Grave Importance, by Vivian Shaw, is the third and final book in the Dr. GretaHelsing series. Greta has been called in by a friend to temporarily run Oasis Natrun, an exclusive health clinic for mummies. Something is causing the patients to black out and it’s up to Greta to find out what. There’s also the matter of her best friend being cursed and needing to be taken to Hell, Sir Frances Varney proposing, and reality itself coming under attack.
1—The Whole Gang
All my favorite characters show up. Greta, of course. The vampire Ruthven and the vampyre Varney. But also the vampires Grisaille (who’s now Ruthven’s sweetie) and Emily from the second book. And from the first book there’s Cranswell—Ruthven’s friend who works at a London museum—and Nadezhda, Hippolyta, and Anna, Greta’s team at her London clinic. Not everyone gets a starring role, of course, but they’re all there. And there are new people to meet too—mummies, and angels, and Dr. Faust himself.
Romancing the Inventor, a novella by Gail Carriger, follows Imogene, a maid at a vampire hive, as she falls in love with a heartbroken lady inventor.
Heat level, open door on the sex scenes but not terribly graphic.
Note: I read this story as part of a limited-edition and out-of-print omnibus collection, Fan Service, but Romancing the Inventor is available as a stand-alone.
Everyone thinks Imogene arrogant because she won’t take a husband, but the truth is that no man appeals to her. She secretly pines for women, a thing illegal in Victorian England. So Imogene takes a job as a maid with the local vampire hive, hoping the countess might take an interest in her—supernaturals are exceptions to the law—but the countess, indeed all the vampires, ignore her. Continue reading “Romancing the Inventor—Unexpected Chances”→
Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is a gothic horror novel from 1897, told in epistolary format—that is, as a series of journals, telegrams, letters, and newspaper clippings, etc. It’s the tale of those cursed to have a vampire come after them. It starts with the journal of Jonathan Harker, sent by his employer to the wilds of Eastern Europe to help Count Dracula with legal matters in purchasing property in London, England. Things go spectacularly wrong from there.
The first coincidence is that Dracula’s ship crashes into the beach of the town where Jonathan’s fiancé Mina is staying, along with her friend Lucy. The next coincidence is that all Lucy’s would-be fiancés are friends. The chosen fiancé Arthur Holmwood asks Dr. John Seward (I know, Jonathan and John, but it’s not too hard to keep them separate) to look in on a sick Lucy. Seward, not being a medical doctor himself, calls on his old mentor. Seward just happens to have been the favorite student of doctor and metaphysisist Professor Abraham van Helsing, who just so happens to have the knowledge of—and an open enough mind to believe in—vampires. And the initial property Dracula bought, the dilapidated Carfax Abbey, just happens to be behind the sanitarium Seward runs. Also, Seward just happens to take a special interest in a zoophagous patient, Renfield, who just happens to have a connection to Dracula. And all this in the first third of the book. Continue reading “Dracula—the Book—A Slow Start but Worth the Effort”→
Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, is a paranormal cozy mystery romance. It’s told from the first-person perspective of Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress and mind reader in the little southern town of Bon Temps, and her first encounter with a vampire—who she falls in love with. Of course, said vampire is a suspect in some local murders, as is Sookie’s brother.
Sookie thinks of her mind reading ability as a disability. It makes it difficult to interact normally with people, difficult to concentrate on anything much more than just keeping other people out of her head. She’s careful not to invade people’s privacy, especially her boss Sam’s. She likes her job as a waitress at Merlotte’s and doesn’t want to have to give it up. So when Bill comes in and she can’t read his mind, Sookie immediately takes to him. Continue reading “Dead Until Dark—The Dead, the Undead, and a Serial Killer”→
Some Girls Bite, by Chloe Neill, is told from the first-person perspective of Merit, a newly minted vampire. Having been attacked by a rogue vampire and nearly killed, she was saved and changed by Master vampire Ethan Sullivan and now has to contend with a new and unexpected life.
Merit is having a hard time adjusting to her new life as a vampire—she was unimpressed when they came out to the public and shared their existence. Merit doesn’t want to be a vampire, which surprises Ethan Sullivan. She doesn’t want to be attracted to Ethan, who also doesn’t want to be attracted to her, but is. Merit doesn’t want to be kicked out of school, or to have to dress in formal black attire the entire time, or…the list goes on. And to top it off, the day she’s to swear allegiance to Ethan and Cadogan House is coming up fast—and Merit doesn’t know if she’s going to give her oath or become an outcast Rogue for the rest of her very, very long life. Continue reading “Some Girls Bite—Vampires Come Out of the Coffin and Into the Limelight”→
Charming, by Elliott James, is an urban fantasy and volume one of the Pax Arcana series. John Charming, former modern-day Knight Templar and current fugitive, is just trying to get by without trouble when trouble comes walking into his bar and sweeps him up in a much larger adventure.
