Paranormal Action - Part 2

Paranormal Action - Contemporary Fantasy Part 2
It’s taken me a little longer than I planned to write the second part of my paranormal action book list.  Part of the reason is that I kept running across new series that I wanted to add!  What a horrible fate for a reader.

Anyway, to reiterate the basic premise of this list, I love books with women I can aspire to be.  The women in these books are generally smart, fit, and not traditionally attractive.  Obviously, I can’t aspire to be magically inclined, part paranormal, or on intimate terms with either Loki or the incarnation of Death.  In truth, I’m not doing so well on the first three either, but at least I have a chance with those.

The first book on my list is Discount Armageddon: an Incryptid novel.  This book is written by Seanan McGuire.  If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s the author I raved about in my last piece.  I separated the two series because they read as if written by different authors.  Discount Armageddon is a gritty urban noir piece set in New York City.  The main character is a young woman named Verity Price, who comes from a long line of crypto zoologists.  What is a crypto zoologist you say?  Well, they came up with the term crypto because the term “monster” seemed so biased.  Crypto zoologists study and protect monsters, or cryptids.  The book is fast-paced and intriguing.  The monsters vary between benign ones, such as talking Aeslin mice who worship the Price family and ones who bake gingerbread and keep food from spoiling, to dragons and snake cults who flay women alive.  Verity takes them all on while free running across rooftops to get to her job waitressing at the strip club and make her ballroom dance competitions.  But what’s she to do when the Covenant of St. George comes to town and gets ready to purge New York City of its monsters?
Next is Urban Shaman.  Joanne Walker has never wanted anything more than to be left alone with her cars.  Although technically a member of the police force and having gone through the academy with excellent marks, Joanne Walker hopes to stay in the shop at the station taking care of the cars.  Unfortunately for her, none of that is going to happen.  As she returns from her estranged mother’s funeral in Ireland, she sees the impossible.  She watches a woman run from the mythical Wild Hunt and into a church.  When the plane lands, she’s compelled to find out what happened to the woman and her world changes.  She’s forced to deal with her mixed Irish/ Native American heritage, her burgeoning shamanic powers, and a strangely familiar coyote figure that begins to haunt her dreams.  The Joanne Walker Papers series starts with Urban Shaman and is written by C.E. Murphy.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that Cherie Priest came up with a new take on the vampire meme with her Cheshire Red series.  Once upon a time, vampires were fun to read about.  Then came Twilight, and everything about vampires changed.  (Sorry if you’re a Twilight Fan.)  They’ll never go back to what they were, but she’s taken them somewhere different.   This series is what you get if Mission Impossible had a love child with Interview with a Vampire.

For reasons unknown, Raylene Prendle is a vampire living alone.  She makes her way through the world as a master thief, taking only the most difficult jobs for the most delectable items, and she avoids her own kind at all costs.  She thought she’d succeeded brilliantly until she took a job for something that shouldn’t exist, vampire blinded after death.  Suddenly she’s gone from a ghost no one can catch to the FBI's most wanted.  Darkly hilarious and filled with scenes that could come from The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Bloodshot is a must read.
With all the hype about the Greek gods and Native American shamanism lately, it was wonderful to stumble upon Kylie Chan’s Dark Heaven’s series this last weekend.   I quickly burned through the first series and am well on my way through the second.  One of the things I adore is that not only is the protagonist Emma a self-described mousy woman, but she also starts the series pudgy!  I also loved that it has nothing to do with America at all.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the good old US of A, but it’s nice to read a contemporary book once in a while that admits that heroes come from elsewhere as well.
The main premise of the series is that the Chinese Shen (spirits or deities) are real and can interact with humans.  Just like the Greek gods, Shen have some good things about them, and some bad things.  Emma, a woman from Australia, is teaching English to kindergartners in Hong Kong when she is hired to teach Simone, the daughter of John (Xuan) Chen.  The more time she spends with them, the odder they seem to be.  Eventually, demons declare war on the Chinese god of martial arts, and Emma has to figure out how best to protect herself and Simone.   I truly enjoyed the book.  Although there is a definite love story, it’s not too mushy and there are no heaving chests, throbbing swords, other euphemisms for sex, or actual sex.  They do gaze into each other’s eyes a lot, however.  One thing that’s great is all the martial arts and the thought of the different deities sitting down at a table to play mahjong and going to birthday parties like normal people.

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