Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: The Shadow Out of Time

The Shadow Out of Time
The Shadow Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part of the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be found formatted for Nook and Kindle on

Synopsis: A young professor from the fictional Miskatonic University learns that aliens, the Yith, are possessing the bodies of humans to learn about the history and culture of the Earth. He soon becomes convinced that he is also possessed, but those around him fear he is simply insane..

My Thoughts: Ultimately, this novella affected me more strongly than any of them in the omnibus. The sense of deja vu that the narrator experiences through most of the story resounded strongly with me, due to my own experiences of repeating dreams, long periods of deja vu, and strange knowledge I have that I should not know. So, to be frank, this story really freaked me out. Beautiful!

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Review: The Book

The Book
The Book by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part of the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be found formatted for Nook and Kindle on

My Thoughts: This story is really too short to provide a synopsis without spoiling it, although honestly it feels more like a story fragment, an idea penned down in haste that required additional expansion to truly come into itself. A man finds a book... and things become strange. How much later does he tell this bit of a story? Fascinating.

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Review: The Evil Clergyman

The Evil Clergyman
The Evil Clergyman by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part of the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be found formatted for Nook and Kindle on

My Synopsis: A very short story about what happens when someone exploring the room of a very evil man messes with something he's been told not to touch.

My Thoughts: This is the first time I read this, and I had to go back and re-read a couple sections to really let it sink it. Phenomenally fantastic, full of brilliant imagery, and creepy as all hell.

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Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: I read and reviewed this book in May 2011, shortly before joining Goodreads. I'm updating the review for my current formatting and to add a disclosure.

Disclosure: I received an ARC copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Magical realism
Reading level: Young Adult

My synopsis: Young Jacob Portman was close to his grandfather, loving the stories his grandfather told of his childhood in Wales - the magically beautiful house, the other children ... and that they were all "peculiar." One could levitate; one was invisible, others had other talents. Jacob believed these stories until he was bullied about them at school when he was about 7, then announced he no longer believed in them and his grandfather never brought it up again.

However, when Jacob is 16 he finds his grandfather horribly murdered - and sees something in the forest that haunts him. An evil-looking creature, just like those his grandfather used to describe from his youth - the monsters that drove Grandpa Portman from his home. Unable to resolve his feelings of guilt and grief, Jacob and his father travel to Wales to try to find the children's home, in hopes that finding it and talking to people from his grandfather's past he will be able to finally resolve his feelings.

However, once in the small town on a Welsh island, few people know what he is talking about - finally he finds someone who has heard of the house and gives him directions, but he finds only a run-down, bombed-out house that was apparently destroyed in World War II. While looking around, however, he finds a trunk of pictures, which he shoves down the stairs in order to break into it. The floor actually breaks and the trunk falls into the basement, and while down there he hears the voices ... of children ...

My thoughts: What happens next .. you'll have to find out for yourself. "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is an amazing piece of magical reality, however, and I don't think you will end up being disappointed in reading it. One unusual thing about this book is the use of pictures throughout - something that isn't seen much in fiction anymore. These pictures document some of the people in the book. Sadly, because my copy was an ARC, I was not able to see them all. I plan to eventually pick up a final copy of this book so I can see them all.

I highly recommend it and hope you will take my advice and buy this book - the sooner the better!

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Review: The Thing on the Doorstep

The Thing on the Doorstep
The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part of the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be found formatted for Nook and Kindle on

Synopsis: The Thing on the Doorstep is a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos universe of horror fiction. It was written in August 1933, and first published in the January 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

Daniel Upton, the story's narrator, begins by telling that he has killed his best friend, Edward Derby, and that he hopes his account will prove that he is not a murderer...

My Thoughts: Another cautionary tale about the dangers of meddling with things beyond your ability to comprehend, about the dangers of those "from outside", and another in the Innsmouth cycle of stories. Wonderfully creepy! You can't go wrong with this great story.

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"Dreams in the Witch House" by H.P. Lovecraft review

5 out of 5 stars

Please note: This review includes links to a GWAR video and song. If you are not aware of GWAR, they are a horror/comedy heavy metal band. Their music is often loud and incoherent. Their videos and live shows are violent and often out-right gross. View the video at your own discretion, but don't complain I didn't warn you!

Part of the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be found formatted for Nook and Kindle on

Synopsis: Plagued by insane nightmare visions, Walter Gilman seeks help in Miskatonic University’s infamous library of forbidden books, where, in the pages of Abdul Alhazred’s dreaded Necronomicon , he finds terrible hints that seem to connect his own studies in advanced mathematics with the fantastic legends of elder magic.

My Thoughts: GWAR's song "The Horror of Yig" (special appearance by the queen!) is an appropriate choice when reading this book. (Here is one direct from the album, with only sound, no video so you can actually hear the song and not crowd noise!)

This is, I think, among my favorite H.P. Lovecraft short stories. I really like the idea of Brown Jenkins, and the old witch is just creepy as can be. Like most of Lovecraft's stories, this one points out the danger of allowing oneself to learn too much, especially when it comes to exotic mathematics and physics. So, if you are a scientist... BEWARE! You might be opening yourself up to Azathoth!

Review: The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is part of The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be found formatted for Nook or Kindle at

Synopsis: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is a short novel about a weird hybrid race of humans and creatures resembling a cross between a fish and a frog, which lives in the seaside village of Innsmouth.

My Thoughts: There is a fairly decent video adaptation of this story on YouTube. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. It's not exact, of course, but it gives the basic gist. I really enjoyed the "surprise ending" on this one. I think this is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories. If you're searching for a good place to start with Lovecraft, this is one of the best places to begin (unless you want to do like me and read this whole anthology, which places the stories in the order in which they were written).

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Let's start the new year by helping to STOP bullying!

Recently I won a copy of Billie A. Williams' book Cold Water in a giveaway. In subsequent e-mails, it came to light that Ms. Williams is offering a great guide to help stop bullying, free, on her website. You can find more info here. The name of the e-book is Let's Investigate Bullying. It can also be used as a reading guide for Cold Water. All in all, I think this will be a good resource for anyone who works with children, has children, or generally wants to help stop bullying. Check it out.

Winners of "A Life of Death: The Golden Bulls" giveaways!

The giveaway for Weston Kincade's book A Life of Death: The Golden Bulls has now ended and I have chosen the winners. (If you need a copy of the first book in this series, A Life of Death, you can follow the link on the title or here and it will take you to Amazon to pick it up; it's only 99 cents!)

