Blog Archives

The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

ghoul-vendetta-blog-tour-banner

Book four of the SPI files comes out next week!!! Makenna “Mac” Fraser gets to play the hero when her partner, Ian, is abducted by the many-faced creature that has been stalking him for years. Determined to get him back, Mac won’t rest as she pulls together every resource she can to find Ian and bring him home alive.

I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

ghoul-vendettaTitleThe Ghoul Vendetta
AuthorLisa Shearin
SeriesSPI Files, Book 04
Publish Date: January 31, 2017, Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionMen in Black meets Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum in the fourth urban fantasy novel in the series starring seer Makenna Fraser and her fellow agents at Supernatural Protection & Investigation.

The agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) are paid to keep the peace. But that’s not so easy when an endless evil threatens to tear that peace to pieces…

A vampire gangster’s nephew is abducted off his yacht by a bunch of low-rent Creatures from the Black Lagoon. A slew of banks are knocked over by what looks like the cast of Night of the Living Dead. All of this may seem like the movies, but, I promise you, it’s not.

I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for SPI, and I know the culprits aren’t wearing disguises or makeup. They’re real. Deadly real. Especially their leader—an ancient shapeshifter who leaves a trail of chaos and blood in his wake. Now, he’s taken my partner, Ian—and his intentions aren’t pretty.

The worst part? This is only the beginning…

The beginning of the end of the human race.

Be sure to enter the blog tour giveaway at Rafflecopter to win a free copy of The Ghoul Vendetta!

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

O.M.G!! What an awesome installment to the SPI files.  We have Mac and Ian, of course.  Alain, Yasha, Kenji, Kylie, and swoon-worthy Rake. This is a fantasy mystery with no sex, no blood and gore, monsters and a little romance.  The romance is just enough to make me go *sigh*.

I would suggest you start at book 1, but carve out plenty of time because it’s necessary to read one after another.

Ms. Sagadraco is on vacation this time around, but it’s ok cuz there are still dragons, vampires, ghouls, elves, and goblins. Ian finds out he is more than a vanilla mortal, and Mac gets to show her boss and her very good friend, Rake, what she’s made of—a lot of backbone!  I enjoyed that Mac didn’t need saving this time around, and I also enjoyed that Mr. Alpha-Arrogance-on-a-Stick, Dark Mage billionaire, Goblin version of 007, Lord Rake Danescu is getting gushy for Mac.  Oh, it’s so much fun!!  I get giddy just thinking about it!

Those that aren’t keen about romance in their books, don’t worry – there isn’t enough to make you puke.  Those of us that love the romance, settle in because, well, Rake kinda shares a little more of himself than we are used to.  Again, giddy!!

badge5v5The mystery case links some past cases together and Lisa Shearin does describe events from prior books to bring the reader up to speed.  This is a ‘one sitter’ so be sure there will be no interruptions because you won’t want to stop.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

I absolutely love this series! Mac and Ian and Rake and all the characters are so much fun, I can’t get enough of them.

Book four connects things that have been happening in the series so far, from the jewelry heist that brought Ian to SPI, to the dragon eggs, to the mysterious, multi-faced creature that seems to be stalking Ian. Mac gets to play the hero this time, instead of the damsel, which is awesome! And we learn more even more about Rake and his intentions toward Mac. So does Mac, which means the romance fans have something to look forward to. 😉

badge5v4I adore it when a book in a series pulls together the elements of previous stories, and The Ghoul Vendetta does it beautifully. I feel a whole series reread coming on very soon!

Our reviews in this series…

lisa-headshotAbout the author…

Lisa Shearin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Raine Benares novels, a comedic fantasy adventure series, as well as the SPI Files novels (The Brimstone Deception, The Dragon Conspiracy, The Grendel Affair), an urban fantasy series best described as Men in Black with supernaturals instead of aliens. Lisa is a voracious collector of fountain pens, teapots, and teacups, both vintage and modern. She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her husband, three spoiled-rotten retired racing greyhounds, and enough deer and woodland creatures to fill a Disney movie.

