Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: The Casebook of Esho St. Claire

The Casebook of Esho St. Claire: The Gibbering Mr. Cravat ~ The Current Killer

By:  Scott Roche

Publish Date:  March 17, 2015

Format:  eBook

Genre:  Fantasy - Steampunk

Series:  At this point, stand alone. But hoping it's the 1st in Esho St. Claire Casebook series

Impression:  Magical mysteries to be solved by Esho through means of brain power and magic.

Synopsis:
This book features two cases from the files of occult consulting detective Esho St. Claire.

The Gibbering Mr. Cravat

A rich man's son isn't Detective Esho St. Claire's usual sort of client. Bearing a hideous curse, Mr. Cravat begs him to find a way to discover its cause and reverse it if he can. The case will take him from the homes of Manhattan’s wealthy to the Undercity, where creatures of legend live.

The Elder Gods are using the money and power flowing through the upper echelon of society to stage a comeback, and poor Mr. Cravat is just the first victim. Esho and a whiskey fueled strongman named Sean Younger must stop their priesthood before the invasion is complete.

The Current Killer

Detective Esho St. Claire now has a ghost for client. Speaking through Nikola Tesla's ether recording machine, a man wants St. Claire to prove that Thomas Edison is guilty of his murder. The detective never thought that a case would have him dodging death rays, but nothing about this one is typical.

When he discovers magic is being tapped to make a super weapon, Detective St. Claire realizes that this job is even less straight-forward than he had thought. St. Claire and Tesla have to stop the techno-magical nightmare before it rips open the fabric of reality.

First Sentence:
The Gibbering Mr. Cravat
Esho St. Clair, occult investigator and consulting detective, had plenty of time to make it to his appointment, but he wanted to be early.

The Current Killer
The day Nikola Tesla offered to show off his recording of a ghost was overcast and warm, though far from the hottest in the summer of 1886.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 

*I was offered this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts and Summary:
As stated in the synopsis and title, this book has two stories in it for us with Esho St. Claire on the job. They are of a magical sense with Esho and his abilities. But the second story starts to blend the possibility of much more with electric and technology blended with magic.

I've had the opportunity to read a few of Scott Roche's short stories in a few anthologies. I have enjoyed his story telling and surprises he adds. It was a pleasure to read a few more stories from him.

This is a wonderful introduction into the world Esho lives in. I do hope to see more stories of Esho on the magical cases.

The Gibbering Mr. Cravat
Due to the discretion of Madame Francesca's home of ladies, Esho is meeting his client here. Mr. Cravat has been cursed. He's physically changing. Esho thinks this transformation sounds like a cult he has seen in Pennsylvania. Esho recruits his friend, San Younger, to help him with investigating as he's worked with him and he's got the muscle. The man is also the tallest man Esho's ever seen. Sean is always ready for a fight and the way this case is looking, they are going to have to venture into the Undercity to find their answers.

First, I love that Esho is not your normal main character. He's got some age on him which makes him the wiser rather than barreling in head first. Esho is also a man of color. I don't get to read many books that reference characters of different origins. Esho has a magical essence to him and a power that comes in handy, along with his sword.

Sean is another character, kind of a side kick, that I truly enjoy as well. He has his own secret, that Esho knows and we learn though the story. It has to do with his drinking of alcohol daily, well constantly.

The story starts with subtle magic and paranormal hints to the world, other than the client and his terrible change. Esho has a handy straight razor he carries with him at all times. This common object is not as simple as one would think. It's got a magic to it and Esho uses it on several occasions through the story. Handy! I'm rather taken with the razor.

The magic here has a cost for Esho when he uses it. I like that there is a limit to magic usage and Esho doesn't come out seeming immortal. But he also has magic stored in spells in other objects, which is a great boost to the system.

We do get to journey to the Undercity, but not before it comes to Esho. There are many creatures in this world! It's an interesting setup, and hinted at more down in the Undercity.



The Current Killer
Esho has an appointment with the one and only Nikola Tesla. Nikola wants to show Esho his recording of a ghost. He's discovered a murder and plans against mankind. Is it true? Can Nikola contact the dead with his technology? Esho must find it the ghost Tesla has recorded is for certain dead to verify the machines ability. And what could it bring to the world Esho knows exists that others do not? The magical side of the world.

Scott has created a short story where Nikola Tesla is present and his abilities are present and seen along with explaining how things would work out for Nikola in the future. And speaking of future, there could be a chance of many new devices and work with Nikola? I'm hoping! Nikola is working on creating a marriage of science/technology and the mystical. His desire to bring scientists to look into the phenomenon (as he calls it) more than they have. It's so neat to see Nikola working his magic here and braver than he ever thought he was.

Esho has a different partner in this story. Madame Samedi. Esho needs her help to see if the device really does record the departed spirits. She then becomes aware that if Nikola's device is true, it could mean trouble for other mediums and magical beings. Man kind is known for making tools into weapons.