The winners of the two paperbacks are:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aaaaaaand, the winners of the three e-books are:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to all my followers! I'll have another giveaway live in a week. Meanwhile, keep reading for new reviews, and a happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Thundersword

Thundersword by Julian Rosado-Machain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Recommended for: Fans of YA urban fantasy, intricate world-building

Disclosure: I enjoyed the first book in this series so much I borrowed this book from Amazon Prime to read. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: The search for the Book of Concord is on the brink of failure. 

Guardians Inc. can’t move without being followed by the Azure Guard, and the balance between Magic and Technology has begun to shift, giving Magical creatures a stronger hold in our world. 

With new enemies arising and old alliances breaking up, the Guardians need an urgent victory or the seven thousand year old plan will fail and a new Dark Age will engulf the world. But just as Thomas Byrne begins to discover the inner workings of Guardians Inc. and his place as a Cypher, he also finds out that not everything is as he thought inside the company and that the worst enemy might be the one lurking within.

My Thoughts: I’m so happy I had decided to do a Amazon Prime test so I was able to borrow and read this book right after Cypher, the first book in this series (review here where formatting allowed), which I just loved. This second book in the series is about twice as long as the first one.

The editing was a problem (it was in the first book, too). Some examples: “were” are “where” are mixed up many times; “Sidney” for the Australian city (which is “Sydney”—there is a “Sidney” but it is in Montana. I grew up near there). Missing and extra words. Not quite enough to be distracting, but there. Both books could use a going-over by a really good line editor, or a proofreader at the very least.

I’ve noticed some reviewers who seem to think Thomas acts too young. I contend that they’ve been reading too much YA fiction, in which youth are preternaturally mature, and that Thomas is acting like a 16-year-old boy. I felt his representation was very realistic, and I enjoyed watching his mature and grow during the course of this book, and really come into himself. It was wonderful.

I also really enjoyed Ratatosk, and felt that he added a needed bit of levity, and a bit of an outside push that Thomas needed to overcome his limitations. I loved the revenge that Thomas and Ratatosk took on Nadir, although I’d have liked to seen that jerk be killed. Still, it isn’t Thomas’ way, and I felt it was probably better to maintain that personality.

Overall, a wonderful continuation. The next book, The Four-Legged Prophet, should be released in April or May of 2013, and I, for one, will be eagerly waiting for it.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher

Guardians Inc.: The Cypher
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Recommended for: Those who enjoy YA urban fantasy, an intricate storyline, great storytelling
Trigger Warnings: none

Disclosure: I won a copy of this e-book through the LibraryThing member giveaways. A honest review was requested. Later, not realizing I already had it, I also purchased it for myself through Amazon. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Guardians, Inc: The Cypher is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book—it builds up slowly but steadily. I could not help but be really jealous of Thomas and his work at the huge library hidden away by Guardians, Inc., with access to every book in existence. What a dream come true for a bibliophile like me!

The characters are wonderful. Thomas is the one we learn the most about, of course, but others are equally interesting: Tony, Tasha, the Butler, Dr. Franco, even Click. While some are only mentioned in passing, we are given at least a glimpse into their persona—it’s very well-done. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some folks complaining about the pace—it starts a little slow, but it’s all necessary. I think the second book will be a firecracker and I’m very excited to start reading it. I’m especially hoping that we will learn more about Magic and the various magical races. This one had mostly fauns, with some Wraith and the grotesques. I also hope we’ll learn more about how Lovecraft’s mythos fits in, because it is emphasized a few times that Thomas needs to read Lovecraft.

This is just the first book in the series. The second book is called Thundersword and was released in October 2012. I’ve added it to my wishlist, because this is a series I definitely want to continue; however, because I’m impatient, I have borrowed it using my Amazon Prime membership, so I’ll be reading and reviewing it next! According to the author, there should be five books, and book 3, The Four-Legged Prophet, is due out in April or May 2013. I recommend this book to readers, especially those who enjoy YA urban fantasy with intricate storytelling and strong world-building. I think most people will enjoy this book.

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Review: At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness
At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is part of the [b:The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft|11851522|The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft|H.P. Lovecraft||16807494], which can be found at formatted for Nook or Kindle.

Synopsis: On an expedition to Antarctica, Professor William Dyer and his colleagues discover the remains of ancient half-vegetable, half-animal life-forms. The extremely early date in the geological strata is surprising because of the highly-evolved features found in these previously unkown life-forms. Through a series of dark revelations, violent episodes, and misunderstandings, the group learns of Earth's secret history and legacy

My Thoughts: This is one of Lovecraft's better-known works, in which little snippets from many of his shorter pieces are used as background to create a more-cohesive whole. A classic of the creeping horror/bizarro genre, and a story not to be missed.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know
The Devil You Know by K.H. Koehler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of urban fantasy, fast-paced and fun stories
Trigger Warnings: Child abuse, child molestation (implied, and in the past)

Disclosure: I received an e-galley edition from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Not only does the devil have an only begotten son, but he’s currently residing in the rural town of Blackwater in northeast Pennsylvania.

Semi-retired from law enforcement, the handsome, if cynical, Nick Englebrecht becomes quickly caught up in a local missing child case that seems mundane on the outside, but when the sheriff requests his help as a psychic detective to help find the missing girl, his off-the-books investigation quickly leads him to some terrible truths about life, love and the universe as we know it.

And if that isn’t bad enough, the angels have begun an ethnic cleansing of all beings with demonic blood. Of course, Nick is at the top of their to-do list

My Thoughts: This is a really fun book. I really enjoyed the premise that the son of Satan co-owns an occult shop in a small town in Pennsylvania and used to be a cop in NYC. I also love how the book opens in such a typical, pulp-fiction way, but self-consciously. I really enjoyed Nick himself—he has a wry but funny way of expressing himself that I really enjoyed. For instance: “The thing about angels is, they’re a little bit like Cthulhu and the Outer Gods.” Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense by itself, but trust me—it’s hilarious in context.

The editing could have used some work. There were a lot of misused words, for instance, like “canvas” for “canvass,” “gleam” for “glean,” and “rapport” for “report,” among others. However, the story itself moves fast enough, and is fun enough, that I was mostly able to ignore that and enjoy the tale.

