Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 24th Edition!

Wow!  Super huge, 220+ page issue!  We have two new for me series, too!  Kenshin Restoration and Blue Exorcist!

One Piece Ch 691 – Now we’re talkin’!  Luffy has hit berserker mode!  That naughty Caesar Clown dude better watch the eff out!  Once Luffy is pissed, there is no stopping him!  I really like how angry Luffy gets when he discovers that someone has been treated unjustly.  When Caesar orders his men to open the vents and let the death gas in, they stupidly comply, thinking that he has some trick up his sleeve.  Yup, he does, but it doesn’t involve saving, or caring the slightest bit, about the lives of his men,  his “guinea pigs,” as he calls them.   Oops!  Talk about needing a union to ensure fair treatment by the boss.  Too late!  Most of his workforce has been sacrificed to save his own unbelievably ugly hide.  Sadly, the big confrontation between Luffy and Caesar Clown won’t go down until the next issue of WSJA!

Hunter x Hunter One Shot – Kurapika’s Memories Part Two – Kurapika’s final challenge is underway!  Can he visit the town, get the village’s shopping completed, and keep his friend Pairo safe, all without losing self-control and revealing his scarlet eyes?  Um, no, but thanks to Pairo’s cleverness, nobody is going to be the wiser of the boys’ great adventure to the outside world.  This one shot is a great introduction to the Hunter x Hunter series; at least it was for me.  Got me interested in a series I would have otherwise not given a second glance, due to the length and Yoshihiro Togashi’s frequent breaks.

Rurouni Kenshin Restoration Ch 6 – Ah, I just love Kenshin, so this rehash is such a treat.  I love Watsuki’s expressive and dramatic art; I never have to guess how Kenshin and company are feeling.  The setting is also elegantly illustrated.  Clothing, buildings, food – it all comes to life with just a few masterful lines.  The use of fonts for the sound effects and the careful use of special  effects all work together to tell a visually pleasing story that joins seamlessly with the dialog.  This is my new favorite in the magazine.

Cross Manage Ch 13 – This chapter chronicles the date that’s not a date – or is it?  Sakurai and Toyoguchi make plans to meet and shop for needed equipment for the lacrosse team.  Sakurai wonders if their impromptu shopping trip is really a date in disguise, and ever the planner, he carefully chooses his attire for the day.  When Toyoguchi shows up at their meeting place, she’s dressed in the school jersey.  Definitely not a date!  Until they share some snacks and a bottle of water.  Whoa!  It’s that indirect kiss thing that gets manga and anime characters in all genres too flustered to even speak!  So cute here!  Toyoguchi is kind of clueless, which makes her reaction very endearing.

Bleach Ch 519 – So let’s see – Ichigo soaks in a magical hot spring with Tenjiro.  Byakuya and Renji are there, too, but they aren’t conscious, so I don’t know if that counts.  Lord Reio makes an almost appearance.  This chapter was so short that I felt a little ripped off.  Hopefully there will be more going on in next week’s issue?

Toriko Ch 214 – I just can’t get into this series.  There are too many characters, and too many of them look like freaks.  So far, I am not connecting with the characters, the plot, or the awkward, odd art.

Nisekoi  Ch 54 – Oops! Another over-used, though amusing trope is set into motion in this chapter.  Tsugumi, AKA Black Tiger, has been hunted down by her rival, Paula McCoy, otherwise known as the assassin White Fang.  Disappointed that Tsugumi has lost her edge, Paula challenges her to a no holds barred contest.  The rules are simple – the entire town is their playing field, the contest will last one hour, and the winner is the first to –wait for it-steal a kiss from Ichijo!  The first to steal his skivvies would have been more fun, but it is what it is.  I’m kind of wondering how much of a fight Raku’s going to put up, but seeing as how both girls could beat the crap out of him without breaking a sweat, maybe he should start running.  Like, right now.  This series is very hit or miss with me, and this chapter was mostly a miss.

Naruto Ch 612 – Never ending epic battle hasn’t ended!  The combined strength of Naruto’s ninja buddies is let loose on Madara and Obito, giving rise to such attacks as Lighting Style! Flash Pillar!! and Storm Style! Laser Circus!!  And guess what? Even after the allied shinobi forces jutsu!! the battle is – still not over!!  Oh! MY!! See you next week, fierce ninja warriors!

