All tagged St. Martin's

More Grit, More Awesome: Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander

When a series progresses to a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to discuss without revealing important facets of the previous installments. Such is the case of Cassie Alexander's Edie Spence series, which is now deep into the series at book number four, Deadshifted.  So uncharacteristic brevity on my part is a necessity when talking about how Deadshifted brings even more gritty badassery than the previous installment, Shapeshifted.

I've written extensively about each of the books chronicles the misadventures of Chicago nurse Edie Spence, who found herself embroiled in the paranormal underworld in an effort to save her drug addict brother. This series has a lot to offer: action, drama, strong narrative voice and, of course, Edie's tumultuous love life--if you can call it that. 

[Note: Very minor spoilers of the sort revealed in the official book summaries follow.] 

Edie's latest exploits arrive while she an shapeshifter boyfriend Asher attempt to decompress from their recent encounter with some very nasty paranormal critters and their stressful day jobs at a health clinic in a tough Chicago neighborhood. They've embarked on a cruise and are basking in that new love glow. A promise of better things to come means that things are looking up for Edie.

Naturally, this being Edie's life, those precious moments of blissful peace don't last.

Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Z is not a book for everyone.

It is a novel based on research about Zelda Fitzgerald and her life and relationship with her husband, novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fowler states at the end of her work that it is,

Fiction based on real people [which] differs from nonfiction in that the emphasis is not on factual minutiae, but rather on the emotional journey of the characters. I've tried to create the most plausible story possible, based upon all the evidence at hand.

The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's famous novel depicting the obsessive Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy, is a novel I've always loved. The writing flows like a poem swirling with color, description, romance and tragedy. I do not read it as a love story, rather it’s about illusion. Illusory dreams without a touch of reality based in Gatsby’s head much as Zelda’s life with F. Scott.

Fowler’s account of Zelda’s life brought a new perspective to ponder. 

Mini Reviews: 3 Kate Shugak Novels by Dana Stebenow

I separate thrillers or mysteries into two distinct categories. 

I love the old fashioned sleuth stories consisting of smart detectives whose investigative skills rival Sherlock Holmes, where probing investigation and a nose for ferreting out truth pull you into the heart of the story. A second category is the titillating serial-killer aka psychopath who has no qualities except to do evil with a smart detective ready to take the disgusting psycho-human down.

Dana Stebenow's writing falls solidly into the first category with her Kate Shugak series.

Kate's a petite five-foot Aleut and a P.I. who lives on a 160-acre homestead in an Alaskan National Park. Her beloved companion Mutt is an impressively sized half-wolf half-husky who weighs significantly more than Kate. Mutt's love for and loyalty to Kate take them through adventures in the rugged Alaskan wilderness that completely satisfies my love of epic detective tales. (And stories involving dogs.)

Stabenow's written eighteen novels with Kate and Mutt delving into secrets and solving crimes. Old Sam Dementieff, her uncle who raised her as his daughter, her adopted teenage son Johnny and her love interest Trooper Jim Chopin are a colorful and always entertaining cast of characters. 

Kate's home in the wilderness is a half-hour trip to the closest settlement, the Ninilna village along the 600 mile long Kanuyaq River, a waterway rich in salmon that feeds into Prince William Sound. She comes in contact with recluses, dog mushers, miners, hunters, fishermen, park rangers and other natives: Aleuts, Athabascans and Tlingits. There's an inexhaustible array of individuals and an extensive history of Alaska. This in itself makes the reading of Stabenow's books a joy beyond good storytelling.

I recently read three of Stabenow's books, each one with a unique quality and story. I did not read them in the order they were written, which would be a preferred chronology, naturally. They are well-written and any references to past events are clearly delineated within each book. In fact, I read the most recent book first and will review them in the strange order in which I read them.

Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Sometimes the idea of a book is ultimately stronger than the story within.

In the case of Erica Lorraine Scheidt's debut novel, Uses for Boys, I found myself distracted by the innovative take on teen sexuality. However, once I was stuck into the story, the execution ultimately did not work. 

Uses for Boys opens when Anna, whose first-person point-of-view is told in a stream-of-consciousness, real-time style, is a child, alone with her mother, never having known her father. She believes that, together, she and her mom can take on anything. But soon, a string of stepfathers and a career mean that Anna rarely sees her mother, she believes she has no family.

I want to go back to the tell-me-again times when I slept in her bed and we were everything together. When I was everything to her. Everything she needed.

She soon discovers that boys can make her feel needed, that they can fill a void for her. The attention makes her feel special, even if it means that the girls shun her and call Anna vicious names. 

The first few chapters of Uses for Boys make for powerful stuff.

The perspective of young Anna as she decides to allow herself to go down the path of allowing boys to use her, to abuse her, is heartbreaking. She eventually starts playing house with a boy every day and they become sexually involved. This makes her feel important and grown up. This boy needs her in a way her real family never did.

Of course, it's all just a fantasy and it doesn't last.

And then he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t say he’ll miss me or that he’s sorry. Does he know he’s leaving me? That I’ll have to ride the bus home alone and come home alone and be home alone? They leave, I think, just like my mom says.

Review: Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander

Review: Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander - On Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Cassie Alexander’s debut novel, Nightshifted, was one of the more memorable and creative urban fantasies I’ve read in a long time. Needless to say, I was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy of Moonshifted, Nightshifted’s fast-paced and riveting sequel.

[Note: I have made every attempt to avoid spoilers for Nightshifted. Read my review of that book here.]

Moonshifted picks up shortly after the events of Nightshifted, in which nurse Edie Spence finds herself embroiled in a terrifying battle with supernatural creatures, barely escaping with her life. Edie is still a nurse on Y4, the secret ward for paranormal beings of all sorts, as part of a deal to save her brother from addiction. She’s still broke, she’s still lonely and she’s still self-destructive. The only thing that’s changed is that she’s started to form connections with her follow Y4 indentured health care workers, all of whom have a story about why they’re trapped in a dead end job caring for the paranormal.

Floor Y4 catered to the supernatural creatures that no one else knew about: werecreatures in their mortal phases, the daytime servants of the vampires, the sanctioned donors of the vampires, and shapeshifters that occasionally went insane. And sometimes zombies, whom nurses occasionally dated, with poor outcomes. At the thought of my now twice-dead love life, my urge to make small talk chilled.

While on her lunch break with one of those co-workers, Edie witnesses a man being struck by a hit and run driver. Except the man isn’t actually a human—he’s a werewolf. Edie and her coworker save the werewolf, but it lands her in the position of caring for the werewolf who’s in a coma on Y4. Meanwhile, in the midst of this, Edie’s also roped into further involvement with Anna, the teenager vampire she saved in the previous novel. 

It’s not long before the injured man’s werewolf pack descends on the ward and Edie finds herself entangled in an internal conflict within the pack, and with her interesting piqued by Lucas, who is in line to becoem pack leader, should Edie’s patient die.