Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Book Marks: Mean Streets

51VR1DT5AVL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Mean Streets is another urban fantasy anthology that I bought because it has a Jim Butcher story about the wizard, Harry Dresden. That story, “The Warrior,” might be my all-time favorite Harry Dresden short story, with the possible exception of the story that is the precursor to book one.

“The Warrior” has some of my favorite elements in Harry’s world – the human, Michael, who was entrusted with a sword from heaven, Michael’s family, and a really interesting battle between good and evil. I love this story! (5 stars for this one)

“The Difference a Day Makes” by Simon R. Green is a pretty freaky story about a sort of underworld and some seriously strange characters. Parts of it I really liked, and parts of it were too much for my comfort level (some weird sex stuff). It was really good writing with some of the most unique characters and details I’ve read in urban fantasy.

“The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog” by Kat Richardson was weird from the beginning, but the kind of weird that keeps you turning pages when you’re sleepy because you have no idea what is going on and you really want to know. 🙂 I liked the whole story, and it made me want to see more with this character.

“Noah’s Orphans” by Thomas E. Sniegoski interested me from the beginning because it seemed to be about heavenly angels and fallen angels. But then I realized all the angel characters were fallen angels, so I had to readjust how I was reading and understanding the story. I mostly liked it except for one big, glaring problem for me. The presentation of the Almighty as described by the fallen angels were completely unlike the God I know. He was presented as capricious and untrustworthy. That put me off. But it was otherwise unusual and interesting and well-written.

Altogether, I was very happy with this anthology. I’d certainly recommend it to you.

4 stars, Liked It

Book Marks: Dark and Stormy Knights

510TzMpWHUL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_I’m a huge Jim Butcher fan. I love his Dresden Files series so much, I go looking for short stories in that world that I haven’t read before. This week and next week, I’ll tell you about two anthologies I read this month, both with Dresden Files short stories in them. (Yay!)

Dark and Stormy Knights has nine short stories by popular authors in the urban fantasy genre. I particularly liked “Even Hand” by Jim Butcher (duh), “The Beacon” by Shannon K. Butcher (yup, Jim’s wife, never read her before but I want to now), “Even a Rabbit Will Bite” by Rachel Caine, “Dark Lady” by P.N. Elrod, and “Rookwood & Mrs. King” by Lilith Saintcrow.

The stories include a wizard, a vampire and a ghost, a dragon hunter, and some seriously strange supernatural entities, as well as lots more weird and interesting characters. Pretty cool.

I’ve read little to nothing by most of these authors, so I was eager to try them out. But many of them used a character in a series that I wasn’t familiar with, and didn’t give enough back story to help me understand the context of the story. That was disappointing and made the stories less enjoyable.

That being said, this was one of the urban fantasy anthologies I enjoyed the most. If you like this kind of story, try out this anthology. Fun stuff!

4 stars, Liked It

Unexpected Superhero Teaser 3

First cover for the novel Unexpected SuperheroUnexpected Superhero is now available on Kindle, and will be available in print in just over a week. Yay!

And now for the end of Chapter One! (If you missed the beginning, you can read Teaser 1 and Teaser 2 here first.) Enjoy!

Tori pulled her fisted hands from her coat pockets, looking around, trying to decide what to do. Please help me, God. Her eyes darted to Eddie behind the counter. He saw the quiet man moving toward the gunman, too. Eddie opened the cash register and started counting the bills out loud.

“Twenty, forty, sixty–”

“Just put it in the bag, man!” the kid shouted.

Eddie shot him an angry look. “I have to tell my dad how much got stolen for the insurance paperwork, you idiot! Eighty, one hundred…” Eddie kept counting, picking up the tens and then the fives.

Tori felt her lips twitch in a tiny smile. Brilliant! The kid was so focused on the money, he didn’t see the other guy sneaking up behind him. Tori tensed, praying this would work.

Crash!

Behind her, near the women, a glass jar fell and broke. The young woman screamed.

The gunman swung around. “Everybody freeze!”

More screams tore the air. Tori ducked as the kid waved the gun. The idiot looked like he was in a gangster movie. He probably didn’t even know how to use the thing.

The gunman turned back to the cashier. “Give me the money and no one gets hurt!”

Eddie stopped counting and started putting the money into a paper bag. Tori thought he nodded to the other man, only four or five feet away now and gliding forward soundlessly.

When Eddie started to put all the change into the bag, the gunman interrupted him. “Forget the change! I don’t want no change! What, you never been held up before?! Get me the money from the safe, asshole, and I’m gone, and you live.”

Eddie shook his head. “I-I can’t – the safe–”

“Give him the money!” one of the women screamed.