Another Nick Englebrecht book is scheduled for publication, The Devil Dances. I’m not sure exactly when, but I know I’ll be watching for it. Despite any problems—and there were problems—I really enjoyed this book a lot.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Pretty When She Dies

Pretty When She Dies
Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy (per me); Horror (per author)
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of dark urban fantasy with tolerance for occasional typos and weird sentence structure
Trigger Warnings: Implied rape, sexual assault

Disclosure: I picked this book up for myself from Amazon. When the author later saw it on my shelves at Goodreads, she asked me to provide her an honest review when I read it. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry... in a new, horrific, unimaginable way... Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature. All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and what's worse is that he's a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind. But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation... or her death?

My Thoughts: I really found myself enjoying this book. It’s been awhile since I read a more “traditional” vampire novel, and I had forgotten how amusing they could be, if they were done right. The editing isn’t perfect—among other things I found “heal” for the back part of the foot (heel)—but the pace is fast, and I was able to ignore it for the most part. I loved that Amaliya’s grandmother was so calm about the whole thing (in fact, I just adored that woman in general—she was awesome), and I laughed like crazy when Amaliya went to a Goth club to try to find a vampire and ran across a total poseur.

That’s not to say the entire book was fangs and roses. There were plenty of problems, and I think this one sentence will give you a good idea of the sorts of things you will run up against when reading it. “Approximately, four rosaries rested around her neck.” Let’s break that down, shall we? First of all, what is that comma all about? There is no need for a comma there. Then, the use of first “approximately” followed by a ridiculous number like “four.” How hard is it to be precise about whether or not four rosaries are around a person’s neck? I would think it would be fairly easy to tell whether or not there were four. But, just to be fair, let’s say that these are particularly intricate rosaries, and there are beads all over the place, and extra crucifixes or whatever, and it’s therefore hard to tell how many are there in total. Why throw out the number “four”? I submit that it would be better to say either, “Four rosaries were around her neck,” or alternately, “There were several rosaries around her neck; it was hard to tell with all the beads, but he would guess approximately four.” Anyway, while I said above the pace is fast, the story is good, and the characters are enjoyable, if these sorts of conundrums will drive you insane while you’re trying to read, maybe it’d be better to move on to the next book instead.

However, if you’re fairly tolerant of the occasional misspelling or weird phrasing, and enjoy a fast-paced vampire book where the vampires are vampires but not necessarily evil creatures simply because they are vampires, then you might enjoy this book. I would list it as dark urban fantasy, based upon the ending, rather than horror, and recommend it to folks who enjoy such.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Off the Grid

Off the Grid
Off the Grid by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: fans of the genres, fans of this series
Trigger Warnings: Terrorism, violence, terroristic threats

Disclosure: I received an ARC copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review (and was absolutely thrilled to find the latest in one of my favorite series available through the program!). All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: On a sailboat ten miles off the Florida coast, Grace MacBride, partner in Monkeewrench Software, thwarts an assassination attempt on retired FBI agent John Smith. A few hours later, in Minneapolis, a fifteen-year-old girl is discovered in a vacant lot, her throat slashed. Later that day, two young men are found in their home a few blocks away, killed execution-style. The next morning, the dead bodies of three more men turn up, savagely murdered in the same neighborhood.

As Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth struggle to link the three crimes, they learn that there have been similar murders in other cities around the United States. Piece by piece, evidence accumulates, pointing to a suspect that shocks them to the core, uncovering a motive that puts the entire Midwest on high alert and Monkeewrench in the direct line of fire. Before it's all over, Grace and her partners, Annie, Roadrunner, and Harley Davidson, find themselves in the middle of a shocking collision of violence on a remote northern Minnesota reservation, fighting for their lives. 

My Thoughts: This is the sixth book in the Monkeewrench series, following Shoot to Thrill (review here where formatting allowed), and the latest. A seventh book is scheduled to be released sometime next year, but that’s all I know about it—when I checked their website for details, they haven’t even updated to show the release of this most recent book, which was released way back in August! I noticed, however, that the books in this series all have different names in the UK—why is this done? It’s just confusing! I do wish someone would explain that to me... anyway. When I saw this available through Amazon Vine, even as an ARC, I was ecstatic and grabbed it up immediately, because I have loved this entire series.

I mentioned in the review for Shoot to Thrill that the epilogue of that book made me lose my mind—this was because of Grace MacBride going with John Smith on his boat to Florida. Why? Did she abandon Magozzi for Smith? But Smith had said to Magozzi that Grace loved him (Magozzi), so I was just frantic to learn more. I mean, Magozzi had been so patient with her, so careful, taken all this time, and then she spends a few days with John Smith and runs off with him? I was dumbfounded, to say the least. At least they don’t keep us waiting too terribly long for those answers, so I was happy about that. I was also not happy about the threat to John Smith, who was a great character. However, we are still left wondering—what does Grace really feel for Magozzi? She’s such a mysterious character, we just can’t seem to figure her out. Maybe someday!

There is a scene at the beginning of Chapter 9 that just makes me cringe, because it was obviously written by someone who has no understanding of gun culture and the proper handling of firearms. The two characters involved know how to handle guns, know how to respect guns, but the authors have one of them actually aiming his rifle at the other—in jest, mind you—and looking at him through the sights! Now, anyone who knows anything about proper gun handling knows: you never, ever aim a firearm at anything you do not intend to kill. My dad used to chastise me if I aimed toy guns at other people, for crying out loud, and I know anyone with any sort of sense of responsibility was taught the same when it came to handling firearms. In this case, the characters are both Vietnam vets, so I know they would know this basic rule of handling firearms. It’s unfortunate that in this day and age, when people are taught to fear rather than respect guns, that this basic piece of knowledge is not disseminated widely enough to allow writers to utilize it in an otherwise wonderful book.

Anyway, like all the rest of this series, I absolutely loved this book. We finally find out what happened to Roadrunner’s fingers, although not any specific details. And we had some great secondary characters in Claude and the Chief, as well as Joe Hardy. I hope we’ll run across Chief again, at least (since Claude is from Texas the odds against him showing up again are even higher). Fans of thrillers, mysteries and/or suspense novels should love this book—this entire series—so don’t be shy about picking it up!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Shoot to Thrill

Shoot to Thrill
Shoot to Thrill by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre, fans of the series
Trigger Warnings: Violence, hate crimes (including but not limited to against LGBT people)

Disclosure: I purchased this book for myself in hardcover shortly after its release. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: It's eighty-five degrees in the shade when Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth pull into the MPD parking garage. They're driving a tricked-out Caddy, repossessed from a low-level drug dealer. It's not a Beemer or a Mercedes, but it's got GPS, air-conditioning, and power seats with more positions than the Kama Sutra.

Things are heating up inside the station-house, too. The bomb squad's off to investigate another suspicious package at the mall, and kids are beating the crap out of one another and posting it on YouTube. And before Magozzi and Rolseth can wish for a straight-on homicide, the call comes in: a floater.

Soon they're humping it along a derelict stretch of the Mississippi River, beyond the green places where families picnic and admire the views. They can see her- she looks like a bride in her white formal gown—face down, dead in the water. And so it begins.

Across town, Grace McBride's Monkeewrench crew—the computer geeks who, after making a fortune on games, are now helping the cops with anti-crime software—have been recruited by the FBI to investigate a series of murder videos posted on the Web. It's not long before Magozzi, Rolseth, and Monkeewrench discover the frightening link between the unlucky bride and the latest, most horrific use of the Internet to date. Using their skills to scour the Net in search of the perpetrator, the team must race against the clock to stop a killer in his tracks.

My Thoughts: This is book five in the series, after Snow Blind (review here where formatting allowed—please note it does include spoilers, but they have mostly been hidden under spoiler tags), and the first of the books I have not read previously.

Maybe it’s foolish to expect things like this not to sneak through, but honestly? G.P. Putnam & Sons should use spellcheck at the very least when they’re editing their books so that things like “dimljy” don’t sneak through, don’t you think? Although I have to give them props later for the proper use of “canvass” where too many people who aren’t aware of the difference use “canvas” to describe police going through a neighborhood to check whether people have noticed anything amiss. Also, that was the only mistake I found in the entire book (first sentence of the second chapter), so I guess I’ll let them off with a warning.

This book is not a true mystery, in that we know the names of at least a couple of the doers at the outset—so we watch as the good guys try to figure out who they are. But, of course, we don’t know the details, so there are plenty of bits to be learned as we go along. This is another book that deals with issues of people taking justice into their own hands, as well as some of the darker repercussions of the international community that is being created by the World Wide Web. A wonderful book, and I loved it, just like I’ve loved every book in this series. The epilogue almost made me lose my mind, so I’m jumping straight into Off the Grid to see if there are any more details, even though I have a short editing job to work on this week. I’ll bet I can get this puppy read in just a few hours if I hurry. Watch for that review!

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Giveaway time! " A Life of Death:The Golden Bulls" by Weston Kincade

A Life of Death: The Golden Bulls is the sequel to Weston's earlier work, A Life of Death. These are mysteries with a paranormal twist, and very good books (and I do not just say that because I edited them!). A quick synopsis of the new one:

Fifteen years of ritual sacrifices that began before Alex Drummond joined the force have become an anomaly in Tranquil Heights. For most residents, anger at the unsolved murders has turned to disappointment with the small police force. Now citizens hope this year’s sacrificial lamb won’t be one of their loved ones.

Alex Drummond’s ability to relive victims’ traumatic murders has not been enough. There are misguided links to Egyptian funerary rights, but without evidence and the murderer’s identity, no one outside of Drummond’s tight circle will believe him, let alone make an arrest and stop the vicious killings. After an anonymous tip, Detective Drummond discovers an annual visitor, a local who moved away years before with a similar flare for murder. He follows her to Washington DC after watching the woman burn her husband alive. His high school friend, Jessie Arturo, who settled in the large city after a failed baseball career, assists with the investigation. In such a large place, unsolved murders abound like cobwebs under abandoned guest beds.

September 20, the serial killer’s anointed date, is only days away. How has the murderer proven so elusive, even from Alex’s paranormal abilities? Is he in over his head, or can Detective Alex Drummond save the ghosts calling to him and decipher this network of brutal, ritual sacrifices before someone else is burnt alive?

So, to celebrate the release of this new book, we're holding a giveaway! Weston is giving away two signed paperbacks and 3 e-book copies (epub or mobi, winner's choice) of A Life of Death: The Golden Bulls. So, the e-books are available internationally, but the paperbacks are only for US/Canada (sorry) because of the postage costs. Be sure to sign up for the right one, now! There are two rafflecopter forms below, so make sure you look at them both and select the correct one (first is paperback and 2nd is e-books) to sign up on! The contest ends at midnight, Eastern time, on the 30th, so hurry up!

Paperbacks (US/Canada only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

E-books (anyone who can accept an e-book)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Dead Run

Dead Run
Dead Run by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre, fans of the series
Trigger Warnings: Violence, terrorism

Disclosure: I purchased first the hardcover and later the e-book editions of this book for myself. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Computer game company founders Grace MacBride and Annie Belinsky—along with Wisconsin deputy Sharon Mueller—are en route to Green Bay, following reports of a serial killer, when their car breaks down deep in the northern woods. A short walk through the forest leads them to the eerily quiet town of Four Corners, where they find severed phone lines and a complete absence of any life. But the quiet is deceptive. Before they know it, they witness a horrifying double murder—and discover that this is only the beginning of a race to save their own lives… and countless others.

My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Monkeewrench series, following Live Bait (review here where formatting allowed—there is a link in that review to the review of the first book). I first read it shortly after its release in 2006, but did not write a review for it at that time. After acquiring books five and six, subsequent to reading the first four, I decided to re-read the whole series before book seven comes out next year.

I do not know exactly how this happened, but somewhere between the hardcover edition I originally purchased, and this e-book edition, some pretty annoying typos were introduced. I have no idea what “haifa” is, but I’m pretty sure the places where I’ve noticed it should have said “half a.” I also am fairly sure that Harley did not make a habit of calling Grace “Grade”, but I’m much too lazy to track down the hardcover to verify that. There are a number of these sorts of ridiculous typos and mistakes in this e-book version, which is really odd, because I do not recall this being a problem in the original at all. Admittedly after this much time I might have just forgotten, but... I doubt that. Speaking of errors, in the synopsis is says they are racing to save their lives, and the lives of countless others. In fact, “countless” people were not being threatened—there was a very specific number mentioned.

This book has a segment that gives you a perfect look at who Grace is, deep down inside. She, Annie and Sharon are on trip, and this conversation takes place.
Sharon: “I thought all these fancy rides had GPS.”
“Grace wouldn’t hear of it,” Annie said. “Too Big Brother. They always know where you are with a GPS.”
Sharon cocked her head at Grace. “And who is ‘they’?”
Grace shrugged. “Could be anybody.”
This really gives the reader a good look at who Grace is. We had hints of it from the very beginning, of course. She always carries at least two weapons, always wears her English riding boots outside of her own house. Once you understand her background, you understand of course (it’s all explained in Monkeewrench), but she is an intensely paranoid young woman.

Now, I’ve been to Wisconsin, and I thought it was a beautiful state, especially the woods. It’s not heavily populated, but I grew up in Montana, which borders both North and South Dakota, and I think all three states together are about the same population as Wisconsin, so I didn’t really consider Wisconsin to be all that empty. But this conversation between Annie and Sharon really brought home to me how many people, used to more populous areas, might see the Wisconsin woods.
Annie: “This is absolutely the spookiest place I have ever been in my life. I never heard of anyone famous from Wisconsin, and now I know why. Nobody lives here.”
Sharon turned around... “Ed Gein was famous. He lived here.”
“Never heard of him.”
“He used to kill people, grind them up, and eat them.”
“Hmph. Well, apparently he ate them all.”
I’d have loved to have heard what Annie had to say about Montana, or North Dakota, or South Dakota for that matter, if she thinks backwoods Wisconsin is bad. Of course, as my mom used to say, at least in the prairie you can see them coming. Who is “them”? As Grace said: Could be [just about] anybody.

I’ve seen many critical reviews of this book complaining of sexism, which really confuses me. I simply do not see it. While it is true that the men all jump up to go “rescue” Annie, Sharon, and Grace, they all also admit to themselves that these women do not need to be rescued, and that they are able to take care of themselves. They are worried, so they do what men do: take action. There is no sexism at all at work here in my opinion—just people worried over their friends and wanting to help however they can, even as they realize said friends can take care of themselves in most situations.

This book is different from the first two, in that it is not a mystery, per se, but more a suspense thriller—and it is very, very suspenseful. At the moment the suspense broke, I literally had tears in my eyes and a goofy smile on my face, simultaneously. And this was the second time I’d read the book, so it was no surprise to me, but it is so skillfully done, and such a wonderful scene, that I could not help myself. If you like suspenseful thrillers, if you’ve enjoyed the series, then definitely read this great book. Next up: Snow Blind.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Live Bait

Live Bait
Live Bait by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre and series
Trigger Warnings: Violence, murder, hate crimes

Disclosure: I purchased first a hardcover and later an e-book version of this book for myself. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are bored–-ever since they solved the Monkeewrench case, the Twin Cities have been in a murder-free dry spell, as people no longer seem interested in killing one another. But with two brutal homicides taking place in one awful night, the crime drought ends-–not with a trickle, but with an eventual torrent. Who would kill Morey Gilbert, a man without an enemy, a man who might as well have been a saint? His tiny, cranky little wife, Lily, is no help, and may even be a suspect; his estranged son, Jack, an infamous ambulance-chasing lawyer, has his own enemies; and his son-in-law, former cop Marty Pullman, is so depressed over his wife's death a year ago that he's ready to kill himself, but not Morey. The number of victims—all elderly—grows, and the city is fearful once again. The detectives' investigation threatens to uncover a series of horrendous secrets, some buried within the heart of the police department itself, blurring the lines between heroes and villains. Grace MacBride's cold-case-solving software may find the missing link—but at a terrible price.

My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Monkeewrench series, following Monkeewrench (review here where formatting allowed). I first read this second book in the series soon after it came out in 2005, but didn’t review it at the time. Since I have, subsequently to reading the first four, acquired books 5 and 6, I decided to re-read the whole series at a go before book 7 comes out next year, and actually do reviews for all of them this time (I believe I have an old review for Snow Blind out there, which I will share when I do the next one).

One thing of the very few things that bothers me in this book (and series) is the authors’ constant focus on the weight of a couple of the characters. Admittedly, Annie and Gloria are also described as sensual and sexy, with men always tripping over themselves to gain their attention, but neither woman can be mentioned without the additional mention of how heavy she is, like this is terribly important to keep rubbing in the readers’ faces. But that’s just a personal issue, I imagine. The only other thing I have to complain about with this book is the occasional head-hopping that will occur out of the blue. Fortunately, it’s generally only a paragraph and then the narration will return to the regular style used through the book.

None of that is enough to make me change my original assessment of this, given many years ago, as a five-star book. Let me tell you why. One of the truly outstanding things about this series is that the storylines, the ideas presented, they all make you think. Consider this line by Lily, wife of Morey, whose daughter was also murdered.
You men. You always want to know who did this or that terrible thing, so someone can find them and make them pay. Always it’s been like this for men, the eye for the eye, as if it would make any difference.
I mean, really think about that, about what that implies, about what that means. It’s wonderful. There are things like this in every single book in this series, something really profound that will make you question your motivations, make you question your beliefs. I love that—I love that they don’t allow you to escape by using easy answers; they insist that you question your beliefs, that you really take a good, hard look at your basic assumptions and then ask, “Is that really who I am? Is that really how I feel? And is that really right?” Not to mention that the authors are wonderful about hiding the villain until they are good and ready to reveal whodunit. That makes these among some of the best mysteries I’ve read since Agatha Christie.

So, despite any minor annoyances, these books are right up there with the best of the best, and I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a great mystery/suspense/thriller. Definitely check them out. Next up: Dead Run.

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Annabell Cadiz Presents: Cover reveal! "Lucifer" a Sons of the Old story

Let me start out by saying: I edited this book.  Annabell had contacted me and said it was still a bit rough, but could I please do an edit for her anyway?  I agreed.  After a few pages, I wrote her back, because I was so surprised by how well-written the book was.  "I thought you said this was rough!" I said.  So, yeah, this is a great book.  I am going over it again in a another week or so, and then Annabell will be finishing it up and publishing it. Check out that cover!  Isn't it awesome?

Synopsis: Have you ever wondered what could be hiding in the shadows?

Well, for eighteen-year-old Zahara Faraday, she doesn’t have to wonder. You see she comes from a lineage of Light Witches, those who have chosen to help protect and serve between the supernatural world and the human world. The only problem is Zahara, like her father Solomon, is as human as a human being can be whereas her mother, Mia, and her Aunt Catalina, were born as Light Witches. As a family they hunt down rogue supernaturals—creatures who harm humans or who have committed an act against their kingdom. 

Zahara’s hunting skills are usually kept dormant since her parents would prefer she live life as a normal human girl without knowledge of the supernatural world. She plans on doing just that—except when she finds a couple being attacked by fairies, she has no choice but to step in. Before she can return to pretending to be blissfully ignorant, Zahara encounters a problem she isn’t the least equip to handle: Bryan Hamilton, the good looking new co-worker she has to help train. In a heartbeat, her best friend, Becca King, has set her up on a double date with herself and her new crush, Rekesh Saint-Louis, who happens to be the most powerful leader of the biggest Imago Coven in South Florida –supernatural creatures with the ability to control water . . . and suck out human souls. 

