Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: A Tale of Two Mommies


A Tale of Two Mommies
A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Children’s Educational Reading Level: Young Children (4-8)

Disclosure: I received a free eGalley of this text in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: A Tale of Two Mommies is a beach conversation among three children. One boy asks another boy about having two mommies. A young girl listening in asks some questions too.

True to a child’s curiosity, practical questions follow. “Which mom is there when you want to go fishing? / Which mom helps out when Kitty goes missing?” To which he answers: “Mommy helps when I want to go fishing. / Both Mommies help when Kitty goes missing.”

A Tale of Two Mommies is intended for 4-8 year olds.

This book lets us look inside one non-traditional family, a same-sex couple and their son. As the children talk, it’s clear this boy lives in a nurturing environment where the biggest issues are the everyday challenges of growing up.

My Thoughts: While I do not have any children, I believe it is very important to raise children to love and understand differences rather than to hate them, and therefore I was intrigued by the concept of this book. While having both books would, I think, be important to help children understand the variety of families, I would have been happier this this book had not had so many pages that were almost exactly the same as A Tale of Two Daddies; if writing these two books, I just think it would have been better to address different stereotypes in each one. But again, I would definitely recommend this for helping young children learn to read, and learn to understand different families.



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Review: A Tale of Two Daddies


A Tale of Two Daddies
A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Children’s Educational Reading Level: Young Children (4-8)

Disclosure: I received a free eGalley of this text in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: A Tale of Two Daddies is told through a playground conversation between two children, one of whom is a girl who has two dads. This story can help parents and teachers handle questions about same-sex parents. Illustrations.

My Thoughts: While I do not have any children, I believe it is very important to raise children to love and understand differences rather than to hate them, and therefore I was intrigued by the concept of this book. This is a very simple book, which clear, large illustrations, and it’s so sweet that it made me all weepy. I believe this is a book that would be very beneficial to help explain same-gender families to curious, young children, and also will prove helpful in helping children learn to read, which is the perspective from which I can see it. Recommended.



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Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Brambleman


Brambleman
Brambleman by Jonathan Grant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Literary Fiction Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this novel from the author through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review. I later received an offer for it through NetGalley, which I accepted.

Synopsis: Down-and-out Atlanta writer Charlie Sherman has no idea what madness awaits him when a mysterious stranger convinces him to finish a dead man's book about a horrific crime that's gone unpunished for decades. What Charlie inherits is an unwieldy manuscript about the mob-driven expulsion of more than 1,000 blacks from Forsyth County, Georgia in 1912. During the course of his work, Charlie uncovers a terrible secret involving a Forsyth County land grab. Due to its proximity to Atlanta, the stolen farm is now worth $20 million-and a sale is pending. When he finds the land's rightful owner, Charlie becomes convinced he's been chosen by a Higher Power to wreak justice and vengeance on those who profit from evil. And then things go horribly wrong.

Historical Background: Forsyth County, famous as the birthplace of Hee-Haw's Junior Samples, has existed as an intentionally all-white community bordering the black Mecca of Atlanta since 1912, following one of the 20th century's most violent, racist outrages – including lynching, nightriding, and arson. In 1987, the sleepy community gained notoriety when a small march, led by civil rights firebrand Hosea Williams, was broken up by rock- and bottle-throwing Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and their sympathizers. Bloody but unbowed, Williams returned the next week with 25,000 followers in one of largest civil-rights marches in history. There was talk of reparations. Oprah came. Protests and counter-protests yielded a landmark Supreme Court case on free speech. But most importantly, white people flocked to Forsyth. It became the fastest- growing county in the nation, the richest one in Georgia, and one of the twenty wealthiest in the U.S.

My Thoughts: I was particularly interested in reading this book since all this happened to close to where I live (within about an hour’s drive if the traffic cooperates). While it took place well before I ever arrived on the scene, the attitude of the people around here is very similar, I’m guessing.

I was surprised by the amount of humor put into this book. While it is focused on issues of discrimination and the consequences thereof, as well as the various travails through which Charlie Sherman must pass, it also pokes sly fun at both the conservative and liberal ideals, in a way. Charlie’s thoughts, for instance, about how jumping off a highway overpass is the most “socially irresponsible” way to commit suicide made me laugh. Other comments that amused me included “courthouse arson is a proud Forsyth county tradition,” and one about home ownership being a sure sign of uppitiness in the eyes of the racist members of the community. Then, as a result of all non-whites being driven out of Forsyth County in 1912, it is stated: By 1913, the true nature and scope of Forsyth’s tragedy had become brutally clear. White women, some of them from the finest families, were forced to do their own cooking and cleaning. Bet they never thought about that result! But seriously, the one thing that Grant does not poke fun at is the deadly serious nature of the brutal racism that swept through this area at that time. The descriptions and explanations are sometimes quite brutal, and those with a sensitive nature might want to think strongly about this before they read this book, but enough humor is interspersed into it to keep it bearable.

One thing that confused me is a comment about the trip between Gainseville and Atlanta being 53 miles of mountain roads... there is no mountain between Gainseville and Atlanta, so I’m not sure how there could be mountain roads. Perhaps the author meant country roads. Today, the trip between Gainesville and Atlanta is a fairly straight shot, but I can see where the roads probably were windy before the highway currently there was built. Another thing that made me do some research is the mention of “frantic telephone calls” amongst several people in 1912; I can’t find any evidence to back up my suspicion, but I don’t think telephones were very widespread yet in 1912, so I’m not sure how realistic this situation is.

One of my favorite things about this book is the characters. Grant perfectly caught the complexity of the people of Georgia. Georgia has a really crazy-quilt population – you have the back-country, small-town folks who tend to be very suspicious of outsiders, and old-school racist, having not been taught any differently; and then you have the big city folks, in Atlanta and Athens, especially, that are very liberal. These groups often clash, as can be expected, carrying on such acrimoniously different opinions about how things should be. Always being the sort to get into the middle of things, I think there are good points and bad points to both sides of the argument, and that Truth lies somewhere in the middle. Grant obviously has spent a great deal of time researching the people of this great state, and I feel he did a really good job of bringing it all the life. The characters are all wonderfully developed, unique, and grow (most of them) through the course of the book.

All-in-all, I can highly recommend this excellent story. The book is very long, with multiple points that feel like a denouement, but bear with it – the ending is well worth the trip and literally gave me goosebumps. A very satisfying story, a superbly gratifying read, and one you really don’t want to miss.



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Giveaway: "Shadow Sight" by E.J. Stevens and SWAG!

This week, I'm doing something a bit different for giveaway! There will be four prizes.
* First prize will be an eBook copy of E.J. Steven's book Shadow Sight, first in her new Ivy Granger series, along with a postcard and sticker.
* Second prize will be just the eBook.
* Third prize will be both a sticker and a postcard.
* Fourth prize will be your choice of sticker or postcard.

My review is here. E.J. Stevens runs the popular From the Shadows blog, and I encourage you to drop by and check it out.

Like usual, leave a comment with your email address, so I can contact you if you win, and next Monday I'll have a drawing through Random.org to determine my four winners!

This just in!! A novella featuring Ivy Granger, Blood and Mistletoe, will be available for the holiday season, to help you get through until next year, when the 2nd book, Ghost Light will be released. I will be receiving an ARC in the fall, so watch for my review!!

Information about the book:

Introduction

Welcome to Harborsmouth, where monsters walk the streets unseen by humans…except those with second sight.

Whether visiting our modern business district or exploring the cobblestone lanes of the Old Port quarter, please enjoy your stay. When you return home, do tell your friends about our wonderful city—just leave out any supernatural details.
Don’t worry—most of our guests never experience anything unusual. Otherworlders, such as faeries, vampires, and ghouls, are quite adept at hiding within the shadows. Many are also skilled at erasing memories. You may wake in the night screaming, but you won’t recall why. Be glad that you don’t remember—you are one of the fortunate ones.

If you do encounter something unnatural, we recommend the services of Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective. Co-founder of Private Eye detective agency, Ivy Granger is a relatively new member of our small business community. Her offices can be found on Water Street, in the heart of the Old Port.

Miss Granger has a remarkable ability to receive visions by the act of touching an object. This skill is useful in her detective work, especially when locating lost items. Whether you are looking for a lost brooch or missing persons, no job is too small for Ivy Granger—and she could certainly use the business.

We can also provide, upon request, a list of highly skilled undertakers. If you are in need of their services, then we also kindly direct you to Harborsmouth Cemetery Realty. It’s never too early to contact them, since we have a booming “housing” market. Demand is quite high for a local plot—there are always people dying for a place to stay.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review: Contagion of the Gods


Contagion of the Gods
Contagion of the Gods by Scott Rhine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Sex, violence, and Greek gods—an epic fantasy in the vein of Gene Wolfe or Tim Powers. 

If Pythias reads the future in the sun one more time, he could go blind; instead, he uses detective skills to solve the problems of Golden Age Athens. Then two charming but ruthless princes engage in a titanic battle to become the next incarnation of Dionysus. The contagion of the gods is loose again. As a member of a secret society known as the Sons of Prometheus, Pythias must find a way to stop the demigods or the nations of the Mediterranean will be drawn into war. A witch and a horse-legged Silenus guide them through the secrets behind the Greek legends in an odyssey that travels to the fabled island of the Gorgons and beyond.

My Thoughts: I’ve always enjoyed Rhine’s writing style, the sly humor he puts into it, and the research he does to make everything plausible, and after reading the early stages of this manuscript, I encouraged him to go ahead and finish it, so I’ve been very interested to see how it turned out.

Rhine has said this is a darker tale than his usual fare, but I found it just as entertaining and full of humor as any of his works. He puts in a lot of different legends and lore to this story, even, at one point, discussing the similarities between the Greek and Egyptian gods, which I found fascinating. I basically read the story through without stopping, and the time passed very quickly as I did. This is a must-read for those interested in mythology and Ancient Greece, as well as historical fantasy. Definitely pick this one up if this sounds like you.



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Review: Hell Hath No Fury


Hell Hath No Fury
Hell Hath No Fury by Bill Blais

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received this ebook from a friend as a gift; I’m under no obligation, but am happy to provide an honest review

Synopsis: After the horrific events under the streets of New York City, Kelly McGinnis quit the team of demon hunters who had recruited her and did everything she could to put the experience behind her. Six months later, life is nearly normal, complete with bills, school for her children and hospital visits for her husband.

Dreams of Umber — the handsome and intriguing incubus she saved — continue to tease Kelly’s sleep, but it is only when far darker dreams — and worse — begin to infect her children, that Kelly discovers what happens if you stop hunting demons.

They start hunting you

My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Kelly & Umber series begun in No Good Deed, which I recently read and reviewed in conjunction with a blog tour, and enjoyed thoroughly.

The first five chapters have a bit of problem with the tense – while the book is mostly present tense, it periodically slips into past tense during those first chapters. Also, the scene in the call center doesn’t jibe with any experiences in call centers I’ve ever had – you never could just put yourself as “away” to sit back, chit-chat and eat a doughnut. In fact, eating at your stations was generally verboten, and if you were to put yourself into “away” without really good cause, especially during the day when the phones were busy, you were asking for a visit to the supervisor. I don’t know – maybe the call centers I worked in were extraordinarily strict, but it just didn’t ring true for me. Finally, while used correctly a couple times, most of the time “taut” is incorrectly replaced with “taught.”

Kelly is all over the place emotionally in this book, and it doesn’t have that light-hearted feel the first one did, or maybe my mood is just darker. Kelly seems to spend most of the book in close to a blind panic, but I suppose that is a realistic response for a mother whose children seem to be threatened. Her actions are scattered and frantic, and as a result I felt scattered and frantic whilst trying to read it. I always develop this sort of feeling when I read books about mothers with children in danger who go all flabbergasted and panicky; I imagine it’s because, since I don’t have children, I just cannot comprehend that sort of emotion.

What I really liked about this book was its representation of Hell. I enjoyed the fact that there is no fire and brimstone, no levels – just an overweening miasma of despair, a sense of misery that is created through the dry dustiness of the scene and the constant sense of never being in control, no hope, no thing. It’s wonderfully done.

Overall, despite any concerns I had, this is an enjoyable series, with interesting and well-developed characters, and at the end of the day, I quite enjoyed reading it. If you enjoy Urban Fantasies, you should enjoy the Kelly & Umber series. I will definitely be watching for the next book in the series, and grabbing it as soon after it comes out as I can. Blais is an excellent storyteller and I highly recommend these books.



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Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Shadow Sight


Shadow Sight
Shadow Sight by E.J. Stevens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free eBook ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review and to post in conjunction with her blog tour. There will be a giveaway on my blog starting Monday, 7/30/12.

Synopsis: Some things are best left unseen...

Ivy Granger's second sight is finally giving her life purpose. Ivy and her best friend Jinx may not be raking in the dough, but their psychic detective agency pays the bills--most of the time. Their only worry is the boredom of a slow day and the occasional crazy client – until a demon walks through their door.

Demons are never a good sign...

A demon attorney representing the water fae? Stranger things have happened. And things are about to get very, very strange as a bloodthirsty nightmare hunts the city of Harborsmouth.

There's blood in the water...

Kelpies have a reputation for eating humans. Unfortunately, Kelpies are the clients. When an Unseelie faerie this evil stalks the waterways of your city, you have to make hard choices.

The lesser of two evils...

My Thoughts: I’ve been interested in E.J. Stevens’ previous urban fantasy series for awhile, and jumped at the chance to read and review her latest. Ivy Granger has a distinct and amusing voice, and I laughed a lot while reading this book. In fact, Stevens gives each of her characters a unique and interesting voice, and reading this was a real treat. Additionally, there was a lot of terrific research done on the various fae that Stevens uses in this novel, which must have meant a great deal of reading of old fairy tales and lore and legends (and I’m so jealous, ‘cause I love reading stuff like that); it’s obvious she put a lot of effort into getting this stuff right.

As I mentioned, this book is very humorous, and I laughed like a loon, especially, at the meeting with the vampires (The Boss, Stinky, Dusty, and Shorty) and the pooka orgy. IN some place the humor is a bit wry, but this is a very entertaining start to what promises to be a highly enjoyable series.

The second book in this series, Ghost Light, is scheduled to come out next year. I know I’ll be watching for it. If you enjoy Urban Fantasies, and especially if you’re interested in the fae, you should definitely check out this book. Watch for a giveaway, starting Monday, 7/30/12, on my blog, Now is Gone, where you can win a copy of this book or other prizes!



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Review: Tales of the Abysmal Plane


Tales of the Abysmal Plane
Tales of the Abysmal Plane by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free paperback copy of this omnibus from the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Character stories don't always begin and end with the opening of a book and its closing. There are always tales before we meet our heroes and heroines — and Zoë Martinique is no exception. 

From her first experience with S.P.R.I.T.E. on her first assignment with Maharba, meeting Dags McConnell and becoming the catalyst for his transformation into a Grimoire, to her latest foray into the ordered world of the Ethereal Plane, Zoë will take readers on a ride of laughter and gasps.

Tales of the Abysmal Plane is a collection of stories about our OOBing heroine before and after her shift to Wraith and beyond. Collected together for the first time, readers of the Zoë Martinique Investigation Series will enjoy these extra tales of the Abysmal Experience.

My Thoughts: For a detailed review of each short story in this book, please go to the individual stories’ pages, as those will be posted separately. Included in this omnibus are Web Ginn House, Out of the Dark, Holly & Ivy, Beyond the Door, and Walking Shadows, as well as an excerpt from the beginning of the upcoming 6th book in the Zoe Martinique series, called Dominion Or maybe Cherubim; I’ve heard both.. Since the stories in this book take place throughout the series, I’ll be reading each, individual story in its appropriate place before and between the existing books of the series.

The editing in these short stories is haphazard – some are quite well done and others … not. The final short story, Walking Shadows, is not available separately, so I’m reviewing it along with the general omnibus review. And ah... *smack smack* that was a good story. It comes between Geist and the upcoming 6th book, and I think the bridge will prove to be an important one.

If you are interested in the Zoe Martinique series, be sure to grab this omnibus of short bridging pieces – and be sure to read them in the correct order. I believe I managed to set the series up correctly on Goodreads before I stopped serving as a Librarian, but if you have any questions, each story in the omnibus begins with a short essay explaining where it fits in the overall story. Good stuff!



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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Geist


Geist
Geist by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a signed paperback edition of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: In an attempt to gain power over the borders between the Outer and Inner planes, Adiran Martinique locked his daughter inside the Abysmal Throne with the intention of using her as his puppet. With the borders between the planes closed, Zoë was cut off from her friends and family. Alone.

What he didn't count on was his daughter receiving help from an ancient consciousness that has existed for centuries. Now this entity has promised her a way to break the bonds of the Abysmal Throne and return physically to the Physical Plane and her lover, Dags McConnell.

But should Zoë trust this voice in her head? The last person she trusted was her father — and look where that got her. The Ethereals are after Dags for the magical tome fused to his soul, and in order to protect him, Zoë has to make a choice to trust the Geist to escape, or truly become the Phantasm of the Abysmal Plane.

My Thoughts: I’ve been interested in the evolution of Azrael aka TC/Trench Coat aka the Archer; he’s sort of analogous to a slightly less-charming Spike, in that he started off as the Big Bad and then gradually has infiltrated himself into Zoë’s Scooby Gang. Every scene where he’s doing something kind of inane, like eating grapes, I see in my mind that scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Season 4 where Spike and Giles are arguing about Spike eating all the Weeta-Bix...

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about these books is they turn our normal concepts of right and wrong completely on their ear – the Abysmal creatures are often quite honorable, and the Ethereals we’ve met are mostly grade-A jerks. I have always enjoyed series that are willing to move beyond stereotypes like this, and this is no exception.

One thing bothers me – this Stella chick that showed up in the last book. There was something off about her, but she has disappeared in this book, except for her trying to gain legal control over Dags. This untied thread bothers me; I just know she’s going to come back and bite everyone on the butt.

Now, to avoid spoilers, some incoherent ranting! AUGH!!! Rhonda, how could she? And Dags! *grumble grumble* Why? WHY???????

So, there you go. I’ll be eagerly waiting for the next book in the series, Cherubim, whenever it comes out. I just have a short story left before I’m finished with all the books I could gather in this series, so watch for that review in the next couple hours.



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"No Good Deed" Blog Tour - Guest post by Bill Blais


Thanks to Bill Blais for stopping by today. See the bottom for contact information and how to find his book, No Good Deed.

The Strength of Love
Author Bill Blais discusses how Kelly and Shawn, characters from his Kelly and Umber Series, manage to maintain such a strong and loving relationship through the struggles they face.


Thanks to Katy for asking me to guest post, today, and I thought I'd talk a bit about the relationship between Kelly Mcginnis, the protagonist of No Good Deed, and her husband Shawn.

I wanted Kelly and Shawn's marriage to be a strong, well-grounded, mutually supportive one, capable of taking on the 'burdens' I had saddled them with: Shawn's ongoing illness (Muscular Sclerosis), the loss of Kelly's bread-winning job in the middle of a very bad economy, the need to care for two growing children -- not to mention what Kelly gets involved in later.

Now, it's my experience that some of the strongest relationships are those based first on solid friendships, so Kelly and Shawn share that trait, with a history that reaches back well before their courtship and marriage. While they weren't childhood sweethearts, their early friendship provided the foundation upon which their much deeper relationship could be built.

This long-term knowledge of one another is, for me, a fundamental key to weathering any storm that life can throw at us. Strong relationships compensate for difficult times, rather than make them worse: When one person is weak, the other is strong.
Of course, no marriage is perfect. Sometimes we smother our significant others with attention, sometimes we baby them when we should let them go their own way, sometimes we're just not paying attention, and sometimes we get angry. We're human and that's life (just wait until Shawn and Kelly try to Pergo their floor together).

In most cases, though -- whether it's dealing with the debilitating disease of a loved one, the loss of a much-needed job or the 'joyous noise' of raising children -- I firmly believe that a relationship with roots stands a much higher chance of enduring, even thriving, in any adversity.

Book and contact information

Synopsis: Kelly McGinnis has spent her adult life trying to do the right thing, but as a newly down-sized mother of twins and the wife of a man living with Muscular Sclerosis, she also knows that trying isn’t always enough.

While interrupting a scene of police brutality, Kelly unwittingly releases a real, live demon. After she manages to kill the creature through gut instinct and blind luck, she is approached to join a secret group of demon hunters who reveal an underworld of monsters and magic. Kelly’s mill town upbringing proves an unexpected asset and the pay more than covers her husband’s treatments, but the work begins to undermine her sense of right and wrong as she struggles to maintain her ‘normal’ life.

When she encounters Umber, a compelling incubus with an unexpectedly human story, Kelly learns that the truth is far stranger and more terrifying than she imagined.


My review has also just been posted, so please be sure to read it - you should find a link to it to the right under "Recent Posts".

Read a Sample Chapter of No Good Deed.

Purchase No Good Deed on Amazon.

AuthorBio: Bill Blais is a writer, web developer and perennial part-time college instructor. His novels include Witness (winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Fantasy) and the Kelly & Umber urban fantasy series. Bill graduated from Skidmore College before earning an MA in Medieval Studies from University College London. He lives in Maine with his wife and daughter.

Author Website

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Blog Tour Set Up By Illuminated Tours (http://illuminatedtours.weebly.com/)

Book Review: "No Good Deed" by Bill Blais


No Good Deed review
Author: Bill Blais
5 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review on conjunction with a blog tour that is upcoming. I then forgot I had it and, because it looked really good, picked it for myself on Amazon when I noticed it was free. I am happy to provide, as always, an honest review.

Synopsis: Kelly McGinnis has spent her adult life trying to do the right thing, but as a newly down-sized mother of twins and the wife of a man living with Muscular Sclerosis, she also knows that trying isn’t always enough.

While interrupting a scene of police brutality, Kelly unwittingly releases a real, live demon. After she manages to kill the creature through gut instinct and blind luck, she is approached to join a secret group of demon hunters who reveal an underworld of monsters and magic. Kelly’s mill-town upbringing proves an unexpected asset and the pay more than covers her husband’s treatments, but the work begins to undermine her sense of right and wrong as she struggles to maintain her ‘normal’ life.

When she encounters Umber, a compelling incubus with an unexpectedly human story, Kelly learns that the truth is far stranger and more terrifying than she imagined.

My Thoughts: First, thanks to Annabelle Cadiz for contacting be about taking part in the blog tour for this book. Watch for a guest post from the author, Bill Blais, on my blog.

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of the Kate Connor – Demon Hunter series by Julie Kenner. I really enjoy that Kelly is just a basic soccer mom – a bit overweight, a lot frazzled – and not some preternaturally powerful, butt-kicking Barbie doll like so many of these urban fantasy heroines. The main thing that bothered me is how big a deal they made out of her being short – she’s 5’4”, which is not much below average, and certainly not so short she’d have trouble getting her cup of coffee from a Starbucks counter! I’m only 5’3”, and while there are many things I have to stretch for, I really do not recall Starbucks counters being so tall I couldn’t reach them. Also, comparing herself to a 10-year-old is ridiculous - I was no more than 4’8” when I was 10; I hit my growth spurt and reached 5’2” by the time I was 11. Obviously Blais must be quite tall to think 5’4” is really that short!

At any rate, I think fans of urban fantasy, especially those who would enjoy a realistic woman for a change, will really like this book, book one in the Kelly and Umber series (although Umber doesn’t show up until way at the end). Book two – called Hell Hath no Fury – is also currently available and I’ll definitely be picking that one up as soon as I can, because after reading the first three chapters (included at the end of this ebook as an excerpt), I’m very curious about what happens next. Check this book out, and also check out the separate guest post by Bill Blais on my blog, Now is Gone, at katysozaeva.blogspot.com.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Native Soil


Native Soil
Native Soil by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Oh no, I posted the wrong review before - My apologies, I've been distracted by the numerous attacks upon me the last few days. Here is the right one.

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received an ebook copy of this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: A week before Halloween, Jason's ex-girlfriend discovered what he was. She believed his blood could give her eternal youth and beauty. But when Jason refused her, she attacked him and drank from him. But those who drink from a Revenant without that bonding become Ghouls. 

And the humans that drink from Ghouls become…

Abominations. 

Before Jason could end his ex-girlfriend's life as a Rogue Ghoul, and stop the bloodshed she'd begun, Rene visited the new love in his life, Christina, and forced her to drink from her, thus making her into what the Revenants call a Lamia. 

Lamias obey the command of their makers, and the last thing Rene told her little toy was to destroy Jason Lawrence's life. Seek out and kill the ones he loved. Make him pay. 

Christina finds herself on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia, where the monster blood inside of her takes control before Jason can find her. Will Jason and his Ghoul, Nick Shay, along with help from an old family friend, Rhonda Orly, be able to stop Christina before she kills? 

Read Native Soil, the first of the Revenant Novellas from Caldwell Press. The prelude story, Ghoul, has been included in this edition

My Thoughts: Ah-HAH – if you want to read Ghoul, its included in this edition! Wish I’d known that before I read it separately; I really need to learn to do some research before jumping into things. Fortunately, you now know, by reading my review, what not to do while reading this series!

I have to to go to the Vortex; it sounds awesome! There are so many interesting-sounding locations that Ms. Weldon uses in her books, it makes me want to further explore Atlanta.

I’m trying to think of the number of times that Zoe has commented on how short Rhonda is; in fact, a couple of times, Zoe claims that Rhonda is “at least a foot” shorter than she is, at 5’8”. In this book, we learn that Rhonda is, in fact, about 5’7”, which is not much shorter than Zoe herself, so what’s up with Zoe’s skewed perception??

I’ve notice that, like Holly & Ivy, the editing isn’t so good in this one. I’m only on page 14 and have noticed several misuses, including “they’re” for “their” and “preformances”. O.o as Zoe would say. Oh, but she correctly used irises for the colored part of the eye, and pupil for the hole in the center, and for that I will forgive much! Way too many people use “pupil” when they mean “iris” and, as a former optician, it really drives me crazy.

This creates a very unique and interesting take on vampires, or a vampire-like creature, anyway, and I think this Revenants series is going to be quite interesting. I know I’ll be watching for the next book, whenever it arrives.



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Review: Beyond the Door


Beyond the Door
Beyond the Door by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the omnibus in which this story resides, Tales of the Abysmal Plane, from the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Beyond The Door is a bridge piece between Revenant and Geist

Zoë is trapped in the Abysmal Plane and Dags is little more than a doll with the pages of the Grimoire inside of him scrambled, many of them missing. Zoë and Dags' friends believe the Grimoire is the key to helping Zoë, but first they have to find the missing pages and put them back, in order. 

But Zoë's mother, Nona, has decided that Dags' body is better kept at the Society house under heavy guard, convinced by her ex-husband – Zoë's father and Ethereal Virtue – that Dags' half-life would be better used as the key to taking control of the Abysmal Plane.

My Thoughts: The editing on this one is really sub-par again, with things like “trader” for “traitor,” “thought” for “though”, wrong verb tenses, things like “in tact” and “hap-hapazard”, the changing of Adiran and his ilk from “Virtures” to “Virtues” and back, and, one of my special pet peeves, the eternally active firefly. See, in Georgia, at least in our area of Georgia, fireflies are active from late May to late June, and at the end of Revenant, it was June, so the fireflies were out. However, this little story supposedly takes place three months later (September), so there would be no fireflies around. Anyway, this is only a sampling of the rampant mistakes in this novella.

However, it is a very interesting story, and if you’re following the series, you definitely do not want to miss this segment, as there are a number of important events in it, without which, I think, Geist would probably lose some of its cohesion. Plus, we learn a bit more about the Ethereal structure, which I think will end up being pretty important. So, mixed review here – good story, important part of the series, but badly in need of further editing.



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Great Minds Think Aloud presents: "Buried Pasts" by George Stratford, free on Amazon




Buried Pasts by George Stratford will be free on Amazon 7/25-26/2012. Click on the link or the banner to go get your copy.


CRYSTAL DREAMS

Review: Ghoul


Ghoul
Ghoul by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the 5th book in the Zoe Martinique series, along with an omnibus of short stories, from the author in exchange for an honest review. This is a sort of prequel to the series that I picked up free on Amazon last fall and while it is no longer up anywhere but Goodreads, I’m happy to provide a review there, at least.

Synopsis: This short story takes place chronologically prior to Webb Gin House, but it best read between Phantasm and Revenant in the Zoe Martinique series. It gives the backstory about the reason behind Jason’s visit to Atlanta the previous year that is hinted at in Revenant.

My Thoughts: There isn’t much to this story – it’s very short – but it does give us more of an idea about who Jason is and what he’s about. I would love to see it expanded into a larger piece, and learn more about Jason, but this is a nice taste. If you enjoy the Zoe Martinique series, don’t miss this short if you can find it.



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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Revenant


Revenant
Revenant by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the final book in the series, as well as an omnibus including the short stories related to the series, from the author in exchange for an honest review. I am happy to also provide an honest review for these earlier books, which I purchased myself.

Synopsis: Zoë Martinique's life hasn't been ordinary for quite awhile. First she developed the ability to travel outside her body at will – where she encountered some seriously weird things. Things that left her with powers that she didn't really want or need. Still, a person can get used to almost anything – even being a Wraith. Though more often than not, it plays serious havoc with her love life.

But for once, Zoë is glad of her abilities. Bodies are showing up all over Atlanta, drained of blood. They're beings from another astral plane, called Revenants – and they're being stalked by her old enemy, the Phantasm. The Revenants are hardly the nicest of creatures – but to preserve the cosmic balance, Zoë will need to put everything on the line to save them...

My Thoughts: And now I’m thinking it might have been a good idea to have read Ghoul and Native Soul first, but I only just discovered that these are technically prequels to the series, so it’s a bit late to go back now and do it. Those will have to wait until the last now. However, if you want to read the story in chronological order, you should start with Ghoul and then Native Soul before going on to Web Ginn House, which is where I started. I was not aware of this at the time, which is why I started where I did.

At any rate, I was still able to follow the story well enough. Answers continue to be dribbled to us, and Zoë continues to change and grow into her strengths and powers. We also learn a bit more about Dags’ condition, and have a few shocks and surprises to deal with along the way. All-in-all, a satisfying continuation of a really enjoyable Urban Fantasy series. I’m now going to go back and read those prequels before continuing on with the interim novella and then book 5 in the series. Watch for my reviews!



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Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


- Grab your current read

- Open to a random page

- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I decided to play along this week, thanks to the wonderful Cabin Goddess!

I'm currently reading Revenant by Phaedra Weldon (who lives here in Georgia, too!).

It's in the middle of a series about a girl named Zoë Martinique who can travel astrally, and gets into a lot of trouble along the way! Here're my teaser sentences.

"I tensed, both hands around the hilt even as my gaze traveled back to TC as he head-cracked one of the larger ones. Oh, that was the guy in the Armani suit!" pg. 250


Review: Phantasm


Phantasm
Phantasm by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the final book in this series, as well as the omnibus containing several short stories in this series, from the author in exchange for an honest review. I am happy to review this earlier book in the series as well, as long as I’m reading it!

Synopsis: Just when Zoë Martinique, formerly ordinary twenty-something, was getting used to the idea that she was possessed of extraordinary powers, she lost them. Without cause or warning. And at the worst possible time.

Now, unless she can figure out how to go Wraith again, she won't be able to rescue her mother, whose soul is trapped on the Abysmal plane.

Her only hope is to join forces with an old enemy, who has his own dark reasons for helping her. From him she learns that only a traumatic experience can bring the Wraith back. To get out-of-body, Zoë will have to look for big, dangerous trouble – and fast.

For there is a deadly and powerful being within the Abysmal that wishes Zoë never existed...and it's coming for her.

My Thoughts: This is book three on the Zoë Martinique series, following Spectre. Things became very dark in the previous book, after being fairly light-hearted in the first. Unfortunately, this does not ease up, and things just keep doing to the dark side as fast as possible.

Ah-hah, the issue with Dags’ last name is explained in this book, so that’s good. SPRITE again takes a center stage, and poor Randall just can’t get a break. Ms. Weldon, what do you have against Randall? You’re so mean to him!

My frustration with Zoë rises in this book, what with – apparently – every man she meets falling in love with her and she’s still stuck on Mr. Pretty Boy. Dags is the perfect man for her, and even Joe would be a good match - I mean, come on, why not just start a small harem? She had the libido to deal with more than one man, easily. But she refuses to even consider this very logical idea. Again I address the author: hey, why not just hook Zoë up with all of them? Let’s get some polyamory going in this series! *smirk*

But seriously, I did want to smack her over the whole Daniel/Dags/Joe thing, but she is in a tough situation. The heart wants what the heart wants, and there isn’t a lot we can do about it. At least this situation isn’t your typical love triangle set-up.

We finally get a lot of questions answered in this book, so there is that huge pay-off finally, but of course, plenty are left unanswered, and I’ll continuing on with book 4, Revenant in just a bit. Again I recommend these books for the fan of Urban Fantasy.



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Monday, July 23, 2012

Nick Wastnage: Harry and his Unfinished Business

I edited this short for Nick last week.  Having read "Playing Harry" will be helpful, but it is not necessary for the enjoyment of this short story.  Enjoy!!

Nick Wastnage: Harry and his Unfinished Business: Harry and his Unfinished Business A story in The Harry Fingle Collection One B lood splattered all over the wall. Large blobs and ...

Giveaway 9 Ended - Congrats to the winners!

Giveaway 9, for To Tame a Wild Hawk, has ended. Congratulations to the winners:
Sandy W, Georgina T. and Tabitha O-S.
Your e-dresses have been forwarded to Lenore (with a copy of the email to you) and she'll be sending you your Smashwords coupons soon!

Be sure to watch for next week's giveaway - it'll be a little something different again, because there will be swag up for grabs, in addition to some books! Don't miss it!

Elizabeth Lang Presents: The Empire Novels

I read Elizabeth Lang's Empire in April (review here) and really enjoyed it. She has now released the second book in the series, The Rebels, and has them both available on both Amazon and Kobo.
 Links: Empire on Amazon and Kobo
          The Rebels on Amazon and Kobo

The third book in the series, The Andromedans, is scheduled for release sometime this winter. Ms. Lang has just approached me to review the 2nd book, which I'll be getting to later this summer or in the early fall, and sent me a copy of this nifty poster, which I'm sharing with permission. Anyway, this is a fun military sci-fi/space opera series, so be sure to check it out! you can get to her page to learn more by clicking on the poster, so I've made things super easy for you, so go!




Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: Spectre


Spectre
Spectre by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the final book in this series, as well as the short story omnibus, from the author in exchange for an honest review. I purchased these earlier books for myself, but am happy to provide an honest review for them as well, as long as I’m reading them.

Synopsis: Zoë Martinique has the extraordinary ability to travel outside her body at will. When she is drawn into an investigation of a series of bizarre murders, in which the victims are missing body parts, Zoë hopes to help her boyfriend, Atlanta homicide detective Daniel Frasier, stop the killer – one she’s sure is from the darkest levels of the astral plane – without letting him find out about her special abilities.

Then danger strikes close to home when Zoë’s mother disappears, and Zoë must use all the powers at her command to save her – even though Zoë knows that, in doing so, she may make herself into something no longer entirely human.

My Thoughts: This is the second full-length novel in this series, following Wraith. One thing I forgot to mention in my previous review – at one point, Zoë is musing to herself about how Atlanta is such a green city, and I had to scratch my head. Because the greenest city I’ve ever been in was Portland, OR and Atlanta doesn’t even come close. Now, admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in the core – when I go into ATL, I usually stay around the periphery, or go up to Roswell, and have only been to Buckhead once (although I need to go there and see the statue someday), but I remember driving into Portland from the ‘burbs – trees, trees, trees, with a few houses tucked up in there, and you go through a tunnel and poof there’s the city – but it’s full of little parks, everywhere. Including this tiny little park that is basically a tree. I’m not sure why they call that single tree a park, but there you go – that’s just Portland. They’re quirky that way. Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent, I suppose, so I’ll get back to the review.

Interestingly enough, Dags’ last name changes to McKinty in this book, whereas it was McConnell in Out of the Dark. I mean, I know SPRITE’s acronym changes slightly every time it’s used, and that’s deliberate, but someone’s last name? Hmmmm. Also, I’m not quite sure, but I had it in my head that Zoë was 29 in the first book, whereas she’s 27 in this one. Speaking of Dags; maybe Zoë thinks Daniel is all that, but I think Dags is the perfect man for her, since she seems so focused on men.

Anyway, in this book, things get really dark, really fast. Many of Zoë’s ties to other people are broken – it remains to be seen whether they will be irretrievably so – in this book. I felt very badly for her by the end of the book, wondering where things will go from here. You know, I like adventure in an Urban Fantasy just as much as the next person, but just once I’d like to read a series that isn’t quite so much doom and gloom, a series that maintains a bit of lightness, for a bit longer than just the first book. It seems as though there is this... need to push things as far and as fast as they can be pushed, and personally, I’m getting a bit tired of it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book – nor does it mean I’ll stop reading Urban Fantasy – it just means, if any authors are reading this, can you please lighten up a bit? Please? Just for me?

Anyway, I still have three books and three short stories to go to finish this series, but will be back to my editing on Monday, so it’s likely this set of reviews will run over into next weekend. Be continue to watch for my reviews in your favorite location – Goodreads, Shelfari, Amazon or my blog – and you’ll eventually see as much of it as I have reviewed! Next up, book 3, Phantasm. Thanks for reading!



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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Holly And Ivy


Holly And Ivy
Holly And Ivy by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the omnibus in which this story reside – Tales of the Abysmal Plane – from the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Zoë's pulled by Rhonda to the Phoenix & Dragon for a Winter Solstice blessing around the mystery hole in the basement of the store. But that's not where Zoë's head's at. She's more worried about Detective Daniel Frasier and whether he'll wake from his coma. And about Dags McConnell, who mysteriously disappeared from the same hospital after helping she and Rhonda with Shadow People a week earlier. In essence, Zoë's given up hope of ever having a normal life. But it's the store ghosts and a box of bears that turn her around. 

This short story was written as a promo for the Phoenix & Dragon in Atlanta, Georgia. The ghosts mentioned in the story are real, and have been witnessed by both customers, workers, and the owner of the store, Candace Apple. The hole in the basement is real, and to this day, remains a mystery.

My Thoughts: I’ve been in the Phoenix & Dragon store, and it’s a very cool store. I was not aware of the ghost story or mysterious hole in the basement, however, so very interested in reading this short story to find out more (this is the cool thing in living near where a story is set – finding out little tid-bits like these). I love metaphysical stores and always try to seek them out when I’m out and about.

This is a fun little piece – short and sweet – that just kind of serves to give us a bit more insight into Zoë's character and her feelings regarding herself and Daniel. Not breathtakingly important in the overall series or anything, but a highly worthwhile story, especially to learn a bit more about modern-day Yule traditions in witchcraft. Don’t miss it.



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Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: Out Of The Dark


Out Of The Dark
Out Of The Dark by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the omnibus in which this story resides, Tales of the Abysmal Plane, from the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: The next chapter in the investigations of Zoë Martinique (next chapter after Wraith). 

Detective Daniel Frasier lies healing in a North Atlanta hospital, the victim of T.C., Zoë's enemy and physical link to the Abysmal plane. While hiding in the hospital room, Zoë receives a request to investigate a restaurant haunted by Shadow People. This request, and an odd pairing with bartender/magician Dags McConnell, catapults Zoë into the world of magic and myth as she begins to understand her new power as well as her ever shifting relationship with T.C.

My Thoughts: This novella – or it might even be considered an on-the-short-side novel – begins pretty much right where Wraith ends, with Zoë finding Dags in a very … ahem … delicate situation.

This story gives us a lot more information about Dags, which makes me happy. I like Dags; he’s a neat guy. I was a bit surprised at how poorly edited this novella was; I mean, I’ve noticed editing errors in everything in this series I’ve read so far, but this story had blatant misspellings that could’ve been caught by a spell-check. This is why I’ve rated this one as four stars – understand, I see things like taught/taut, and pore/pour and peek/peak/pique sneaking through all the time, but “Cheif” or “de-vovle”? Bad editor! No biscuit!

However, this story is an important element of the overall series, I believe, so don’t skip it – just be prepared for the mistakes rife in it.



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Review: Wraith


Wraith
Wraith by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the last book and the short stories in this series from the author in exchange for an honest review. I am happy to also provide an honest review for this book, the first in the series, which I purchased for myself.

Synopsis: Zoë Martinique has turned her unusual ability into a career. When she's traveling, she can't be seen which makes her an ideal professional snoop. I ndustrial espionage, surveillance, whatever. But one night things get out of hand while she's out of body. She witnesses a murder and a soul stealing, and discovers she has unwelcome company: Trench- Coat, a ghostly killer who can see and hurt her. 

Teaming up with a blue-eyed police detective, she tries to solve the case and improve her love life. She also enlists the support of her psychic mother and the ghostly couple who haunt her house. And with murderers, kidnappers, and a desperate ex-porn star involved, Zoë needs all the help she can get.

My Thoughts: You can tell that this was actually written before the prequel, Web Ginn House, since there are things explained in this book as new that are mentioned as a matter of course in the prequel. Likely those who read these stories in chronological, published order rather than series order will be less likely to notice these sorts of discrepancies, though. I just decided to read it in series order for fun, even though it meant riffling through Tales from the Abysmal Plane and reading it piecemeal.

I enjoyed the humor a lot – Zoë had a wonderfully funny way of describing things that made me laugh out loud several times. Weldon has that sort of wry, self-deprecating humor in her writing that appears to be the hallmark of the southern-based, Urban Fantasy writer, a style which I really enjoy. She also captures the overweening vanity that seems to be a staple of the Southern woman – or so it seems to me – constantly concerned about appearance. Maybe it was because I grew up on ranch, I don’t know, but things like grey hair and a few wrinkles just weren’t that big of a deal to the role models with whom I grew up; however, a few white hairs is enough to send Zoë into a panic, and causes her mother and her friend Rhonda to both make comment sabout her needing to visit her hair dresser.

One thing really bothered me. Zoë has been doing this astral-travel-to-snoop-on-people thing for six years at this point – and she still can’t remember to not speak or make noises while spying on someone? After six years? I don’t quite buy it. Sure, it’s a useful plot device, but I just don’t buy it. Maybe if she had only just started with this business I would be more willing to go with it, but... again... six years??? Nope.

But, really, that’s a small part of the whole book and not enough of a problem to even phase me; just thought I’d mention it, so the whole review wasn’t fangirl gushing. Fans of Urban Fantasy should love this series, so definitely check it out.



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Scott Rhine presents: "Dreams of the Fallen" free on Amazon


The second book in Scott Rhine's epic Temple of the Traveler series, Dreams of the Fallen, will be free on Amazon 7/20-22-2012. I edited this book and it was just a wonderful continuation of the series, which begins with Doors to Eternity (which I also edited), currently running at just $2.99.

If you enjoy epic fantasy, with a liberal dose of humor, you'll love these books - go and grab 'em while you can get a great deal on the 2nd book!

Great Minds Think Aloud presents: Free: "The Necro Device" by M.T. Dismuke




Free 7/20 - 21/2012, The Necro Device by M.T. Dismuke. Follow the link in the title or click the badge.


THE NECRO DEVICE

Review: Web Ginn House


Web Ginn House
Web Ginn House by Phaedra Weldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received this story – included in the omnibus Tales of the Abysmal Plane, from the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: One of Zoë's earliest jobs from Maharba, before her fated run-in with The Archer, was to investigate the old Brentwood house on Web Ginn House road. Unfortunately when she shows up in the house out of body, her astral form is recorded by the local Ghost Hunting team, S.P.R.I.T.E. 

Identifying the entity haunting the house as a poltergeist surprises Rhonda and Nona, since Poltergeists were reputedly present around adolescent teens — but the Brentwoods had no children. 

More trouble erupts when Zoë tries to find the entity's fetter and in retaliation, the Poltergeist not only attacks her on an astral level, but physically attacks two members of S.P.R.I.T.E. With the entity's activities escalating in violence, it's up to Zoë to find its fetter and reveal the secret that's plagued the house for over twenty years. 

Readers of Zoë Martinique Investigation Series: Web Ginn House takes place a week before Jason Lawrence comes to town, and a few weeks before Zoë's first run in with Trench Coat. This story introduces S.P.R.I.T.E., Southeastern Paranormal Research Investigators for Tactical Extermination... and you know...I think that def changes every time I type it. 

As it should be.

My Thoughts: This is an interesting way to get into the Zoë Martinique series; it gives us the basics on her ability to move out of body, and gives us some background on SPRITE, the ghost-hunting team she’ll have contact with throughout the series (or so I presume). We meet her mom, her best friend, and have a quick glimpse into the dangers and rewards of her chosen field of work – basically as an out-of-body private eye. A fun start; I”m quite looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

A terrific and fun idea for an urban fantasy, the Zoë Martinique series is an ongoing series by Phaedra Weldon, who doesn’t live too terribly far from me, so it’s very cool to know someone within a hundred miles who writes stuff like this. Watch my blog or other book-review site to see my upcoming reviews of the books and short stories associated with this series.



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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse


Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse
Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse by Ford Forkum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Horror/Sci-fi Satire Reading Level: Young Adult and up

Disclosure: I picked up a copy on Amazon when it was free; I also noticed the author was wanting reviews, so I’m happy to provide an honest review

Synopsis: In a satirical combination of two end-of-the-world scenarios, a zombie plague is quickly followed by an alien invasion - in a time when humanity is already struggling with vampires.

Landing dead center at a college campus swarming with zombies, the aliens soon realize that their abduction mission is going to be quite a bit more complicated than they'd imagined. The presence of vampires only makes the situation worse.

Will humanity survive the dystopian absurdity?

My Thoughts: The tone of this book reminds me a great deal of the works of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. This is an extremely silly little tale, but lots of fun to read for those of you who, like me, enjoy the extremely silly.

Mashing together a vampire infestation, zombie uprising, and alien invasion, you’ll laugh at the antics of the aliens, roll your eyes at the vampires, and generally wonder WTF this guy was on when he wrote it – but you will definitely enjoy the ride. Recommended if you like to laugh (and who doesn’t?).



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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Wired


Wired
Wired by Douglas E. Richards

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Biotechnological Thriller Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the LibraryThing Member’s Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Kira Miller is a brilliant genetic engineer who discovers how to temporarily achieve savant-like capabilities in all areas of thought and creativity. But what if this transcendent level of intelligence brings with it a ruthless megalomania? 

David Desh left the special forces after his team was brutally butchered in Iran. Now he has been reactivated for one last mission: find Kira Miller, the enigmatic genius behind a bioterror plot that threatens millions. But when Desh learns that the bioterror plot is just the tip of the iceberg, he is thrust into a byzantine maze of deception and intrigue, and he becomes a key player in a deadly game he can't begin to understand. A game that is certain to have a dramatic impact on the future course of human history. . .

My Thoughts: It’s pretty clear right from the start that this book is going to be about one thing: action. Which is unfortunate, because, as a bio-techno-thriller, the science/technology needed to hold together as well, and it did not do so. Swallow a pill and genetically altered viruses rush to your brain? I don’t think so – how about the blood/brain barrier? It’s in place to help prevent things that you, say, swallow from working their way into your central nervous system. That’s why it is so incredibly difficult to treat brain tumors and other brain-related diseases. I mean, I get that Kira is a super-genius and that she’s working on these most of the rest of us can barely comprehend, but truly, it would not have hurt for the author to have acknowledge this in some way, explained it away, rather than just assuming the readers weren’t smart enough to know about this basic precept in neurological medicine. Adding to my irritation while I was reading was a plethora of exclamation point abuses – every sentence that could possibly be surprising was ended by one! Someone moved! A gun fired! A grenade! Wheee! Really annoying. Then there was the point of view, which I think was supposed to be omniscient, but which occasionally would branch off into someone’s inner mind. I think it would have worked better to have either had it be partially omniscient, just reporting the actions and dialogue of the people in the scene, or fully omniscient within a particular character’s thoughts, maybe changing with the scene, but not head-hopping.

Fortunately, otherwise it’s a fast-moving, fast-paced story that keeps the reader distracted with endless tech-talk and action. The ideas presented are fairly interesting, and the series seems like it might be trying to make some sort of point about the human condition. That said, I just really didn’t like it that much – my abject apologies to the author, who was nice enough to give me a copy through LibraryThing – and had to basically force myself to finish. It seems to be pretty popular among the thriller crowd, and if you are willing to radically suspend disbelief, I’m sure you’d find it entertaining enough – it’s certainly capably written. There is a sequel out now called AMPED if you are interested in pursuing this book, so be sure to watch for both of them.

I have a couple other books by this author from his young-adult books and will let you know what I think once I’ve read them; thinking about it, this type of writing style will probably work better in that format. I’ll let you know.



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Review: Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys


Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys
Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys by Eric Garcia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Please note: This review written and posted 9/11/07 on Amazon; this is my review and I am able to cross-post it as I choose.

My Synopsis: Cassandra French - Cassie Bear to her mother - works as a counsel in business affairs in a movie studio in LA. Her best friends - Claire and Lexi - often go with her out on the town where they try to find the perfect boy for the evening. Oh, and by the way, Cassie has three young men chained up in her basement while she puts them through her Finishing School to be the perfect men.

My Thoughts: Written in the form of a journal, Cassie comes across as delightfully amoral and at the same time self-deprecating. She does not at all feel that what she is doing is wrong and, in fact, feels that she is doing the men and the world a huge favor. Of course, when she takes an opportunity and adds a movie star - Jason Kelly - to the School, things become decidedly more complicated.

I loved Garcia's Dinosaur Mafia books, and this book is again a great bit of fiction - romantic comedy, maybe? It is hard to decide exactly what genre it fits into. At any rate, I strongly recommend it for anyone who likes a good laugh - it's a riot.



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GMTA presents: Upcoming free days for "The Three Letters"


The Three Letters by Robert Ruisi will be free on Amazon from July 18 - 19, 2012. Click on the link through the title or click on the badge below to go to the giveaway.