Nikola has his battles with Edison, and it's seen here. We see their battle of minds and ways clash in a deadly manner. We get our fight at the climax of the story. I enjoyed that scene and climax at the end. All the magics, technological and magic, come together as they battle each other. It's a sight to see as you read!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Audio Book Review: One Day In New York

One Day In New York: An ARKANE Thriller

By:  J.F. Penn

Publish Date:  March 13, 2014, Audiobook June 18, 2015

Format:  Audiobook - 2 hrs 25 mins
Narrated By:  Jeffrey Kafer

Genre:  Thriller

Series:  7th in ARKANE series (stand alone in series)

Impression:  Wow! Paranormal mysteries in the religious aspect.

Synopsis:
New York is built upon a dark secret. If this knowledge falls into the wrong hands, the city will crumble.

When a woman is crucified on a burning cross in downtown Manhattan, it marks the beginning of a dangerous crusade. The Confessors seek the powerful relic of a dark angel and they will stop at nothing to get it.

ARKANE agent Jake Timber is in New York to investigate the eleventh century Cloisters Cross alongside Naomi Locasto, a linguist, when they become entangled in the mystery.

As his past threatens to overwhelm him, can Jake find the relic of the angel before the Confessors destroy the city?

First Sentence:
For all the hypervigilance of New Yorkers at the slightest possibility of terrorism, they embrace anything that could be construed as modern art.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles

Audible


My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.

I'm not going to try and summarize this book as the description is wonderful, and if I do I will probably give away something that you'll enjoy learning as the story goes.

This story is a novella (as it's only 2 1/2 hrs long and 100 pgs print) and stands well on it's own. I've not read/listened to any others in this series and understood what was happening and the characters. But Dang! I WANT THE REST OF THE SERIES!

I listened to the story from Audible. Jeffery's voice is a strong, deep sound that rolls through the story with ease. From the beginning I didn't even realize he was reading me a story. This is a wonderful thing from narrators, as they do not distract from the story but add to and heighten it. I could easily see his voice being the representation of Jake's. His strong voice is attractive to listen to while he's reading the story. When he sets into Jake's, Naomi's, or any other characters dialog you can feel the emotions take over. This story is a thriller, mystery case that his voice fits perfectly for. Oh! He does the high pitched voice of a curator at the museum, it fits well!

There are drops of Jake's partner and other cases they have worked on in this story. I'm guessing these are cases of previous books. But with listening to this one I did not need to know that past. However, I'm now curious to listen to them! The writing and crafting of all present to the story is amazing. There is so much here to read/listen too. (I could go wild with my sticky notes.) Such a depth that it makes me want to continue with the series and learn all I can.

I listened to the first chapter twice. There was a great strength in this first chapter that drew me in. The people who, and how they, burned the woman on the cross. I wanted to absorb every detail I could. With the first sentence, I knew that sentence was leading somewhere and I wanted to know from the end of reading it.

There is a religious aspect to this story. But DO NOT let that push you away if you don't read religion. This is NOT preaching to you. This is NOT the religion you would think of at first thought. It's more of a deeper and possibly darker side to it. There are so many aspects that are looked into with the religious writings, and that's used here. An old feel to it that reminds me of the Freemasons secrets or similar to The Da Vinci Code. All with a paranormal twist to it as well, with angels and healing and more. It draws me in to the mystery of what it is. Why did they do this? What is the relic they are looking for?

This is a story that pulls at my attention. Holding me to listen to every word to understand all the items connected to the relics and history.

I loved how this story was presented and how everything flowed into what's to come with grace. This is a novella and there is not one wasted word present. All is needed to lead you to where you need to be and bring you there with bated breath. Then where we end up! Oh, I'm not telling you as I want you to enjoy the experience as much as I did.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Audio Book Review: Shadow Wars: Homebound

Shadow Wars: Homebound

By:  Ursula Sinclair

Publish Date:  September 1, 2014, Audiobook June 26, 2015

Format:  Audiobook - 7 hrs 42 mins
Narrated By:  Todd Van Linda

Genre:  Science Fiction Romance

Series:  1st in Shadow Wars series

Impression:  Sexually strong connection of a man and woman set in a science fiction setting.

Synopsis:
A New Adult Sci/fi Romance

Did you ever feel as though you don't belong?

Veil had been a step out of place all his life. Until one day he found a phone that took him on a path far beyond the world he knew. But to get all the answers he had to save the princess he fell in love with – only to lose her once he made her a queen.

Nikki never felt she quite belonged. Until she met a man who saved her life and placed her on a throne she never knew was hers. But in order to be queen and save a world at war, she had to give up Veil.

Would you walk away from the love of a lifetime if you could prevent the destruction of a planet?

Violence. Adult Situations. Recommended for 18+

First Sentence:
The sonic blast hit the building above them and ricocheted off the tunnel walls, the resulting flash wave momentarily blinded his vision.

Purchase At:
Amazon

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.

Veil finds a phone of an image of a stunning woman on the front when she calls. Her text surprises him but figures it's something along the lines of a kinky thing with owner of phone, something about never going to release her. Veil finds, a few hours away from the restaurant and on his way to Cape May, that he left his phone with the hostess instead of the similar one in his hand. Nikki has been imprisoned in tunnels beneath central London for two days now. Her cell phone battery is dead but she's some how able to connect with her kidnappers alien tech phone, and see the speaker. Aldon, her kidnapper has headed to the USA to get another. She's not sure what it means, but if she can convince Veil to come help her, she's sure the phone in his hand is the key to find and release her from the invisible barrier keeping her hidden. Where they end up afterward is something out of this world.

