My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing. I DO NOT accept review requests but only review books I choose to read and I don't post reviews on Amazon. I'm also persnickity about genre and plot. DO NOT FOLLOW ME IF YOU'RE HERE TO ADVERTISE, ESPECIALLY NON-BOOK PRODUCTS. I WILL BLOCK YOU!!!
edited by Rhonda Parrish
I like the idea of theme anthologies and the concept of this one really appealed to me. All the stories involve some sort of creatures of fire.
I hadn't heard of any of the authors so it was a bit of a gamble, and like most anthologies with a collection of unfamiliar authors, some stories appealed to me more than others.
We had an Ifrit, a fire sprite, demons, including one who fought an Angel, dragons, gryphons, genies, an elemental magician, a tribute to Jim Morrison (though the author didn't seem aware that he didn't write Light My Fire), a host of mythological fire gods, Phoenixes and an Aitvara.
Unfortunately five and a half of the twenty-one stories were written in present tense, which I detest and find difficult to read (one kept switching between past and present tense).
Four of the stories stood out as particularly good. These were:
The Second Great Fire by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Breath of the Caldera by Wendy Nikel, The Midwife and the Phoenix by J.G. Formato and especially Double or Nothing by Mara Malins, which involved a game of cards that brought to mind Magic the Gathering, but with real creatures. This one made the book worthwhile on its own.
While I can only give the collection as a whole three stars, these authors I'll be looking to see what else they've written.
I'm pleased to announce the release of Doorbells at Dusk. This Halloween anthology includes a story I wrote called "Mr. Impossible."
Doorbells at Dusk features new original stories by:
Sean Eads | Amber Fallon | Charles Gramlich | Joanna Koch | Curtis M. Lawson | Lisa Lepovetsky | Adam Light | Evans Light | Chad Lutzke | Josh Malerman | Jason Parent | Thomas Vaughn | Joshua Viola | Ian Welke
Available now in eBook and paperback!
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon Australia | iTunes Barnes & Noble | Kobo
by Julius Regis
Victor Dreyel leads a reclusive life for many years, then suddenly gets a mysterious message. A wooden doll is sent to him, followed by a visitor.
This is an old 'sudden scream and then the door slammed' sort of Mystery originally released in 1922. Like many older stories, the plot progression is fairly predictable because they were the ones who did the tropes first, but it was well-written and the characters were especially done well.
I'm not really into murder mysteries so someone who is would probably enjoy this one much more than I did. For a short book, it did seem to take ages to get to the point but those who enjoy working out what really happened will have plenty of mystery and suspense to keep their minds ticking over.
I want to read them all at once! But I decided to target my 4th row across to begin with, before chaos takes over.
Amateur Sleuth - Pieces of Her by Karen Slaughter
Ghost Stories - Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe
Genre: Horror - Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden
13 - No. 13 Toroni: A Mystery by Julius Regis
Shifters - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
The first 3 are Netgalley books, so Yay! 13 is a short classic mystery, only 70 pages. I think all my other books are in the 300-400 page range but this one is only 70 pages. And Werewolf is in paperback and became my pre-read, so I'm making good progress in it.
I've also changed the status of General of the Dead by Richard Gleaves to currently reading because I just want to get started on it. It's 3rd in a series that I've enjoyed so far and I want to finish. The same applies to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, but I'm going to try not to start it just yet.
I like to read multiple books at once, but I do have limits! I also like to stagger beginning new stories so that I have a chance to get into the flow before I'm beginning a new one again. I have 2 anthologies in my intended reads so those don't count because short stories are absorbed in one sitting usually. I just take notes for the review when I've got through all of them.
So, let the chaos begin!
Wow, 10 books in a month is good for me!
I'm reading more in the run up to Bingo. Some of these could even fit Bingo squares, but I have new choices.
Stand out books Are Legion and Hero at the Fall, both good Fantasy. Behind the Door and Blackbeard were also worthy.
3 non-fiction, of those Ireland the Best was excellent reference material and the others were each interesting in their own ways.
Funny enough, the two well known Fantasy writers were the disappointments.
