Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GRAVE WITCH by Kalayna Price


Kalayna Price's novel Grave Witch was an unexpected surprise.  I'm not going to lie.  When I first spotted the book, I wasn't expecting much.  The cover--though appropriately witchy with its cemetery setting and gray-hued heroine--didn't really thrill me.  I've read too many urban fantasies, seen too many kick a** female leads holding knives, swords, semi-automatics, demon/ghost/paranormal decimating what-have-yous that the cover just didn't sell me.

What sold me was the back cover summary.  It was the following sentence about the MC, Alex Craft: "But even though she's on good terms with Death himself--who happens to look good in a pair of jeans--nothing has prepared her for her latest case."  I was smiling instantly.  When a book can do that with just the summary, there's a good chance I'll buy.  The first page sealed the deal.  I just had to have this book.

The characters got me right away.  Alex Craft (and really I wanted to hate her just because of that silly name.  I mean, Craft = Witch; come on authors, you can do better than that) was a great character.  Even with the name.  She was unapologetic about turning her talent for talking to the dead into a business, reminiscent of Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly.  Harper being one of my favorite series/heroines ever, it was as good a recommendation for Alex as any.  Like Harris, Price did a fantastic job of making Alex tough yet vulnerable.  After using her powers, she goes blind for a time afterward, flooded by the chill of allowing death so close to her.

And that brings me to my favorite part of the book.  Death--the man not the act--was what kept me turning the pages.  There was a particular scene, my favorite, in which Alex and Death are drinking coffee (I know it sounds humorous, but trust me.  It wasn't) which set the tone for their entire relationship in my mind.  Impossible and forbidden with an undeniable passion simmering just beneath the surface.

I think by book's end I was supposed to be all aboard the Falin Andrews train, but I can honestly say that I was torn.  I still loved Death.  I think he's the definite dark horse in the series to win Alex's affections.  When there's a love triangle, I always seem to go for the character that's obviously not going to end up with the girl.  I guess I just always pull for the underdog.  But Falin grew on me throughout the book, especially what was revealed in the end.  It made him a little more tortured--and Lord knows, I love a little torture in my male leads J  But no I'm not going to tell you what it was.  You'll just have to go out and get the book!

While you're reading, I'll be impatiently awaiting Price's second installment.  There is a lesson in this, I think: Never judge a book by its cover or its silly MC name.  If you do, you might miss something.  Ninja Girl out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Honor of the Movie...I AM NUMBER FOUR

First thought: What kinda crappy title is that?

No, really.

That’s what ran through my head the moment I spotted I Am Number Four at the local Target (YES, ninjas do shop at Tar-jay from time to time)  Anyway, I resolutely turned my back and walked out without giving the book a second glance.  Besides nearly always disliking stories written from the male POV, I’ve never been a huge fan of aliens, so the book was a definite no for me.  Then Christmas rolled around, and I was searching for a book for one of my male cousins, and there it was again.  Same dumb title with the pretty cool cover.  This time I decided to give it a shot.  I picked it up, read the inside cover and that was it.  I was hooked.  The voice struck me right away, the stakes were appropriately high, and I finally understood the reason for the lame name on the book jacket.

The opening pages were stellar.  I loved the quick pacing, the short. choppy. sentences.  The action was there, the game was on, Number Three was running for his life, and then…things changed.

The main character John (Number Four) and his guardian Henry stepped onto the scene, and I was underwhelmed.  Yes, I know that’s not a word, doesn’t change the way I felt.  There was the male voice I can’t stand: flat, stagnant, almost painfully normal in tone despite the war that was heading his way.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t do aliens.  They’re usually just too blah, too blank-slate.  It’s almost like authors are afraid to give them a personality because it would make them too human.

But that could just be me.

The characters were…fine, I guess.  I didn’t love or hate them, which for me was a problem because I want to root for the MCs and boo the bad guys till I’m writhing on the edge of my seat, waiting impatiently to see what’s going to come next.  The love interest was, like John, flat, that average, forgettable girl character you might find in any YA.  In fact, just now I can’t recall her name.  Henry seemed a little too much like Giles from BtVS for my tastes, and Sam was my favorite human (or alien) in the book.  My favorite character overall was Bernie Kosar, the dog.  The scenes with him were my favorite, and John’s thoughts toward him made me like him a little more.

All in all, the book was okay.  Like I said neither good nor bad, VERY wordy--especially toward the end--but the story wasn’t terrible.  Far as aliens go, I prefer Roswell over Number Four, but maybe that’s because it was a TV show.  (Yes, yes, I know it was a book series first, but I watched it on the WB before it became the CW)  Max and Michael (especially Michael) had it all over John, and Liz showed more backbone than what’s-her-name in every scene.

That being said: Will I be at the movie?  Heck yeah!  I think one of the trailers featured a song by Adele (love, love, love her), and there’s a kid/alien with superpowers.  How could a ninja resist?