Zahara has no time to focus on how she’s going to explain her double date with her best friend and the enemy they have a tentative truce with to her parents because soon one of the members of Mia and Catalina’s coven is found murdered with a strange tattoo of a snake with wings carved into his arm.

Zahara is then thrown into a whirlwind battle with an angel determined to have revenge against God, an Imago coven she doesn’t think they should trust, and slew of dream-eating fairies and powerful Nephilims, hybrid children of angels and humans, more than happy to rip her to shreds.

Normal just got a deadlier definition.

Add to Your To-Read Shelf on Goodreads!

Go Inside Lucifer (Sons of Old Trilogy, #1)
Coming January 31, 2013!

“Care to dance?” Bryan asked, already leading Zahara to the dance floor.

She pulled him back and shook her head. “I’m the worst dancer! My feet, hips, and body don’t know how to coordinate well together, so I wind up looking like an ostrich trying to bust a move.”

Bryan laughed and pulled her onto the dance floor. “Whether you look like an ostrich or a ballerina dancer, you’re still the best lookin’ one here.”

He spun her around and placed his hands on her hips, attempting slowly to move her in the same rhythm as his own. At first Zahara’s body moved stiffly, even under Bryan’s warm and smooth hands, which were sending shivers creeping up her spine and around her midsection; she couldn’t stop looking around the club. Stuck in between a group of scantily clad teenage girls who kept dropping to their knees and bouncing back up, a giggling mass of hysteria, and a Spanish couple pressed so tightly together their dancing came off as borderline sex, Zahara felt like an alien. Even the hyena-sounding girls–who, Zahara was pretty sure, were all buzzed and quickly heading to being drunk—moved with more skill than she possessed.

But Bryan pressed her closer against him and placed her arms to circle his neck from behind. He moved a little faster and Zahara fell into step, laying her head against his shoulder and closing her eyes to drown out the crowd. She focused on the hard muscles of Bryan’s chest, his heated breath against her hair, and his fingers gripping her waist. She absently wondered if it was wrong that an angel was dancing inside of a club full of youth, and if this was as weird and exhilarating for him as it was for her. Bryan spun her around to face him and kissed her. He wasn’t as gentle as he usually was, digging his hand into her hair and nibbling on her bottom lip. Zahara whimpered and moved her fingers underneath his shirt, digging her fingers into his back.

Bryan pulled back and laid his forehead against Zahara’s, his breath ragged and intense enough to set her on fire. “You’re making this difficult.”

“Making what difficult?” Zahara huffed.

“Leaving you.” Bryan closed his eyes and kissed her again.

Fun Quotes
Enough with the games, I know what you are, Nephilim and if you make one move, I promise I will carve you open.~Zahara

You caught me, I was definitely dreaming of you. If I remember correctly, you were frolicking on a beach, wearing a pretty skimpy red bikini and some kind of flower in your hair. Gotta say that was the best dream I’ve ever had.” ~Bryan

Time is endless for a being such as I. Power is the only master I trust.~Lucifer

 “All those night long phone calls! All those secret visits to my house! All those secret walks! And you’re fond of me! You think I’m being over dramatic! How about I break your face open for over dramatics!” ~Becca

Solomon, you will remember that although I agreed to ally myself and my coven with yours, that does not mean you have any semblance of authority over me. We have a truce, and I conduct my own actions as I see fit, whether that involves Becca or not.’

And you remember I will take your coven down the moment you step over the line,” Solomon hissed.~Solomon and Rekesh

About the Author: Annabell Cadiz was born in the sweltering heat of South Florida. She was raised surrounded by Puerto Rican chefs and band of siblings that weren’t all related to her. A self-proclaimed nerd and book-a-holic (her room does hold much evidence to prove her claims are justifiable), she created TeamNerd Reviews to showcase her EXTREME love for novels where, along with her best friend, Bridget Strahin, she hosts book reviews, interviews, giveaways, Indie Shoutouts and much more. She also blog tour services for authors. She also had the pleasure of being published in three separate issue of Suspense Magazine. She also adores Cinnamon Teddy Grahams, has an addiction to Minute Maid Orange juice, and is a proud Jesus Freak. She is working on getting LUCIFER, the first book in SONS OF OLD TRILOGY ready to be published JANUARY 31, 2013.

Where to Find the Author

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Monkeewrench

Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the genre
Trigger Warnings: Violence, serial murder

Disclosure: I received this book, along with a whole box of books, from a coworker in 2004, as they were extras she didn’t want. All opinions are my own. This is my second reading of the book.

Synopsis: People are dying for the new computer game by the software company Monkeewrench. Literally. With Serial Killer Detective out in limited release, the real-life murders of a jogger and a young woman have already mimicked the first two scenarios in the game.

But Grace McBride and her eccentric Monkeewrench partners are caught in a vise. If they tell the Minneapolis police of the link between their game and the murders, they'll shine a spotlight on the past they thought they had erased-and the horror they thought they'd left behind. If they don't, eighteen more people will die...

My Thoughts: Thanks to my coworker all those years ago, I was introduced to this excellent series (as well as another of my favorites, the Lucas Davenport mysteries by John Sandford, but that’s another review) and started buying the rest of them as they came out. There are currently six books available in this series, which I will reviewing in the coming days, with a seventh due out next year. I first read this book in 2004, but did not write a review at that time, so when it came time to read the latest books in the series I decided to start again at the beginning and write the reviews I neglected to write the first time around.

Over the years, while I remembered I had enjoyed the story, I had forgotten how mesmerizing it is. I was initially charmed because it is set in Minneapolis, a city in which I lived for 5 ½ years. This description from the book is really quite apt. “From her first day here Grace had pegged Minneapolis as a prissy city, an aspiring lady with her skirts held ankle-high to avoid the prairie mud. It had an underbelly, of course—the hookers and johns, the porn shops, the junior-high kids cruising for a hit of black tar or Ecstasy—but you really had to look to find it, and that it existed at all never failed to shock the stalwart Lutheran populace into action. It was one of the few cities in the country, Grace thought, where the self-righteous still thought you could shame the sleaze into redemption.” This is all especially impressive once you realize that this is the debut novel by the mother-daughter team that wrote this book.

The synopsis is not completely accurate, in that the Monkeewrench crew did not hesitate in the slightest to contact the police about the connection to the game. It was their own past they didn’t immediately discuss. I can’t say anything more than that to avoid spoilers, but inaccurate synopses drive me crazy, so I thought I’d point that out.

