I won a $10 credit to The Book Depository and Grave Witch, by Kalayna Price is the book I chose to purchase with it.
Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say.
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.
I generally enjoyed this. It suffers from many of the faults of Urban Fantasy/PNR published a decade ago—the hero/love interest is an asshole for half the book, the cast isn’t very diverse, there’s a possible love triangle thrown in at the end—as well as some just generally questionable things like solutions presenting themselves in easy and coincidental fashions. But I liked Alex. The writing is super readable. I was invested in the story and would happily read more of the series.
I picked up a copy of Kat Zaccard‘s The Finder Witch and the Small Favor as an Amazon Freebie. And I would like it noticed that it is January 19th and here I’ve already read a Z-book for my Author Alphabet Challenge. (I try to read a book from an author who’s last name starts with every letter of the alphabet each year.) I’m ridiculously proud of myself. Usually, I get to mid-December and scramble to find a Q, X, and Z book. Well, Z is taken care of early this year!
Natalie can’t catch a break.
After losing her job and her roommate on the same day, she’d say she was cursed… if she believed in that sort of thing.
Natalie gets a crash course in the paranormal after a first date turns into a magical crime spree. Now she has to find a job, a place to live and… oh yeah… convince the cops that she’s not an accomplice to murder.
Her luck starts to change when she realizes her knack for finding things may be more than coincidence.
Natalie thought she was cursed… turns out she may be charmed.
Soooo, this just isn’t particularly good. It’s shallow, everyone talks in exclamation points, it needs more editing (especially for homophones), it’s super cheesy at points, and the last chapter throws in a twist that has no relation to the rest of the book at all. But what really killed it for me was the boredom. Here we have a book theoretically about a woman being hunted by a half-demon for her magical potential (should be exciting), but that is about 5% of the book. The rest is meaningless day-to-day activities, internal monologue, and needless magical lessons.
I’ll grant that the characters are likeable and there is some cute humor. But for the most part this was a fail for me.
I accepted a review copy of Jon Wilkins‘ Poppy Flowers at the Front through Damppebble Crime Blog Tours.
1917: with her father in the British secret service and her brother Alfie in the trenches, under-age Poppy Loveday volunteers against her parents’ wishes to drive ambulances in France. We follow her adventures, racing to save wounded men driven to the Casualty Clearing Station, and back to the Base Hospital.
During one battle she finds Élodie Proux, a French nurse, at a roadside clutching a dead soldier. Poppy rescues her. Élodie becomes her dearest girl as they fall in love.
Poppy and Élodie encounter frightening adversaries at the Western Front as well as away from it during the closing weeks of World War One.
While it’s well known on the continent, I’ll give a quick little FYI for American readers. Poppies are worn on Remembrance Day (much like our Memorial Day) in honor of fallen soldiers. That should help in understanding the title.
There is much to appreciate about Wilkins’ Poppy Flowers at the Front. I very much liked Poppy as a character, Élodie too, though we get to know her far less than Poppy. Their young romance was very sweet and that contrasts well against the travesties of war. Wilkins’ does an excellent job making the pointlessness and devastation of war feel real, without steeping the reader in gore. And I adored Poppy’s relationship with her family.
However, I also felt the book lacked a central theme and/or plot-line. It felt very much like it picked up one random day and the reader follows until the book ends on another random day, and random things happen randomly during that time. I also might quibble with it being categorized as a “crime thriller.” That wouldn’t be the genre I’d put it in. Lastly, the version I read really needed another editing pass. All in all, however, not a bad read and not one I’d hesitate to recommend.
Follow the rest of the tour here.