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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: LEFT TURN AT PARADISE (A Rare Book Mystery) by Thomas Shawver






REVIEW: LEFT TURN AT PARADISE by Thomas Shawver

Thomas Shawver has a knack for creating bibliophilic mysteries, which frequently contain rare and ancient books as components, and making these exciting while encompassing them in the setting of contemporary danger, deception, and romance. Beginning with THE DIRTY BOOK MYSTERY, this series featuring bookseller Mike Bevan, widow and failed attorney, provides education and enlightenment while keeping the reader turning pages. The new installment explores the real truths of Captain Cook' s three Hawaii voyages, through the context of journals kept by one of Cook' s sailors--and of course, plenty of danger, intrigue, and romantic encounters.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: DEAD IS ALL YOU GET by Steven Ramirez




REVIEW: DEAD IS ALL YOU GET by Steven Ramirez

I reviewed this novel at the author's request, and found it an amazingly literate and literary work of the Zombie Apocalypse ( a subject I generally avoid, because what is new there?) Well, Mr. Ramirez is what is new: his admirable "failed hero," a man who has killed, been unfaithful, despaired, and yet, redeems himself in the eyes of his wife, is a decent father to his "adopted" daughter, is a fast friend to several, and is a protector whenever he can. He is a philosopher and a soul-searcher; a man who has certainly seen some of the worst Death has on offer, and can still grieve, protect, and philosophize on the existence of the soul in the undead.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: CONDUITS by Jennifer Loring


Review: CONDUITS by Jennifer Loring

I started this story expecting classic horror: haunted house, spooky doings, nasty cult hangout, sacred ground. All this came true, but in a sense peripherally; the "haunted property" is not.the focus, but a portal opening into the ways of the dead. Author Jennifer Loring does a tremendous job of eliciting our empathy for a flawed, vulnerable, protagonist, one who often seems not to know her own mind, and of explicating the inner workings of a psychiatric ward, and also exploring the more untraveled paths of Japanese mythology and spirituality. By the end of the novella, I had been emotionally and mentally "through the wringer," but oh, what an extraordinary journey!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: MISSING TIME by Ken Scudero



REVIEW: MISSING TOMORROW by Ken Scudero

In the year 500 on the planet Nibiru, Gemini (Gem) Jupiter earns a comfortable and intriguing living as a private investigator, discoverer of the unexplained. Cushioned by an inheritance, his three-person investigative firm The Tonic searches for the missing and parses the inexplicable in the Eastern city of Myopia. They don't usually have much truck with Perfidia on the Western Continent, where the planetary rulers, the Selectmen, gather, until Gem takes a case there involving possible alien sightings, uncovers an evil conspiracy, and like Horatio in "Hamlet," discovered "there are more things in heaven and earth" than he could dream---or in Gem' s case, more things in and beyond Planet Nibiru.

Review: TEARS OF A HEART by Chase Blackwood







TEARS OF A HEART is lyrical literary fantasy, excellently-written by an accomplished author. A tale of myths and legends given life, it is couched in the framework of an annalist-a scribe-seeking knowledge of the past in lost lineages and concealed parchments. The story is of a young mountain boy, Kirin, only son of the village kovor (similar to a chieftain or mayor). At thirteen Kirin undergoes the requisite coming-of-age trials, which are both lengthy and extensive. (Surprisingly, in this culture both girls as well as boys must partake of the trials.) After Kirin completes the sixty-one days of solitude, and the extended trial of hallucinatory substances and mentally merging with the mountain-dwelling shroud cat (a trial perhaps comparable to Native American vision quests), he embarks upon the third and final trial. But while he is away, myth emerges into life and the life he had always known is obliterated.

TEARS OF THE HEART is Book One of THE KAN SAVACSI CYCLE.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review: SHADE by Marilyn Peake



SHADE is an exceptional YA novel, one I'm really glad I've read. In the last 18 months, I'd become very cautious about choosing YA and NA books, because I was over-satiated with routine high-school angst and couldn't find characters to whom I could relate. Happily, SHADE is a major exception. Author Marilyn Peake proves unafraid to get down in the trenches of the psyche and deal with real issues--serious issues: suicidal ideation, parental abuse, self-mutilation, parents who can't keep it.together, inability to form self-identity; and her characters grapple with these issues daily. The best among them strive to uplift their peers, so that I walked through the story with a sense of hopefulness.

Then there is the wonderful paranormal element. Unlike many stories, it's not the sole abiding focus, and I would not categorize it as the main focus (see above). Surprisingly for me, lifelong Supernatural believer that I am, what I appreciated most is the ongoing character evolution of Galactic Shade Griffin ("Shade" of the title):she's not perfect--no human is--but despite all the strikes against her and all the obstacles to her progress, Shade is persevering and determined, and she desires to evolve--and after all, that's what counts. I highly recommend SHADE.

