Strange Practice (Dr. Greta Helsing #1) by Vivian Shaw

Dr. Greta Helsing has inherited her family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, family practice. In her consulting rooms she treats the otherworldly citizens of London for a wide variety of worldly ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies – just to name a few. And although she has trouble making ends meet, Greta wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Until a sect of murderous monks arrives on the scene. Killing human and supernatural persons alike. Terror has taken the city in its grip and Greta will have to team up with some strange friends to stop the cult, save her practice, and her life.

Strange Practice was a book I came across while browsing over in Google Play. It was one of those “Recommended for You” type of things. Honestly, I enjoy browsing those areas just to see how accurate – or how totally off base – the recommendations can be. Sometimes I come across a title that interests me, while other times I’m left scratching my head.

Strange Practice is the first book in the Dr. Greta Helsing series and in it we are introduced to the titular character. Greta is a 30-something medical doctor, who after numerous years of study and practice in London’s hospitals, has taken over her father’s practice. It is something she has wanted to do since she was a child as her family has a history of dealing with some of the more unique individuals that walk the city streets. Taking care of others – especially those of the supernatural sort – is something she loves to do and is something she is quite good at.

On the whole, the actual plot of Strange Practice is a tad cliched. A group of young theology students find forgotten information about a long dead sect of Templar Knights. At first, they reenact the rituals for love of the pomp and circumstance, they are not serious in their efforts. That is until an odd, disembodied voice begins to compel them to take things a step further. To rid the world of those deemed “unclean” and “monstrous”.

What sets Strange Practice apart are the characters themselves. Whether human or supernatural – of which there are quite a few mentioned – they are each written in a way that makes them believable. There are moments of joy and of pain, of anger and of self doubt, of surprise and of relief. While the majority of this attention is given to the main characters, even the background characters like Greta’s staff in her clinic, are given this treatment (pun intended). Brief mentions of them as actual people are made so when something happens, we the reader react just as the other characters do. We hurt when they hurt, and at one point even cry when they do.

Though the action can be a bit clunky at times, and some scenes tend to verge in to more morose territory, overall Strange Practice is an enjoyable read. With well written and well rounded characters, it’s easy to overlook it’s small drawbacks. Shaw has given the readers a strong female character that I believe many can relate to. I recommend this one to my readers and hope they enjoy it as much as I have.

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Making changes

Good afternoon dear readers!

In an effort to update my blog and make it a bit more visually pleasing, you might notice small changes over the next few updates. They won’t be large changes as I am already happy overall with how my blog looks. It will just be small tweaks and such, especially in regards to linking all my social media accounts together.

As the changes take place, if there are any you like or dislike, or if any of the links do not work, please let me know. I welcome any and all feedback.

Many thanks!

Provided for Review: A Conversation with a Cat: A Novel by Stephen Spotte

This book was provided for review by Book Glow. My many thanks to you!

Stephen Spotte’s imaginative novel recounts the tales of a scroungy former alley cat named Jinx, whose memories aren’t just his own but those of other cats who existed before him, one of which was Annipe, Cleopatra’s pampered pet. Through Annipe’s eyes the ancient Mediterranean world of Cleopatra and her legendary lovers, Caesar and Antony, is spread before us in all its glory, pathos, and absurdity. Jinx reveals these stories telepathically one night to his stoned and inebriated owner just home after gall bladder surgery. Annipe’s memories are bookended by Jinx’s own that detail his early scavenging days in bleak urban alleys. (via Book Glow and Goodreads)

Home fresh from the hospital after having gall bladder surgery, our unnamed pet owner is relaxing on his back patio with his cat Jinx. Aside from the copious amounts of pain medicine provided by the hospital, our man has also decided to self medicate with a bit of alcohol and marijuana. With this combination running through his veins, it is not hard to believe he is able to have a kind of psychic conversation with Jinx.

Jinx then begins to tell the tale of one of his predecessors – a cat named Annipe who belonged to the great Cleopatra.

Unfortunately, though the story is about a cat and told by a cat, there is not much cat in the actual tale. The felines are reduced to secondary characters with the humans being pushed to the fore. Annipe and her siblings have very little to do and therefore do not grow as characters as such. With so much attention given to the human characters, it is difficult to actually care for the feline ones.

Another unfortunate point is that the Egyptian story is the only story related by Jinx; aside from a brief telling of his own early years. Early in the novel Jinx says that all cats have a kind of racial memory, where one cat can recall what other cats in the past have experienced. It would have been nice it Jinx had given more than one story from the past.

One good thing I can say about A Conversation with a Cat is that Spotte has done a good deal of research. The struggle between Egypt and Rome is decently told with great detail. Sadly, it isn’t any different from what can be found in any number of history books.

As unique as the idea behind the book is, I’m sad to say it just wasn’t carried out to its full potential. And as rare as it is to have a book with a cat as the main character, I can’t recommend this book to my readers either.