I was getting close to finishing all current reads, then a couple more got approved at Netgalley. At least I'm going to have plenty of good stuff to read for the next couple of months!
by Samuel S. Marquis
The introduction to this got me excited because a lot of historical information was consulted by the author that shows Blackbeard very differently than pop culture has painted him and among the sources was David Cordingly, who wrote one of the best non-fiction books about pirates I've ever read.
Having established that the author did his research, this is presented as Historical Fiction so I was prepared to settle back and enjoy a good pirate story, but secure in the knowledge that it was based on facts as far as they are known. The one problem was that a lot of those facts were shoehorned in and made the flow of the story a little awkward.
Still, Blackbeard comes over as a mostly sympathetic character. The early chapters read more like a history book than historical fiction, but I did get caught up in the story a few chapters in. The events and chance meetings that led Edward Thache to turn from honest naval service to piracy are put into context in a way that demonstrates that he had little choice, as so many characters from history have found themselves on the wrong side of the law through circumstances of their times.
I enjoyed getting a look inside the sequence of events that actually happened and how Thache morphed into the pirate Blackbeard and obtained the Queen Anne's Revenge. With historical fiction about real people, you already know how it ends. It's reading about the sequence of events that lead up to what history tells us that makes it interesting and I came out of this feeling real sympathy for Blackbeard and his reasons for turning pirate, not least of all because he preferred taking his prizes without hurting anyone when he could.
by Brandon Sanderson
This is a sample of a combined trilogy, but it actually has the full first book which is only 79 pages sold separately.
The concept is very original. Jake has a reputation for getting things done, but he's schizophrenic and has effectively invisible friends, who he accepts are hallucinations, with various skills that allow him to accomplish things he doesn't believe he could do on his own.
He has a real butler and housekeeper who play along, pretending to hand drinks to his 'aspects' as he calls them and such. Anyone who deals with him has to accept that these imaginary people are his team and make enough room for them in the car or wherever. This leads to much amusement in a story that is otherwise a Mystery/Action Thriller/Spy novel.
The situation is that a company has developed a camera that can take photos from different moments in time and the main developer has stolen it. The woman from the company who comes to Jake with the case raises suspicions from one of his more astute aspects and Jake ends up watching his back from all sorts of angles.
It's a fun story and I bought the second book before I had got very far into this one. Definitely recommended for anyone with a sense of the bizarre.
Great way to start the next chapter!
"A vampire has written: 'The asymmetry between immortals and werewolves (apart from the obvious aesthetic asymmetry) is that whereas the vampire is elevated by his transformation the werewolf is diminished by his. To be a vampire is to be increased in subtlety of mind and refinement of taste; the self opens the door of its dismal bedsit to discover the house of many mansions. Personality expands, indefinitely. The vampire gets immortality, immense physical strength, hypnotic ability, the power of flight, psychic grandeur and emotional depth. The werewolf gets dyslexia and a permanent erection."
I'm loving this book already!
Okay, we've been given the go ahead to start one Bingo book. This is my choice, based on total logic. I figured I would start by targeting my fourth row across, which has the shortest book of my choices, one paperback and 3 Netgalley books. This one is the paperback.
Since I've had a Kindle I find I read paperbacks slower, so this one needs the time boost. Of course any strategy I come up with will go tits up as soon as the calls start, but I'm starting out with a weird algorhythm in my head that gives priority to shorter books and to Netgalley books, of which there are 8 in my selections.
But of course I like to stagger starting new reads, so I'll start a few longer books and the paperbacks so I can get part of them read while I'm zipping through the others. I'm a Gemini, it make sense in my head.
Anyway, this one is for my Shifters square. Let the games begin. :D
by Mary SanGiovanni
Somewhere in the woods of Pennsylvania there is a mysterious door and for generations people have written requests and sealed the envelope with wax mixed with their own blood and slipped the letters under the door. They always get a result, but not always in the way they anticipate.
This is a similar concept to another book I read last year, but in this one someone changes her mind and tries to retrieve the letter. Opening the door was a very, very bad idea. This is mentioned in the book description so I'm not giving a spoiler.
The details of individual situations is what makes the story. Rather a lot of people in the town have made use of the door at some time or other, though many won't admit to it. They are reluctant to talk about it and some incidents are about covering up things the people in question don't want revealed. A professional, Kathy Ryan, is brought in to help deal with the occult occurrences.