At any rate, this is really top-notch suspense fiction. If you enjoy mysteries and suspense, you will definitely want to check out P.J. Tracy’s wonderful Monkeewrench series, starting with this, the first book, Monkeewrench itself. Great characters, and you will never, ever see the denouement coming. Wonderful stuff.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Khost" winners!

Sorry for the delay in announcing today's winners! I forgot what day it was... it happens sometimes. Anyway, today we have three winners, who will each receive an e-book copy of "Khost" from Hobbes End Publishing. Congratulations!

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Review: The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter
The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: folks who think they might enjoy it
Trigger Warnings: Plot holes. Discrepancies. Annoyances.

Disclosure: I received an ARC (unproofed galley) from Angry Robot via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Cora and her husband hunt things—things that shouldn't exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible, but if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

My Thoughts: I’ve seen a number of negative reviews for this book, but it sounded like something I might like, so I figured I’d check it out and see what I thought, rather than relying on what other people think to decide whether or not it was a worthwhile book. Of course, I ran the risk of wasting my time reading a really horrible book, but one has to take a risk once in awhile, right?

It didn’t start off so great—on the very first page there is this very weird description: “. . . his breath lingering in front of his nose like a lover’s ghost.” What does that even mean? But I took a deep breath (minus the lingering lover’s ghost) and plunged on.

Now, some people have commented on Cora starting to throw a rock at the crow, but that was just realism—people weren’t terribly concerned with kindliness to animals at that point in our history. However, when Cora closed an eye to aim her pistol, I was pretty irritated. A person with any knowledge of the proper handling of handguns and how best to aim them will know that one is not supposed to close one’s eye, as that will distort one’s aim. A lot of people do it anyway, but it’s not correct, and I’m guessing someone like Cora, who is supposed to be a professional and (I would guess) a sharpshooter, would know that. So, yeah . . . typical writing by someone who knows very little about firearms culture. This occurred very early in the book and made my heart sink . . . I was pretty sure this would not be a book I would end up liking if I was already nitpicking it this early. Another of the minor things that really bothered me was when Cora ate some snow to ingest some water—well, sure, that would work, but you would have to eat a lot of snow to manage to quench your thirst, and in the meantime you’d end up with some serious hypothermia. Again, anyone with any common sense or knowledge about wilderness survival should know this. Not to mention the author, on more than than occasion, uses a phrase that just drives me crazy: “stood to his/her feet.” Does that phrase bother anyone else? I’ve been pointing it out when I edit, that it is redundant and ridiculous, but I see people using it all time. What’s up with that?

Now, don’t get me wrong; the story itself was entertaining enough, when you were reading it. But there were so many little things like the ones I mentioned above that it started to become a bit irritating. For instance, Cora is supposed to be some big-shot monster hunter, but doesn’t have the awareness of what is going on around her to notice that someone is acting out of character? I don’t know... it all sort of aggravated me. This is a neat plot twist in the last quarter of the book that was unexpected, but even then I couldn’t stop my nitpicking. Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly why I had a problem with that without giving out spoilers, but I’ll give you a very minor one as an example. If it wasn’t Cora, then who bought tickets for the train and put the horses on it while she was settling up with the marshal after defeating the first monster? Suffice it to say: there are several places where major plot holes open up after that little twist and are never explained.

So, at the end, I have to rate it as only 2 stars, because while the story was entertaining enough at times, and that plot twist was awesome, there were just too many other problems and I ended up the book with a feeling of distinct annoyance. I mean, if you think the story will amuse you, and you can ignore the things I’ve mentioned, definitely go for it. It’s well-written enough overall, and I assume any typos I noticed will be corrected in the final copy, but … I really didn’t like it that much.

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Review: The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 3: Red Reunion

The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 3: Red Reunion
The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 3: Red Reunion by Michael Panush

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy/Serial shorts/Pulp or Noir fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the series, pulp fiction, noir, fun stories
Trigger Warnings: There is a fair bit of violence

Disclosure: I received an e-galley ARC from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis (slightly altered for space) courtesy of Goodreads: For Weatherby Stein and Morton Candle – private detectives specializing in the paranormal – life normally isn’t easy. They deal with cases that pit them against ferocious demons in the Tokyo underworld, Satan-worshipping teenagers in a seemingly normal suburb and lizard-men in a Lake Tahoe lounge, and they still manage to come out on top.

But now one of Weatherby’s ancient ancestors, the villainous Viscount Wagner Stein, has been resurrected and is looking to stir up trouble – and he’s not alone.

Facing down dangers from the past like the Viscount and the newly arisen Dracula, Lord of Vampires, Weatherby and Mort have no choice but call in help. They’ll bring in Weatherby’s sister, a college student studying folklore and her beatnik boyfriend. They’ll bring in Morton’s squad mates, a tough bunch of soldiers who stormed through Europe together. And they’ll bring in a hulking monster named Adam, with another connection to the past of Weatherby’s family.

Weatherby, Morton and their allies make a stand to stop the evils of the past from corrupting of the future – and only one faction will make it out of the battle alive.

My Thoughts: I have read this entire series so far (Vol 1 review here and Vol 2 review here where links are permitted) and quite enjoyed it. This is very pulpy pulp fiction, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, these books probably won’t entertain you as much as they have me, but we each have our own vices and mine happens to be pulp fiction.

The first two books contained a few short stories apiece, and were really fairly short. This one is much longer, the stories almost reaching novella length, which I quite enjoyed. The first four stories—the basic plotlines to three of which (plus the first Dracula story) are explained in the first paragraph of the synopsis—take up exactly 50 percent of the book. Then there is a two-part final story. According to the end notes, this is the end of a trilogy, but Panush will be releasing some new series in the upcoming year. After these very enjoyable books, and his other book Dinosaur Jazz (review here where links are allowed), all of which are very good stories, I’m very much looking forward to what he will come up with next!

There are a number of typos in this book, including the consistent misuse of “breaks” instead of “brakes,” and missing and extra words. NetGalley usually provides ARC copies of books, so hopefully most of these issues will be fixed in the final book. This is the only reason I have dropped the rating to 4 stars, as it was distracting.

