Fatal Music by Peter Morfoot

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Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle arrives at a crime scene to find a woman’s mutilated corpse. Initially routine, the case deepens and darkens into a complex enquiry that threatens to close in on Darac himself. But allegiances past and present must be set aside to unravel a tale of greed, deception and treachery that spans the social spectrum. It is among the winding streets of his own neighbourhood in Nice’s old town, the Babazouk, that Darac faces his severest test yet.

This appears to be the second book of a series surrounding Captain Paul Darac. I enjoyed the setting quite a bit as it was easy to get lost in Morfoot’s descriptions of France because I’ve never been and have always wanted to go. I typically like to read the first book in a series first, but after I picked this (second) book up first instead, I realized that it wasn’t necessary to enjoy them in order, although it may be preferred. It’s a wonderful mystery, quite cozy, though possibly not intended to be so.

I would recommend this book to those in search of a good thunderstorm read, those in search of a series to sink into, and those in search of a good crime novel hero to get to know. Paul Darac isn’t what I expected in a police captain character, but I say that with respect and admiration. Four stars from me.

The only gripe I have in this story is that sometimes Darac and other characters were a bit unreal and unbelievable. I very much wanted Morfoot to give me something extra, some little thing to hang onto that would flesh these people out just a bit more. It won’t stop me from reading more in the series, but the little tad extra would have gone a long way.

To buy your own copy of FATAL MUSIC by Peter Morfoot, you can go to Amazon.com or Titan Books directly. To read about more books by Peter Morfoot, visit his page on Goodreads.

 

Netherspace by Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster

Released: May 2, 2017 from Titan Books.

I have to admit that when I first opened the box containing this book, I immediately yelleNetherspace.jpgd out, “Oh, so it might be like the movie Innerspace!”

It is not like the movie Innerspace. It’s like this:

Aliens came to Earth forty years ago. Their anatomy proved unfathomable and all attempts at communication failed. But through trade, humanity gained technology that allowed them to colonise the stars. The price: live humans for every alien faster-than-light drive.
Kara’s sister was one of hundreds exchanged for this technology, and Kara has little love for aliens. So when she is drafted by GalDiv – the organisation that oversees alien trades – it is under duress. A group of colonists have been kidnapped by aliens and taken to an uncharted planet, and an unusual team is to be sent to negotiate. As an ex-army sniper, Kara’s role is clear. But artist Marc has no combat experience, although the team’s pre-cog Tse is adamant that he has a part to play. All three know that success is unlikely. For how will they negotiate with aliens when communication between the species is impossible? ~From Titan Books

Picture a world forty years after first known  contact with aliens was made. Now, stop picturing it because it’s not going to be anything close to how Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster have imagined it to be. But, you fine people know that I don’t go into long details about the books I’ve reviewed and I won’t give spoilers. I will say that I quite enjoyed this story and I am really looking forward to there being more books in the series. Like, really looking forward to them.

The writing is nicely blended. I don’t know how author teams usually split authoring duties when two people work on one novel because I, personally, couldn’t do it. But, it appears that the duo has managed to bring out the best of abilities in each other and pour it into a wonderful, original story. Kudos, fellas. Characters in the story are believable, real, well-fleshed, and Sometimes just really easy to get to know. Descriptions of time and place are great, but not overwhelming or ridiculously long.

I would gladly recommend this novel to friends and family. If you would like to buy your own copy (because I’ll be keeping mine), here are the links you’ll need:
Buy NETHERSPACE from Amazon.com.
Buy NETHERSPAC from Titan Books.

 

Mike Hammer–The Will To Kill by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

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“Mike Hammer is an icon for our culture.” – The New York Times

Every now and then I like to toss a crime fiction novel into my to-be-read pile and this one fell into my lap. Most people already know that there are already several Mike Hammer books available. I, however, was unaware because crime novels are actually not my meat and potatoes. Crime novels are more like a delicious foreign delicacy for me. I discover new crime authors about twenty years too late, but I’m okay with that as long as you, as my blog readers, understand that it’s not my everyday. Since I have read The Will To Kill, though, I have been checking into buying the others and I made it a point to buy and read some of the really old Mike Hammer books before I wrote this review. I can’t stand the idea of having just one book from a series, set, or group. It drives me mad. I also couldn’t see writing this review not knowing anything about Mike Hammer or Mickey Spillane’s vision of his character.