Other recommendations…

Check out the Esther Diamond series by Laura Resnick, the Incryptid series by Seannan McGuire, or the Scarlett Bernard series by Melissa F. Olson.

I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Save

The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin

SPI Agents never catch a break.  Action and adventure to keep you occupied, romance to make you swoon.

23529245TitleThe Brimstone Deception
Author Lisa Shearin
Series: SPI Files #3
Publish Date:  January 26, 2016
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: It’s called Brimstone. And after the first few hits, you’ll see every supernatural beast sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with you. After that, you’ll start seeing the really scary stuff.

I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for the SPI. And the collateral damage caused by Brimstone is something I’d like to unsee: dead drug dealers missing their hearts—and souls. Because your local pusher doesn’t stand a chance against the new cartel muscling its way into New York. And since the drug can only be produced with magic and molten brimstone fresh from Hell, that means a rift to the underworld is open somewhere in the city.

And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, well…

It’s going to be Hell on earth.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

This is accurately labeled as a combination Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum/Men in Black story.  It’s an urban fantasy with a little romance goin’ on. There isn’t a cliffhanger, but there is a book #4 (Yay!!).    There are monsters and killing of said monsters.  It’s a fun series that has characters that appreciate humor. The series probably should be read in order, but if push comes to shove, it could be understood if started out of order.

Come for Rake Danescu, stay for MacKenna Fraser, Ian Bryne and the rest of the cast.  Rake is a hunky goblin that is sin on a stick.  He’s after MacKenna, though his motivations are suspect.  The sexual tension between the two is swoon worthy though I love how MacKenna isn’t stupid and remains vigilant regarding sussing out Rake’s intentions.  He is a goblin with a reputation – she is smart to be cautious.  MacKenna has a great sense of humor and she is also quite aware of her limitations.  That’s refreshing to me.

badge4v4The story picks up immediately after Book #2.  SPI agents don’t get a break when it comes to the supernatural. Of course, the agents have to save the world again, but that is par for the course.  I like the fact that this series doesn’t depend on just one kind of supernatural to be the villain and the stories are not anything alike.  Each book is a new challenge for the agents with plenty of action thrown in.

Don’t miss this series.  It’s a series that combines adventure, witty comebacks, romance and life threatening action scenes.  It’s great!

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Another fun adventure for Mac and Ian.  New York’s drug dealers are being killed off while a new drug, created with Hell’s Brimstone, is flooding the city.  Ian and Mac have to track down the killer and the maker of Brimstone before anyone else dies.

Rake is, of course, a suspect.  But is he part of the plot, or is he just being set up?  I love how Rake gets “real” in this story.  We get to see beyond the playboy facade to the person underneath.

badge4v4Again, Johanna Parker does a great job of narrating the story.  She is such a good pick for these stories.  I can’t wait until the next one.

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

If you haven’t read them yet, the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris would be good for fans of Makenna in either book or audio form. You might also like the Paranormal Scene Investigation series by Laura Anne Gilman or the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. Of course, there is also the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin, wherein more goblins dwell.

Wild Card by Lisa Shearin

Wild Card

Welcome to Saturday Shorts where we feature short stories and novellas.  Wild Card is a prequel to Lisa Shearin’s Raine Banares series.  Though the book is technically fantasy, taking place on a world that is more Medieval Europe than current day, the story read like an urban fantasy.

TitleWild Card
Author: Lisa Shearin
Series: Raine Benares prequel
Publish Date: November 25th 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker, a finder of things lost and people missing. I’ve never had to do both in one day, or had this many lives at stake—including mine.

The search for a missing ring leads me to the abduction of eight magically gifted children. Their souls were stolen while they slept, and unless I find those souls by sunrise, their bodies will die.