THE THREE LETTERS

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Panty Raid @ Zombie High


Panty Raid @ Zombie High
Panty Raid @ Zombie High by Rusty Fischer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Horror Parody Reading Level: Young Adult

Disclosure: I picked up a copy while it was free on Amazon and am happy to provide an honest review.

Synopsis: Toby’s best friend, and unrequited love, Molly Harper has gone missing. Molly’s boyfriend, “Spud,” thinks he knows where she’s been taken: the mysterious Zombie High, where Spud’s father just happens to be in charge of the top-secret medical facility famous for its work rehabilitating teenage zombies.

Armed with blueprints, passwords, keys and codes, Spud and Toby are ready to make an all-out assault on Zombie High and rescue their fair Molly. There’s just one problem: Toby and Spud are the biggest wimps at Cypress Cove High and need some muscle along for the ride in case any of the zombies get loose.

That’s where Boner and Zack come in. Two of the football team’s biggest players, the jocks are easily conned into joining Spud and Toby on their fictional “panty raid” the minute Spud calls them “chicken” for not accepting his challenge to spend the night at Zombie High.

When Zack and Boner show up to accept the challenge, however, they don’t come alone; they bring their two girlfriends, Lilac and Haley, along for the ride. With events spiraling out of control and zombies lurking around every corner, will Toby and Spud even survive their night at Zombie High, let alone rescue Molly?

My Thoughts: The interesting thing about Fischer’s books, at least the ones I’ve read so far, is that they all seem to be in the same ‘universe’. I’m sure he has other books set in other places, but I’m discussing his horror/monster parody books, like the ones I’ve read recently: Ushers, Inc. and Vamplayers.

This book, despite the title, is not nearly as humorous as the previous ones I’ve read, but it’s just as well-written and fun to read, and should especially be so for fans of the zombie genre. It twists the stereotypes a bit, just like all of his books so far, but also provides reasonable explanations for the twists he makes.

I definitely recommend this author for anyone who enjoys a good monster book that is willing to not take itself so seriously. Good stuff!



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Review: Vamplayers


Vamplayers
Vamplayers by Rusty Fischer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Book Info: Genre: Horror Parody Reading Level: YA

Disclosure: I picked up a free copy of this book on Amazon, and am happy to provide an honest review.

Synopsis: At the Afterlife Academy of Exceptionally Dark Arts, Lily Fielding is a measly trainee who dreams of one day becoming a Savior — those who visit vampire-infested high schools and put down the undead with their deadly crossbows. When Lily and her classmates Alice and Cara begin their latest assignment, it seems like just another run-of-the-mill gig: they’re to simply spot the Vamplayer — part vampire, part player — identify the popular girl he’s set his sights on, and befriend her before the Vamplayer can turn her to do his bidding. Before long, however, the Vamplayer sets his sights on Lily's friends, and she is left to face the threat alone while protecting her friends from the dark forces she has sworn to resist.

My Thoughts: I just read Fischer’s hilarous Ushers, Inc., and noticed I had a couple more of his books on my pile (so to speak) of ebooks, so decided to go ahead and get them read and reviewed as soon as I could.

What I love about Fischer is that he breathes new life into an old meme, giving us fresh, new ideas about the monsters so many of us love to read about. For example, vampires have no problem with sunlight and sacred space, although holy water and garlic are still a problem.

At any rate, this book addresses that age-old problem – what to do with scuzzy vampires that pretend to be high-school students so they can mack on the nubile, young flesh of the high-school girls around them. Seriously, it’s a problem – I’m always reading about it in books everywhere. Fischer creates this team, the Sisterhood of the Dangerous Girlfriends, who go out to where these Vamplayers are trying to set up shop and shut them down.

Of course you know this particular assignment is going to go all wrong... If you’re as sick as I am of all these silly YA paranormal romances, with all the lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey romance stinking up the place, then this is a fun book . Well, there is some romance, but it’s more the normal, hormone-type stuff, not that “I have waited my whole life just for you and now I’ll love you forever even if you are only 14 and I’m 587 years old...” *rolls eyes* Where’s that cross-bow when I need it...

Check out Vamplayers; it’s really fun and highly enjoyable.



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Review: The Saltness of Time


The Saltness of Time
The Saltness of Time by Randy Attwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Please note: I just finished editing this; this review was originally written 1/9/12, I'm just organizing it per my new format

My Synopsis: When four young college students get snowed in with a stranger in a small Kansas town, they hear from him a story about an event in his youth that has forever altered his life and his perceptions of the world.

My Thoughts: Randy Attwood says this is his Heart of Darkness, a story he first started working on in his 20s. Like all of his stories, The Saltness of Time provides just enough information to give the idea behind the story structure, and to allow the reader to fill in the rest. Beautifully evocative, this is a story that you’ll want to savor and re-read. Check it out!



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Review: That Which is Nameless


That Which is Nameless
That Which is Nameless by Chris Salch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Please note: this review is being posted again because I have just finished editing it. I hope I have helped the author improve this book; time will tell. It definitely has potential!

Book Info: Genre: Horror Reading Level: Adult Read: from 5/19-5/20/12

Disclosure: I picked up a free ebook version on Amazon back in January; recently the author contacted me to offer me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Since I already had it, I said I’d be happy to provide feedback.

Synopsis: "There is a somewhere in the middle of nowhere that is everywhere at the same time. In that place, time is a fluid that flows around you, and the very fabric of reality seems to twist and stretch," said the old man with a sly grin on his face. There was a glint in his eye that all talented storytellers have when they are reciting some particularly enticing bit. From the way he spoke, you would wonder if he drank one too many and followed it with the worm. Of course, the fact that this particular conversation happened to be taking place in a retirement home, without an ounce of liquor in sight would, normally, seem to preclude that possibility.

"I've been there once myself. Years and years ago when I was a much younger man. Of course, nowadays I doubt you could find it again. It may be impossible to get there with all this newfangled technology around, Mapping every last inch of the world so that everything has a name to it," he spat out the last words with a disgusted grimace, "Of course, that's the way things have to be. If we didn't explore every last inch of our planet, we would be a dead race. That's the thing, you see. We have to keep moving out farther and farther to stay alive, but we destroy the mystery when we do. Curiosity doesn't always kill the cat. Sometimes . . . sometimes it doesn't kill anyone. Sometimes, it just closes the door and walks away."

My Thoughts: The author tells me the book has been re-edited and provided to Amazon to update; although I downloaded a fresh copy right before reading it, I don’t think I received the re-edited copy, as there are a number of typos and grammatical errors in the text I have. It’s not a problem for me, but please make sure you have the latest edition of this book.

That said, the synopsis is actually the first two paragraphs of the story. The basic idea is that there are powers that control the world, and you can reach them by the path mentioned by the old man. Most of the story is The Nameless, who controls The Book, trying to understand his power and survive, basically. It’s an interesting idea, and it’s obvious that the writer has some talent and ability, but the story itself needs a great deal of polish. I ran across at least one major plot hole, which I can’t mention or I’ll add a major spoiler to the story here. The characters had a certain level of development, but it ended at the point where their position in the story was set – the interviewer, the old man, the nurse (Melanie), Jack the drunk. Then there was The Nameless and Tabitha. At any rate, it’s not a bad story – it’s highly entertaining while one is reading it – but it doesn’t have that polished finishing touch that needed to turn a good idea into a great story. That said, fans of horror should find it entertaining.



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