 

Taking a midnight stroll along the Hudson River, Mike Hammer gets more than he bargained for: a partial corpse on an ice floe. The body is that of a butler who spent the last years of his life working for a millionaire—also now deceased—and his notoriously privileged children.

Were both master and servant murdered? Captain Pat Chambers thinks so. But to prove it Hammer must travel to upstate New York to investigate the dead man’s family, all of whom have a motive for murder, and one of whom who has a taste for it.

-Blurb from Amazon.com

I wasn’t disappointed with this book, but I wasn’t blown away, either. It was everything I enjoy in a crime novel. There was a murder mystery to solve, complex and believable characters, crisp, clear language, and someone even says, “Jeez Louise!” somewhere in the story. The real amazing feat within the pages, however, is not in the story itself, but in the writing. Somehow, Max Allan Collins was able to take Spillane’s Mike Hammer stories and create new ones to match seamlessly. He was able to mask his own writing style as Spillane’s, making the two authors of one voice.

I can’t think of one single thing to gripe about with this novel. And, if we’re being honest, I always look for something to gripe about because I want to be sure to give my own readers the honest truth about the books I read. THE WILL TO KILL is one case where what you see is truly what you get. You buy the book looking for a great Mike Hammer story and that’s what you will receive.

To buy THE WILL TO KILL by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins on Amazon, click here! 

To buy THE WILL TO KILL by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins from Titan Books, click here! 

The Dragon’s Legacy By Deborah A. Wolf

Release Date: April 4, 2017

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Blurb from Amazon: 

The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.

The Dragon’s Legacy is a book I will quite easily give my recommendation for. I won’t even blink when I suggest this tale to friends and blog readers. It’s not every single day a book like this one crosses my desk. You all know that I will not ever give away an entire story in my reviews, but I have given a blurb (above) and will tell you what I think (below). I will give this recommendation with a warning, though. Please take a moment to go through the map and index of names at the beginning. I was halfway through the book before I realized either was there because I, on my good days, am a goober.

Deborah A. Wolf is a wonderful story teller. At no point whatsoever in this story did I lack a description, nor did I ever grow bored by a lengthier than necessary one. More importantly, her characters are well fleshed, believable, realistic, and somewhat savage. The language used by Wolf and her characters is beautiful, almost rhythmic, but sometimes meanders and leaves a reader looking for an explanation. Those explanations, I assume, should be answered in the next two books of the trilogy. However, I dislike when a book that is part of a series leaves too many questions unanswered or leaves on too much of a cliffhanger. Each individual book should leave a reader satisfied with the ending, or at least satisfied that the ending is realistic, final, or final for now.

The book is heavy on the dark fantasy side of science fiction. You won’t find any aliens, but you might bump into some other creepy creatures in there. Do open the book with the intention to stay a while. It’s quick paced and sometimes difficult to put down. I look forward to more from this author and will patiently wait on the other two books in the trilogy.

To buy THE DRAGON’S LEGACY on Amazon, click this link!

About the author: 

Deborah A. Wolf was born in a barn and raised on wildlife refuges, which explains rather a lot.  As a child, whether she was wandering down the beach of an otherwise deserted island or exploring the hidden secrets of Alaska with her faithful dog Sitka, she always had a book at hand.  She opened the forbidden door, and set foot upon the tangled path, and never looked back.

Deborah attended any college that couldn’t outrun her and has accumulated a handful of degrees.  She has worked asan underwater photographer, Arabic linguist, and grumbling wage slave. Throughout it all, she has held onto one true and passionate love: the love of storytelling.

Deborah currently lives in northern Michigan with her kids (some of whom are grown and all of whom are exceptional), an assortment of dogs and horses, and a pair of demons masquerading as cats.
*From Amazon*

Check out Deborah A. Wolf’s website! 

For more reviews, watch this space! I have several science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical romance reviews coming very soon. Maybe even some horror, too. Who knows. ~Rhiannon xoxo

 

 

Escapology by Ren Warom

I’ve never read anything by this author (probably because it’s her debut novel), but I gave this book a good, fair shot because all books deserve a fair shot and I don’t believe in sticking to the same authors all the time. It’s not good for the soul. Let’s move on to my thoughts, shall we?

There are a few big points to remember when reading this book.

  1. It’s very fast paced.
  2. There is a SHARK on the cover. Who doesn’t like sharks? Keep up!
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Release date: 6/14/16

Shock Pao is not just any Haunt—he’s the best. There isn’t a system that he can’t crack into, no virtual lock he can’t pick, nothing he can’t steal for the right price. Outside virtual world the Slip, though, he’s a Fail—no degree, no job, no affiliations to protect him from angry ex-customers. Of which he has quite a few. So when his ex brings Shock a job which could help him escape his miserable existence, he accepts, little realizing that it will turn out to be his most impossible, illegal and insane assignment yet.

Amiga works for Twist Calhoun, one of the toughest crime lords in the Gung, as a Cleaner—assassin. Trapped in a world of kill-or-be-killed, she wants out. But when Shock’s war comes to her, she doesn’t have a choice: it’s her job to bring him to Twist, dead or alive—or it’ll be her head in a bag in Twist’s vault.

See?  There’s a thing called the Slip (which is sort of described in the blurb above) and all of these people doing all of these crazy, great things. Very fast paced, as advertised.

The story is told through the points of view of a handful of characters, though I am partial to the story line of one in particular, Shock Pao. Shock is every bit the character I want to read about when I pick up a book to read. There is something deep and needed in a character who has been well fleshed out—let’s face it, we (as readers) don’t always get that. Shock, I think, is one of those figures we always want to read, but can’t find. One of the best things I can say about Shock Pao is that he is not perfect. He has problems that could stack up as high as the Eiffel Tower, but he keeps going, perhaps because he has little choice. In that way, I think a lot of readers can probably relate to him, if even on a smaller scale.

But, wait! There is another character from this very same novel I like even more and I am disappointed I didn’t get to read more from or about him. His name is Cassius Angel and he’s the captain of a land ship called Resurrection. Those blog readers who know me know I have a weakness for all things nautical. This particular captain needs his own book. I want to read about the life and times of Captain Cassius Angel and his ship, the Resurrection. The more I read about him in Escapology, the more I wanted to know. While reading the novel, my own unmet whim to hear more from Cassius Angel began to overshadow my need to give a hoot about the other characters. This actually became a big problem for me.

Amiga was the one character I couldn’t really relate to on any scale whatsoever and, more than that, I just didn’t want to read what she was doing. I couldn’t force myself to be interested in Amiga no matter how hard I tried and, believe me, I did try.

This book is great for some people. It wasn’t really my bag, though, because I’m not into cyberpunk at all. I didn’t choose this book, it chose me. Honestly, I’m glad it did. As I say often, it’s good to read something you wouldn’t normally read. The story is well written and the characters are well fleshed and well placed. I am disappointed that Cassius Angel doesn’t have his own book, but there is always time for that and here’s to hoping! Ultimately, I found it difficult to bounce from one character’s point of view to another to another. Some folks have no qualms with this, but I have a hard time with more than two POVs, especially toward the beginning of a story because the beginning is where the reader is supposed to be hooked.

I will not be including a star rating in my blog for this book because I don’t think it would be fair of me to do so as this story wasn’t for me. This does NOT mean Escapology isn’t worthy of any stars. I simply don’t want to be unfair to the author or the book and I feel that by rating a book that just wasn’t what I’m into, I’d be slighting a writer because though this story wasn’t something I’m interested in, the writing and storytelling abilities are very there and I’m just not Ren Warom’s audience  for this title. Maybe the next one.

If you happen to be into cyberpunk, futuristic sort of things, please head on over to Titan Books and buy a copy by clicking here.   

If you feel like this genre simply isn’t for you, I’ve made a note in my stash of notes to keep up with this author. I want to see what she does next.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcoming 2016 With Stories and Changing Tastes

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Every year I keep a log of books, short stories, and articles of note that I’ve read. In 2015, I logged an awful lot of books. Some were new releases, but more often than not, not. By this log, though, I figured that I read more how-to books, gardening books, and history books than anything else. I don’t know why it happened this way, but maybe because I’ve been sort of fighting a dark depression and anxiety with hobbies–gardening, sewing, and just about anything I can do which would keep my hands busy. I’m the kind of person who needs to be doing something, even if it’s something small, such as mending a buttonhole or planting a seed. And, once I’m focused, that’s it. I’m addicted to something new and you’ll soon find me in bookshops and online seeking out books regarding my new hobby, whatever it may be. I can’t just be a novice at anything. I will constantly strive to master it.