Blue Exorcist Ch 41 – This chapter features a battle with a bathroom ghost.  This is my first exposure to this series, and I don’t think that I got a very good idea of what it’s about.  Nothing about the characters or the setting, a training academy for young exorcists, stood out or made me want to learn more.  Hopefully next week’s chapter will be more engaging?  The only real impression that I came away with here – Izumo needs to do something about her eyebrows.  Seriously.

And that’s it for this week’s WSJA!

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 17th Edition

Oops!  I’m a week behind! The holidays are taking a toll on my reading, so here’s a quick, quick recap of last week’s WSJA -

First up – Hunter x Hunter Special One Shot – Kurapika’s Memories Part One – I liked this chapter a lot, and since I‘ve only read the first volume of Hunter x Hunter, I was surprised by how easy it was to become immersed in this story.  Kurapika, young and brash, wants to leave the forest and venture into the outside world.  It’s forbidden by his people, though, so he argues continuously with the village elder about getting permission to go.  A whimsical art-style with lots of soft, rounded edges made this a visual pleasure, and, despite relying on overused tropes, the characters are engaging and the dialog moves the story steadily along.  Looking forward to reading Part Two!

Naruto Ch 611 – More fighting!  More building of chakra!  More ominous threats from the villain!  And more reinforcements to ensure more fighting for chapter 612!

Bleach Ch 518 – Ichigo, with a little help from his friends, decides to make the journey to the Royal Palace.  Yes, that is all that happened in this chapter!

One Piece Ch 690 – Epic battling continues as fatal petrification gas closes in on our heroes!  This is news to me! Somehow I missed that there is a cloud of poison gas ready to deliver its fatal payload to our Straw Hat pirates and anyone else who gets in its path.  Smoker and Vergo are duking it out!  Why do so many of the characters look so much alike?  And why do the One Piece chapters always seem so short?

Cross Manage Ch 12 – I really like this story.  It’s easy to follow, it’s character driven, and there is no magic or epic dueling (not that I dislike magic or epic dueling).  It’s just basically about a group of high school students with completely different goals, backgrounds, and life expectations trying to get along, build a lacrosse team, and have fun while they do it.  Since Sakurai chased off three team members with his tough as nails training regimen, they no longer have enough players to field a team.  Desperate to fix what he’s done, Sakurai and Toyoguchi  get the ex-players together for a super-intense training session – without letting them know why they asked them to spend the three-day weekend with them.  No wonder Kato gets so angry and suspicious of him!  I thought this was nice chapter because instead of dwelling (mostly) on their faults, Sakurai pointed out their strengths and why he wanted them to come back to the team.

Nisekoi Ch 53 – This was another silly chapter that I enjoyed because it required zero brain cells.  Ichijo and Onodera hear their horoscopes for the day, and even though they don’t believe in that superstitious nonsense, they both go out their way to follow the advice for their lucky, or in one case, unlucky, day.  As Ichijo tries to interact with Onodera and Onodera attempts to avoid Ichijo, hijinks ensues and confusion abounds.  The ending was very cute, too.

Toriko Ch 213 – I just don’t get this one.  All of these needless, weird-looking chefs talking about oil and the need to be fit to compete in the cooking battle.  Most of these guys look like they would would struggle climbing a flight of stairs, and they are expected to compete in a triathlon to gather up their ingredients?  Only consolation – 50% of the competitors will be eliminated after the Swimming!  Biking!!  Running!!! Food Stamina Race!! portion of the battle.

That’s it for this issue, so see you for the next issue of WSJA.  I’m looking forward to catching up with Kenshin!

A Belated Look at Last Week’s Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Running around after hyperactive puppies has put a dent in my reading time, so my look at the December 10th Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha is just a little late.  Still, I managed to read the issue in between mopping up messes, washing countless dog towels/blankets, and making so many trips to the backyard that I can’t count them all.

This issue kicked off with Naruto Ch 610.  While I plan to keep reading the series, I have no idea what’s going on and continue to flounder with the story.  The epic battle with Madara and his minions continues, with Ten Tails and Nine Tails, and oh, my, I am just not getting it.  Madara is about to start the Infinite Tsukoyomi ritual to summon the moon?  Lots of speed lines, sound effects, and close ups of sweating Naruto and Kakashi.  Kind of looking forward to the start of the next story arc so I know what the heck is going on.  Any Naruto fans out there? Which volume did this story arc start in?  I ‘m tempted to go backward a little with the Viz digital manga sale….

