Month: January 2020

Review of “Grimoires, Spas, & Chocolate Straws’

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After exposing the perfidy to the king, Imogen Banks, her boyfriend, the former Prince Hank, and their friends have been banished to Badlands Island, a place that is infected with monsters that the king also banished there. Out on a monster patrol with the local defenders, Imogen falls in a raging river and is swept downstream, where she’s saved by a member of her brother Horace’s Badlands Army. She implores her savior to take her to her brother, who, despite his enigmatic and sometimes violent nature, she still wants to find. He shows her the Badlands Army encampment, but reneges on taking her to see Horace.

Later, when friends suggest a spa vacation, Imogen is all to ready for the diversion. But, as often happens with our heroine, when they arrive at the spa, a dead body appears, and Imogen, Hank, and the crew set about solving the murder.

Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws by Erin Johnson is book 8 in the Spells & Caramels series, and not so surprisingly, given the fantastic job the author has done with this improbably plot, it does not disappoint. You’ll be delighted as Imogen, her flame—yes, literally a fire—Iggy, Hank, and a whole host of believably unbelievable characters, including a vampire in love with a sorceress, frolic, fumble, and finesse their way from the frying pan to the fire to the baker’s shelf.

Kudos to Johnson for keeping the interest going for eight books. Looking forward to number 9. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Mythicals’

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When Jack March, an out-of-work, alcoholic journalist attends a diplomatic function, he stumbles into Deborah Bright, who has had an accident that threatens to expose her for what she really is, a fairy wearing a body suit to make her look human. Jack just happens to see her as he removes the suit, exposing her wings before she flies away. He’s not sure he’s not suffering a drink-induced hallucination, but he responds by shouting out what he’s seen to the assembled crowd.

 

This drunken incident plunges Jack into a world he could never in his wildest moments have imagined. He learns that there are literally thousands of mythical creatures living among them, disguised as humans, prisoners from other worlds, sent to the planet to atone for their crimes. With the threat of exposure, the Mythicals, as they call themselves, set out to neutralize him. He’s given a choice, become an Ally and work with them, or be exiled to another world where others like him who wish not to be allies are kept.

 

Things get even harrier when Jack learns of a plan by one group of Mythicals to eliminate most of the population of the planet because they are viewed as a ‘terminal’ species. To add to the peril, another group, knows as the Pilgrims, are planning to take over the planet and make it their home.

 

Mythicals by Dennis Meredith is a fascinating blend of fantasy and science fiction that will grab your attention and hold it until the exciting conclusion. In addition to the science fiction elements, the author skillfully explains the existence of many mythical creatures, including leprechauns, pixies, ogres, and vampires. A story with humor, mystery, action, and danger, it’s a great winter read; the perfect book to settle down with in front of a blazing fire.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four and a half stars.

Review of ‘The Water’s Fine’

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Excerpt from The Water’s Fine
“Polo likes to tell stories about the Sea of Cortez. His favorite is about El Lavadero, Las Animas. Las
Animas is named after the church bells which ring to summon the lost souls, and El Lavadero means the
washing machine. The dive site is oftn referred to as the washing machine of lost souls.
Before we dove at El Lavadero one morning, I overheard Polo telling Bertie that the thousands of silver
jacks schooling in the water are the lost souls. She twisted her ring and looked spooked while our group
waited its turn to descend at the site. I thought maybe she wouldn’t come, but she did. Afterwards, she
told me that when she saw the mass of circling jacks and thought of them as lost souls, she felt more sad
than scared. I knew what she meant. I always say a prayer when I see the swirling fish, the sun glinting
on their silver scales
My Review

Catalina Rodriguez and Bertie Clark have nothing in common but a love of scuba diving when they meet on the Calypso for a diving trip in the Sea of Cortez, but a tragedy during the trip, when another member of the party, Gordon Baker, on the trip with his wife and two daughters, dies during their last dive. As the dive master, Catalina feels responsible for his death, even though she learns later that he was suffering from a terminal disease, and chose to die. A certified rescue diver, Bertie also feels a sense of guilt for not doing something to prevent the tragedy. The two women have bonded during the trip, and even after Catalina gives up diving and returns to her home in San Diego, they stay in touch by phone.

Shortly after returning home, Catalina begins to suffer a string of seemingly unrelated catastrophes, but attributes them at first to stress as she tries to cope with the Calypso incident. But Bertie thinks otherwise, and is determined to help her get to the bottom of what’s going on.

The Water’s Fine by Janice Coy is a subtle, but intriguing story that defies neat categorization. The author moves readers slowly through a chain of events that become more deadly with each occurrence, weaving a deft mystery that will keep the reader guessing until the startling climax. I was put off at first by the switch from first person point of view (Catalina) to second person (Bertie), but as I continued to read, I discovered that this only heightened the tension, as I tried to solve the mystery ahead of the author’s disclosure. I failed, and the author succeeded. The answer to Catalina’s problems came as a surprise—a delightful, and skillfully-done surprise.

I received an advance review copy of this book, and I recommend it highly, even if you’re not a mystery fan. A true page-turner, it will grab your attention and hold it until the end.

I give Coy four stars for an entertaining read.

 

Review of ‘Becoming Human’

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Ken Turner and his friends, after initially thwarting the government’s efforts to find and exploit the offspring of a Russian experiment in human-chimpanzee cross-breeding, find themselves still in a fight, not just for their careers, but their lives, as the power-hungry government agent continues his efforts to capture one or more of the hybrids.

Becoming Human by Kenneth L. Decroo continues the pulse-pounding action begun in Almost Human, moving back and forth between the deceptively serene environment of a politically charged college campus to the steamy dangers of the African jungle. While this one can be read as a stand-alone, I really recommend you read the first one . . . well, first, so that you’re fully in the picture. The author explores some sensitive and controversial subjects, but in a manner that provoked reflection rather than rage.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, and like the first, it did not disappoint. It’s science fiction, but it reads like facts in today’s turbulent world. I give it five stars without hesitation.

Jacob Blade Vigilante series gets a face lift in 2020

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Fans of the half-breed vigilante Jacob Blade are in for a treat in 2020. Thanks to the creative ingenuity of renown publicist Nick Wale and the fantastic art of Kevin Diamond, the entire series is being reissued this year with a new and exciting cover that’s sure to appeal to fans of the ‘shoot ‘em up’ western genre.

 

Jacob Blade was a simple farm boy living with his mother and father in Indian Territory until he came home from a trip to local markets one day and found his parents slaughtered by a group of itinerant outlaws. With his dying breath, Jacob’s father asked him to avenge their deaths, a task that he took on with relish. In the course of his quest, he discovered that there was a lot of evil infecting the western frontier, evil that he determined to help eliminate, one dead outlaw at a time.

 

This is just one of several series that I currently write, and is second only to the Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves in the joy it gives me to write.

 

The new covers give a sense of continuity to the series, and, in my humble opinion, illustrates the protagonist most effectively. I sincerely hope that readers will find them as attractive—and seductive—as I do, and welcome any comments. In the meantime, I’m currently working on another Jacob Blade adventure, with Jacob coming to the rescue of a small community of settlers in Nebraska who are being tormented by a greed rancher who wants to take their land. Keep an eye out for Sins of the Father, coming soon to Amazon.

Review of ‘The Awakening of Russell Henderson’

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Russell Henderson grew up on a farm with a dysfunctional family in Iowa, got his MBA from the University of Iowa, married his college sweetheart, and established himself as a wunderkind of the banking world in Chicago. He became so immersed in making money and becoming successful, though, he neglected his wife—until she walked out on him suddenly for another woman. Devastated, Russell returns home, finds it still unsatisfying, moves in with his sister and her family, still at a loss, then buys a van, and, in an uncharacteristic move for him, decides to go on a road trip. During the trip, he encounters a girl hitchhiking who introduces him to a world he never knew existed, leading to tectonic changes in his point of view.

The Awakening of Russell Henderson by Ed Lehner is a sedately paced story of one man’s journey of discovery, not just of a broader and more interesting America than he knew existed, but of himself. The author slips interesting tidbits of history and geography in a compelling story that keeps its main focus on the principal character and his evolution. Despite the sedate, almost leisurely pace of the story, there is nothing boring or mundane about it.

Definitely a book to add to your library.

I give it four-point-seven-five stars, and only because it got a bit confusing after Russell had a confrontation with the hitchhiker, and she faded from view for a few pages. A small glitch in what is otherwise a book that will rival Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.