But, in 2010, for example, I logged mostly romance and horror novels. In 2011 and 2012, same. In 2013, by some strange tap of the reading fairy’s wand, I changed directions and returned to my science fiction and fantasy roots. You see, the firsts books I really loved–and I mean REALLY loved–were sci-fi novels, comics, fantasy tomes, and short stories in magazines involving elves, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, aliens, and vampires. I started reading time travel novels again. I started picking up newer novels by authors I’d forgotten I loved so much in high school. And, I began to change the way I think about things again. I think that’s just something that happens ever so often in life. Your life changes direction, so your reading lists change direction, too.

By 2014, I’d changed completely. I haven’t completely let go of reading romance, but I want to read everything about everything. Sometimes there just isn’t enough space on a year’s worth of bookshelf for all of the books a person would wish to read. I think that might be what happens to me. I am too ambitious. But, there are just so many books!

But, back to 2015.

Last year, my children grew. My fortunes changed (sort of) with the coming of a move which will take me from living in a small 3 bedroom house with a small yard to a small 4 bedroom house with a yard that reaches beyond what the eye can see (my husband’s family’s farm). In anticipation of this move, my family and I have discussed a lot of changes. We’re letting go of cable because it won’t be available. We’re going to have an internet connection to watch Netflix and Hulu and do internety things. But, we’ve also decided that we’re going to raise some chickens and continue growing beautiful herbs and Cherokee purple tomatoes (which are to die for, by the way, and can be found at Burpee’s online). On the farm, my father-in-law and brother-in-laws (and their wives and families) raise chickens, horses, cows, pigs, and sometimes goats. And, I think my niece has some rabbits somewhere. So, with all of this in mind, I’ve been reading about soil, about how to raise animals (because I’m absolutely terrified of horses and have no clue how to manage livestock, much less live with them), and about how to live a simpler life.

Now, hold on, people. Before you start thinking ahead, NO. No, we are not homesteaders. Absolutely, just no. I have mad amounts of respect for homesteaders, but that’s not what we’re doing  at all. We’re just simplifying things and moving forward with raising our family in an area where I won’t have to worry about being so close to other people. Well, except for my husband’s family. Two of his brothers, their wives, their collective six children, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law all live on the same stretch of property, but it’s big enough that none of us have to look at each other if we don’t want to. Or unless I need to be saved from the horses (ha ha).

The beautiful part of how life changes your reading habits, though, is that when I move to my little farm shack in the middle of nowhere, I’ll have new places to read. Also, I have a niece and a sister-in-law who both love to read, too, so maybe we can exchange good books ever so often. Who knows–we might even start our own book club right on the edge of the mountain. I’m sure the new experiences I have there will absolutely reflect in the 2016 reading log. I have plans to pick up a Farmer’s Almanac and a Gardener’s Almanac next time I’m in the Dollar General store in town. And, beyond that, there’s a discount store in Beckley (about 35 minutes from me) where I can pick up as many books about flowers and plants as I want because they’re really cheap. I’d love a book about flowers so I can learn about which ones are the easiest to grow and which ones need what because I do have plans for a white rose bush and roses are not things I know a lot about, although I’ve always loved white roses (among other white flowers, I also love the white moonflowers/Datura).

bookThere are a few crime fiction novels I plan to read this year, though, and they’re already sitting on my nightstand. AND, I do have some drama, history, and romance novels sitting in my shelf, waiting on me to give them some attention. First, though, I have a book filled with the love letters between Lucrezia Borgia and Pietro Bembo. The book is called “The Prettiest Love Letters In the World” because they truly are. I’ve already taken a peek at them.

scandalsAnd, of course, it’s January 3rd, which means I’ve already read a book this year. It’s was called “Treasury of Royal Scandals” and it was published some years back, but still such a great read. Books aren’t like food–they don’t ruin after a while. They stay great. I’ve learned that there is also a book out there called “A Treasury of Great American Scandals,” which I’d like to add to my collection, too. The author, Michael Farquhar, has many books out I’d like to snatch. Seriously, where has this guy been all my life as a reader? “Treasury of Royal Scandals” was brilliant. It was a great way to start the year, in my opinion.

I’m curious to know how everyone else feels on the subject of changing tastes in books. Is it just me? Do the rest of you change tastes every now and then? I can’t imagine I’m the only person on the face of the planet who sometimes switches from medieval kings and queens to cyborgs and werewolves.