Both cases have one thing in common—they’re linked to a goblin secret society high-stakes poker game, whose members are practitioners of the blackest of black magic. As a seeker, I can track those captured children’s souls, but to spring them will take magic I haven’t got.

That’s where Tamnais Nathrach comes in. He’s the seductive embodiment of sin itself. He’s also a goblin dark mage with an even darker past, the owner of the city’s most notorious casino—and the only person with magic enough to reach the kids in time.

Why are the most dangerous predators the most beautiful?

The stakes are high; the odds of success are low. And I’m betting with my life—a life I’ll have to trust to a darkly tempting goblin mage I just met.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).


Nell 100Nervous Nellie says…

Main characters: Raine Benares, a seeker, has a straighter moral compass than some of the rest of her family.  She can find anything or anyone but draws the line at finding things that don’t belong to the potential client.   Tamnais Nathrach, proprietor of Sirens and a dark mage.  He is the former magical enforcer and right hand man for Queen Glicara Mal’Salin, ruler of goblin court.  Of course he’s got to be gorgeous, sexy and dangerous. *insert dramatic sigh here*  Also, Raine’s possible love interest.

Other characters: Lady Kaharit, Raine’s client is portrayed as a woman not to be messed with.   Her husband, Sethis Mortsani, an evil nachtmagus (necromancer – think of Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price), has a gambling problem and is stealing jewels from his wife. Chief Janek Tawl, human and watcher.  A watcher is basically police. Malina Adler, a white hat nachtmagus, works with the police.

World: Raines world is the City of Mermeia in the kingdom of Brenir.  Brenir consists of five islands that separate five districts.  Humans, elves, goblins, with two islands reserved for magic users of all races.

Story:  The story starts out with Raine finding a client that needs to find a piece of jewelry.  Usually this kind of thing is right up Raine’s alley, but complications set in when Raine finds out the gems stolen from her client are used as vessels.  Each gem is holding a kidnapped child’s soul.  Raine and her cousin Phaelan join forces to get the gems back and the children released.  Pretty straight forward?  Uh…no.  That’s just the short game.  The long game has to do with Tamnais Nathrach, his wife’s death and his departure from royal court.  Did I mention that he’s ever so hot and is a possible love interest?  If this goblin has ½ as much charisma as Lord Rake Danescu from Shearin’s SPI files, I’m going to be in big, big trouble. Oh, boy….this is gonna be the good kind of trouble!

badge4v4Overall: This novella, 83 pages to be exact, was a fabulous introduction to Raine Benares and her world.  It was a quick read and it’s not necessarily necessary to read this novella first, but it gives you an idea of how Raine and Tamnais meet.  Maybe this is discussed in the following series, but it’s a quick couple hour read to get you acquainted.  Word of warning:  Lisa Shearin is a master of storytelling and she has gotten me hooked to yet another of her series.

ivana 100Invested Ivana says…

After reading and liking her SPI Files series, I thought I’d give Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series a try.  I started with the audio of Wild Card, a prequel story to the series.

Wild Card is a quick adventure story about Raine, her criminal cousin Phaelan, and a seductively handsome goblin mage, Tamnais Nathrach, saving the souls of children being used as chips in a high-stakes poker game.  This story gives me a little background about Raine and her family as well as the world she inhabits.

The narrator, Eileen Stevens, does a pretty good job with the voices.  I haven’t listened to Stevens before, but her voice is good.  I might look into speeding up the narrative just a bit, though.

badge3v4I both read and listened to this story.  Reading it didn’t do much for me (but admittedly, I was sick at the time and possibly not focusing well), but the audio did much more.  I like not having to worry about how to pronounce the names when I listen to the audio – a benefit I hadn’t thought of before.

Overall, I think I will listen to the Raine Benares series rather than reading it, and I’m looking forward it.