I had the opportunity to listen to the audiobook. I was a bit disappointed in this one. There were a few moments the narrator seemed to miss deletions in the editing phase and repeated words. There was a point in the story where it sounds like a slight twang to the background of the room, giving a sound of a small echo to his voice. Then in the fast moving scenes of being on the flee, fighting, or thinking the pacing felt off. In trimming and editing his recording, he splices sentences together to fast to try to show the quickness of the moment, but it sounds like a run-on sentence. I really don't like this feel as it made the cadence wrong for me. He does do a slight accent for Nikki who's grown up in England as well for a few other characters we meet through the story.

The first third was a bit rocky for me, with the lusting and desires of both and the feel of the story going no where. I just didn't feel the connection between the characters. Veil is attracted to the image of Nikki from the first time he saw her. Nikki finds him handsome when she sees him on the phone. They have some sort of attraction before they even know each other. Oh goodness. Veil lusts after Nikki at just the sound of her voice. Nikki finds him gorgeous. *sigh* This just feels like no connection for me. Just lust. It all feels forced.

I kept going, and about half way the heat between them kicked up to a high. At this point I was finally feeling comfortable with them as a couple and what they needed to do. If they hadn't had such a strong feel and sleep together so soon, I might have been better with their relationship as later in the book I feel they are stronger as a couple.

There were a few moments I wasn't sure if I would believe in happening, in the beginning. And the scene with shots fired felt like the narrator was trying to feel the rush but the sentences were to long or to much detail to take in at the same moment or something. I can't tell if it's the writing or the narrator but it seems like the sentences don't have a flow but a choppy set of sentences that don't feel to lead to each other. To me there are unexplained reactions. For instance, the characters are suddenly closer than strangers just meeting at moments. The reactions at sudden death just feel wrong, there is no lead up to it.

It seemed the story was at a stall in the beginning. They were on the run with no hopes of getting information as to why. It felt like a struggle to get them off Earth and to where they could start to bloom as characters. When they did bloom into more, it was thanks to the technology of another world.

Once Nikki is in the position she's to be in by her right, she excels at a strong, smart woman. She knows what she wants and gets the job done. I will give Nikki her credits for that. I do enjoy the way she uses the unspoken hinted knowledge to her advantage. Very well done Nikki. For this, the book earned some credit back in my mind.

Where I was expecting a nice science fiction story with a touch of romance, I found an erotic romance with a touch of science fiction. I'm not much of a fan of love at first sight type feel from books, my brain gets in the way. This was more lust at first sight, on both parts.

This book is one that I would suggest to someone that enjoys instant desire between a couple and enjoy full sex scenes. Definitely for 18+ with the descriptions given.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Audio Books at a Reduced Rate, Through Amazon

Audio books can be expensive. But I recently purchased a $17.95 audio book for $5.98. How did I do that?

Amazon has started a deal program with Audible.com. You purchase the ebook, you can get the Audible book for $1.99.

Wow. Sounds...unreal. Right.

I recently tried it. I'm hooked on a series, after the first book, and I love keeping my series the same way I start them. Also, I love the narrator. So I gave it a go.

1st:
   Purchase the ebook as you normally do through Amazon. (I think this ONLY WORKS for ebook purchases, NOT print books.)

2nd:
Pull up the book on Amazon and go to the Audible version. There should be a note that states you already own the Kindle book and are eligible for a reduced rate of $1.99.
-- My image is from the Amazon purchase on my phone. You'll see half way down the statement with the coverting tablet to phone symbol in orange.

3rd:
   Click the 1-Click and you are done!


You'll see in your emails, your ebook purchase along with your Audible purchase.

This book I wanted is normally $17.95 to $14.95 for the Audible version through Amazon.
I paid $5.98 total for it. 
How?
Purchaing the ebook for $3.99, Then the Amazon reduced rate for Audible version of $1.99.
I saved $11.97 on the audio book!



There is something neat and special about this setup with Amazon ebooks and Audible. I've added a screen shot of the computer screen that shows it: (click to enlarge)

The neat thing about this connection is that you can read AND listen. If you are sitting at lunch, you can read. Then when you are riding in the car on the way home, you can listen -- Picking up where you left off!

Cool, right! I'm going to try it later this week.



This all sounds way to easy and like I'm missing something. But, I really wanted this book and it worked out. The book is in my Kindle library along with my Audible library. Sweet!

Am I missing something though? Thoughts?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Post #93

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share new about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And where did the week go? I've been working hard on a current job. But other than that there hasn't been to much going on, which is a good thing many days. ;)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Fit Booker:

Goal:  Workout in any form of exercise (or on Wii Fit) 2x's a week. (to feel better and hope to drop a few pants sizes)

How did I do last week... I did walk/jog on the tread mill for 42 minutes and did about 2.4 miles. And I cut grass for 45 minutes too!


Episode 2:
The gears of the gate are jammed, and the runners have to go out to draw the zombies away until the gate's fixed. I get to be one of those runners!

I do get a view of the surrounding area and of one neighboring colony, which seems to be one that likes to use Abel as a diversion for the zombies. (So we did the same! lol) However, the runner I'm with isn't to sure whether to trust me or not. There's no records like old days (pictures) that show I'm who I say I am, or that I was even on the helicopter that went down...

AND!!! I totally learned something new! Zombies Run has a map of Abel Township that I CAN GROW! It's a game too! All those items I earn running can be used to set up the town with new items and upgrading defenses and all sorts of things.

Here's a look at my town:
Now I've grown it slightly. I've added a few things to the town center (Flagpole & Benchs), added to the defences, and also added a communications tower along with farming (the smaller sections).

Pretty cool, right!?! lol. This opened a whole new world for me with this running app that I enjoyed for the small amount of distracting banter. Cool!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's Happening in Books:

Current Read:
Artifical Absolute by Mary Fan
And Content Editing Work


Current Audiobook:
Ares by KA Finn


Current Podcast Book Listen:
None, now back to Audio books


Finished Last Week: 
The Casebook of Esho St. Claire by Scott Roche

Audiobooks from Audible:
The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan
Professional Integrity by Michael J. Sullivan
Ghost City by Madeline Claire Franklin

Finished Podcast Book Listen:
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #4 - Down by the River
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #5 - Old Sinner's Bones
...

~~~~~~~~~~

Last Week on the Blog:


Cover Reveals: (click titles to go to post & learn more)




Posts:
Birthright Release and Giveaway

Around the Internet...


Reviews:

Podcast Review:





Mama Bitchstress Reviews:



GIVEAWAYS:



~~~~~~~~~~

This Week to Come on the Blog:

I have my 3 reviews scheduled for next week. Woot woot! Can't wait to share these!

They are:
   Shadow Wars: Homebound
   One Day In New York
   The Case Book of Esho St. Claire

~~~~~~~~~~

Received Last Weeks:


Review & Review Consideration:


Audio Books Requested for Review:
Ghost City by Madeline Claire Franklin
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Kiddo survives—it’s what she does best. And since the world ended, staying alive is a useful skill to have. 

She and her found-sister, Princess, have created a home for themselves in the forest, and a refuge for the other children who survived the end. Hunting animals, harvesting herbs, treating wounds—this is what Kiddo remembers of her life Before, and little else.

But the young man they call the Saver claims to remember everything, even when the rest of the children who survived cannot. He speaks of what came Before when he leads the survivors to his island city, making promises of abundance and hope. But even the Saver’s memories can’t explain the wrongness of their world. They can’t explain why ghosts stream through the woods every night under the same full moon, or why there is a fire in the Burning End of the city that has blazed, unchanged, for nearly a decade.

Regardless of what the others believe, Kiddo knows one thing for certain: the city is going to sink someday. She can’t explain it—not without remembering. And since the world came to an end, taking memories and lives in equal measure, remembering is the one hardship Kiddo has not been forced to endure.

But the city wants Kiddo to remember: at the heart of the fire in the Burning End is a story that only Kiddo can tell—and only Kiddo can finish.

Ares by KA Finn
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
“Thrilling space battles and a twisted scientist, make this book a must read.” A. K. 

"This unique, fast paced, story embodies the epic struggle of man vs machine." S.M. 


He wasn't expected to survive — no one else did — and for twenty years, he has managed to stay off their radar. Until now. Until her… 

Gryffin was the sole survivor of The Foundation’s experimental project to transform human children into hybrid cyborgs – half human, half machine. The program failed and he was sent on a one way trip into The Outer Sector where he was left for dead. He has survived for twenty years by suppressing his human emotions and embracing his machine side. 

Officer Terra Rush believes in her duty to the Foundation. The Sector needs to be prepared for colonization, and nothing can stop her from doing her job…except him. When Gryffin saves her from an attack, Terra uncovers a terrible secret. The Foundation has been lying to her…and maybe they still are. 

They have labelled Gryffin a killing machine, yet he acts more human than many of The Foundation’s leaders. He has awakened intense feelings in Terra that throw her loyalties into question, and even though he pushes her away, she is determined to find out the truth about the cyborg program. 

Gryffin refuses to be a mindless soldier, yet escaping The Foundation’s control and stopping the colonization of his home will require Terra’s help. Can Gryffin overcome the machine inside and trust her? Or will getting in touch with his human emotions destroy him once and for all? 


Purchased/Winnings/Gifts:



Won:




Free Ebooks:

(On my Kindle App) Links to books under title. They may or may not be free at this time.
Bound by Duty by Stormy Smith
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and she doesn't even know his name. 

Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky Southern girl and to fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is and not what she'll be.

As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head or her heart win the battle?

Firefly Hollow by T. L. Haddix
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Genre: Romance with paranormal elements.
Book One in the Firefly Hollow series.

In 1960, a tragic death in the family calls young Sarah Browning back from college to her Appalachian homestead. Unable to return to school and finish her degree, she finds herself facing a future that isn’t what she’d planned. Lost and grieving, she wanders onto her reclusive neighbor’s property where she stumbles across the all-too-attractive Owen Campbell, a man hiding secrets she’d only ever thought were legend.

Owen Campbell was raised on the folklore of Eastern Kentucky, tales of men and women with magical abilities from shape-shifting to healing powers. Rejected by those he loves because of his own abilities, he isolates himself from the world. When he meets Sarah, he’s faced with the tough decision of whether to let her in or stay hidden away to keep his heart safe.

Firefly Hollow is the first book in the "Firefly Hollow" series. Other titles include Butterfly Lane, Dragonfly Creek, Cattail Ridge, and Cricket Cove. Also by this author: the Shadows/Leroy Collection, a series of standalone Romantic Suspense novels. Titles include Secrets in the Shadows, Under the Moon's Shadow, Shadows from the Grave, Hidden in the Shadows, and In the Heart's Shadow.
 

Courage and Other Demons by Jill Daughtery
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
“It occurred to me as I stared into the darkness that it was probably a good thing it had taken so long for me to see Simon for who he truly was. If I hadn’t fallen in love with that sweet and kind boy, I wouldn’t have gotten on a plane with him to fly halfway across the world; I wouldn’t have trusted him enough to do what he was asking me to do. And as angry as I was, as much as I hated what my life had become, I knew I had to do what Simon and the others were asking me to do. It all came down to one inescapable belief. I would have to kill or be killed. There were certainly other pieces of the puzzle that were more complex and harder to understand, but that one piece was very clear and unrelenting and it drove me forward, even in those moments when giving up seemed like the most sensible choice I could make.”

The end of the world will start in the suburbs of Denver with a faery transfer student from Ireland. If you think that’s totally ridiculous, then you understand how Maggie O’Neill feels. In all of her sixteen years, faeries were something you read about in children’s books. They didn’t actually show up on your doorstep. They didn’t kiss you and make your knees go weak and whisper sweet nothings in your ear. Until Simon Brady, that is. Simon changed everything. He makes her heart race and her skin burn with excitement, but he has also changed her core beliefs about the world and made her see it as a dark and dangerous place filled with monsters that belong only in the lines of faery tales. There is no doubt in Maggie’s mind that she loves Simon, but can she see past who he is and find a place for him in her heart?

Autumn by Sierra Dean
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Cooper Reynolds's life is going to the dogs... literally. 

As if being a high school senior in a small Texas town wasn't hard enough, Cooper has bigger things to worry about than who he'll take to prom and whether or not the Poisonfoot Padres will win homecoming. He has less than a year before his eighteenth birthday, when a curse placed on his family will doom him to live in coyote form forever. 

The last thing he needs to complicate his already messed-up life is a girl, but fate has other plans in mind for him when it brings Eloise "Lou" Whittaker to Poisonfoot. She's grouchy, sarcastic and has no love for her new Texas home, but she might be exactly the right person to help Cooper break the curse. 

The clock is ticking, and Cooper will have to decide if he's willing to let Lou in on his dirty little secret before it's too late.



(On my Nook)



Free Audio Books/Stories:
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #4
Down by the River

Agent Brandon Hill of the Ministry meets Agent Bill Wheatley of the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical meet up in Afton, New York. The House of Usher is moving a large and dangerous weapon through this small town, and it is up to the agents to track it down. However, not all the residents are quite the same as they seem.

Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #5
Old Sinner’s Bones

Agent Edouard St. Just arrives in a rather weather soaked Clontarf Castle, and finds himself immediately surrounded by the incidents that have been plaguing the residents. When blood starts dripping from the walls, and people start disappearing, St. Just realises he has fallen into an ancient conspiracy that he might not survive. Especially with a new opponent hot on his trail!





~~~~~~~~~~
Reviews to Come:

Soulless by Skyla Dawn Cameron
The Sentinel by Chris Lester
The Muse by Chris Lester
Metamor City: Making the Cut by Chris Lester
Metamor City: Whispers in the Wood by Chris Lester
Danube Waves by Katharina Bordet
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
Heartstealer by K.T. Bryski
Lex Talionis by Starla Huchton
7th Son: 7 Days anthology by J.C. Hutchins
House of Grey 6 by Collin Earl
The Secret World Chronicle: World Divided by Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee, Veronica Giguere
The Secret World Chronicle: Waiting On by Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee, Veronica Giguere
The Secret World Chronicle: Revolutions by Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee, Veronica Giguere
Heir to Kale by K.L. Bone
Tales from the Archives Vol. 4: #3 The Black Empress
Into Thin Air by Val Griswold-Ford
The Hidden Institute by Brand Gamblin
Invito Rex by Brand Gamblin
Shadow Wars: Homebound by Ursula Sinclair
One Day in New York by J.F. Penn
The Casebook of Esho St. Claire by Scott Roche
The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan
Professional Integrity by Michael J. Sullivan
Ghost City by Madeline Claire Franklin
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #4 - Down by the River
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #5 - Old Sinner's Bones
...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: Dirty Magick: New Orleans

Dirty Magick: New Orleans

Edited By:  Charlie Brown

Publish Date:  April 15, 2015

Publisher:  Lucky Mojo Press

Format:  ebook

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Series:  2nd of the Dark Magick Anthology series; 1st Book ~ Los Angeles

Recommendation:  For many stories set in New Orleans and the magic harbored there.

Synopsis:
"Dirty Magick: New Orleans" continues the urban fantasy anthology series exploring the crossroads between magic and crime. Set in "The City That Care Forgot," this book covers back alleys of the French Quarter, the hidden corridors of Storyville, the weird voodoo in the backyards of Treme and whatever those old Victorians are hiding. Featuring such established authors as Rhonda Eudaly, Terry Mixon and Scott Roche, as well as the continuing editorial hand of Charlie Brown, this book sweeps away the swampy myths for some hardboiled partying.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles  /  Book Depository

My Thoughts and Summary:
This collection is of magic filled mystery stories of who or why set in the magic city where anything magical is possible, New Orleans. There is a vast history to this city that it makes it easy for the variety of stories here to come in all shapes and sizes. There is current mystery settings, historical settings, and historical references.

I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology as they were my kind of reads with magic and action. There are some copy editing errors in this book, not as many as the first book but there are some. One thing I noticed is these stories are mostly in first person. Not a bad thing as we get to step into the characters shoes. But I also noticed a few of them tell about the characters at the beginning of the story instead of letting their positions unfold as we read, more an introduction of the character.

I know these are short stories and it's hard to do, but it's done and not done here -- Showing us the character and who they are through the story rather than starting the story with telling us who they are and what they do along with about themselves.

All these short stories have a complete end to the story. They stand on their own and you don't need to read other books to be caught up or to find out what happens.


Introduction: Hiding in Myth's Shadows: New Orleans's Complicated Relationship With Truth by Charlie Brown


Knowledge is Power by Rhonda Eudaly
Janna's on vacation. A theurgist on vacation in the most magically known city - New Orleans. She's touring the historical landmarks of museums, libraries, and churches. But in the Cathedral she gets a personal tour from a Priest she worked for when first out of the Academy. He shows her the heavily protected Grimoire. Then, the next day, she's arrested for stealing the powerful book. Janna is now determined to find the grimoire, to prove her innocence and keep people from being hurt.

I really liked this story. Great story to start the collection with. I got all my pertinent information with quick pacing. I was curious as to who took the grimoire and why. Then...why set up Janna?

We take a trip down the magic side of New Orleans into voodoo and also a brief interaction with a man who's a wolf, along with other creatures. The story is a mystery with quick action.

Blood Debt by Terry Mixon
Al Blake is paid handsomely to come to talk to the local mob boss of New Orleans, Sam "Silver Dollar" Carolla. If he takes the assassination job he'll be paid better than he ever imagined and more. Who wanted the dead man dead? And who has killed again?

This story is set in mobster days with a blend of blood mage, magic, and prohibition.

While Al is at the brothel investigating, another murder happens. The murderer is here! All Al has to do, find which person it is. Al is a blood mage and he uses his magic to find the assassin. You'll be surprised by who did it! I was. Al is then left with a choice to make, magic or his promise...

I was taken by this story as it was a turn of events and how All sticks to his word is so cool. It was even touching. Very well done.

Stigmata by Scott Roche
A vision drew Willie to this side of town. Hedge wizard Willie "Sparkles" Evans enters the Church of the Immaculate Conception seeking sanctuary. Someone, or thing, is chasing him. But what he walks into at the church... he's calling his detective sister now.

Oh, I love the history of the Vampire and a specific church connection here. Vampire history in New Orleans with ghouls and magic. All good things in one place, and there is troubles from it.

Another story I enjoyed the action and magic present in with the mystery of who.

Scott Roche even has me curious with Willie and Helen at the end of this story. I hope he does a few more short stories with them. I like what he brings to the table with them and want to see more.

All the Pretty Horses by Michael Ashleigh Finn
Josiah is joined by Baba as he's listening to the fine music of New Orleans. Baba has news that worries him. The Loa are missing. Baba wants Josiah to find his brother, Nibo, as he hasn't seen him in some time.

I find this story interesting with the Loa and Ghede. But...I did become a bit confused when Jo started working. I'm not sure what it was he did or how he "saw". I felt like there were missed moments for me to understand what's happening and why in the story. It could use more details to help us. I did like the idea and the ending though.

I like when Nibo shows up. Nibo is a Ghede and doesn't need a human rider, he can appear looking to be in his own body. Something is preying on the Loa and Ghede.

Everything Has Strings by Claudia T. Smith
Shugah shows up early at Violet's paranormal investigation office, which is unusual because she works the streets at night and sleeping by now. The local night girls are dying. Violet takes the case. When her friend suggests going to a revival that's in town, Violet sees a pattern starting and attends the revival to learn there is more going on than meets the eye.

We start right off with telling us who she is and the case, not letting us learn through events and actions.

What's interesting here is the magic. Violet calls upon Papa Ghede for help, asking of the connection she suspects of the deaths and the salesman, preacher. I like her magic. It's rough but believable because of that, it's not all flare. And the religion the man is preaching...well, it may be more than he thinks.

Last Dance in Storyville by Brent Nichols
George crossed Basin Street into another world, Storyville. George dances with the ladies of the brothel, but he has another mission. One of the beautiful woman here is a Merlin and she's hunting. And so is he.

We get the story of George's heritage and family mission to hunt the murdering witch along with his story here and now. This is very interesting as it's two stories in one that connect. The stories held my attention as I was curious to see how it worked out.

The city of Storyville has a bit of an Old West feel to it. I really enjoyed this adaptation and twist to setting in this book. The story was quick and to the point. Neat!

Normandy by Jeff Leyco
Sam has returned home for his brother's funeral. The casket is a closed casket. A friend, Mischa, said someone cut Shawn's brains out. Retrieving Shawn's items from the police, Sam finds a note in a pocket. But no one's looking into the note, or Shawn's death.

Sam has a whole history with his old home, and why he left. We get that story as well as the mystery as to what happened to his brother Shawn, and others that are dying just as gruesome deaths.

This story had the hints of all the great elements, zombie, wolves, magic, and mystery. We have the back story and set up. However I couldn't get excited about the story. I think it's the broken up scenes as the story moved from scene to scene we need to make this a short story. Some how if felt choppy in the transitions.

Glass Darkly by Paul K. Ellis
Jack reluctantly agrees to visit and help his brother Renny, at the insistence of Grandmama. Renny's chef has been missing for a week and Jack has the know how to find people. Jack finds himself a bit deeper in the magics of the world than he was wanting. And Renny too.

This story starts right in on Jack looking around the chef's bloody apartment. Now this caught my attention! I loved this start. Then the story seemed to slow a bit but when we got to the mirror, oh yeah. That was when it all came together. I liked the touch of magic in that mirror. There were a few details I would have liked a bit more concrete to help explain, but I did enjoyed this short story.

Oh, Grandmama. LOL! This woman is a hoot. She has a strong feel for family, and bad language around her. And she doesn't hold her tongue when she thinks her family should help each other, or watch their mouth. She comes across as the strong grandma that makes others smile while she's scolding her grandchildren.

What, or who, Jack and Renny come across would probably be a kind of fey type feel to them. The way Renny has gotten tangled up with these people, and Jack as well now, is interesting.

Casket Girls by Patrick Scaffido
(note: I think the next story should have come before this story as I would have understood what a casket girl was better for this story.)

Lucy wants her sister. But her sister signed on with a black magic gangster, Valdis Arcade, because she thought Lucy was dangerous to her. She thought Lucy was a zombie. Lucy is determined to get to her casket sister, one way or another. The spirits of the city answer to Lucy's call, because they believe in the worry for others like Lucy is worried. Arcade is a dangerous man, and the spirits know this all to well.

Lucy was neat as she can see memories in the ground. She can also see the ghosts clinging to Arcade's building. Death is her power.

The story was okay. I felt there was something deeper in the meaning here, but I just didn't get it. But it might be me as I didn't know the history of casket girls.

L'or Des Fous (Fool's Gold) by Lisa-Anne Samuels
Robert Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, is to secure the French colonies of La Nouvelle-Orleans as the newest part of the United States. Others don't agree with the President and would do anything to stall or stop the purchase, maybe even the residents of the colonies too. The $3 million to pay for the purchase has gone missing! It's due to the French government in days. Robert is set on the mission to retrieve the money in time.

Livingston meets and is lead by a seer and a wind witch in New Orleans. They are to work together with their magics to guide Livingston to the money. These two know each other and bicker like an old couple. The Wind Witch brings up the worry he, and many residents of the land being purchased, have. They fear they will end up in shackles.

As we travel with the seer and wind witch talking, it felt as though this is a historical story. As if the history was being re-written with magic included. Then Livingston learns a secret of himself and his family. It's magnificent to see the world through his newly opened eyes. There is so much more to the world. A paranormal essence is strong here.

A Gilded Fox by Emily Karnes
A local artist who's barely able to make ends meet is now selling items cast in pure gold. The Council is concerned where the gold is coming from and has sent Kasa with two others to investigate. They are concerned there might be an artifact around.

Kasa is more than she appears. But seeing her float through town on cloud nine and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of New Orleans is part of the fun of the story. The 'artifact' is interesting to see what it really is. But I was a bit bored with watching Kasa take in the sights of New Orleans and the two men with her. The men had a small purpose, but were not as important to me. It was an okay story.

Blood On The Quarter by Riley James Keith
Alton Bently is woken from his warm bed and drunken haze on New Years Eve/Day morning. It's 12:30 AM. His partner calls with a dead body that needs their attention.

I liked the way this one starts. It caught my interest quick and made me smile. Alton's personality and take on things and the world is a hard look yet it's got a humorous ring to it.

This world definitely has different beings living in it and everyone knows about them. Alton can converse with the dead. However he only gets one word. The magic he can do is accepted and seems other magics are as well.

This was a quick read for me as I enjoyed the story and world created.