Next up – One Piece 689!  I haven’t read this series in forever, but I didn’t have any trouble getting in the groove.  Psycho evil dude Caesar Clown picks his nose while confronted by Brownbeard!  His crimes are awful (besides the lack of hygiene caused by the nose-picking)!  He has been using Brownbeard’s crew as GUNNIEA PIGS!!  Only Caesar has given Brownbeard a muscle relaxant so he can’t expose his foul deeds!  He looks like an idiot!  Caesar gloats, impressed with his own evil genius!  The only thing I didn’t like about this chapter? Luffy shows up during the middle, ready to exact revenge and beat the snot out of Caesar, so I have to wait until the next issue  for the battle to begin.  I really like the fighting in One Piece because the odds are always stacked so far in the villains favor, but Luffy always manages to hold his own, mainly because he is so driven to do the right thing and avenge the characters who have been mistreated by the evil baddies.  The art is fun and just cartoony enough to present a unique style. 

Nisekoi Ch 52 was stupid and predictable, but I thought this was a fun read.  Two bumbling gang members beg Raku to help them open a briefcase.  They have lost the combination for the lock, which is Chitoge’s measurements, so it’s up to Raku to save the day! He has to exert his non-existent ninja skills to obtain this information before the briefcase blows up?  Implodes?  Opens a time warp?  He has no idea what’s in it, or what the consequences of failure will be, but he is certain it will cause great harm.  Instead of just leveling with Chitoge, he sneaks around the school, spying on her. See, it’s the day that physical exams are conducted at school, and he just knows that if he’s sneaky enough, he’ll get the info he needs.  This endeavor does not end well for him.  This is one of the most overused tropes in shonen manga, but for some reason I found this chapter funny.  Probably because all of the male characters are so stupid.  Who knows?

Up next – Bleach Ch 517, with a color page!  Squad Zero descends on the Soul Society in full clean up mode.  Squad Zero  is in charge of protecting the royal palace, and the rest of the squads are in charge of guarding the Seireitei.  They are disappointed with the crap job the rest of the squads have done, and they quickly take charge. They are there to collect the gravely injured captains, as well as Ichigo.  Again, I want to learn more about these guys and their powers.  I didn’t feel as lost in this chapter as I did in the prior one, and I am looking forward to next week’s installment.  This chapter was far too short.

Cross Manage Ch 11 helped to keep this series among my favorites in the magazine.  It is so easy to jump on-board and feel comfortable with the characters.  Sakurai is dejected after three of the girls quit the team, claiming that he is too harsh and the practice sessions too tough.  He begins to think that maybe he isn’t the best manager for the team.  I like him a lot.  He is an overachiever, and he just can’t comprehend not giving one’s all to a job task or activity.  I wonder what he’s going to do now that he lacks enough players to field a team.  After two chapters, I am very invested in this story, and I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal  Ch 24.  Sadly, I have nothing much to say about this chapter.  I am not a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan, and I don’t find the battles interesting or exciting in the least, and I’m not sure why.  Hikaru No Go is about an incomprehensible board game, but I find it exciting and suspenseful.  This is the one series in the magazine that I have no enthusiasm for.  At all. 

Whoa – Hunter x Hunter will be in the next two issues of WSJA.  Due to the many hiatuses Yoshihiro Togashi takes, I have tried to not get hung up on this series, so I am looking forward to getting a little taste of it.  Toriko was on break this issue, which I didn’t mind because last week’s chapter was so boring.   I hope the cooking battle commences soon!

A Peek at Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha–December 3, 2012

Thanks to the generosity of Viz, I have a subscription to Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha.  Starting January 21, 2013, there will be a simultaneous US release to coincide with the Japanese release of the magazine.  I am curious to see how that’s going to work, and to see what new series will be added to the magazine, so here is the first of my weekly looks at Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha.  The magazine looks great on my iPad, though I did have a bit of a headache before I was able to get my first issue loaded.  All it took was an update to the Viz Manga app, but I didn’t think of that until after wasting about 15 frustrating minutes.  Always check for a software update! Note taken.

This issue kicked off with Bleach Ch 516.  Whoa!  I haven’t read Bleach in ages, even though it is one of my favorite series.  For shame!  I spent the pages here wondering what the heck was going on, but by the last panel, had it figured out.   I think.  There will soon be an epic confrontation with Squad Zero, a squad comprised only of Squad captains.  No peons in this group of warriors!  There still has to be some kind of pecking system, some top dog to lord over the other squad members, right?  Unless they are all so bad ass that they have a mutual fear and respect for each other.  I am looking forward to learning more about them and catching up with Ichigo in future issues.