This book takes a sharp turn into noir in the last half of the book, but we really move deeply into the characters. While it is left open for potentially more stories—just in case—the ongoing issues that have been faced throughout the series are all more-or-less cleared up, and this is a very satisfying conclusion to the overall series. I really do recommend you check out this talented, young writer—I know I have very much enjoyed his books.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: The Redemption of Mata Hari

The Redemption of Mata Hari
The Redemption of Mata Hari by Scott Rhine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy, urban fantasy, strong world-building, world mythology
Trigger Warnings: Duplicitous females (Mata Hari is sometimes really hard to like)

Disclosure: I edited this book. I do not receive any remuneration based upon sales. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: A poor word choice when arguing with an angel sends Aaron to the Abyss. Creatures are usually exiled to the Caves of Ice for good reason, but when Aaron discovers a frozen, 1950s starlet praying, there must have been a mistake. To rescue her, he has to make a deal with a crocodile demon. Meet the tribes of the djinn as you travel the lands of Dante’s Inferno, the Talmud, and the Arabian Nights in the supernatural sequel to Foundation for the Lost.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the previous book in this series, Foundation for the Lost (review here where links are allowed), so I was very excited to have the chance to work on (and thereby have an early chance to read) its sequel. I really like what Scott Rhine does with the various world mythologies that are worked into this story, and the inclusion of the various types of djinn in the story. Mata Hari is very hard to like through a lot of the book, as she is very focused on finding a way to make Aaron hers, regardless of his feelings on the matter, but she does redeem herself in the end (thus the title). I also really liked Princess Maymoora and her brother. I wish we'd have had more time with Winn and the other people left from the first book, but this book focused on Aaron and his travels and changes. It's a good book and I'm hoping that Rhine will continue this series. If you're a fan of fantasy stories - be that urban fantasy or more straight-up fantasy - and enjoy strong world building that includes a variety of mythological bases, then you will definitely want to check out this series.

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Review: Intervention: How Humanity from the Future Has Changed Its Own Past

Intervention: How Humanity from the Future Has Changed Its Own Past
Intervention: How Humanity from the Future Has Changed Its Own Past by Alan Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Non-fiction; alternate thoughts
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who are curious about different ideas behind what we’re told, those who don’t care to accept common “truths”
Trigger Warnings: 9/11 is mentioned and a few conspiracy theories surrounding it are expanded on. If you have a trigger for 9/11, be aware of that.

Disclosure: I received an e-book ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: As Alan Butler demonstrates in this extraordinary book, many key events in the history of our world—from the creation of the Moon to the evolution of human beings—came about through the intervention of humans from the future. Based on rigorous science, Butler's theory reveals the changes made by these time travelers, as well as the markers they left behind to prepare us for the most spectacular revelation of all: our first contact with our future selves, an event that will occur within the lifetime of most people alive today.

My Thoughts: I have read a few other books (one by Alan Butler The Knights Templar Revealed, and other, similar books by other authors: Fingerprints of the Gods by Robert Hancock and The Message of the Sphinx by Robert Bauval—where formatting allows links and there are reviews, clicking on the book title will take you to the review) that were along this same lines and found them very interesting and fun to read, so when I stumbled across this on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it. I find alternate theories as to our past and present to be fascinating; plus I just enjoy thinking about things from a different point of view.

And I also enjoyed this book, a great deal. The ideas espoused in it are absolutely fascinating, as Butler claims that we, ourselves (or humans from the future) are responsible for the evolution and development of our own world. He provides a number of very interesting proofs of this theory, and it really makes a lot of sense in many ways. He says that people cannot simply go to any time in the past and jump into the timeline, but can only go into times where they were already a part of the timeline—it’s hard to explain, so you’ll just have to read it for more details—but it made me wonder if there were possibly elements of reincarnation involved; that is to say, that if a person’s past incarnation were involved in a specific timeline, if a person could sort of hitch hike on that person in order to experience what happens. Butler also has theories about so-called implants that he addresses that are very interesting. Obviously not everyone will find this as interesting as I did, but if you’re interested in hearing about different theories of human evolution and development, you should definitely check out Butler’s books. I have at least one more in my personal library, and a number more on my wishlist, which I’ll read eventually. Recommended.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: You Got To Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of the Bible

You Got To Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of the Bible
You Got To Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of the Bible by Joe Wenke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Satire
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: most everyone
Trigger Warnings: People who believe the Bible is the inviolable word of their creator should probably not read this. Sense of humor mandatory.

Disclosure: I received an e-galley ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis (slightly altered for space) courtesy of Goodreads: Why did God turn Lot's wife into a pillar of salt? Were there no other seasonings available? Why don't we know anything about the early years of Jesus? Did someone lose his baby book? Who reported the desert encounter between Jesus and Satan: Jesus-or Satan? And why does the Holy Spirit like to show up as a bird?

This book is an investigation into the bestselling book of all time. Written to "cause trouble", cultural arsonist Wenke, a keen observer of human gullibility, tempts readers to more closely examine the stories they think they know about the Bible.

Drawing upon the same pool of incendiary and cerebral humor as Bill Maher, Jon Stewart and the late, great George Carlin, You Got to be Kidding is a call for humor to restore our sanity and our ability to think for ourselves. Just as it was written in the Bible—or was it?

My Thoughts: “So Moses, (speaking for God) states that it is perfectly fine to slaughter every single man, woman and child in a town that you are invading, but it is wrong to cut down a fruit tree. Fruit—it’s one of the weirdest motifs in the Old Testament.” This book was absolutely hilarious—and guaranteed to absolutely infuriate anyone who cannot tolerate mockery of their sacred institutions, no matter how badly such mockery is needed.

While talking about the Great Flood, for instance, Wenke says:
God’s decision to flood the entire earth and kill everybody and everything is without a doubt far and away the greatest single act of genocide in the history of the world. It makes you wonder what God thought of the pathetic attempts of Hitler, Stalin and Mao to compete in the genocidal sweepstakes. They may have slaughtered millions, but there were still plenty of people left when they were done.

Ahh, I love really offensive statements like this, because they are guaranteed to upset people and start them picketing and marching and yelling silly slogans. And we all love watching that sort of thing, don’t we?
I ended up reading a lot of this out to my husband, who laughed almost as much as I did.

I think Wenke does a pretty good job of finding a lot of the inconsistencies and inaccuracies, especially when he points out the extreme inconsistencies between the various stories of the resurrection. I noted above that this is a trigger warning for anyone who believes the Bible is actually perfect, but thinking about it, these are the people who most need to read this book. I think these two quotes pretty much encapsulate the idea of the book. “But hey, what’s the big deal? Nothing’s perfect, including the Bible.” And then this one. “They say the Bible is perfect, but it appears that God needs an editor.” There is a lot of knowledge in the Bible, but it is not inviolable, it is not perfect, and people need to realize this and stop the insanity.

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