Shelf Control #84: Peter & Max

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Title: Peter & Max: A Fables Novel
Author: Bill Willingham
Published: 2010
Length: 400 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The critically acclaimed first-ever prose novel published by DC/Vertigo — now in trade paperback.Set in the imaginative realm of the award-winning comic book series FABLES, the book takes place long ago, in the deepest dark of The Black Forest. Two brothers — Peter Piper and his older brother Max — encounter ominous forces that change them both irreparably. Thus begins an epic tale of sibling rivalry, magic, music and revenge that spans medieval times to the present day, when their deadly conflict surfaces in the placid calm of modern day Fabletown.

PETER & MAX: A FABLES NOVEL features the prose of award-winning comic book writer Bill Willingham and the lush ink drawings of FABLES artist Steve Leialoha. The novel also reveals secrets of some of the regular FABLES series cast members including Bigby Wolf, Frau Totenkinder and Bo Peep. Also included is an 8-page sequential story by Willingham and Leialoha that serves as a bridge to the FABLES titles.

How I got it:

I bought it.

When I got it:

A few years, in the midst of my Fables obsession.

Why I want to read it:

Hello? Fables? Only one of the most amazing graphic novel series ever? I was heartbroken when Fables came to an end. Somewhere in the middle of my binge-reading extravaganza, I picked up a copy of Peter & Max. Because it’s a prose novel and not a graphic novel, this book hasn’t called to me in quite the same way as the rest of the Fables body of work, but I do intend to read it eventually.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Shelf Control #83: Rivers of London

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Title: Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Published: 2011
Length: 392 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

How I got it:

I picked up a used copy at a library book sale.

When I got it:

At least 2 – 3 years ago.

Why I want to read it:

The synopsis sounds terrific, and I’ve heard such good things! My only hesitation — and the reason why I can’t seem to bring myself to start this book — is that it’s the first in a series, and pretty much the last thing I need right now is yet another series to try to get through! But I do enjoy good urban fantasy, and the concept of gods and goddesses and ghosts having something to do with a murder investigation sounds like my kind of reading.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Shelf Control #70: Parts & Wreck

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

parts-wreckTitle: Parts & Wreck
Author: Mark Henry
Published: 2013
Length: 200 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Wade Crowson, a brutish and brooding playboy and veteran vivisectionist for the Parts Department, runs into more than he bargained for in new partner, Lucid Montgomery, a quirky beauty with a bizarre secret and a string of psychiatric diagnoses she tries hard to keep hidden. Loving Luce will stamp a demonic target on her back and thrust Wade into a frenzied whirlwind of hilarious misunderstandings and, quite possibly, a stripping gig for empty-nesters. Can they withstand the savagery of an exorcism (with or without the split pea soup) and come out alive and …in love?

How I got it:

I think I actually bought myself the e-book.

When I got it:

2013 or thereabouts, after an author I really like blurbed the book.

Why I want to read it:

Okay, I am totally going out on a limb with this one! Not my usual fare, especially if you consider the books I’ve tended to DNF most recently. Still, I do sometimes love a good urban fantasy or supernatural thriller… and while I think the cover is totally cheesy, I may break down and give it a try when I want something light and fluffy. The Goodreads ratings range from abysmal to superb, so no real help there… but based on being alerted to this one by an author I enjoy, I can’t help feeling like I should (eventually) check it out.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Thursday Quotables: First Grave on the Right

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Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!
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First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
(published 2011)

I’m about a third of the way into this book, and I mostly think it’s weird and silly — but I’ve been assured that the series gets better and better as it goes along. We’ll see. Meanwhile, the main character, Charley Davidson (ha!) is super sarcastic and quippy, which is a big plus.

My stepmother was never big on the whole nurturing thing. I think she used up all the good stuff on my older sister, and by the time she got to me, she was fresh out of nurture. She did, however, give me one pertinent bit of 411. She was the one who informed me that I had the attention span of a gnat; only, she said I had the attention span of a gnat with selective listening. At least I think that’s what she said. I wasn’t listening.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Add your Thursday Quotables post link in the comments section below… and I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week too.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

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Shelf Control #67: Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

rosemary-rueTitle: Rosemary and Rue (October Daye series, book #1)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Published: 2009
Length: 346 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.