Naruto Ch 609 was next. Ch 609, folks!  I am hopelessly out of my depth with this one, but there was fighting!  Which I like.  And Kakashi!  Who I like.    Naruto and Kakashi are duking it out with the bad guy Obito, who hates Kakashi.  That is enough right there to elevate him to evil bad guy.  Who could possibly hate Kakashi?!  After a little help from Nine Tails, it looks like Kakashi is ready for more fighting, so next week, the battle with Obito and Madara will continue!  This is comfort reading for me – mindless speed lines, over exaggerated poses, and endless wells of energy to keep up that toe-to-toe action. 

Nisekoi Ch 51 followed.  This is a new series for me, and I believe it just started it’s run in the magazine.  Raku, one of those impossibly hopeless, hapless guys who can barely comb his hair, has attracted a gaggle of girls, I think by being nice, which in manga usually means wimpy.  Raku’s gangster father has him engaged to Chitoge, who hated him at first sight, but she’s come around and realizes that he’s not such a bad guy and that she might really, really like him.  To cast some mystery over his love life, Raku made a childhood promise to a girl, but he can’t remember who the girl is!  Her identity is locked in his prized pendant, but the lock is broken, so he can’t open it to reveal his childhood love.  You’d think he would remember the first girl he fell in love with!  No wonder these manga boys are always single!  I am actually going to have to read the sample that’s on the Viz website to help wrap my head around this one. 

Toriko Ch 22 – I don’t have much to say about this one, because the entire chapter is nothing but character introductions for the upcoming Cooking Festival.  I usually love cooking manga, but the endless parade of contestants bored me.  Better luck next week.

Wrapping up this issue is Cross Manage Ch 10 is a sports manga about a girls’ lacrosse team.  I liked this story the best.  It was easy to follow for a new comer, the art is engaging, and the characters are likable.  Ex-soccer player Sakurai reluctantly agrees to manage the high school girls’ lacrosse team.  They need a lot of help!  They can barely fill the roster, and they all pretty much suck at the game.  I’m sure that under Sakurai’s guidance they will quickly overcome their shortcomings.  I love sports manga, especially with an underdog team, so I am looking forward to more of this one.

No One Piece!  It’s on break until the next issue, which is a bummer, because Luffy always makes me laugh.

To purchase Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, click here. You can check out the free Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha starter pack here.  Viz is having a sale on their digital manga. You can get 20% off until January 8th!  Click here for the deets.

Review: Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan

 

 

Title: Playing with Fire

Author: Tamara Morgan

Publisher:  Entangled Publishing

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhuman abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant…and she’s hurt enough people already.

Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to blackmail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.

Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fireball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.


Review:

I am a huge fan of superheroes, and when I saw that Entangled was publishing a series of novellas about super heroes, I had to read them. It was a little scary at first, because I was afraid I’d be disappointed, but Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan is a fun, action-packed introduction to the Holding out for a Hero anthology series. I loved this story, and it even featured one of my favorite tropes – the second chance.  This read kept me entertained from the first page to the last, and I can hardly wait to read more of the anthology.

Fiona is a character I could immediately sympathize with.  She has the ability to hurl fire balls, but it comes at a steep price.  When her emotions get out of control, her powers do too.  She’s afraid of getting close to anyone because she is terrified of hurting them, and her last, failed attempt at intimacy ended disastrously, with her lover being badly burned.  To make this situation even worse, she didn’t even want the superhuman abilities to begin with.  Her manipulative boyfriend coerced her into it, and now she’s resigned herself to a sad and solitary life.

Into her life steps Ian, her childhood friend and the boy who broke her heart.  He was also responsible for her being bullied at school, so I did have a few issues warming up to him.  To be fair, Ian tried to rectify his past mistakes, but there were times when I felt that he didn’t do enough.  When it was his friend taunting Fiona, he quickly tried to put an end to the hurtful name calling, but when all Fiona wanted was for Ian to trust and believe her, he fell a little short.  In the end, he does gallantly redeem himself, but of the two of them, Fiona is obviously the more heroic. 

I enjoyed the world building, and am interested to see how other authors tackle a new world where superheroes , and super villains, could live next door. 