Charming is told in first-person smartass, a trope I particularly like. Mr. James is good at weaving the worldbuilding in through John’s observations, and there’s a lot of worldbuilding to be done. John’s observations of the world color the narrative, as this is essentially his journal. There’s a Prelude and an Interlude to help explain how the Pax Arcana works, but they’re amusing. For the most part though, information is woven into the narrative. Continue reading “Charming—Knights and Valkyries and Vampires, Oh My”→
Harsh Gods by Michelle Belanger is the sequel to Conspiracy of Angels. An Urban Fantasy told in first person by Anakim angel Zaquiel—mortal name Zachary Westland—as he tries to save an autistic girl from possession by something she calls the Whisper Man.
1—Angel Still Unaware
Zack’s lost memories continue to be a problem but Father Frank, the priest who called Zack in for the exorcism, knows Zack’s real name, as well as having a more intimate link to Zack and his past life. Beyond that, Zack is still tormented by the flashes of memory that surround the missing events—scents and sounds, vague impressions that flee as soon as he tries to grab them. It’s understandable Zack is depressed. But it’s fun watching Zack interact with strangers who know him.
Beyond that though, Zach is realizing he may not like the person he used to be. He has instincts and thoughts that sicken and terrify him, most of them violent. But some of them have been acquired through his still-active connection to the Eye of Nefer-Ka, the magical artifact that gutted his memory. Continue reading “Harsh Gods—More Shadowside Fun”→
Night Owls is an Urban Fantasy novel by Lauren M. Roy. There’s a mystery to solve—for once not a murder—and plenty of gruesome deaths, but nothing in such detail to make me queasy.
1—A Priestess, a Vampire Hunter, and a Grad Student Walk Into a Bookstore
Ok, so Elly’s not exactly a priestess—she would’ve been a Sister of the Brotherhood if Father Value hadn’t taken her and her adoptive brother on the run as children—but “priestess” is much shorter and works into the joke better. And Val doesn’t hunt vampires, she’s a vampire who’s also a Hunter…and also retired. Val own the titular Night Owls bookstore, which she bought after her disastrous last hunt left her a traumatized sole survivor. These two, along with Chaz—Val’s Renfield—are the three POV characters in the book. There are plenty of other interesting characters though. Continue reading “Night Owls—A Solid Addition to the Urban Fantasy Roster”→
I find myself drawn to stories of girls and women who are clever and brave, and who make their own path. Likely because I seek and struggle to embody those qualities myself. This will be a short post, as I could go on forever if I don’t limit myself. So here are a handful of my favorite book heroines, in no particular order.
Aly—Daughter of the Lioness
All of the heroines in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books fit the bill but Alinanne of Pirate’s Swoop most embodies cleverness. Aly is a quintessential guile hero, trained from the cradle in spycraft and chosen by a Trickster god. Said Trickster sweeps Aly off to the Kyprian Isles to be the last piece in a centuries-old game which is about to culminate in bloody rebellion. It isn’t easy to manipulate allies and enemies alike, much less from the position of slave girl, but Aly has her own tricks and games to play. Continue reading “Some of the Un-Book Reporter’s Favorite Heroines”→
I love vampires so I’ve seen a lot of them, good, bad, and boring. And there are oh, so many boring, overdone vampire movies and books. Seriously, do not watch Twilight, not even to get the jokes—it was hands down the most mind-killingly BORING anything I’ve ever seen *shudders*. Fortunately, the Generation V series by M. L. Brennan restored my faith that something new could be done with vampires without stripping them of (intentional) horror. Let us explore.
1—A New Breed of Bloodsucker
Ok, I know it says “Beware of Spoilers” at the top of every page in this site, but seriously, this section has some massive spoilers. Fortitude Scott—Fort, our hero and first person POV narrator—has been kept much in the dark about his true nature and almost all of what I’ll say here was discovered over several books. So if you want to discover all this along with him, take my word that there’s some neat stuff done with the vampire mythology and go ahead and skip to the next section. Continue reading “The Generation V Series—Vampires Done Differently and Well”→