A Writer Not Writing…

One of the hardest thing any writer could ever go through is not writing. I mean it. It’s ridiculous how sometimes words flow easily and sometimes they just sort of putter out, the flames of creativity are extinguished and the writer is left in an endless cycle of house chores and filling coffee cups. But, I think we all go through it.

A lot of writers and well known authors have said that when the block hits, you just have to keep going. Sit down. Type words. Guzzle the bean fuel. Repeat.

There is a lot of truth in that. Still, for the last two years, I haven’t written anything substantial of my own. No new books. No new short stories. Few blog posts of meaning, aside from reviews (which, in total honesty, I totally enjoy because my first love is reading). It feels like my brain has turned to mush and every time I sit down with characters bouncing around in my head (sounds painful, eh?) they just fizzle before I can make anything that makes sense.

I feel that one day I might actually write a book again. I might regain what I’ve lost. I might be able to work through the storm brewing in my head and turn it into a story. I feel like I’m close to meeting that goal. After all, I’m still writing things, just not stories. No new worlds to explore and no new characters to torture.

It makes me wonder what other writers do when they lose someone who took a piece of their heart with them when they left? Up until two years ago, I thought personal losses and heartbreaks were supposed to send writers into a writing frenzy as they drown their sorrows in a bottle of absinthe and bang out hundreds of thousands of words on their vintage type writers, which their agents will immediately declare a masterpiece. I don’t even have an agent. Nor do I have a bottle of absinthe. And, I haven’t owned a typewriter in many a dark moon.

Through the journey of deep loss, I have gained something. I have learned to see the beauty in things I used to take for granted, like the turning of seasons. Sometimes it hurts to know that I’m watching the leaves turn or the snow fall, but my daughter can’t. But, most of the time, the biggest part of me knows she would enjoy it and, more than that, she would want those of us she left shattered to enjoy it, too.

I’m going to make a promise to myself this year that I will at least begin a new novel. I miss magical realism and the thoughts I shift through while writing. I wrote an entire novel in three weeks once. I really want to bring that young, somewhat talented writer back. She is missed.

In the meantime, I have a whole slew of books to get reviews out for. I’m behind. The holidays really kicked my butt and I don’t like being behind. I hope my readers are of a forgiving mind. I’ve read some really great books to share with you lot and I have a few in queue that I believe are going to be hits with the hard case crime crowds.

Stay tuned. Stay warm. Look forward to watching the seasons change again. pexels-photo-573566.jpeg

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Someone To Wed (A Westcott Novel) by Mary Balogh

5136KRDuxTLThis Regency romance released on November 7, 2017. I received an ARC copy and have been mulling over the review for two weeks. I love Mary Balogh. 

Also, I loved this book. Full recommendation, five stars, all that jazz. When I write reviews, I sometimes comment on writing style, but I won’t for authors whose books I pick up without even reading the back cover blurb because it’s a non-issue. No complaints, only the highest of praise for Mary Balogh because she sets the romance bar higher than most.

I found that I could relate to the characters on a personal level, which is always such a hard thing to find in books. The romance was front and center, love scenes tasteful and unpredictable, and the story believable–even if it takes place before my grandparents were even born. Regency is actually not my favorite time period, but in this book it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t even know what else to say about the story. It’s superb. If I had a microphone, I’d give it to Mary Balogh so she could drop it.

To my blog readers, please note that I will always pick up titles by this author when they come into my view. I will always review them here when I have the opportunity, whether I’m given an ARC (as was the case with this particular title) or I run to the store to buy a copy myself. If you have a favorite title by this author, please do share!

If you’d like to read your own copy, head over to Amazon before Christmas shipping times get ridiculous! 😀 Of course, with a Kindle copy I suppose you can get around that.

Kindle $7.99 
Paperback $10.42

Blonde and Fabulous by Anna Snow

I honest to goodness thought this review was being written five days late. I had Blonde and Fabulous on my review schedule as being released on November 7th (along with a few other titles released that day), so I’m pleasantly surprised that I am on time. Early, even.

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Feather boas, strippers, and murder? Oh, my!
After a busy few months, Private Investigator Barb Jackson is dreaming of a relaxing vacation with her hot man at her side…but her hopes of a little R&R are abruptly put on hold when an acquaintance from a past case, Cindy, comes to her in desperate need of help. Cindy is a dancer at the Double Trouble Gentlemen’s Club, a somewhat upscale club that caters to somewhat less-than-law-abiding men. Recently two of Cindy’s fellow dancers have been murdered. The police don’t have a clue who killed the girls or why—and as far as Barb can tell, don’t even really care. But with Cindy afraid the killer may strike again, Barb steps in to pick up where the police have left off. Even if her homicide detective boyfriend wishes she’d leave the murder investigations to him and stick to planning their getaway for two. Between an ex-boyfriend with a criminal past, a bouncer with a secret, and enough catty dancers to fill a scantily-clad lineup, Barb has suspects galore. But which one is targeting the ladies of Double Trouble…and just may do so again!
Platform heels, outrageous costumes, and body glitter abound when Barb takes on the craziest case of her career!

This title is not a lone book. It is the Barb Jackson Mysteries Book 3, as a matter of fact. The first titles being Bubblegum Blonde and Illegally Blonde, in that order and all featuring Snow’s blonde (obviously) PI, Barb Jackson as the main focus. Jackson, although not a thing like me at all, in any way, is a character I found to be relatable enough and, in this book, the plot was entertaining.

Without giving too much away to other readers, I will say that the story is funny and even though the premise is serious, you wouldn’t really know that by the way it is bundled up and handed to the reader because when there is a relatively dire situation (strippers being murdered, for example), hilarity almost always immediately ensues. In many ways, this is a good thing–after all, I daresay loyal readers of the Barb Jackson Mysteries will appreciate this–but, also, for those looking for something a bit more realistic, I would suggest looking elsewhere. After all, this is not a drama, even if the title includes the word mysteries.

When giving my own personal recommendation for this book (and, I will), I am going to make the note now that I should warn readers that it’s a bit of a funny bone tickler, but should be a great read to have on hand when you want a cup of coffee and a blanket and to just shut the rest of the world out. It is not, however, something I would suggest reading in public because I found myself giggling through much of the story.

On a more personal note, I will read more from this author in the future, but will likely stay away from the funny mysteries for a little while because it just isn’t my typical thing–that is not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I truly did.

Remember, this book is available for pre-order. If you choose to order from Amazon.com, it’s only .99 right now. I have no idea if that will change later or if that price is fairly locked in. So much for thorough reporting today, right?

Infinite Stars

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The seductive thrill of uncharted worlds, of distant galaxies… and the unknown threats that lurk in the vastness of the cosmos. From Foundation to Lensman, Star Wars to Guardians of the Galaxy, space opera continues to exert its magnetic pull on us all.
INFINITE STARS
This is the definitive collection of original short stories by many of today’s finest authors, writing brand new adventures set in their most famous series. Herein lie canonical tales of the Honorverse, the Lost Fleet, Dune, Vatta’s War, Ender Wiggin, the Legion of the Damned, the Imperium, and more.
Also included are past masterpieces by authors whose works defined the genre, including a Miles Vorkosigan adventure, a story from the author of the Dragonriders of Pern, and a rare tale co-authored by the screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back.
Nebula and Hugo Award winners, New York Times bestsellers, and Science Fiction Grand Masters—these authors take us to the farthest regions of space.

Every now and then, I enjoy anthologies. If I decide to have an anthology as a part of my book collection (instead of as a Kindle download), it needs to do three things.
1) Entertain me. EVERY story. When reading a print copy of an anthology, I like to be able to read one story and later–sometimes even months later–come back for another. Kindle anthologies are another story. I like to read those straight through. I know. It’s weird.

2) Be a good conversation starter. Because I’m a book person and we’re weird.
and…

3) Have enough lure to bring me back to it time and time again.

I feel like Infinite Stars was fantastic. I normally do not read the print copies of anthologies all at once (see #1), but since this was an ARC for a review, I did. And it took me a while because the book itself is HUGE. Super thick. I won’t get into how many pages because it may be different in the Kindle copies or final copies that went to print. But, it’s seriously humongous. And well worth whatever you may pay for it because the stories are amazingly entertaining.

If you enjoy the space opera genre, you will find at least half of the stories to be wonderful and the other half to be riveting. There is something in there for everyone, though. Not just space opera or science fiction fans. I feel like the anthology would be a really cool book club choice, too.

Obviously, I give Infinite Stars my thumbs up and recommendation to just about anyone.

*****

Also, I’d like to apologize for the review being a wee bit late. The official release was October 17th, yet here I am over a week later… I really only have one excuse. It’s a really large book and I got a little behind and overbooked lol. 

*****

NEXT ON MY REVIEW SCHEDULE:

BologhSomeone To Wed (A Westcott Novel) by Mary Bologh
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Pre-order available at Amazon.com. 

*****
A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . . 

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .

 

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition

Batman

The road to DOOMSDAY CLOCK begins here. BATMAN/THE FLASH: THE BUTTON DELUXE EDITION is the prelude to this epic story, complete with a lenticular motion cover!
 
During the unforgettable events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, Batman found a mystery he can’t even begin to solve—a strange bloodstained smiley-face button embedded in the Batcave wall. All analysis suggests the button is not of this universe…so where did it come from? And who left it here? These are questions only the Flash can help answer.
 
When the button is stolen by Reverse-Flash, Batman and Flash follow his trail to a parallel world, a twisted alternate timeline that shouldn’t exist. Someone is sending the heroes on a bizarre trip through reality, showing them glimpses of fallen loved ones and forgotten friends—but who? Wally West warned the Flash of an unseen force influencing our world—distorting histories, pulling the strings, watching all—and the strange yellow button could be the key to finding it. 
 
Featuring the all-star creative team of writers Joshua Williamson and Tom King alongside top-tier artists Jason Fabok and Howard Porter, BATMAN/THE FLASH: THE BUTTON collects BATMAN #21-22 and THE FLASH #21-22. The road to DOOMSDAY CLOCK begins here!

Release date: October 17, 2017

I don’t get to review comics nearly as much as I’d like. I tend to dislike crossovers, though. I didn’t dislike this. At least not all of it. For a little bit of background, I should inform you, my readers, that I grew up with a dad who ate, slept, and breathed Batman. Still does. The man has grandchildren who go to his house and want to see what new Batman toys he has. And, according to my grandma, my dad has been like that since he was little bitty because when he was a kid, Adam West was Batman and all one needed to become “the bat” was a bed sheet cape and the back of a sofa to leap from.

Fast forward a to the nineties. I was just a kid who wanted nothing to do with anything my parents thought was cool. That included Batman. And Kiss (but that’s a post for a whole new day). So, even though I fought the urge to really dislike Batman tooth and nail, going to see each movie and having to live in Gotham for my entire childhood really instilled in me a queasy roller coaster ride of emotions toward the superhero. I also grew to realize that I can relate more to the villains than the heroes, so maybe my dad’s lifelong love of all things Batman wasn’t a total bummer. There were important life lessons in there.

So, when I picked up a copy of a Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition, I had some uneasy feelings because I felt like if I hated the story, I was letting my dad’s hero down. Don’t judge me (giggle).  I do love Flash, though.

The biggest issue I have for myself as well as other readers is this: If you feel like you won’t have any qualms over The Watchmen being involved in the story, you’ll probably enjoy the premise, as it is meant to be a prelude to Doomsday Clock. The artwork is great and I wouldn’t assume to expect anything less. The writing itself was a bit predictable. I could see that ending coming a mile away and I imagine most other readers could too.

I can’t see any reason not to recommend Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition to other readers, particularly if you’re looking forward to Doomsday Clock (though you could actually skip this story if you wanted to). It’s not a particularly long read, but great for a rainy afternoon or to spread across a few class periods.