The kid cocked his gun (okay, maybe he did know how to use it), looking back and forth between the customers and the cashier. As Tori watched from the cover of the candy aisle, the man behind the robber darted with amazing stealth first one way then the other, always keeping out of the gunman’s line of sight. How did he do that? He was over there, and then he was there, and then–

The robber didn’t see it coming – the other man closed the distance, thrusting the kid’s gun arm into the air, and shoving him into the counter! Eddie reached for the customary convenience store baseball bat, but he wasn’t fast enough. The robber twisted under the other guy. The two men tussled. The women screamed. Eddie ducked, and–

A shot rang out!

Tori flinched and ducked again. Could she do something to help? But what? She pressed a fist into her stomach, trying to keep the roiling fear down so she could think. The hot feeling in her stomach grew as she struggled between self-preservation and the overwhelming urge to help keep everyone safe.

The robber jumped away as the other man fell to the floor.

Another crash of glass. The gunman whirled again. He pointed the gun at the man with the crying baby.

Not the baby! Not if she could stop him. Tori grabbed handfuls of yellow M&Ms packages and started throwing them at the gunman. “Don’t shoot!” Tori screamed at him, hot anger bursting out. “Stop it! Put that gun down!”

The kid ducked her shots, candy hitting him in the face and shoulder, unable to keep the gun aimed any more. Tori marched toward him, too pissed off to think. Out of ammunition, she pointed her finger at him like a kindergarten teacher. “Put it down now, mister!”

The kid looked at her like she was crazy. Then with little hesitation, he put the gun on the counter.

A split second later, Eddie had the baseball bat against the robber’s throat. As the guy clawed for air, the front door burst open and police officers crashed in, flowing through the room like a dam had burst.

Tori jumped out of their way, her hand pressed to her queasy stomach. Police threw the robber to the ground and cuffed him. One officer checked the man who had been shot while another asked Eddie if he was okay. Tori noticed Eddie’s bleeding head. When had that happened? The police waved in EMTs who worked on the guy with the bullet wound.

The hero of the day. Tori hoped he was okay. That was amazing the way he just – just stepped in and saved everyone! The guy was a real hero! And so was Eddie!

“Are you all right, ma’am?” Tori felt a policeman shake her shoulder.

“The guy that was shot…” she said, still watching the EMTs. She couldn’t see the man himself. God, please let him be okay. She tried to focus on breathing, in and out, don’t look at the blood.

“They’re taking care of him. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Are you hurt?”

“No, I – no.” Tori tried to swallow but her mouth was bone dry. She noticed her hand hurt and looked down. Her fist had wrapped her purse strap in a death grip. She looked up at the policeman. “I thought he was going to shoot the baby.” There was no way she could ever, ever let someone hurt a child.

The policeman smiled and said, “The baby is fine. See?”

Tori followed his pointing finger to see the man rocking his little girl, talking to another officer. They both looked fine. Then the man looked at Tori and pointed at her as he spoke.

It only took Tori a moment to realize why. She looked down at the floor littered with peanut M&Ms – yellow, green, blue, red, brown.

The policeman laughed. “I’ve never seen anyone take down a gunman in quite that way before.”

“I’m sorry.” Tori didn’t know what to say. What had she been thinking? She never would have interfered like this a few months ago. The policeman questioned her about what had just happened, but Tori’s mind darted around like a chickadee. Since she’d stopped seeing her psychiatrist and stopped taking her medications, she felt better than ever. Freer and more alive. But maybe she shouldn’t allow herself to be quite so free. Walking up to a man with a gun!

The meds kept her from any kind of spontaneous action or uncontrolled emotional response. Maybe that was better than, than…whatever just happened.

“Are you okay?” The policeman looked at her closely.

Tori wasn’t sure of the correct response. She was alive – thank God – and she was going to see Joe again, and day eleven of married life. But…she wasn’t exactly feeling well. Her stomach was calming down, but she felt herself beginning to shake from the inside out.

“Let’s sit you down for a minute, shall we?” The policeman took her arm and escorted her outside toward his car.

The bitter cold night air helped clear her head. As they walked past the stretcher where the wounded man lay, Tori paused. Had everyone thanked him? He certainly deserved their gratitude. She bent down. But she didn’t know what to say. What words were enough?

“You’re very brave,” she murmured, touching his uninjured shoulder briefly. “Thank you so much.”

He glared back at her. “What? Your suit at the cleaners?” he whispered fiercely, “Or is this your day off?”

Tori pulled back a little. “What?” Why was he attacking her?