How I got it:

I bought it.

When I got it:

Fairly recently — maybe last year or the year before?

Why I want to read it:

Call me late to the party, but I’ve fallen for Seanan McGuire’s writing. Every Heart A Doorway was what reeled me in completely, and made me realize I need more! The October Daye series includes 10 novels so far, and at least according to Goodreads, more are on the way. I’ve been pretty resistant when it comes to getting involved in any more ongoing series, but I may need to make an exception to my own rules in this case.

Have you read the October Daye books? I’d love to hear other readers’ thoughts!

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Thursday Quotables: In Falling Snow

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Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

In Falling Snow

In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl
(published 2012)

I’m about 100 pages into this WWI-era historical novel, and I was quite taken by the contrast between lust and other emotions in the opening pages:

They made love there on the floor. Later she got up and surveyed the room, their clothes leading from the door, his boots, the last thing to come off, at the bottom of the bed. She would remember none of those details but would never forget the long lateral muscles of his back, where angel wings would start. And the shame. She would never forget the shame.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Book Review: Dead Heat

dead heatIf you’ve ever visited my blog before, chances are you’ve seen me raving about Patricia Briggs and the detailed, layered, rich world she’s created in her novels. Patricia Briggs is probably best know for her Mercy Thompson series (which I love more than words can say!) — and fortunately for her devoted readers, she’s also given us a wonderful spin-off series, the Alpha & Omega novels.

And… after a wait of three years, we finally have Dead Heat, the 4th book in the series. Worth the wait? You bet. (Thank you, Ms. Briggs!)

In a nutshell, the Alpha & Omega books center around main characters Charles and Anna Cornick. Charles is the 3rd most dominant werwolf in North America, and the only born — not made — werewolf, thanks to his Native American mother’s magical talents. Charles has inherited his werewolf nature and scary strength from his father, the ruler of the wolves, and a gift for magic from his mother. Charles is feared by all, as he’s been given the role of enforcer and assassin, sent by his father to keep the peace and keep werewolves in line.

The Alpha & Omega series is driven by Charles’s relationship with his wife and mate, Anna, a rare Omega werewolf who has the power to soothe anyone she encounters. Over the course of the series, Anna has grown from scared, brutalized victim into a powerful yet gentle presence whose unique talents make her a perfect partner for Charles.

Okay, I’ll just say it: I love these two. Their love story is special, I love their dynamic as a couple, and they bring out the best in each other. Plus, only Anna allows Charles the room to let his gentler, loving side out. He’s strong and terrifying, but he’s also a total sweetie who’s madly in love with his wife.

Charles just stared at her.

“You know that, right?” she said. “Most people stay out of your way, but the defenseless ones, the hurt ones, they just sort of gradually slide into your shadow. Not where you’ll notice them too much — but you keep the bad things away.”

He still didn’t say anything. She buttoned her jeans and then took the two steps to press against him.”We know,” she whispered to him. “We who have been hurt, we know what evil looks like. We know you make us safe.”

He didn’t say anything, but his arms came around her and she knew that she had told him something he didn’t know — and that it mattered.

Each of the Alpha & Omega books revolves around a central mystery which Charles and Anna must help to solve. In Dead Heat, someone has targeted the human family of an Alpha werewolf in Arizona at the same time that Charles and Anna are visiting to purchase a new horse. While protecting the family, they realize that a dangerous fae is involved and is most likely responsible for the disappearances of children from the area over the course of decades. Charles and Anna team up with both FBI and supernatural law enforcement specialists to track down the bad guy (a very, very bad guy) and make sure that no other children become its prey.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t go any further in describing the plot. Suffice to say, Dead Heat absolutely lived up to my expectations and had me furiously turning pages (when I wasn’t cursing the fact that I didn’t have the time to just read straight through without stopping). The action and adventure are pulse-pounding, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. There’s tension and drama, yet at the same time, Briggs keeps the banter and love between Charles and Anna at the forefront, so that we still get to savor the little, lovely moments between them that are the heart of these wonderful novels.