If you are looking for a fast-paced read with gobs of action, romance, and danger, look no further.  Playing with Fire was quickly gobbled up, followed by a “Please, sir, may I have some more?” plea from me.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Jeramey Kraatz, Author of The Cloak Society

 

Jeramey Kraatz stopped by the Café to introduce himself and his new book, The Cloak Society.  I am excited about reading this book because I love super villains!  Especially super villains who are really good guys at heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jeramey Kraatz] Writer, Reader, and all-around nerd. Avocado and cat enthusiast (separately). Likes to pretend he’s in music videos when no one’s around.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Cloak Society?

[Jeramey Kraatz] Of course! The book follows Alex Knight, a 12-year-old boy with telekinetic powers born into The Cloak Society—a secret team of supervillains in Texas. Alex is fourth-generation Cloak, so he’s got a lot to live up to. Cloak was defeated ten years ago by the Rangers of Justice, a team of much-loved superheroes, and now the villains have been lying in wait, looking for the perfect moment to enact their revenge.

Alex is part of the Beta Team—the other Cloak Society members around his age—and the book starts off on their first mission, which should be a routine bank heist. But it goes terribly awry when the heroes show up and Alex saves the life of a Junior Ranger named Kirbie. From there, Alex’s world gets…complicated.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jeramey Kraatz] The initial concept came from me joking around with another writer about genre adaptations of Shakespearean works. I proposed a superhero Romeo and Juliet where instead of the Montagues and Capulets you had, say, the Masters of Evil and the Avengers. Weeks went by and I couldn’t get the premise out of my head. The problem was that to make the story compelling, I’d have to make the supervillain lead likeable in some way, which was the idea/challenge I really latched onto—I didn’t want to write a run-of-the-mill superhero origin story like I’d read in comics and seen in movies countless times. As the world and characters got fleshed out, the Shakespeare fell away, and Alex and the Cloak Society became the focus of the novel.

Character creation was so much fun for this book since most of the main cast has superpowers. They came about in two ways: Either I had a superpower I wanted to use in the mix and had to think “What would a person who could control temperatures act like,” or it was the opposite, and I had a character in mind and had to find a power that complemented their personality. I wanted to make sure that all of the powers in some way reflected who these characters are, to have shaped them in some way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Alex?

[Jeramey Kraatz] Full. Of. Potential. I think that’s probably cheating, but it couldn’t be more apt.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alex would never have in his pocket?

[Jeramey Kraatz] 1. Keys (Cloak’s security system is SO beyond simple locks)

2. A cell phone (too traceable)

3. A lockpick (he’s got telekinetic powers—he’s totally outgrown those)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Alex had a theme song, what would it be?

[Jeramey Kraatz] Young Men Dead by The Black Angels. The guitar line is kind of creepy and foreboding, and the lyrics are really battle oriented. I listened to it a lot when working on the first draft. Bonus points for being a Texas band!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jeramey Kraatz] For this book, I’m definitely drawing on a lifetime of reading comics. It probably shows on every page, in every little nod or Easter egg dropped in that only comic book readers will pick up on. Joss Whedon’s work, for sure. Claremont’s “Dark Phoenix Saga” is probably the biggest influence in terms of specific stories. I interned at Marvel in the X-Men editorial department while I was in grad school, and seeing how big story arcs were scripted and planned was definitely invaluable when I was working on the original outline.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jeramey Kraatz] Caffeine, room to pace, and snack rewards. I’m very food motivated. Finish a chapter, and I get the piece of cake. I always feel really out of shape by the time I finish a big draft or edit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jeramey Kraatz] I finally got around to reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke after years of staring at it on my bookshelf and being scared by its size. It was such a complex, engrossing novel…probably the first time in a while that I’ve finished a book and immediately thought “I have to read that again.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jeramey Kraatz] I learned to read using The Foot Book and never stopped.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jeramey Kraatz] Reading a ton, from comics to YA to scholarly nonfiction—I try to keep it varied. I’m a sucker for bad horror movies and Netflix TV marathons. I work in the anime industry, so as part of my job I sometimes get to watch cartoons all day. So really, I’m living the geek dream.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jeramey Kraatz] I’m all over the place. You can contact me directly through jerameykraatz.com, or follow me on twitter @jerameykraatz. I love hearing from other readers and writers, so feel free to be get in touch with me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can preorder The Cloak Society from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.  Available in print and digital.

Under the Sea Giveaway Hop! Win Cuttlefish by Dave Freer!

 

Welcome to my  Under the Sea Giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Musings of ALMYBNENR.  This hop runs from September 14th to September 20, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away a finished copy of Cuttlefish by Dave Freer.  I enjoyed this seafaring adventure, and I think you will, too!

The smallest thing can change the path of history.

The year is 1976, and the British Empire still spans the globe. Coal drives the world, and the smog of it hangs thick over the canals of London.

Clara Calland is on the run. Hunted, along with her scientist mother, by Menshevik spies and Imperial soldiers, they flee Ireland for London. They must escape airships, treachery and capture. Under flooded London’s canals they join the rebels who live in the dank tunnels there.

Tim Barnabas is one of the underpeople, born to the secret town of drowned London, place of anti-imperialist republicans and Irish rebels, part of the Liberty – the people who would see a return to older values and free elections. Seeing no further than his next meal, Tim has hired on as a submariner on the Cuttlefish, a coal fired submarine that runs smuggled cargoes beneath the steamship patrols, to the fortress America and beyond.

When the Imperial soldiery comes ravening, Clara and her mother are forced to flee aboard the Cuttlefish. Hunted like beasts, the submarine and her crew must undertake a desperate voyage across the world, from the Faeroes to the Caribbean and finally across the Pacific to find safety. But only Clara and Tim Barnabas can steer them past treachery and disaster, to freedom in Westralia. Carried with them—a lost scientific secret that threatens the very heart of Imperial power.

 

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Just fill in the widget below for your chance to win.  Earn extra entries by following.  US shipping addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Novella Review: The Ravenous Dead by Natasho Hoar

 

 

  Title: The Ravenous Dead

  Author: Natasha Hoar

  Publisher: Carina Press

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

This time the dead are hungry…

Rachel Miller doesn’t just see dead people, she rescues them. As a member of The Order of Rescue Mediums, she spends most of her time helping stubborn spirits move on from the world. But after she learns the details of three brutal murders, she knows the culprit can only be a reaper, an undead monster that relentlessly stalks its victims to feed on their souls.

A reaper once consumed the soul of Rachel’s mentor as she watched frozen in fear. Now, Rachel is in the role of teacher to Kit Elkeles, a rodach just learning to control his wraithlike powers. After Kit and Rachel rescue a half-vampire, they work to protect him while searching for a way to stop the reaper. But when Rachel realizes who the monster is really after—and just what kind of dark magic she’ll need to stop it—will she be able to do what is necessary before it devours one of her friends…or even herself?

27,000 words

Review:

I love this series!  The pacing is fast and furious and guarantees that the pages will turn rapidly.  I started The Ravenous Dead when I had a couple of free moments, but then I had to put it down because I had social obligations to attend to.  All I could think about was getting back home and hunkering down with Rachel, Kit, and new guy Luke.  How could they possibly out muscle a horrifying monster that literately rips the soul out of its victims?  I couldn’t wait to find out!

One of the things I like best about this series is how we are given little snippets of background information about the characters and the weird, alternate Vancouver that they reside in, while chasing around with Rachel as she tries to stay alive long enough to unravel the latest mystery she’s stumbled into.  Paranormal beasties try to blend in with normal humans, and when they don’t, it’s Rachel’s job to find out why, and if necessary, help put an end to any dangerous behavior.  The world building is believable, without being heavy handed.  It’s almost like Rachel deals with all of these nasty creatures so I don’t have to even be aware that they are standing in line next to me at Taco Bell.

The Ravenous Dead pits Rachel against a reaper, an undead being that feasts on souls.  She believes that it’s the same reaper that  she failed to destroy years before, causing the death of her partner.  She is consumed with guilt, and she has a driving need to free the souls trapped inside the reaper.  The only problem?  It is a terrifying monster, fueled with the souls of its victims, and Rachel must overcome her mind-numbing fear of it, which leaves her frozen and incapable of calling on her supernatural powers.

This is a quick, exciting read with relatable characters and a paranormal world I would like to know more about.  The focus is on the intense action and character interaction, with small breadcrumbs scattered throughout the narrative to help make the setting feel real and believable.  Rachel is a strong, smart lead, and she’s given just enough flaws to ensure that she doesn’t have things too easy when she’s going toe to toe with a cantankerous spirit.  I can’t wait for her next adventure!

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by Carina Press

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