A MelanieM Review Redux: Infected: Prey (Infected #1) by Andrea Speed


Note:  This was the first of the Infected Stories, written back in 2010, when it first came out.  Now 8 stories  later, Roan’s tale is done.  Or is it?  Here’s a look back at the series, leading up to my review of the Holiday special on the 17th and a series review.  Roan will always have my heart.


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


Infected Prey“In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

The murder of a former cop draws Roan into an odd case where an unidentifiable species of cat appears to be showing an unusual level of intelligence. He juggles that with trying to find a missing teenage boy, who, unbeknownst to his parents, was “cat” obsessed. And when someone is brutally murdering infecteds, Eli Winters, leader of the Church of the Divine Transformation, hires Roan to find the killer before he closes in on Eli.

Working the crimes will lead Roan through a maze of hate, personal grudges, and mortal danger. With help from his tiger-strain infected partner, Paris Lehane, he does his best to survive in a world that hates and fears their kind… and occasionally worships them.”

This is the first book of Andrea Speed’s that I read and it is a case of love at first read.  Infected Prey includes the first two books in this series and what a fabulous introduction to this author.

The world created here is one in which a werecat virus has spread much like HIV through society and governments are struggling to deal with it much like they did with AIDS in the initial stages of discovery and scientific research.  At this time, there is no idea how this blood born pathogen came into being although it is suggested that the government might have something to do with it.  Again, much like HIV, some are born with it (virus children) and some are infected, whether by accident (transfusions) or intention (attacks or choice).

Roan McKichan was born an infected child.  Now grown, he is a ex-cop and P.I.  The years of growing up unwanted and in abusive foster homes, have left him wary, cynical, and  isolated.  His partner, Paris Lehane, is a Infected by malevolent intent and carries the rare Tiger strain.  Paris is the only one that Roan lets get close to him physically and more importantly, emotionally.  The heart of this book is  the relationship between these two men, both incredibly different and yet deeply in love with each other.  Two unique voices that leap off the page and demand your attention.

In Andrea Speed’s world, shifting from one species to another is not an easy matter.  In fact, it’s painful, debilitating, and in some cases lethal.   Those Infected are caged during their change for society’s protection, whether it is cages at home supplied by the State or at the Police Station in a special ward.  Still, there are some who wish to be Infected themselves and the Church of the Divine Transformation draws those individuals like flies to raw meat.  And someone is killing them.

Hired by the head of the Church to find the killer, Roan and his lover, Paris, struggle to find the killer while dealing with the dynamics of their relationship, their health problems, and the fact that Roan is changing in ways neither man can grasp.

Intense, sometimes funny, and always addictive.  Here is Roan in a mall store trying to get information from a clerk:

Roan: “I’m a cat, yeah. I’m a virus child.”

“Really?” Her eyes were shining now. He was another boring adult when he walked in, but now he was suddenly exotic and appealing. “Cool.” He thought of Paris’s breaking bones, and wanted to backhand her across the face.”

Short, succinct, and telling.

There are more in this series, four published and another on the way.

I give this a 4.5 and am on my way to starting the second book, Infected Bloodlines, that looks to be a heartbreaker.  I’ll let you all know what I find.

But in the meantime, pick this one up.  Let me know what you think.  I think you will love it.

Cover art is textured and dark but the character that is supposed to be portraying Roan is just not my idea of him, including the dark red mane.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 384 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by DSP Publications (first published June 24th 2010)
Original TitlePrey
ISBN 1632163268 (ISBN13: 9781632163264)

SeriesInfected #1
CharactersRoan McKichan, Paris Lehane settingSeattle, Washington (United States)



A MelanieM Review: City of Monsters by Andrea Speed


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

City of MonstersHunter Burrows used to be an insurance investigator on Earth.  But something happened 6 months ago and Hunter  ended up a shifter of unknown species who was transported to Nightshade, a literal city of monsters in a near-Earth dimension called Dev. Nightshade is filled with vampires, weres of all types, zombies, reverse tooth fairies, and yes, even Yetis.  Left somewhat amnesiac by the transition between dimensions, Hunter learns that having a job is high priority and becomes a finder for a fee.  Since Hunter doesn’t know what type of shifter he is, he can pass between territories when on a mission.

Still Hunter is depressed about his new status and, apparently permanent, new city.  He spends his time gambling and drinking, taking jobs when necessary to eat and pay the rent.  But all that changes when Hunter runs into a new arrival in Nightshade.  Sakari Karim has just been transported into Nightshade and Hunter fears leaving a “newbie” alone on the streets.  Plus it doesn’t hurt that Sakura is handsome and gay as well.