“I’d think a guy with a gun would be enough that you could use your powers before someone gets shot,” he spat at her. “But no, had to be the hero, huh? Had to wait till you were the only superhero who could save the day! That’s why I work alone. Superheroes like you are just superegos. You don’t care about anything but your media image!”

The EMT moved Tori out of the way. She heard the man moan as they hustled him into the ambulance.

What was he talking about? When she called out to the gunman she was just…worried, scared. That’s all. It was probably a stupid thing to do, but it distracted him enough so that Eddie could grab him.

The policeman put his arm around Tori as she swayed on her feet. He tucked her into the back seat of his police car. “Why don’t you put your head down?” he suggested.

Tori shook her head. She just needed to get her bearings. The car was warm, and she closed her eyes, leaning back into the seat. She let her mind wander as she tried to relax. She tried not to think about what kinds of people had been sitting in the back of this police car lately. Could lice survive the winter? Ugh, best not to think about it.

Her thoughts returned to the conversation with the man who’d been shot. It hit her then – was he saying he was a superhero? Tori’s eyes flew open and she turned in time to see the ambulance pull away. She’d met a superhero?

She flopped back against the seat. No! Impossible! Her parents had always insisted the “superhero” stories in the news were publicity stunts. Crime was on the rise and the city government would say anything to look like they had it under control.

She’d heard her mother’s voice saying a hundred times over the years, “There’s no such thing as superheroes. A few freaks out there who want to be more than they are, but no one has any kind of supernatural power.”

Tori accepted this version of the world. It made sense. It was logical, orderly. To believe that people might have supernatural abilities opened the door to possibilities Tori didn’t want to consider. She and her sister Lexie had enough freak factor with the strange things that sometimes happened around them.

This guy accusing her of being a superhero did seem a little freaky, that’s true. Of course, he’d been shot, lost blood, was probably out of his mind with pain. But that other guy…

Tori’s mind drifted back for a moment to Halloween. Some kid had grabbed her purse and taken off. Tori chased him, but she tripped and fell. Moments later a man dressed as Zorro appeared, gorgeous and thrilling. He helped her get her purse back, and picked her up like she weighed no more than a doll. Then he kissed her like–

Tori shook her head and opened her eyes. Sure it was a great kiss, but she never saw him again. She met Joe a couple days later, fell madly in love with him, and married him on Christmas Eve.

She straightened her shoulders. She had no intention of thinking about another man now that she was married. But she wondered if her parents were wrong. Maybe superheroes did exist. If so, they weren’t all freaks. Not Zorro, anyway.

Still, why would this possible “superhero” accuse her of being a superhero? Maybe in the pain of getting shot, he…got confused. In her mind’s eye, Tori saw the look on the robber’s face as he put the gun down. There was something about it, something familiar. Her mind tripped and twisted with roiling emotions and panic-infused imagination. She needed to stop this crazy thinking.

But her brain wouldn’t stop working on it. Now she remembered. Last night when she and Joe had stopped over at her sister Lexie’s and little Ben wouldn’t go to bed, she’d put on her Aunt Tori voice and forcefully insisted he go to bed. He’d looked at her with that same funny look on his face. Then he did. The barely-three-year-old turned and went to his room without another word.

And a few months ago. When Lexie told her that it wasn’t just that Tori could convince people of things, but that she could force people to do things. And Lexie had only said that because – oh my gosh, that’s right! – Tori had insisted that Lexie tell her what she was thinking.

Tori felt her breath coming quicker but she couldn’t catch it, she couldn’t breathe. She kept trying to breathe, but the air just kept going in and out of her mouth without hitting her lungs and she couldn’t get a breath and–

The door opened and the policeman said something but Tori couldn’t catch his words and then he was pushing her head onto her knees and still talking and she thought she heard, “That’s it. Breathe.”

Tori gulped in air, then tried to slow down and get the blood to stop pounding in her head. It’s not possible. It simply wasn’t possible to live for twenty-seven years and not know…not make the connection.

She’d test it. Then she’d know. It wouldn’t work, and then she’d know her mother was right. There is no such thing as superheroes. No such thing as super powers.

Tori looked up at the cop. “I need some M&Ms. I went in for M&Ms and I need them please.” She knew she was jabbering, but she had to know. “Please get me some.”

“Just take a deep breath and–”

She glared into his eyes, hoping and terrified and feeling very, very alone. Her gut burned with heat. “I need M&Ms! Please!”

The cop stopped in the middle of his sentence. He looked at her for a moment, then stood up and turned back toward the store. When he came back with every kind of M&Ms flavor the store sold, Tori fainted.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

What fun to be part of this blog hop! My friend Keziah Hill tagged me in her post, and I get to tag two more authors in mine. We’re all talking about our next book – our Next Big Thing – by answering ten questions to help you find new books and new authors to read. I hope you enjoy the fun!

the-next-big-thing1: What is the working title of your book?

