Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Title: Grave Witch (Alex Craft, Book #1)

Author: Kalayna Price

Format: Paperback, 325 pages

Publication Date: October 5, 2010


As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around...

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life...and her soul. (via Goodreads)

Opening Paragraph: "The first time I encountered Death, I hurled my mother's medical chart at him. As far as first impressions went, I blew it, but I was five at the time, so he eventually forgave me. Some days I wished he hadn't-particularly when we crossed paths on the job."

What I Thought:

I normally don't give you guys the first paragraph, but honestly after I picked up the book because I liked the cover (yeah, I do that sometimes), but the first paragraphs was actually what got me to purchase the book!

Alex Craft is a grave witch. She can raise the shades of the dead in order for them to talk to the living. Several years ago the Fae revealed themselves to the world and with their revelation came about a magical reawakening among some humans. Alex being one of them. She primarily uses her gift to help in criminal investigations while running her Private Investigation business Tongues of the Dead. The shades she raises have the memory of the person who has died, but not the emotion that goes along with it, so her gift can be invaluable to these criminal investigations. Now, however, she is about to get involved with a high profile investigation that is going to take all her skills to survive.

When we first meet Alex, she is having a rough week. Her dog had to receive medical attention which pretty much left her broke, her latest client refuses to pay her because the shade she raised did not answer any questions the client wanted, then the client is unceremoniously "collected" by Death before she is able to convince him to pay. But, this is just the start of day. Her sister asks her to assist in finding out information about the death of Governor Coleman, who happens to be affiliated with the Humans First party, a group that doesn't believe witches and Fae should be part of society, but as in any good urban fantasy she is about to get more than she has bargained for. She ends up getting physically attacked by a shade she raises, something that should never happen, she gets on the bad side of Detective Falin Andrews, who happens to be running the case her sister asked her to look into, she is shot at, but the bullet misses her and hits her good friend putting him into a coma. And to top it all off she now has a ghost named Roy following her around and who just may be the key she needs to break the case. All in a days work for our girl Alex.

This is the first book by Kalayna Price that I have read and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this story and introduction to this new series. Ms. Price has created a imaginative and vivid world, where for some magic is an everyday thing, but for others it is a thing to be feared and discouraged. I really enjoyed the magic in this book. Now, they don't really delve into a lot of the different types of magic in Alex's universe other than her grave magic, however the thing that intrigued me the most is that her magic has a price. When she raises a shade she tends to go temporarily blind after she releases her grave sight. It is always refreshing to me to see magic have some sort of cost other than finding a character who can just wield it at a drop of a hat without any consequences, which sometimes can make a character too perfect. This is definitely not the case with Alex.

Alex Craft fun and highly relatable as the main character. She definitely is not without her issues. Alex struggles to pay her bills on time, including her rent to her Fae landlord, her family situation isn't exactly peachy keen being that her father is also a member of the Human First party, her sister treats her like she has the plague unless she wants something from her and she continually struggles to feed herself and her dog PC, which happens to stand for Prince Charming, which I loved. But, she does what any strong, independent woman would do and she deals with the problems as they come along. Of course Alex's problems also include getting shot at, kidnapping attempts and many more supernatural happenings that I won't spoil for you, but, you know, we all have our own problems.

I also enjoyed the way Kalayna Price dealt with the potential love triangle. While intriguing and one of the things that is definitely going to have me coming back for more, she doesn't make it the main focus of the story or even a main focus for Alex. Alex has other pressing matters. But, it can't be all bad when you have two mysterious, overly good looking men, whose job descriptions and the information we have yet to find out about them that may cause issues in further books, pining after you.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Grave Witch. It was fast-paced, fun and definitely left me wanting more. I just so happen to have the second book in the series, so I am excited to read that and post my thoughts. And better yet, the third installment in the Alex Craft series is due to come out July 3rd. I look forward to the continuing adventures of Alex and her entourage and I encourage you to check this series out as well. Happy reading!

Rating: 4 our of 5

Reviewed for:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sword and Laser Podcast Now a Web Series!!!!

Awhile back I stumbled upon a podcast/sci-fi/fantasy book club called Sword & Laser hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The podcast is centered around the topic of fantasy (Sword) and sci-fi (Laser) books and news and usually includes new release dates for books in these genre, author interviews, and, of course, discussion of the book of the month, which readers can read along. Sword & Laser also has a wildly popular fan forum over on the Goodreads forums, in which the hosts themselves are quite active. As a huge fantasy and sci-fi book fan I was thrilled because if there is one thing I enjoy just as much as reading books it is finding out about new books and discussing books. The show has given me countless hours of ear candy. The hosts are extremely knowledgeable and they have a great dynamic which makes them very entertaining to listen to.