Butler's Last Stand by Michell Plested
Rafael and his partner, Jean, investigate a report of gunfire, though no witnesses heard it. When Raf looks around, he finds a head hanging from the roof. A ghostly head that disappears. He keeps seeing the ghost, until he talks to it.

As you guessed it, there is a connection between the ghost and Rafael. And the ghost has a need for Rafael's help. An undead power is trying to raise a spirit army to overtake and rule New Orleans. Rafael uses his detective position to help the ghost, but there is more than meets the eye and he has to take a step closer to trust with the ghost to help his city.

I liked the feel of the story as it felt like I was watching a movie and the main character was also narrating, telling me snippets of his past or relations as the story went. It's neat, the gift Raf is left with in the end.

Prompt Succor by Hugh O'Donnell
Terry O'Byrne's services are required by the Church. The Arch Bishop sent a letter, by way of ghost, for Terry to meet with him and help with a disturbance...

This was a neat set up. I liked the time in the church and the way Terry helps the ghosts. This was a nice story to read.

This story was set in the church and involved the church, but in no way was it preach-y. (We are in New Orleans, after all. Thank you!) This was well done. And one I enjoyed after the introduction of Terry.

The Sacred Marriage of Etienne McCray by Kristen M.Corby
Steve, a cop working the beat in New Orleans, tries to clear a street worker from 'her' corner. In doing so, he steps into a whole new side of New Orleans, learning he's special as well.

Now this is a story to end the book with! This started off with me a bit nervous of how it was going to go, this can be - and is - a good thing. It's a different start and one that had me curious. I loved the story here and the way the other world unfolds for Steve.

Steve sees things now. What happened for Steve to 'open his eyes'? Well, that is a bit... intimate and detailed in the beginning. Go ahead, read it. It's neat to see what Steve sees and takes on here.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Audio Book Review: Bound by Duty

Bound by Duty

By:  Stormy Smith

Publish Date:  July 24, 2014, Audiobook January 8, 2015

Format:  Audiobook - 9 hrs 33 mins
Narrated By:  Kristin James

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Series:  1st in Bound series

Impression:  Young girl of remarkable power as her power grows. She also grows to feel and experience things of college life, but so much more than she ever expected comes at her sooner than later.

Synopsis:
Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and she doesn't even know his name.

Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky Southern girl and to fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is and not what she'll be.

As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head or her heart win the battle?

First Sentence:
Her stark white hair fell down around her face.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles  /  Book Depository

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.


Amelia has moved to Brighten to escape her crazy father, obsessed with her learning to control herself and her powers, to go to college and try to live a life of her own experiencing things. Her older brother, Cole, lives near and helps her with anything she needs, even to calm her when her powers start to escalate. Trying to live a 'normal' life, before the Queen calls on her to fulfill her betrothal to the Prince, Amelia finds she wants other things in life. And one of them is a young man named Aidan. Amelia has to decide between protecting her mage kind and accepting she could be used for no good by the Queen, of who whispers say she killed off the other Elders, by marrying the Prince. Or do as she wants, putting herself and others in danger.

Kristin is the narrator for this story. She fits right in to Amelia's part and all the emotions the poor girl feels. Amelia's attitude when she's angered, even if unintentional, comes out in Kristin's voice. All the characters become beyond four-dimensional with Kristin as the voice (three dimensional for the character development, fourth for the voice we hear). Kristin even has a different sound for Amelia when she's thinking in her head, a slight echo-y sound of an empty room. I like it as I know when Amelia is talking or thinking with easy differentiating. Kristin also gives each character a different tone or accent, making listening so easy.

We start with a prologue that gives us a taste of Queen Julia and the Hunter. She is looking for something, some information. Then we learn of the prophecy. I like this book starts right off with telling us the prophecy given and how it's come to be seen. We don't have to figure it out or wait for it. We know, now to see the story of how it'll unfold. Or not.

Amelia does her best at staying her path, to keep Aidan at a distance and do as she's to do. To continue waiting for her betrothal to come to pass. Amelia has high hopes that she could use good with her power as married to the Prince. But the more Amelia learns of the history that's not taught or talked of, held deep as a secret of those who know, Amelia is angered at what has happened to her people. The lose of the Elders and other Mages. Also, the more Amelia spends time with Aidan and her powers call to him, the more she falls for him.

Amelia is divided between what to do. Do what she wants, love who she wants? Or do as she's told to do, follow as she's to do as betrothed to the Prince and let them lead her on? Or...is she strong enough to stand up to the cruel Queen Julia? And help her people come out of the isolation age they've been living in.

The world of the mages has been torn apart, and the young don't know exactly what was done to their kind. The older are keeping the secrets quiet. What Amelia learns of a Mage that was all but destroyed is heartbreaking to learn what happened to the Elders and Mages by Queen Julia. It's interesting the Mages present in the world and their powers, but how they are all isolated as well.

Between Kristin's acting and the story, I was drawn into the story and wanted the words to go by faster. I would have wanted the same as reading, and I know listening is much faster than my reading. I couldn't wait to get more and more. I will be looking for the next book!