Adding a nice touch to the book is the introduction of Charles’s old friend Joseph, a Navajo and son of a werewolf, who is in the process of dying an old man’s death when the book starts. Joseph’s extended family covers generations and brings together some new and interesting angles, adding new depths to what we know of Charles and his past and introducing some great characters. I hope we’ll see more of this group in future books!

My only complaint about this book is that it takes place almost entirely in Arizona, and I missed the Montana setting of earlier books, as well as the Montana pack and its familiar characters. While Charles’s father Bran is always in the background in both series, I would have loved to see a bit more of him in Dead Heat, as he’s one of my very favorite characters. Still, the Arizona storyline gets an A+ as far as I’m concerned, which more than compensates for my minor little complaints.

Actually, I do have one additional complaint: I want more! The book wraps up when the mystery of the fae is resolved, but I wanted more of Charles and Anna! They’re at an interesting point in their relationship (I’m being intentionally vague here), and I want to see what happens next. Plus, the downside of reading these books as soon as they’re released is the excruciatingly long wait (okay, it’s only a year, but it feels longer!) for the next book, either in this series or in the Mercy Thompson series.

I can’t say it often enough: If you enjoy urban fantasy, and require your series to include well-defined characters, compelling story arcs, and an altogether unforgettable, fully-formed world, then you must check out Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series. Go in order, take it slowly, and enjoy. I don’t know anyone who’s started these books who hasn’t become hooked. Quality writing, amazing characters, fantastic plots. What more could you want?

** A word of clarification: While Dead Heat is the 4th Alpha & Omega novel, the story actually starts with a novella called Alpha and Omega, available as a stand-alone e-book or in two different collections, On the Prowl and Shifting Shadows. Be sure to start with the novella or you’ll be missing the crucial beginning to the story. Spoken by one who learned the hard way!**

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The details:

Title: Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega, #4)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Thursday Quotables: Bone Crossed

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Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!
Bone Crossed

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
(Mercy Thompson series, book #4 – published 2009)

I’m working my way through this amazing series for a 2nd time, listening to all the audiobooks. These snippets don’t really show much about the plot, but they do capture the insane world that’s just a given in these books.

It was strangely intimate, Stefan holding me as he drank from Adam’s wrist, and Adam leaning harder into me as Stefan fed. Intimate with an audience. I turned my head to see that my mother still held her gun in a steady two-handed grip, pointed at Stefan’s head. Her face as calm as if she saw burnt bodies appear out of nowhere, then rise from the dead to sink fangs into whoever was closest to them all the time, though I knew that wasn’t true. I wasn’t sure she’d ever even seen one of the werewolves in wolf form.

One more:

He was huge, an earthly mass of gray and blue, still vaguely human-shaped, but his face looked like it had melted, leaving only vague bumps where his nose should have been. His mouth was pretty easy to spot — it would be hard to miss all those big teeth. Silvery eyes, too small for that huge face, glared out from under sparkly blue eyebrows. He shook himself, and the sparkly dust scattered again, melting as it touched warmer surfaces. He was shedding snow.

In the silence that followed, a small cranky voice said, “Freakin’ snow elf.”

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Leave your link in the comments — or, if you have a quote to share but not a blog post, you can leave your quote in the comments too!
  • Visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Book Review: Jinn and Juice

jinnWith Jinn and Juice, Nicole Peeler launches a new urban fantasy series — and that’s very good news for fans of her hilarious and awesome Jane True series and for fans of paranormal fictional shenanigans in general.

In Jinn and Juice, we meet Leila — burlesque belly dancer, Pittsburgh resident… and 1,000-year-old jinni (genie). Leila was a young woman cursed by her family’s jinni, the evil Kouros, to live as a jinni for one thousand years. As a jinni, Leila has super magical powers, but she’s also subject to the will and whims of whoever happens to be her Master. Jinni can be either Bound or unBound — meaning that they can be Called and then basically owned by whatever Magi happens to find them. Once Bound to a Magi, jinni must be obedient and carry out their Magi’s orders. On the plus side, though, Bound jinni have access to all sorts of tremendous powers that they can’t access unBound, so there’s that.