When Hunter is pressed into looking for the twin brother of a reverse tooth fairy, Sakura comes along to help.  Will Sakari change Hunter’s luck?  Will Hunter and Sakari ever find out what type of weres they are?  Is romance in the cards for Hunter and Sakari?   Take a trip into the city of Nightshade for the answers and a ton of fun too!

I am a fan of Andrea Speed.  From Infected‘s Roan to Josh of the Damned and all manner of creatures in between, Andrea Speed’s inventive and somewhat warped mind continues to create some of the funniest, wildest, and over the top species and worlds around.

In City of Monsters, Speed returns to her Josh of the Damned universe, a place ruled by Medusa, the god who runs this particular universe.  Nightshade the city is full of dark towers, condominiums for the unearthly, the slums of Dog Town where packs of werewolves roam and trash piles up to the ordered and upscale vampire district where vampire run casinos are always open and suckers are not always willing.  All types of beings go about their businesses here, including several that we have meet before in the Josh of the Damned series, like the lizard people, the reverse tooth  fairies and the Yeti.  I couldn’t have been happier to have them back.

Into this maelstrom of the supernatural and unearthly are plopped former human beings who were unlucky enough to have a magical animal attack/encounter on Earth and have been transformed into a type of were or supernatural being.  Upon being bitten or what have you, the unlucky person is transferred to Dev almost immediately, losing most of their memories in the process.  What a shock to the system and that has made Hunter an unhappy boy!  I love that Speed brings this weirdly attractive and out of whack place vividly to life.   Nightshade itself is easily pictured from the clear images her descriptions convey.  There is the classy vampire district that lies next to Dog Town, a smelly place where the werewolves pee constantly marking their territory and the buildings resemble that of a slum.  The intersection of Pierce Avenue and Barker Lane mark the division of territories…of course!  The vampire boss of the casino is  called Macula (duh) whose gang of poseurs calls itself Bloody Monday, a criminal gang called the Lobos that operates out of dog town, and Mustafa, a vegan vampire who faints at the sight of blood and favors Hawaiian shirts, sno cones,  while trying to stay out of everyones way.

In Andrea Speed’s world, no detail is too small to play with, no large element too big to get its own makeover ala Nightshade style.  It’s funny, sometimes priceless and yes, there’s a romance as well.  Hunter is depressed, lonely, and constantly plagued by his possessed blender for fresh fruit to make smoothies. Yep, one of the funniest characters is Blender, a happy, fruit loving blender with a need to please and make delightful concoctions.  A true favorite of mine! Back to Hunter, he is also an out of control gambler who tries to forget his woes at the local vampire casinos, never a good idea.  His occupation?  He finds things, creatures, what ever you want because he can cross territories that others cannot.  We don’t get a lot of back history on Hunter or even Sakari, because we can’t.  The trip in between dimensions robs them of their memories of their past lives for the most part.  So Nightshade really represents a tabula rasa for them.  It will be what they make of it, if they survive that is.

I wish that Hunter and Sakari had more time together to make the burgeoning romance between them more a thing of  sexual heat and attraction than circumstance and availability.  I really liked what I learned of Sakari, including an ongoing need for an adrenaline rush.  Had this story been enlarged a bit to include more of their new life together, that would have made their relationship feel more authentic than it does in places here.  But if the romance comes across a little less substantial, Speed makes up for it with her hysterical and addictive characters.  Terry the reverse tooth fairy missing her twin brother Larry. Wulf the head of the Lobo gang and all are unable to make their cell phones work.  Why?  No one is sure but “they bet Verizon is involved”.

I laughed, I guffawed, and had to keep going back to reread certain paragraphs that I missed because I was giggling too hard to read.  I only wish that Josh and the others had shown up as well.  Then this would have been perfect.  As it is Dev and the city of Nightshade are locations that I can never visit frequently enough.  I leave the stories wanting more of the characters, their wild new lives, and wanting to see all the city inhabitants I haven’t met yet.  I want to know where the Yetis live and the lizard people too.  More I say, much, much more, please!

If you are looking for romance alone, this might not be the story for you.  But if you love to laugh, enjoy clever jokes and a neat turn of phrase , zany storylines, as well as characters you will never forget, then Andrea Speed should be a “go to”  author for you.  Enjoy the insanely delicious bon mots that are tossed here and there, the cultural references obscure and common, and the creativity that flows from start to end.  I loved it and read it twice to get all the bits and pieces I missed the first time around.  For bonus stories, also pick up the Josh of the Damned stories, short reads all but irresistibly hard to put down.