If you like truly horrific imagery and especially tentacled monsters, then this is for you. The situation gets progressively more gruesome as things move on, leading up to a dramatic ending. I can't put my finger on why, but I didn't feel what I was supposed to feel as the plot thickened. I think there were a few jumps in the plot that threw me off, just little things like how a group of people in a car are suddenly walking in the forest.
Kathy Ryan is the central character for a series of stand alone stories where she is a sleuth dealing with occult situations. I do find myself curious about the plots of other stories in the series.
by Tamora Pierce
Arran Draper is a 10-year-old in wizarding school who has been moved ahead two years and has no friends among the older boys. He finds his lessons too easy and struggles to stay out of trouble. An incident of power out of control gets him some attention and he is transferred to a class schedule more suited to his precocious abilities.
This is undoubtedly targeted at the same audience as Harry Potter, but it's not as dark. I also found it moved a little slowly and started speed reading. There's a lot of imagination in the details of the story and I would not call it a Harry Potter clone. The only similarities are a wizarding school, a group of two boys and a girl (who is of course the level headed one) and magic to move around invisibly. That's it, no dark wizard from history threatening the protagonist with special powers in this one.
Actually the one thing lacking in the story was a defined nemesis. One sequence of events follows another and we follow along Arran's experiences and education, but there is no single driving force to tie the story together, though he does make a few enemies along the way. There is much about gladiators, slavery, and healing magic. The world building is good and has a lot of detail, plus the magic is handled well with natural limitations.
I also thought the characters were written well and the story finished in a way that could work for either a stand alone novel or allow for the characters to continue with new adventures. I do like that in a book. Unfortunately it didn't absorb me in the way I had hoped from a well-known popular author. I did enjoy it, but I don't feel compelled to read further in a series if it becomes one.
by Hunter Shea
This story is a novella and reads very fast! A divorcing husband and wife exterminator team are assigned to test a new rat control substance that is supposed to stop them from breeding. Unfortunately the planned genetic modifications don't work to plan and they breed more prolifically and become aggressive and fearless. With the reputation of New York rats, this is a seriously scary scenario!
It's a very fast paced story with constant action through most of it and although the nature of the action is fairly predictable, the details are what makes the difference. I would call it a light Horror. There are definite horrific bits but with comedy asides.
The subplot dealing with the dynamics between the divorcing partners adds some depth but wasn't explored all that far and I felt was left unresolved. Overall the story didn't have a lot of depth, but if you're looking for a fast action Horror that will make to wonder about the scratching in the walls, this will do nicely.
In many ways it resembles one of those old 1950s creature Horrors, but with a more modern feel and without the predictable happy ending.
Now we're getting male enhancement ads as profiles! Surely there must be a policy to strike off spam accounts?
by Sally McKenna, John McKenna
This is an amazingly comprehensive resource for travel to Ireland. The authors have traveled extensively and actually tried the restaurants and hotels and ferreted out both popular tourist attractions and lesser known things to do.
After a general information section are chapters on different regions that give a lot of information on hotels, restaurants and things to see and do as well as any special festivals to watch out for. Dublin takes a lot of space, as you might expect, but I didn't expect to think of Dublin as a place where I would look for great Mexican food! Everything from a psychedelic van with Mexican street food to an Aztec restaurant can be found. Other ethnic restaurants are also separated by categories.
The sections that follow cover Belfast, Cork, Galway and then some of the less population dense areas in various parts of the country. After that, something new happens. I've never seen a book organised this way before but I can see how it works!
There's a section on specific types of restaurants you might look for, like vegetarian or tea rooms. Then a section on historical places to visit, followed by outdoor places and activities and strolls, walks and hikes. By the time you get to section 13, it's pointing out where to look for specific interests that travelers might have, like linen, crystal or Aran sweaters. Followed by information on what you'll find to do on the outer islands.
There's an extensive index and codes to finding things on the maps in the back of the book. Unfortunately the maps are not included in my advance readers copy so I can't comment on how easy they are to follow!
I can say, though, that I'll be referring to this book any time I plan a trip to Ireland. It really is a treasure trove of information!