The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin

Dragon ConspiracyTitleThe Dragon Conspiracy
Author: Lisa Shearin
Series: SPI Files Book 2
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: ACE
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Perspective: First Person

Publisher’s Description:  A gala opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has attracted the upper crust of Manhattan—and thieves. A trio of vile harpies attacks the crowd and steals the stars of the exhibition: a colorful cluster of seven cursed diamonds known as the Dragon Eggs.

In the right mage’s hands, each stone can pack a magical wallop. Together they have the power to “cure” the supernaturals of the tristate area—but for many of those vampires and werewolves, that means turning into dust.

I’m Makenna Fraser, a seer for SPI. With the help of my partner, Ian, and the other agents, I have twenty-four hours to prevent total global panic, find the diamonds, and save the supernatural community. No biggie…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!).


ivana 100Have you finished The Dragon Conspiracy yet, Nell?

Nell 100I did!  I really liked this book, too.  Lisa Shearin really makes these characters come alive.  I read Conspiracy and I listened to it too.  The narrator is awesome!  I enjoyed meeting new characters.  I especially enjoyed meeting Rake.  I know, I know…..he’s a smooth talking goblin prince, but he’s STILL a prince!!!  I assume since you are asking me if I’ve finished, that means you have too.  What did you think?

ivana 100I thought it was great fun.  I like all the different supernatural creatures.  I know you were hoping for a relationship between Ian and Makenna, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.  Are you okay with that?

Nell 100I am totally fine with it.  I am kind of excited about Rake, like I said.  That relationship opens up a whole new series of plots and twists, don’t you think?

I don’t know.  I like Rake, too, but I’m wary of a relationship between him and Makenna.  He’s a bad-boy with charisma, and those don’t usually make for the best long-term relationships.

Girls are always attracted to the bad boys, you know.  Who better than to straighten Rake out of his reprehensible and devious life than Makenna?  I know she can’t “fix” him, but it is fiction… it could happen!


“Grandma said that a skillet’s good for three things: frying chicken, baking cornbread, and going upside an obstinate man’s head.”

Nervous Nell says …

Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Makenna Frasier, Ian Byrne, Vivienne Sagadraco and the whole SPI crew make the best character team.  The camaraderie of the team made me feel like part of a club.  MaKenna is not the kick ass type though she’d really like to be.  She’s pretty smart – although I find her unfamiliarity with the creatures that she can “see” a little disconcerting. We learn that Makenna has a new and rare gift which may or may not turn into more.  I am interested to see how much she grows and progresses in her life and employment. Ian is still the great senior agent.  He tends to hold back information from Makenna, which I think is a little overprotective or arrogant.  Ms. Sagadraco is ever the lady and she is a powerful lady at that.  I admire her diligence in keeping the human race safe, when basically, to her, they should be prey.  The rest of the SPI crew are at their finest, though I would have wished to hear Roy Benoit speak.  He can make me melt when he says “darlin’.”  Oh, and I would love to see Yasha’s “baby.”  I imagine a werewolf’s tricked out SUV would be a sight to behold.

Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Kylie O’Hara is SPI’s resident PR spinner.  She is so charming and lovely that everyone falls under her spell and believes the debunked supernatural stories that she weaves.  She also has turned Ian into a green 14 year old.  I think it’s fun to see Ian with a crush on someone.  He’s the big tough agent man – he needs no stinkin’ woman!  Ha, Ian – the bigger they are and all of that…..;-)  Moving on to Lord Rake Danescu.  Oh, boy.  I cannot wait to see what develops with this Goblin lord.  I really hope that Rake will NOT live up to his name when it comes to Makenna.  Alain Moreau, Vivienne’s ever present sidekick and lawyer made several appearances and even dressed up? down? in midnight blue leather to kick some serious bad guy butt.  Whoo hoo!  Helena Thanos was introduced to the posse as a 1000 year gorgon.  If you make it 1000 years AND be a Gorgon, that has got to be some magic.  I hope to see Helena again too — she was pretty darn cool.

Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I sincerely loved this story.  It was a rocking good time.  The deadline for saving the world (or at least three states) was incredibly short, but they did it!  I was introduced to a couple new characters that I really liked. The bad guy was labeled as a ‘white cat petting evil Bond villain’.  If that is not imagery, I don’t know what is.   I tried to steer away from rooting for Makenna and Lord Rake Danescu, but I just couldn’t help it.  He’s such a charmer and I have NO idea what his intentions are toward Makenna.  It will be incredibly fun to find out.  I know that shouldn’t be the take away from the story, but like I said, I couldn’t help it.  I was so tickled with the ending that I was a grinning fool.

Narrator: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Johanna Parker’s narrating is a work of art.  She makes the book come alive and the difference in voices makes the characters dimensional.  She does an awesome job!

Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ It was a fabulous conglomeration of characters, world, evil plot line and a tiny bit of romance.  There were twists where turns should be and vice versa. The title of the book was an excellent description, but that is not all that is brewing within its pages.  I cannot wait to see what happens in Book Three.

Invested Ivana says…

Main characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Makenna and Ian are once again trying to save the world, this time from harpies, a self-centered gorgon, and a pissed-off dragon.  I like the easy, but not romantic, relationship that is developing between Makenna and Ian.  They tease each other, they watch out for each other, and they are becoming great friends.  I love their loyality to Yasha as well, and his loyalty to them.

Other characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  In this installment of the SPI files, we meet harpies and gorgons — two very interesting creatures of Greek mythology.  I like the character of Helena Thanos; she is portrayed as being sophisticated and gracious.  I have to admit I’m a bit smitten with goblin Rake Danescu.  You can’t trust him, but he has the allure of the “charming bad-boy.”  I’m going to have to go read the Raine Benares series, since the goblins appear in both worlds.  I really like Ben Sadler, too, and hope he appears in future books.

Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The Dragon Conspiracy is another fun adventure.  I really liked the link between the Dragon Eggs and the Romanovs.  That was a fun bit of history to bring in.  I liked hearing the backstory on Victor Kane as well.  I think villains without a backstory are too shallow.  At the end of the novel, we’re told that the villain of this piece was not working alone.  Intriguing!  It ties this story into a bigger picture and builds anticipation for what is yet to come.  It might have been nice to have more clues about this in the story itself so we could be shown the intrigue instead of told (actually, there were a few hints in the beginning), but overall, I still had a lot of fun listening to this book.

Narrator: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Johanna Parker rocks; not much more I can say.  🙂  She’s a great choice for this series.

Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ This novel is great fun and an excellent listen.  I’m looking forward to The Brimstone Deception coming out later this year.

Other reviews:

If you like this book…

Check out the first book, The Grendel Affair, for sure.  If you haven’t read them yet, the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris would be good for fans of Makenna in either book or audio form. You might also like the Paranormal Scene Investigation series by Laura Anne Gilman or the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. Of course, there is also the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin, wherein more goblins dwell.

No promotional consideration was granted for this review.

The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin

Grendel AffairTitleThe Grendel Affair
AuthorLisa Shearin
SeriesSPI Files Book 1
Publish Date:  Dec 31, 2015
PublisherACE Books
Perspective: First Person

Publisher’s DescriptionWhen I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process. Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (or, in other words, SPOILERS).


ivana 100Hey Nell!  Guess who narrates the audiobook of The Grendel Affair.

Nell 100Oh, Wait! I know this…..her voice is familiar! Where do I know her from?

Johanna Parker narrates The Grendel Affair AND the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris!  I just finished listening to the book and it was pretty good.  I received this book from Goodread’s First Reads program early last year.  Now that the sequel is out, I wanted to read it again to remind myself what happened in the story.  I liked the book in audio.  You’ve read this book, haven’t you?