For Leila, this jinni business basically sucks. She does not want to be a jinni. She’d love to be human again, and can be — so long as she is unBound when her 1,000 year curse ends. If she’s Bound at that time, then she’ll be cursed for another 1,000 years. Like I said, it sucks.

Leila lives in Pittsburgh, whose steel-soaked grounds provide a weird kind of magical current that Leila can plug into, although most supernaturals find Pittsburgh magic tainted and poisonous. Surrounding Leila are a Peeler-esque cast of unusual characters, including a psychic drag queen, an oracle, a will-o-the-wisp, and a pair of icky-creepy spider wraiths. This odd community works together in a paranormal burlesque club and forms a family of sorts — and they all band together to protect Leila when she is Called and Bound by a new Magi, the kinda-hot Ozan (known as Oz).

Together, Leila and Oz and company set out to locate a missing girl and figure out what the heck is causing all sorts of magical havoc in Pittsburgh. And meanwhile, Leila finds herself drawn to Oz more and more… but is that just the power of the Master-Jinni relationship, or is there actually a there there?

Okay, explanations aside, let me tell you about Jinn and Juice. First of all, it’s fun. If you’ve never read anything by Nicole Peeler, the main thing to know is that she’s hilarious. Her writing rocks, even when the storyline turns dangerous or tragic. Serious and often deadly things do happen, but the author gives her characters amazing lines that are eminently quote-worthy:

“While French fries on salads is pretty magical, that’s not what makes Pittsburgh special,” I said…

flourish-31609_1280Nowadays magic was something for Dungeons and Dragons. In books, vampires sparkled and really wanted to marry teenagers who tripped a lot. Hollywood only dreamed about jinn. And none of these creatures or powers really existed in the same universe as chaos theory, or particle accelerators, or atomic bombs… except they did.

flourish-31609_1280“Hit it with the bench!” shouted Ozan, and I had to obey. I reached for what had been one of the picnic table’s benches, hefting it with ease in one of my hamlike hands. Raising it above my head, I brought it down with all my strength on the bugbear’s head.
“Hulk smash!” I shouted, just for the fun of it.

flourish-31609_1280 “Are we ready?” Charlie asked, eyeballing our ragtag bunch with a worried expression. We didn’t exactly look professional… in fact, we looked exactly as you’d imagine a gothic burlesque would look, if it decided to do a SWAT team number.

Second thing to know: Love and sex matter in Peeler’s books. Attraction is hot. Sparks fly. Knees go weak with desire. The sexy factor in Jinn and Juice is top notch. Which is not to say that it’s all easy: One really interesting aspect of this story is how the power dynamics affect the sexual and emotional relationships. Leila’s master can order her to have sex with him if he chooses (although, hilariously, jinni seem to have all sorts of work-arounds when dealing with not-terribly-precise commands for acts that don’t suit them); he could even order her to enjoy it, I suppose. The fact that Leila’s new master is too decent to indulge is noteworthy — and later, even when the attraction is mutual and Leila is very into it, he declines — because how can either of them be sure that it’s real and not just a result of the Magi-Jinni bond?

Fangirl aside: This reminded me of the sire bond issues during the last season of The Vampire Diaries. I’m a big geeky nerd, I know.

The plot of Jinn and Juice is fueled by action, but it’s the people that really make it a treat. Leila herself is pretty awesome (especially how she’s the biggest, baddest thing in the room, despite her seemingly petite human frame), and I love her gang of eccentric, magical friends. Oz is just the right combination of smart, sexy, and sensitive, and the growing emotions and desire between Leila and Oz give off sparks.