PRE-ORDER TODAY

Amazon.com

DC Comics.com

Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 

 

 

Quakery: A Brief History Of the Worst Ways To Cure Everything by Lydia Kang/Nate Pedersen

516+JwxQkSL._SX377_BO1,204,203,200_Genre: Non-fiction/historical
Release Date: October 17, 2017

What won’t we try in our quest for perfect health, beauty, and the fountain of youth?

Well, just imagine a time when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When liquefied gold was touted as immortality in a glass. And when strychnine—yes, that strychnine, the one used in rat poison—was dosed like Viagra.

Looking back with fascination, horror, and not a little dash of dark, knowing humor, Quackery recounts the lively, at times unbelievable, history of medical misfires and malpractices. Ranging from the merely weird to the outright dangerous, here are dozens of outlandish, morbidly hilarious “treatments”—conceived by doctors and scientists, by spiritualists and snake oil salesmen (yes, they literally tried to sell snake oil)—that were predicated on a range of cluelessness, trial and error, and straight-up scams. With vintage illustrations, photographs, and advertisements throughout, Quackery seamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine.

I’m going to start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book. I laughed and cringed all the way through. It looks as though Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen have an interest in history that closely matches mine, but with a sense of humor, too. Obviously, a sense of humor is much needed when writing a book about all of the ways humans have tried to cure what ails them and most of the ways in which they have failed miserably. Who would have thought bloodletting was a bad idea?

Quackery is available in Kindle ($9.99) and Hardback ($15.60) on Amazon and Hardback ($16.29) from Barnes & Noble. As of now, it is only a pre-order, so by the time we come to the actual release date that may change. Typically I don’t add this information so soon in a review, but I feel like, in this case, there may be a lot of readers interested in buying this as a gift for someone else, including me, actually. Not only is the book great to just read it yourself for entertainment value, but it could also be used as a reference, coffee table book, or (in my opinion) great to use as a book club read because it’s a good conversation holder.

The pages inside the book are fantastically designed. There are a lot of pictures with great captions and, for a book of this sort, they are absolutely a wonderful pairing with the text. Though much of the subject matter is hilariously horrifying (for lack of a better description), it’s an odd comfort to have a photo of some of the cures because, with them, a reader can try and imagine being ill, having someone with a knife come and cut you open for absolutely no good reason. It’s frighteningly mad.

The writing, aside from the pictures and subject matter, is frank and to the point. Those of you who are not new to my reviews will realize that I am not a fan of writing that meanders and “lollygags” around. If I have to put a star rating to this book–and for the sake of Amazon and Goodreads, I’m sure I’ll have to–I give Quackery a four.

 

Quarry’s Climax by Max Allan Collins

I know I’ve reviewed Max Allan Collins in here before, but this book is different than the last in that I could not make myself become interested in the stories or the characters. Frankly, I didn’t really relate to the main character.

I did enjoy the plot and, as always, Collins’s writing style. Hard Case Crime is usually either a thumbs way up or a thumbs down for me, no between, no gray areas. One good thing I can say is that I didn’t just throw the book down because I disliked the characters. It wasn’t a particularly painful read. There was just absolutely no connection for me and sometimes, when you’re a reader, that happens. It’s like when you meet somebody and you’re just not into them (similar concept, at least).

HOWEVER, I can still give this book a recommendation to certain readers of hard case crime and the like. A certain type of readership (and it’s a broad readership, too) will absolutely love it.

If you’d like to buy your own copy, Quarry’s Climax was released on October 10, 2017 and is available all over the place, including Amazon.com.

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There’s Nothing More Dangerous Than a Loaded Magazine
Memphis, 1975. “Raunchy” doesn’t begin to describe Max Climer’s magazine, Climax, or his all-hours strip club, or his planned video empire. And evangelists, feminists, and local watchdog groups all want him out of business. But someone wants more than that, and has hired a killer to end Max’s career permanently. Only another hit man – the ruthless professional known as Quarry, star of the acclaimed series on Cinemax – can keep Climer from becoming a casualty in the Sexual Revolution.