Yes, I have. I have read it twice and listened to it audio once. It’s a great world with fun characters. I started the Dragon Conspiracy-I’m about 15% into the book as we speak.

ivana 100Oh, good.  Me, too.  I wanna see what nasty monster Makenna and Ian get to fight next.

Nell 100So, do you think there will be a romance between Makenna & Ian?  I’m betting not….he seems too stuffy.  What do you think?

I’m looking for monsters and you’re looking for romance.  Doesn’t that just describe us both?

I can’t help it.  Monsters will always be there, but romance is a fleeting thing.


Nervous Nellie says …

Main characters:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ At first, I thought MaKenna Frasier was kind of wimpy.  It didn’t take long – not very long at all- to discover that she was anything but wimpy.  She was smart, able to think on her feet and she was a very believable character.  She was not Wonder Woman like some protagonists portray themselves.  She was just ordinary woman hell bent on making this new job work.  Ian Frasier, MaKenna’s new partner, was very patronizing at first. He was a seasoned veteran of monster hunting and knew that if he didn’t protect Mac, she’d never make it.  He had lost a partner and he was not going to let it happen again. He beat himself up over that loss and immersed himself in responsibility, responsibility, responsibility.   Mac didn’t want to be anyone’s responsibility.  She figured out that she needed to protect herself so she wouldn’t be a liability to her team.  She may have a special skill that is hard to find and worthy of protection, but she used her common sense and helped the other monster fighters as best as she could.

Other characters:♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Kenji Hayashi was my favorite.  Techno geek extraordinaire.  Vivienne Sagadraco was next.  Rolf Haagan was Rambo on steroids – but he kept his sense of humor. Roy Benoit – he I would like to actually meet.  I’m a sucker for a southern accent.  Whoo wee.  Actually, all the characters were really entertaining.  I liked them all – except for the grindels.  They were scary.

World: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The world is full of creatures that humans do not know exist.  It’s SPI’s responsibility to keep those creatures under wraps.  MaKenna is a seer and she can ‘see’ the creatures for what they are instead of any glamour they might use.

Story:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The story was excellent.  I loved every bit of it.  It was so good that I read it twice and listened to the audio too.  The mystery was well incorporated and it was fun seeing New York though MaKenna.  There is literary reference to Beowulf incorporated in the story – dragons, elves, vampires and other creatures. I thought there may be a romance with Mac and Ian, but it only briefly hinted.  The author really did well with this story – it had humor and seriousness (as serious as monsters invading Times Square could be).

Overall:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I enjoyed this book very much.  The pages flew by and it was just as good the third time as it was the first.  The characters were very likable and genuine.  There is a good spirited rapport between agents and their ‘trophies’ that they each had on their desks.  MaKenna was bound and determined she would have a weapon and her putting Tequila in a squirt gun was just one of the many things she tried to succeed. In the end, she has proven herself as an asset and a darn good one.  There was no cliffhanger, and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Invested Ivana says …

Main Characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  Makenna Fraser is a likable character.  She’s not perfect, she’s not superior, she’s just your average gal adjusting to a new job.  She has funny quirks, only one special skill — the ability to see through glamours and veils — and is both afraid and brave.  I love the fact that a smear of powdered sugar from eating too many cookies is what helps establish her credibility and that her contribution to the monster-fighting team is to shoot paintballs.  The story is told first-person through Makenna, so the reader gets to know her very well throughout the book and is easily able to identify with her and invest in her success.

Other Characters: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Ian Byrne, Makenna’s partner/bodyguard, is a professional agent, in contrast to Makenna, and does what he can to keep her safe.  At first, I thought Ian was going to be an overly-protective male for the whole book, but that wasn’t the case.  Ian is protective, having lost a partner in the past, but he recognizes that he can protect Makenna only so much and that she needs to be able to protect herself.  Luckily, Ian has a sense of humor and is able to accept Makenna for who she is, quirks and all.  I think the two make a good pair. I really enjoy the rest of the supporting cast as well:  Ollie, the self-centered merchant of all things spooky; Yasha, the Russian werewolf driver; Kenji, the Japanese half-elf techie; Vivienne Sagadraco, British dragon and founder of SPI; and Rolf Haagen, the crazy Scandinavian with the prosthetic arm.  Ms. Shearin certainly has embraced diversity in her characters as far as nationality AND species.

