Blog Tour for Laura Bickle with Review of “Embers”
I’m excited to participate today in a blog tour for best selling urban fantasy author Laura Bickle. She’s got two novels out already for her “Anya Kalinczyk” series. I’ve read the first one and definitely plan on reading the second. For those who enjoy UF, this is definitely one you want to check out. Be sure to see all the details below, as well as my review of “Embers“.
Unemployment, despair, anger–visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit’s unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.
Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya–who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern–suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil’s Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya–with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team –can stop it.
Anya’s accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she’s risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she’s ever faced.
Anya Kalinczyk #1
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
“One of the most promising debut novels I’ve read in a great while… I’d highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards…of another exceptional first novel…Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, and there’s not much higher praise that I can give.”
—Elizabeth Bear on Tor.com
“Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder.”
—M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels
“Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can’t wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!”
—Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade
Read an excerpt at- books.simonandschuster.com/Embers/Laura-Bickle/9781439167656/excerpt
This is a great start to a new UF series. It’s dark and gritty with a flawed heroine who knows right from wrong, but doesn’t always make the right decisions. I liked that she sometimes slipped and did things she knew she shouldn’t even if she technically had an excuse. In one case, it made for a steamy romantic scene that almost had me looking at myself badly for enjoying it so much (but the regret didn’t last long). Anya feels real and easy to relate to. She has some abilities no normal person would have, like being able to demolish ghosts and (some) demons, but those don’t take away from the human side of her.
The author also has a knack for creating a very detailed world. You really feel like you’re learning all about how fire investigations work. The magic spells used were also given plenty of description so they came out sounding believable. My only complaint with the novel might be that the level of detail could get a bit tedious at times and slow the story down. Having said that, I still found it all fascinating even if I did want to get on with the action. There is also a decent amount of backstory that is sprinkled throughout that slows the pacing but it does give depth to the characters and plot.
Speaking of plot, this one is unique and while it feels fairly linear I was on the edge the whole time waiting to see how things would end. You half-way grow to like the bad guy which makes it tough to decide what you want to happen. It definitely kept me in suspense. I grew to really enjoy some of the side characters as well, especially Sparky. He’s an awesome familiar for Anya and so much fun. At first I couldn’t see why she’d want to put up with him, but as the story progressed I grew rather attached. Despite the fact he can’t talk, he manages to express himself quite well and keeps the heroine on her toes.
All in all, this was a great novel and one that definitely makes me want to read more by the author. Laura Bickle is a talented writer and her work should be added to every urban fantasy fan’s TBR list if they haven’t discovered her already. I give Embers four whips!
Note- I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
WITHOUT A TRACE…
Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.
After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.
Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
The second book in Bickle’s series about Anya Kalinczyk is just as wonderful as the first—Anya is a compelling and likable protagonist and Bickle does an outstanding job in her portrayal of the city of Detroit; there are ruins, yes, but also hope in the ashes. Anya never takes herself too seriously and there is a scene in a baby supercenter that is absolutely not to be missed. (4 stars)
– RT Book Reviews
…a charming and inventive read.
-Elizabeth Bear, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, December 2010
Read an excerpt at- books.simonandschuster.com/Sparks/Laura-Bickle/9781439167687/excerpt
Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she’s never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.
Writing as Laura Bickle, she’s the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket – Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she’s the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.
More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: http://www.salamanderstales.com/
Laura/ Alayna’s blogs
http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com and http://delphisdaughters.blogspot.com
She’s also at Facebook