Monthly Archives: August 2015

Review: The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mystery)

51LvVZI10YL__SX354_BO1,204,203,200_

Title: The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mystery)

Author: Alane Ferguson

Publisher: Puffin Books

Genre: YA Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have one thing to say about this forensic mystery targeted at YA readers. Really great book, and really terrible cover.

I haven’t read a lot of gritty forensic mysteries with a younger protagonist, so that’s what drew me to the book. Catelyn is just about to graduate high school, and wants to become a medical examiner. That’s handy, since her father’s the town coroner. When a local murder shocks the small town, she has a front row seat to all the evidence and the investigation.

Of course in addition to a murder mystery, there are relationship issues and family issues, as one would expect in a YA novel. In this book, there’s the mystery of Catelyn’s mother who left years ago, as well as two young men she can’t decide are threats or allies. There’s also an interesting theme parsing out where science meets religion meets fake mumbo jumbo when a famous psychic comes to town. And of course there has to be danger, and there’s plenty of that.

The forensic scenes were well done–just enough ugly reality and facts to keep things interesting without going full CSI and being gross. The interactions were also well done. I found this an easy book to read, and was sorry to see it hasn’t done better. This is a case where I hope the author gets the rights back and is able to republish at some point. I think the publisher did this book a disservice.

Overall, a very enjoyable murder mystery, suitable for both adult and YA readers.

Book Review: Hounded, by Kevin Hearne

Title: Hounded

Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles (Book 1)

Author: Kevin Hearne

Publisher: Random House LLC

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

I’m pretty stingy on my five star ratings. Five stars means you wowed me; you expanded beyond the genre and gave me something I’ll want to read again. This book did both those things, and what’s even cooler is that the author perfectly captured the city of Tempe, Arizona where I grew up.

Hearne did a great job integrating things, including Arizona locations and culture, Celtic legends and lore, and even some Indian mythos in the mix. Atticus was something of an eternal college kid, but the humor in the writing was so infectious, I pretty much just embraced it. His Irish wolfhound was hysterical with his fascination with Genghis Khan and poodles, and the entire Celtic pantheon were a hoot. I particularly liked “the Morrigan,” the sexy goddess of death.

The action was fast-paced, as was the dialogue and overall style of the book. This is urban fantasy at it’s finest, with an immediate threat and a lot of finagling with supernatural entities in order to survive. A touch of romance, a good heaping of humor, and lots of monster blood. What made this book different was the druidic aspect, as well as the setting.

Countdown Sale Today through Sunday! Heart of the Witch

Okay, NOW the book is up for sale! Now through Sunday, grab the epic fantasy novel Heart of the Witch for just $0.99 on Amazon.

Witch cover ebook 2014 250

Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/Heart-of-the-Witch-ebook/dp/B00AR5HMZO/

Zerrick’s fears are closing in on him. As an awkward scribe of nineteen, he should be courting ladies, or helping his father, the Reverend, in his endless tirades against magic. But a local girl has been accused of witchcraft. The mayor’s son is ill. And the town is clamoring to put all users of magic to the stake. He can’t tell them that he’s the one they’re hunting for.

Beyond the colonial town, a vast wilderness awaits, with strange tattooed natives who worship the Goddess, mythical monsters, and magic in every plant and tree. Forced to flee, Zerrick searches to find out if his magic is a curse or a blessing. He meets a young woman, Mira, who seeks to flee the harsh constraints of their society as well.

All they want is a place where they can live peacefully, but magic has grown more volatile and dark omens have appeared. For Zerrick and Mira, the only way forward is following a strange call from Zerrick’s dreams, into greater unknowns than they were ever prepared for.

ARRGH!! Amazon messed up my Countdown Sale!

I apologize to everyone who received notice today of my fantasy novel, Heart of the Witch, which is SUPPOSED to be up for sale on Amazon for only $0.99 today through August 17.  Amazon stupidly messed up and deleted the promotion.

I have re-uploaded the request, and the book will be on sale from August 14 through 17 for the Countdown special price of 99 cents.

Here are links to the Amazon US and UK stores for the book:

US:  http://www.amazon.com/Heart-of-the-Witch-ebook/dp/B00AR5HMZO/

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Witch-Judy-Goodwin/dp/061574673X/

Description:

As an awkward scribe of nineteen, Zerrick should be courting ladies; or helping the Reverend, his father, in his endless tirades against magic. But a local girl has been accused of witchcraft, the mayor’s son is ill, and the town is clamoring to put all users of magic to the stake. He can’t tell them that he’s the one they’re hunting for.

Forced to flee, Zerrick searches to find out if his magic is a curse or a blessing. Beyond the colonial town a vast wilderness awaits, with mythical monsters, strange tattooed natives who worship the Goddess, and magic in every plant and tree. In a neighboring town he meets a young woman, Mira, who seeks to flee the harsh constraints of their society.

All they want is a place where they can live peacefully, but unrest is everywhere. The land itself is suffering as magic has grown more volatile and dark omens have appeared. Stranger still, Zerrick dreams of another woman calling to him, demanding to be freed. For Zerrick and Mira, the only way forward is following the call–into greater unknowns than they were ever prepared for.

Excerpt:

Like a cannonball bursting out of a cannon, the magic surged beneath Zerrick and spat him out of the ground, sending him flying into a bed of palms. He landed hard, but safe, feeling numb all over. From behind him, a shriek pierced the air, and with a groan, he rolled over and managed to lift his head above the palm leaves to see the earth dance and churn around Madame Lotus.

Plants reared up to twist around her arms and legs, pulling her to the earth, as she began sinking even as Zerrick had. It didn’t stop at her waist, but pulled her in deeper and deeper, leaves flying around in a whirlwind around her head, lightning crackling through the ground and up along the twisted vines. She fought with all her might, clawing at the vines and thrashing to escape the earth’s hold, but it was useless, and in her eyes Zerrick could see she knew it.

She glanced once in his direction, her brown eyes lucid and filled with utter horror at her predicament. The vines pulled her down by her arms, until there was just her head above ground. Then, with a loud crash of thunder and a horrible rumbling deep within the soil, the ground swallowed her up.

The storm and wind ceased so suddenly, Zerrick thought he had lost his hearing. The leaves, no longer held up by the magical wind, settled on the overturned earth, and slowly the sounds of the jungle resumed. Zerrick lay crouched in the palms, breathing hard with the shock of what he had just witnessed, every nerve tingling. His head ached as he raised himself on one knee, looking to see if Murtis had escaped the backlash of power, or if the noise had attracted others.

Murtis was still sitting on his log, his face white with astonishment, his mouth hanging open. Seeing the look of horror on the other witch’s face, Zerrick realized just what he had done.

He had committed murder.

Review: Duma Key, by Stephen King

Title: Duma Key

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is classic Stephen King. There’s ghosts, monsters, and shifting reality alone with phantom limbs and the mystery of the brain after trauma. As a hobbyist who dabbles in art, I also appreciated the creative aspects of the book. Remember Dorian Gray, who could paint himself young? Yeah, this is kinda like that.

Creepiness included.

I’ve always found the brain fascinating, so coupling that mystery together with weird psychic stuff and ghosts was a perfect mix. I also like that King took what would not normally be considered a scary place–the Florida Keys–and still managed to make it scary. The main character isn’t immediately likeable, but he grows on you. King also makes excellent use of his trademark narrative voice and foreshadowing.

This is not an action-packed book, but there’s enough strangeness to keep the reader engaged. If you liked Dead Zone or Insomnia or even Pet Cemetery, you’ll enjoy this one.