 

Why I’ll Never Write A Happy Ending

There are an awful lot of romances in my stories and I try to make them as realistic as possible. I don’t go for characters no one can ever resist–the brooding, muscle bound hero meets the dainty, helpless damsel in distress–and I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s real and it’s something a lot of readers can identify with. I read a lot of romances, too, and I love them. I just don’t want to write them.

gentlerogueRomantic heroes are often stereotyped and, while that may suck, there’s a reason for it. Apparently, lots of women like the man next door, the hunky fireman, the long-haired, shirtless werewolf… And, this stereotypical romance hero is often given a bad name for being just that, so let’s not do that here. As I said a paragraph ago, I read a lot of romances. I like them. But, you’ll never see Fabio rescue a fair maiden and ride of into the sunset on a unicorn in one of my books. Never.

The closest to a perfect romance novel hero I’ve ever come to writing was The Demon King. He was close, but no cigar. He had the look, he had the brooding demeanor, and he had an excess of power, but he was flawed from the beginning because he wasn’t in it to marry the girl and live happily ever after. I just don’t think demon kings get that sort of an ending. Realistically, they might achieve other goals, but how on earth would a romance really work in the Underworld? I just don’t get it.

Moving past romance novels, other stories with happy endings make my head spin, too. Does every single time traveler make it home safe to live out the rest of their lives as though they hadn’t just traveled through space and time? What about the traveler who becomes trapped? Or is obliterated en route? What about the traveler who wanderers onto an alien planet and is captured by the emperor of the Zed People and thrown into a rusty cage for the rest of his life?

And, what about crime stories? Does the PI always capture the bad guy? What if they didn’t? What if the main character lets the guy go because he’s paid an amount of money he simply can’t refuse? Or, what if he doesn’t let the bad guy go. What if, during the climax of the story, the PI meets up with the mass murderer in an alley somewhere and the murderer does what he does best–murder?

I don’t write happy endings. I did when I was a kid, but then life floated through me and I through it. At some point in my life I realized that not every story has to have a happy ending to be a good one. Not every book has to end the way we all want it to. Characters can fall into their destinies the way in which they are meant to and the endings of THOSE stories can be just as satisfying, just as wonderful, just as horrifying as a story with a happy ending. And, people will continue to read them because some of us enjoy a good book full of wonderful, flawed characters doing beautifully flawed things. I enjoy it when the outcome of a book isn’t what I might have thought it was going to be. I don’t like coming to the last chapter of a story and already knowing what’s going to happen before it happens because at least a million other stories have ended that way. I like to be surprised, both pleasantly and otherwise.

I think that’s why I’m drawn to horror and realism. There isn’t always a happy ending in those stories and it’s almost expected that the author is going to shred their character’s lives into a zillion pieces. I like that, no matter what’s going on in my life, I can crack open one of these stories and realize that it’s entirely possible that someone else out there might just be having a worse day than me.

All of the many things that go through my head kill me sometimes. I’m a constant thinker. Sometimes my thoughts are darker than velvet and sometimes they’re light as air–but, they are always realistic because I can’t stand the thought of writing a story that isn’t somehow true (even if it’s not). There’s no way on this earth I could ever convince myself to write a story where everything turns out okay because that’s just not how the world works. I will always tie up loose ends in my stories and if I leave something up for interpretation, it’s because sometimes life does that, too.

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“I can’t go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands.”- Rhett Butler, Gone With the Wind

Romance novels are notorious for their happy endings (there are few without them, but Gone With the Wind comes to mind, though I don’t think that book was classified as just a romance novel). It’s totally possible that I might write romance again one day, but know that if I choose to do so, you’re not going to see the hero rescue the damsel in distress and ride off in a million dollar car to a million dollar wedding where their friends and families are waiting on them with smiles and bags of rice to choke the birds with.

It’s more likely that my romance novel will end with the anti-hero and anti-heroine in some sort of stand-off. They might be together at the end of the book, but at what costs? Their fortunes? Their dignity? A limb? Or, possibly even their very lives.

I don’t write happily-ever-afters because that just isn’t real. People pay taxes, they lose properties, they have accidents causing permanent impairments, and they fight like cats and dogs (or demon kings and half-mortals, as the case may be). So, ask me again why I don’t write happy endings.

In short, because shit happens, that’s why.

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“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”-Rhett Butler, Southern gentleman not giving any damns (on film) since 1939.