Review: BAD APPLES: FIVE SLICES OF HALLOWEEN HORROR


BAD APPLES: Five Slices of Halloween Horror

 

The five freshest voices in horror will make you reconsider leaving the house on October 31st with these all-new Halloween tales:

A brother and sister creep out of the darkness with bags full of deadly tricks in Gregor Xane’s The Riggle Twins.

 

A deformed boy just wants to be normal in Evans Light’s Pumpkinhead Ted.

 

A group of ghost hunters learn that looking for terror is a whole lot more fun than finding it in Adam Light’s Ghost Light Road.

 

Two bullies go looking for trouble but instead find a young boy and his imaginary friend in Jason Parent’s Easy Pickings.

 

When a mysterious, Halloween-themed attraction comes to the town of Bay’s Endeveryone is dying to pay a visit in Edward Lorn’s The Scare Rows.

 

Available in eBook beginning September 7, 2014.

Paperback available September 14, 2014.


REVIEW: BAD APPLES: FIVE SLICES OF HALLOWEEN HORROR



If you love extreme Halloween Gore, well-written and well-conceived, you'll surely salivate over this pentacular collection (five authors, one theme: gory Halloween). Those with queasy stomachs (if you hide your eyes during 27 October renditions of the "Halloween/Michael Myers" series), not so much. These stories are pretty graphic and quite scary. I read the collection in an evening, and the stories followed me into sleep. My personal favorites were the most delightful "The Riggle Twins" and the themed-set "Pumpkinhead Ted," but "Ghost Light Road" pursued me into sleep.

 


Friday, September 12, 2014

TOUR: CURSE MERCHANT by




The Curse Merchant, by J.P. Sloan

 

Genre: urban-fantasy

 

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

 

Date of Re-Release: September 15th, 2014

 

Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts (http://www.conzpiracy.co.uk/)

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22621765-the-curse-merchant?from_search=true

 

Description:

 

Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

 

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without taintinghis own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

 

--

 


 

About The Author:

I am a storyteller, eager to transport the reader to strange yet familiar worlds. My writing is dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. I write science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and several shades in between.

I am a husband and a father, living in the “wine country” of central Maryland. I’m surrounded by grapevines and cows. During the day I commute to Baltimore, and somehow manage to escape each afternoon with only minor scrapes and bruises. I am also a homebrewer and a certified beer judge. My avocations dovetail nicely!

Find J.P. Sloan Online:

Website http://jp-sloan.com/ | Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000439460903&fref=ts | Twitter https://twitter.com/J_P_Sloan Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6569197.J_P_Sloan




GUEST POST by J. P. Sloan:




A Tale Between Two Cities

I'd like to expound for a moment on how similar are the cities of Baltimore and New Orleans. See, I grew up in South Louisiana, and had moved into the city of New Orleans shortly before Hurricane Katrina made life "difficult" for us. In the aftermath, my wife and I relocated to central Maryland where we've put down roots.

I drive into the city of Baltimore every work day, and I'm routinely reminded of how much it resembles the Big Easy:

-Both are major port cities.

-Both possess peculiar local cultures with seafood-driven cuisines.

-Both cities are fairly old, and you can see the Old World influences tucked between glass-and-steel skyscrapers.

- Both cities are major football towns with rabid fan bases.

- Both are major centers of Catholicism.

Both are remarkably diverse, with a patchwork of neighborhoods spread out like a cultural quilt.

- Both cities sit in cultural opposition to a major capital just an hour up the freeway.

As a writer of urban fantasy and an enthusiast of modern occultism, I find both locales intoxicatingly rich in inspiration. But I do wonder how my Dark Choir series might have turned out had I remained in New Orleans. The occult traditions in South Louisiana are flavored more heavily with Caribbean and West African animistic traditions, and by Catholicism. I imagine Dorian Lake would have been more of a student of voodoo, perhaps grappling with sinister Papal forces.

But it was, in fact, the city of Baltimore that inspired this series.We boast the macabre heritage of Edgar Allan Poe, after allI have directly modeled Dorian's home after Poe's, and he shares the same address. But perhaps more directly, the environment of"the Two Beltways" is what sculpted my Dark Choir series intoa struggle between esoteric traditions. Washington and the surrounding colonial towns are steeped in Masonic traditions and symbology. Rather than clutches of witches huddled around cypresses in the swamp, my mind wandered down marble halls lined with robed cabals, secretly deciding the fates of nations.

In a way, I'm a man in-between, an outsider now to both cultures. As is Dorian. He's a transplant from New York by way of London. He's still trying to put down his roots, while never really embracing the city he calls home because he never feels quite embraced in return.