Cover art by Simone.  Loved it, what a fun graphic!

Note:  This title is part of the My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales collection. – See more at Riptide Publishing City of Monsters page. 
Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing          All Romance eBooks (ARe)         Amazon             City of Monsters

Andrea Speed’s Josh of the Damned series include:

Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1
Peek-A-Boo (Josh of the Damned #2)
Josh of the Damned #3.5: Night of the Dust Bunnies
Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #2: The Final Checkout

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Published August 11th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleCity of Monsters
edition languageEnglish

Scattered Thoughts Best Book Covers of 2012


Once again its time to talk book covers and book cover design.  I have talked previously about my favorite covers from childhood and how the mere sight of a great cover in the window of a bookstore would draw me in like the scent of cheese to a mouse.  If the cover is the magnet the publisher and author uses to attract readers, there are certain principles of design that used to be taken into consideration to make that cover the one that grabs peoples attention, that yells look at me, that makes them want to know what that book is about.

For printed books, the designer has to look at several things such as book size, typographic palette (how blocks of text are located on a cover), book covers, book spines and fonts. With respect to eBooks, spines aren’t relevant, nor is book size, at least how it is normally used in the publisher world. It’s not the actual physical size that matters here with eBooks but that readers are often looking at a smaller graphic when choosing eBooks.  So now smaller has to make an even greater impact.  All the other design elements remain the same.  Book covers, whether for print or electronic books, must be compelling enough to make the reader to choose that book, to persuade the customer that what is inside is fascinating, marvelous stuff.

Another rule is that the book cover should match the book it is being designed for. Whether the design is simple or rich in detail, elegant or street tough, uses a cover model or an illustration, there should be no disconnect between the subject matter inside and out.  I can’t tell you how many times I thought nice cover but what does it have to do with the subject of the book? And it if is a book series, then all the covers should be similar enough to brand each book a part of a series, one glance tells you who the author is and what series you are reading (ex. Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series with a singular object on the cover). A great book cover makes you anticipate, endows you with a need to discover.

On every review I write I also mention the covers and the cover artists.  There are always some cover artists who continue to turn out one enticing cover after another, there are some artists you  can identify just by looking at the style of the design or paintings on the cover (Paul Richmond, Posh Gosh). And then this year saw a new artist or two whose cover reached out with it’s compelling designs and emotional overtones.  This  year also saw a trend towards retro illustrations and design which I loved and others whose richness in color and detail left me gasping in delight.  It was hard to narrow the covers down as there were so many worthy of mention, so I did break it down into a few categories.

So here they are, Scattered Thoughts Best Covers of 2012(with apologies in advance for the formatting problems):

Historical Novels:

On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch by Shelter Somerset/Artist Anne Cain

The Mystery of Ruby Lode by Scotty Cade / Artist Reese Dante

The Celestial by Barry Brennessel/ Artist Winterheart Designs

On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch2

The Mystery of Ruby Lode 2

The Celestial 2
















Contemporary Novels:

Acrobat by Mary Calmes/ Artist Anne Cain

Mine by Mary Calmes/Artist Anne Cain

Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane/Artist Paul Richmond

Sidecar by Amy Lane/Artist Shoshana Appavu

Time Gone By by Jan Suzukawa/Artist Anne Cain

Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane/Artist Catt Ford

Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C/Artist Reese Dante


Mine 2

Mourning Heaven 2


Wake me up inside  2

Turkey in the Snow cover

Time Gone By cover

































Fantasy/Supernatural Novels:

The Ronin and The Fox by Cornelia Grey/Artist Nathie

A Token of Time by Ethan Day/Artist Winterheart Design


A Token of Time 2











Science Fiction Novels:

Burn by TJ Klune/Artist Catt Ford

Josh of the Damned, Triple Feature by Andrea Speed/Artist LC Chase

Riot Boy by Katey Hawthorne/Artist P.L. Nunn



Josh of the Damned TripleFeature2














Infected Series by Andrea Speed/ Artist Anne Cain

Knitting series by Amy Lane/Artist Catt Ford

Leopard’s Spots series by Bailey Bradford/Artist Posh Gosh

Lost Gods by Megan Derr/Artist London Burdon

Gilbert 2

Stone Rose 2

Infected Lesser Evils 2

How to Raise An Honest Rabbit cover














There were so many others I wished to include and I know you have your favorites too.  Write and let me know who you feel should have been on that list (King Perry, Fallout to name a few that came close).  Check out the individual reviews to see the covers in greater detail and read about the books they so beautifully covered!

Play It Again Charlie cover