Fans of the Jane True series will absolutely want to give Jinn and Juice a whirl — and really, this is a great choice for any one who enjoys urban fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fun, magic, snark, along with dangerous, malevolent, volatile bad guys, make for quite an enjoyable and fast-paced adventure. Here’s hoping that the next installment in the series comes along soon!

Want. More. Now.

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The details:

Title: Jinn and Juice
Author: Nicole Peeler
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: November 25, 2014
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased

Book Review: Ghost Train to New Orleans

Book Review: Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty

The Ghost Train to New Orleans (The Shambling Guides, #2)Ghost Train to New Orleans is the second book in the Shambling Guides series — and if you enjoyed the first book, you’ll want to read this one as well.

The series, which starts with The Shambling Guide to New York (reviewed here), tells the story of Zoe Norris, a nice ordinary travel writer who takes a job working for a publisher that specializes in travel guides for the non-human set. Be warned: The proper term for these folks is “coterie” — definitely do not refer to them as monsters! Among Zoe’s colleagues are vampires, zombies, incubi and succubi, goddesses and dragons… and it seems that every time Zoe turns a corner, she discovers some new type of coterie, much to her amazement.

In Ghost Train to New Orleans, Zoe and her team head off to the Big Easy (via the titular Ghost Train — which is in fact quite literally a ghost train). Their mission is to write their next travel book — but first, they need to survive. Among the big revelations here is the fact that Zoe is no mere human: She’s a rare human coterie known as a citytalker — and again, take that term literally. Zoe has the ability to form a psychic (or spiritual) bond with a city, so that the city can speak to her. The problem is, Zoe has has no training on how to use her gift, and could badly use a mentor before she gets into her usual heaps of trouble.

The tongue-in-cheek narration that provides a lot of the series’ charm is back in book 2:

She liked her coworkers, mostly, but was always acutely aware that many saw her as a meal they weren’t allowed to touch.

Also back is the vast array of scary creatures who might possibly want to help Zoe, but who are just as likely to put her in mortal danger. Added to that, Zoe’s boyfriend is on the verge of zombiehood, her closest ally, a water sprite, is missing, and her previous mentor has formed a seemingly permanent melding with the city of New York, and it’s clear to see that Zoe needs to stay on her toes.

In Ghost Train to New Orleans, the mythology of the series is further developed, with new and different supernatural beings, a lot of historical backstory for citytalkers like Zoe, and some new rules regarding ghosts, possessions, demons, and more. New Orleans itself adds a nice flavor, and it’s quite fun to see city landmarks woven into the fabric of the coterie world. Likewise, the author quite inventively works Hurricane Katrina into the supernatural narrative in a way that feels organic to the story, so that the damage to New Orleans is integral to the ability of the city to communicate with Zoe — and factors into just how the city treats Zoe once they’ve connected.

The narrative zooms along from one action sequence to another, and Zoe’s perspective is as wry and snarky as always. Even when lives are at stake, the tone is zippy and energetic, and never veers too long into serious or weighty territory without a well-placed smart-ass comment or two to steer things back into the quirky groove.

I did notice quite a few instances of awkward phrasings and wording errors (for example, the use of “ascent” in a place where only “descent” actually makes sense), and had to wonder whether it was the writing or the editing that was problematic — was there a rush to publication that resulted in these types of seemingly careless errors? I normally wouldn’t make too much of this sort of thing, but it happens enough in Ghost Train to actually be distracting, and therefore is worth noting.

Putting that aside, Ghost Train to New Orleans is a good follow-up installment, and succeeds at maintaining the through-story while introducing new elements and laying the groundwork for future adventures. Some answers are provided, but even more new dilemmas and mysteries are introduced, and that’s just the right mix for a 2nd book in what appears to be an open-ended, ongoing series. I’m intrigued enough — and having enough fun — that I’ll be back for more. I didn’t see anything on the author’s website confirming a 3rd book, but based on the wrap-up of Ghost Train, it’s clear that there are more travels in store for Zoe and her team… and I’d guess lots more trouble (and scary new coterie) as well.

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The details:

Title: Ghost Train to New Orleans
Author: Mur Lafferty
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: March 4, 2014
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Library