My next book is a romantic urban fantasy called Unexpected Superhero. It’s the first in my new series, The Adventures of Lewis and Clarke.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s funny, I remember being annoyed with John for ignoring me one day while he was reading a graphic novel. I suddenly imagined a woman whose husband is lost in his comic book collection again one Saturday afternoon and she gets really upset and wishes she had her own superhero, someone who spent as much time and attention on her as this imaginary woman’s husband spent on his comic books. It made me laugh and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.

3: What genre does your book come under?

It’s a light urban fantasy with some romance and some inspirational elements.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This question really is pure fantasy! LOL! But in my fantasy, I think of how great Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd were together in Someone Like You, and how great they could play Tori Lewis and her newlywed husband Joe Clarke. But since my characters are in their 20s, I think we’d probably have to cast someone else. 🙂 That’s the kind of chemistry I see, though. Or like Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler in The Ugly Truth, sometimes sweet and sometimes butting heads.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Tori Lewis discovers she has a super power, she has to figure out how to adjust to her new life, tell her new husband, and save her nephew from the city’s biggest villain – who just happens to be her father.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

I created my own micro-publisher, Daydreamer Entertainment, to self-publish my books. It’s a lot of work, but so much fun!

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four months – I wrote it while we lived in Sydney when John worked on the movie Happy Feet. The rewrites though – ugh! – that’s another story! LOL! The book you’ll be able to read in a few weeks is the third version of the story, completely different from the original idea I told you about in question two, but so much better than anything I’ve written so far. I love this book!

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This is the hardest question because I don’t know of many superhero novels with humor and romance that aren’t based on a comic book or graphic novel. Jennifer Estep’s Karma Girl is perhaps the closest one that I know of. But my humor might be closer to Kerrelyn Sparks or Jennifer Crusie. Julie Kenner’s Carpe Demon is a closer match, even though that’s about a demon-hunting soccer mom rather than a superhero newlywed.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

After I got the initial idea, I mentioned it to John and said I might need some help doing comic book research. He was instantly helpful. He told me about the different kinds of stories out there in comic book land, including the different publishers and imprints, the different writers and artists (meeting Alex Ross and getting him to sign one of his prints to us is on my bucket list), the origin stories, how close the movies based on comic books stayed to the original stories – everything! I got quite an education.

Then John took me to a comic book store and explained what was available there, the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel, and he bought me my first graphic novel, Kingdom Come. (I was 38 years old! I found out you’re never too old to learn to enjoy stories in a new way.) By the time I finished Kingdom Come, I was hooked! I have my own collection now, and sometimes we’ll go into a comic book store and I’m the one who’s asking to use some grocery money for comics!

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the most fun parts for me was remembering how odd it was to get married and suddenly be living with someone in such an intimate fashion. Everything about your life is combined now, but you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing half the time.

The fun and laughter and romance of being a newlywed combined with the angst of trying to be fully grown up and live without your parents’ intervention were some of the most interesting parts of the story for me. And there are so many bits that made me laugh while I was writing it that I do hope readers find the book just plain fun to read.

Look for the book in print and in ebook formats at the end of March 2013.

If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them. If you’re a reviewer and you’re interested in reading and discussing the book, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you to Keziah Hill for inviting me to join the blog hop. Her Next Big Thing blog post is here. And thank you to Tracy Reed and GVR Corcillo for enthusiastically agreeing to let me tag them so they can tell you about their upcoming books, too.

 

Keziah Hill

Author of steamy erotic romance and romantic suspense, Keziah has been recently published with Momentum, and Harlequin imprint, Escape Publishing.

Web site: http://keziahhill.com

Blog: http://keziahhill.com/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KeziahHill

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeziahHillAuthor

 

Tracy Reed

Tracy writes books that break all the rules of traditional Inspirational Fiction – fiction for women who love God, Couture and Cute Guys. She calls them edgy, but some call them steamy. Judge for yourself this Spring, when her first book, Generational Curses, comes out.

Web site: http://www.readtracyreed.com

Blog: http://www.readtracyreed.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/readtracyreed

 

GVR Corcillo

With her Ivy League education, white trash sensibility, and pop culture savvy, GVR Corcillo, who made it to the New York Times Best Sellers List with her first short story, writes chic lit about women who try not to trip as they march valiantly to their bongo beat.

Web site: http://gvrcorcillo.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gvrcorcillo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/geralynvivian.ruanecorcillo