Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Immortal Prudence Blackwood - Review

Title: The Immortal Prudence Blackwood
Author: Stephanie Grey

Synopsis:  “Justice watches from the shadows in this unique and suspenseful twist on a serial killer manhunt…
     “Throughout history, the world has witnessed cruel, gruesome, and twisted murders at the hands of the most notorious serial killers.  For those who were never caught – Jack the Ripper, the Atlanta Ripper, and the Cleveland Torso Murderer – their crimes will live on in infamy as their identities are forever chased, but never revealed.
     “It’s 1947 in Washington, D.C. and a dangerous murderer has boldly discarded two headless bodies nearby the White House and the Jefferson Memorial.  With no leads, Detective Clive O’Reilly is feeling desperate.  When a stranger convinces O’Reilly to join him at a local pub, he is treated to a wild tale about Prudence Blackwood, an immortal who seeks vengeance for those murdered by history’s most notorious serial killers.
     “Initially in disbelief over her existence, O’Reilly is surprised to discover that she’s very real and she’ll be assisting in the investigation.
     “But Prudence has unorthodox methods.  With the body count rising, O’Reilly will have to find a way to work with her to stop the most brutal killer in D.C.’s history before more victims are added to the list.”

Review:  I found the premise of The Immortal Prudence Blackwood interesting, and the story did keep my attention.  However, I only rated this book 3/5 stars because I found the writing sadly lacking in detail.  The character of Prudence was not fully brought to life for me. I found myself wanting more detail about her, and why she is actually immortal.  The book was fairly short, at only 208 pages, so there was definitely space to add in these details that would have fully fleshed out the story for me and added the depth that I felt was lacking. 

**I was provided this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Publisher:  BHC Press

If you this book interests you try reading these:

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Stolen Things - Review

 Title:  Stolen Things
Author:  R. H. Herron
Synopsis:  “Laurie Ahmadi has worked as a 911 police dispatcher in her quiet Northern California town for nearly two decades.  She considers the department her family; her husband, Omid, is its first Arab American chief, and their teenaged daughter, Jojo, has grown up with the force.  So when Laurie catches a 911 call and, to her horror, it’s Jojo, the whole department springs into action.
     “Jojo, drugged, disoriented, an in pain, doesn’t remember how she ended up at the home of Kevin Leeds, a pro football player famous for his on-the-field activism and his work with the CapB- “Citizens Against Police Brutality” – movement.  She doesn’t know what happened to Kevin’s friend and trainer, whose beaten corpse is also discovered in the house.  And she has no idea where her best friend Harper, who was with her earlier in the evening, could be.
     “But when Jojo begins to dive into Harper’s social media to look for clues to her whereabouts, Jojo uncovers a shocking secret that turns everything she knew about Harper – and the police department – on its head.  With everything they thought they could rely on in question, Laurie and Jojo begin to realize that they can’t trust anyone to find Harper except themselves… and time is running out.”

Review:  You all know I’m about mostly spoiler free reviews, and since this novel started off with a bang and didn’t let up, this review will be short.  Stolen Things is supremely well written, and extremely hard to read.  I’ll give you the trigger warning that I didn’t get: this novel deals with the rape of teenage girl.  It’s disturbing, it’s creepy, and it ultimately made me very uncomfortable; which is why you know it’s very well written.  I read the novel in about 3 hours.  I was speed reading because I just had to know what happened next.  I could absolutely have read it in 2 hours, but I had to keep taking breaks because the subject matter made me so uncomfortable.  If you decide to read Stolen Things make sure you have a lot of uninterrupted reading time available to you, and things to do during your reading breaks the will help you decompress (I cleaned and cooked).  This all said, I do highly recommend Stolen Things.  If a book made me feel this uncomfortable you know it was good!

**I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Publisher:  Dutton
If you like this book you may want to read:

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

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Monday, August 5, 2019

The Gossamer Mage - Review

Title: The Gossamer Mage
Author:  Julie E. Czerneda
Synopsis:  “Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: The Deathless Goddess.  Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man.  The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.
     “Mage scribes learn to write Her Words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose.  If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage. 
     “For Her Gift comes at a steep price.  Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more.  But Her magic demands to be used; The Deathless Goddess will take Her fee, and mages will die.
     “To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her.  He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside.  And all that keeps magic alive.”

Review:  You all know that Julie Czerneda is one of my favorite authors, so when she asked if I would be interested in an advance copy of Mage I freaked out.  But, the freak out was on the inside because we were in public.  It was when I went to Albany NY.  Flights of Fantasy bookstore had a multi author event this Spring.  Julie Czerneda, Anne Bishop, Kristen Britain, and Deborah Blake were all there.  Last fall I promoted Julie’s new book Search Image, you can check out the live videos on Facebook and read the review of Search Image here on the blog.  It was my last blog push before taking a little break for my mental health, and I’m glad that it was for my favorite science fiction series.  So, anyway, I met Julie in person at this event and she asked if I would like to review Mage.  It was a crowded event and I was nervous (crowds in small spaces make me anxious, even when they are friendly book loving crowds), but I managed to blurt out an affirmative.  Poor SuperSteve had to listen to me chatter about it all the way home (it was a 4 hour drive and we stopped for dinner at Cheesecake Factory).  It went something like this:
Me: “I introduced myself, but she knew who I was!”
SuperSteve: “That was awesome.”
Me: “She asked if I wanted to review Mage!”
SuperSteve: “That’s awesome!”
Me: “I shook her hand.  And I talked to her!  I mean, I talked a little.  I was really nervous, and it was crowded.  But she knew who I was!”
SuperSteve: “That’s awesome!”
    Yeah, I admire authors like others admire actors.  But would you expect anything less from someone who is obsessed with books and reading?  So I got Mage in the mail, and even the cover is so pretty that I took tons of pictures of it. 

     I stayed up hours past my bedtime to finish The Gossamer Mage because once I reached a certain point, and you’ll know it when you get there, I could not stop reading and just had to know what was going to happen.  I think that this is Julie’s best work so far, and that’s saying a lot because I absolutely love her Web Shifter’s series.  Mage hooked me in the first page and held me spellbound until the final word.  As is typical with Julie’s works, the world building is perfectly done, and the characters come across so real.  The interactions with Kait, her son and her uncle are beautiful.  All of the details have been fully thought out and are absolutely wonderful.  And there’s maps!  Because of Julie’s attention to detail I became fully immersed in the story, and frequently lost track of the real world around me.  Mage is darker than anything I’ve read by Julie before (and I’ve read everything she’s written).  There is always a price to pay for magic, and the price that mages pay to use Her Gift is unique (and dark), and Mal’s quest to destroy the Goddess to eliminate that price is fascinating.  Even though this is a dark fantasy it has many light moments that balance out the dark perfectly.    
     The Gossamer Mage is the most beautiful work of art that I’ve read in a long time and I might turn right around and read it again.  It releases on August 6, 2019.  Thank you Julie and DAW for sending me an advance copy!  

Publisher:  DAW
If you like this book you may want to read:

The Night’s Edge Series by Julie E. Czerneda

Ephemera Series by Anne Bishop

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Harmony - Review

Title:  Harmony
Author:  Lilith Saintcrow
Synopsis:  “After an accident claims her unconventional mother, Val Smith has to live with her boring, reliable father.  Grief and change aren’t good for anyone, but Val and her dad are doing okay—until they visit a place like paradise.
     “Harmony Home is safe, secure, and secluded, a place where everyone belongs to everyone else.  For a commune it’s a pretty okay, at least at first.  There are strange things – the metal boxes in the clearing, the Red House where secrets are kept, and little Sarah, who pushes buttons inside people to “make them glow".  Val and her dad are honored, temporary guests, at least at first, and it’s exciting to be special, to be chosen.  By the time Val’s uneasy, it’s too late.
     Even heaven can be a trap, and Val’s going to need all her new talents to break free…”

Review:  Ever since I read The May Queen Murders in 2017 I’ve been looking for more books like that.  A quick google search revealed a genre that is relatively new referred to as “Folk Horror” defined as: “a sub-genre of horror fiction characterized by reference to European, pagan traditions.  Stories typically involve standing stone circles, earthworks, elaborate rituals, or nature deities” (www.   I’ve been devouring everything that I can find that seems to fit that profile since then, although I haven’t found very many.  I found Harmony by chance, and I’m thrilled that I did as it’s one of the best folk horror novels I’ve read recently.
     I enjoyed Val as a character and felt that her struggle to relate to a father that has been absent for most of her life was very realistic.  I could definitely see the appeal of a place like Harmony Home, but I also figured out the dangers and found myself yelling at Val and her dad because I was angry that they couldn’t see what was happening.  Even though I figured a lot out before it happened, the book was still suitably creepy and I really enjoyed it.  I finished reading it the day before my book club meet-up and I suggested it to everyone at there, and to you.  If you are interested in the folk horror genre I recommend reading Harmony, it will not disappoint. 

Publisher:  Lilith Saintcrow

If you like this book you may want to read:

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Swansong by Kerry Andrew

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest (The Borden Dispatches #1)

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Impromptu Readathon

It’s hot today. This winter when our weather was similar to that of planet Hoth I promised I wouldn’t complain about the heat this summer. So I’m not complaining. I’m just commenting about how hot it is. We don’t have air conditioning, and I’m too hot to go anywhere that does, so I’m having an impromptu readathon. I have snacks, ice water and a stack of books. Let’s see how many I can read before bedtime!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What Are You Reading?

Happy Tuesday every one!  It got up to 90 degrees here today, and we don't have air conditioning.  That never stops me from reading, though.  I think the only thing that ever stopped me from reading was two years ago when I scratched my cornea and wasn't allowed to read for several days.  The heat does make it uncomfortable to sit in front of the computer however, so here is a quickie post about what I'm reading right now.

The books I have currently in progress are:

Harmony by Lilith Saintcrow
     This came out May 28, 2019 but I just found it a few days ago.  I'm really into the folk horror genre right now, and I'm hoping that this will fit into that category.

The Toll by Cherie Priest
     This came out July 9, 2019.  I'm about halfway through it right now.  Cherie Priest is really good at gothic and weird horror, aka: Lovecraftian horror.  If you haven't read her work before I highly recommend her novel Maplecroft.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power
     This one also came out on July 9, 2019.  I just discovered it today and after reading the description just had to download it right away.  This appears to be an apocalypse by plague novel that mainly takes place at a girls school on an island.  What's not to love?

Look for reviews of these novels in upcoming posts.  What are you reading on this scorching hot Tuesday?