Perhaps Dorian will, one day. His journey is just beginning, after all; who knows where it'll lead? Perhaps it will bring him, and me, back to New Orleans in some future book. In the meantime, I'm happy to practice my crab cake recipe, pop open a Flying Dog, and cheer on the Ravens. Baltimore may not bemy native town, but it certainly feels like it!

COVER REVEAL: ZHUKOV'S DOGS by Amanda Cyr



Zhukov’s Dogs, by Amanda Cyr

 

Genre: new-adult, science-fiction, action-adventure

 

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

 

Date of Publication: October 27, 2014

 

Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson of Gothic Fate (http://gothicfate.com/)

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22027235-zhukov-s-dogs

 

Description:

 

Lieutenant Colonel Nik Zhukov is just like any other desensitized seventeen-year-old living in the year 2076. At least he likes to think he is when he isn’t busy eliminating threats to national security, breaking up terrorist organizations, and trying not to get blown up. It’s all in a normal day’s work for one of the military’s top dogs, and he’s never disappointed. Never failed. Never lost sight of his dream of making it to the elite force, even as each new job forces him to see just how morally corrupt his leaders are.

 

On the verge of promotion, Nik is dispatched to the underground city beneath the icy Seattle tundra, his final mission handed down directly from The Council. It should have been a simple in-and-out, but the underground is full of dark secrets and he soon finds himself swept into battles, lying to his best friend back east, and growing a bit too close to the rebels he was sent to spy on.

 

Nik realizes too late that he’s broken the number one rule within his ranks; he’s allowed himself to feel normal for the first time in his life. He might be able to turn the job around, become the soldier he was once was, except for his growing attachment to the rebel leader. A guy. Yet another first for Nik. It’s a mistake he pays for dearly when he learns The Council’s true intentions for the city.

 

It’s never ‘just harmless fun’ when you’re a government dog, not when The Council holds the leash. Nik knows there are some lines you can never come back from crossing, and he’s forced to choose whose rules to play by. He races toward the invisible divide, aware he’ll be called traitor by both his nation and by his friends. Aware that even the right choice can be deadly to make.

 

--

 



 

About Amanda Cyr:

 

Amanda Cyr is a tea-loving freelance journalist, viral content curator, and debut novelist. She studied creative writing at Seattle University, where she developed all sorts of opinions before becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. She is currently represented by Kimberley Cameron of the Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.

 

Growing up, Amanda moved around a lot. She began writing to make the transitions easier and make up for her lack of friends in middle school. An awesome professor in Medford, Oregon tried to convince her to pursue writing professionally, but Amanda was deadest on a law career. It wasn’t until an unpleasant professor in Seattle, Washington told her she was a terrible writer that Amanda really committed to the idea of getting published, mostly just to spite her professor.

 

When Amanda’s not hunched over a laptop she enjoys sleeping, video games, Netflix binges, and wrestling with her two polar bear dogs. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends her days hissing at the sun and missing Seattle. Her least favorite things include the mispronunciation of her name, screaming children, and California.

Find Amanda Cyr Online:

Website (http://cyriouswriter.blogspot.co.uk/) | Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/cyriouswriter) Twitter (https://twitter.com/ACyrious) |Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8183689.Amanda_Cyr)

Review: LONDON CALLING by James Craig

REVIEW: LONDON CALLING by James Craig

This is the newest entry in the Inspector Carlyle series, and the first for me, but I plan to look out the rest. Carlyle is a down-to-earth detective, about as far up the promotion ladder as he will ever be, middle-aged, and consciously working-class. This latter is worth mentioning because of his current nasty case, which casts a sheen of entitlement. An exclusive Cambridge gentlemen's club of the early 1980's, of boys who've all become wealthy, powerful, entitled, gentlemen, begins losing its members not to attrition, but via brutal murder. Carlyle finds himself stymied more by the remaining members, more than by the actual murderer. Meanwhile author Jane's Craig deftly weaves in the Inspector' s own history, one aspect of which will have dire consequences for this current case.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: EXORCIST ROAD by Jonathan Janz



This story is set in Chicago, and concerns whether the sudden bizarre behavior of a fourteen-year-old boy, son of a wealthy, upscale, family, is "possessed." I won't spoil it for readers, but I will mention that an actual case of exorcism on a young boy occurred in Chicago in the 1950's, and I believe that was the inspiration for William Peter Blatty' s novel.

I chose to read EXORCIST ROAD because I am an avid and delighted reader of Mr. Janz, and had just recently read and reviewed both THE SORROWS and CASTLE OF SORROWS and totally admired both. I can heartily recommend EXORCIST ROAD as well. The author weaves an engrossing tale of horrid behavior coupled with bizarre sights and strange illusions, yet at the core lies character study; soon almost all the participating individuals are stripped of their secrets and immoral vices and self-centeredness. Almost all, because as scary as is the main story line, the real terror unmasks just before the end--and it's terror unforgettable.

FURTHERMORE