Lafferty does a wonderful job of putting her own spin on all of these characters. Her zombies worship celebrities and she has a gay incubus who runs a bakery and gets his fix from people loving his baked goods, not from sex. Zoe’s coworkers aren’t all puppies and hearts, though, and we do see the dark nature of some of the coterie that Zoe meets.

The plot takes all sorts of twists and turns. Someone’s out to get Zoe and things escalate as the novel progresses. What starts off as a simple job search after a heartbreak that lead to a move from North Carolina to New York City develops into a struggle to stay alive, complete with some epic action sequences. The last third of the novel is really exciting; Lafferty definitely knows how to bring things to a thrilling conclusion.

THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY is a joy of a book and one that I would definitely recommend. I look forward to diving into the next book in the series, set in New Orleans.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
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