World: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ It seems all the monsters exist in Makenna’s world — dragons, elves, goblins, werewolves, vampires, ghouls, leprechauns, grendels, magicians, witches, dopplegangers, and more.  One ancient dragon, Vivienne Sagadraco, has created SPI — Supernatural Protection and Investigations — to protect the humans and good supernaturals from the bad supernaturals and keep the magical world under wraps.  SPI operates like a private FBI and police force, employing both humans and supernaturals toward the cause.

Story: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ In this first adventure, a pair of grendels are loose in NYC, ready to rampage through Times Square on New Year’s Eve in order to bring the supernaturals out of the closet and into the power some creatures believe they deserve. Makenna, Ian, Yasha, Rolf, and the others are tasked to bring down the grendels without revealing them to the world.  Mayhem ensues.  For the most part, I like the story.  The time the group spends hunting the grendels in the tunnels under the city seems to drag on a bit; but, I really love the scenes in the cemetery and in the crypt under the cemetery.

During the story, Ms. Shearin references Makenna’s first day on the job guarding a bachelor party of leprechauns.  This sounds like a hilarous story that can now be found in an anthology called Night Shift.  Makenna spends a fair amount of time introducing herself to us in the beginning of the book, where she references her hometown of Weird Sisters, North Carolina — a town that attracts the weird and wonderful.  With as much time as was spent on it, I was expecting to either find a short story about Weird Sisters, or to have it become important in The Grendel Affair; but neither is true as far as I can tell.  I’d love to see a story or two about Weird Sisters; it sounds like there are generations worth of stories there to tell.  The other story I would like to see is how Ian lost his first partner.  We know it had something to do with “the ghoul” character that Makenna encounters both at the beginning and the end of the book, and we know it had a big impact on Ian.  But we know only what Ian has told Makenna about the incident and we don’t know much about this “ghoul” character at all.  I think there is plenty of fodder there for more interesting stories.

Narrator: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Johanna Parker, who also narrates the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, is the voice of Mackenna Fraser and company.  Being a fan of Sookie in audio, this did a couple of things for me.  First, it gave me instant affinity for the story since I liked Sookie and Johanna as her voice.  Second, it made me picture Mackenna as Sookie for a while.  I can separate them in my head now, but I don’t think associating the two characters was actually a bad thing.  They are fairly similar; both gals are blonde, Southern, and fairly normal except for one small talent — the ability to sense something others can’t.  Neither have any special abilities that make them physically or mentally superior, and they both have faults, make mistakes, and have adorable quirks.  It was a smart choice to have Ms. Parker read the SPI novels as it will lead some listeners to associate Ms. Shearin’s world with Ms. Harris’, and who wouldn’t want to be associated with such a success?

Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ The Grendel Affair is a fun adventure with likable characters and just the right amount of humor.  I think I enjoyed listening to it more than I did reading it, particularly because I already have a “relationship” with Johanna Parker.  The story is more than fluff, but not a super serious or gritty adventure — it’s a “popcorn flick” of a book that makes for an entertaining few hours.

More Reviews:

If You Like This Book … One Book Two will be reviewing the sequel, The Dragon Conspiracy, in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that.  If you haven’t read them yet, the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris would be good for fans of Makenna in either book or audio form.  You might also like the Paranormal Scene Investigation series by Laura Anne Gilman or the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire.  Of course, there is also the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin, but we haven’t read that one to recommend it.

No promotional consideration was granted for this review.