Well, this Friday the 13th, the show is giving listeners yet another treat. A few weeks ago it was announced that Sword & Laser, in addition to its audio podcast, which is usually uploaded every two weeks, was now going to be a new web series hosted on Felicia Day's new YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry. The show will be available every other Friday for viewing and will feature a different book other than the one on the podcast, so it will be twice the fun if you listen/watch both. Or depending on your favorite medium, you can always do either or. Either way it should be fun. Just as in the audio podcast there will be author interviews, reviews of the latest fantasy and sci-fi books to hit the shelves, upcoming release updates and sci-fi/fantasy news. Now we will actually be able to see Veronica and Tom do what they do about books! I urge you to check out both the podcast and web series if you are either a fantasy or sci-fi buff or both. But who better to tell you about the web series than the hosts themselves.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Review: Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard

Title: Witch Way to Murder

Author: Shirley Damsgaard

Format: Paperback, 304 pages

Publication Date: August 30, 2005

What It's About: Thirty something Ophelia Jensen wants to live a quiet life as a small town librarian. She's created a comfortable existence with her kooky, colorful grandmother Abby, and if it were up to her, they could live out their days—along with Ophelia's dog Lady and cat Queenie—in peace and quiet. But, to Ophelia's dismay, she and Abby aren't a typical grandmother/granddaughter duo. She possesses psychic powers, and Abby is a kindly witch. And while Ophelia would do anything to dismiss her gift—harboring terrible guilt after her best friend was killed and she was unable to stop it—threatening events keep popping up, forcing her to tap into her powers of intuition. To make matters worse, a strange—yet devastatingly attractive—man is hanging around Ophelia's library, and no matter how many times she tells him she's sworn off men forever, he persists. Soon this handsome newcomer reveals he's following a lead on a local drug ring, and then a dead body shows up right in Abby's backyard. And much as Ophelia would like to put away her spells forever, she and Abby must use their special powers to keep themselves, and others, out of harm's way. (via Amazon)

What I Thought:

I really wanted to like this book because I have heard so many good things about the series as a whole and, while I fully intend to read the rest of the series, this first book just didn't do much for me. First off, the lead character Ophelia really puzzled me. Ophelia is a librarian who is also a witch, but because of some tragic events in her life she disregards her heritage. In the course of her work she meets a man named Rick who comes into the library looking for some information about the town in the beginning of the book. The problem is that right off the bat he starts asking her personal question after personal question and instead of telling a man she doesn't know to sod off she answers them!!!! Has this woman never heard of stalkers? Now I may be being a bit too harsh, but it just seems really strange that an intelligent woman, especially one whose best friend was murdered some years earlier, would know to be more careful. I just couldn't relate. But, her and Rick have similar interludes several times throughout the book and she always answers his questions, so I suppose the author want her readers to take a leap of faith and believe in good ole' Rick.

One thing I have to point out specifically that bothered me in the story about Ophelia, is in the course of her investigation when she gets sucked into events happening around the small town she lives in and needs to find out some important information, her 70-something year old grandmother, who doesn't know how to use a computer, has to remind her that she can use her computer and the internet to do some important research. Isn't Ophelia supposed to be a librarian? The book was written in 2005, so the internet was definitely in full swing. I would think that a librarian would know right off hand where to find certain types of info.

Then there are her would be romantic inklings towards Rick. It is no joke that their main interactions throughout the book are him asking her intrusive questions and her answering them. Then they stumble upon a dead body and all of the sudden she is falling for him. Obviously the author was trying to make clear that Ophelia and Rick are supposed to have this strong attraction to each other that could lead to something more meaningful in the future. However, I just didn't buy it. There really wasn't anything in the book that would lead me to believe that a woman would fall for this guy based on the situations I read unless you count how attractive he is. If it had been me I probably would have been completely creeped out by the guy and called the cops numerous time on him.

The most interesting character in the story is Abby, Ophelia's witch grandmother, and unfortunately she is barely utilized in the book. She pops up now and then mainly to give Ophelia the ominous warning that bad events are coming to a head and they will involve Ophelia and Rick. You get a small peek at her magical workings, but nothing overly substantial. I am really hoping that in future books she plays an even bigger role.

The book is a really easy read. It was not the most exciting read ever and I am sure you can tell that there were many things that bothered me about the book, not too mention it was a bit predictable as to who the bad guy was, but I think the series could have potential. I look forward to delving into the additional books in the series. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a light read that they could finish in a day or two and doesn't require a lot of higher brain power.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Reviewed for: