Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Speculation

Posted: Friday, 29 June, 2012 by deacongray in Book Reviews

Speculation
Edmund Jorgensen
155 pages

I admit. Typically I am skeptical of first time authors. Or rather, being completely honest, I am skeptical of self-published authors and unknown publishing companies; we’ve all heard of PublishAmerica, right? If not, you must immediately Google them. I still do not know anything about Mr. Jorgensen’s publisher, and I no longer care.

Speculation is a short story, at just 155 pages in PDF format. And it is, quite simply, unnecessary for any further words or pages. As far as this reader is concerned, it was perfection.

Now, I am not the smartest or even the best educated. And yes, I will admit to some trepidation when I realized there was some jargon which might be above my level. All qualms aside, I soldiered on. I had agreed to read this, and read it I would. And let me tell you, I read it in one sitting.

Here is the summary, the back of the electronic dust jacket:

“Andrew Wrangles has a decision to make. His best friend Sothum, a philosophical and financial genius, has just died and left him a choice in his will: ten million dollars or a sealed envelope.

Andrew’s wife Cheryl doesn’t see this as much of a choice. She wants Andrew to take the money, and what little patience she has for his speculating about what could be worth more than ten million dollars is wearing thin very quickly.

But as Andrew digs deeper into the secret life that Sothum lived, he finds more questions than answers. Does the envelope contain the fate of a vanished mutual friend? The answer to a terrible cosmic riddle? The confession to a crime? Is Sothum just playing a final private joke? Or has Andrew become a pawn in a game–a game that Sothum died playing against a bigger opponent than Andrew can imagine?”

Let me tell you, this is an honest summary of the book yet it seems so completely dishonest at its very core, too. Why? Because this story is, in my humble opinion at least, a very complex love story. You’re shocked, you say? Perhaps you should be. Skeptical even, just as I started – it’s OK, I understand. But woven within the mystery of the contents of that envelope you will uncover several deeper stories. The love between husband and wife; the love between friends, and the love/hate relationship one man has with his faith.

Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes:

Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Speculation? Well, there are two ways to enter…

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Speculation tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I’ve posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.

About the author: Edmund Jorgensen was born in Chicago. He studied classical languages and has maintained a love for all things Greek and Roman. He fell in love with his wife in Mexico; they now reside, happily but considerably more chilly, in Watertown, Massachusetts. Edmund is currently hard at work on his second book, a set of interconnected short stories. Connect with Edmund on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.

DUwNTUwMTQ3OTkxOjE2/

Advertisements

Witchling

Posted: Tuesday, 10 January, 2012 by deacongray in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

 

Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn
Berkley (Mass Market); October 2006
Urban Fantasy, 276 pages
ISBN: 0-425-21254-8

 

We’re the D’Artigo Sisters: Half-human, half-Faerie, we’re savvy–and sexy–operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But our mixed-blood heritage short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times.  My sister Delilah shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she’s stressed.  Menolly’s a vampire who’s still trying to get the hang of being undead.  And me?  I’m Camille–a wicked-good witch.  Except my magic is as unpredictable as the weather, which my enemies are about to find out the hard way…

 

Looking for a series that incorporates all the creatures from your deepest fantasies? This might be it. Hereditary witches? Check. Elves? Check. Faery Queens and Sidhe? Check. Demons? Check? Dragons, were’s, trolls, and giants? Check times four! Yes, they are all here. Some live on Earth, some are from the subterranean realms, and some live in Otherworld. Many fantasy writers prefer to stick with one type of “fantasy creature”, giving only a nod to the rest who live within our hearts but Yasmine Galenorn brings these creatures out of our hearts and onto the pages of her book.

Sent to live on earth, these half-human, half-Faerie sisters stumble upon a plot to overthrow the current order. Working for the OIA, they are assigned the task of investigating the death of a giant living on Earth. Yet they are supposed to do so without the resources of OIA, or the backing of home. And that investigation leads them to the plot of one Subterranean Realm dweller to overthrow the current order and run amok on Earth. How can they stop it? A little luck, a little magic…This short piece is obviously not the entirety of the matter. This book is just the beginning – the first battle. Who will come out on top in this fight against pure evil?

For me, one of the best things about this is that Ms. Galenorn allows us to explore both the darker and lighter sides of our imaginations. The typical vampire is ruthless and evil, just like many fanatics want; Camille’s sister, on the other hand? Well…you’ll just have to read more about her, won’t you?

Witchling is the first book in the Otherworld Series. I am a newcomer to the works and world of Yasmine Galenorn, but I was hooked.

 

© Mikyla Abigor

A New Classic Novel

Posted: Sunday, 1 January, 2012 by nicolajones in Book Reviews, Editorials
Tags: , ,

In a time of utter popularity for the vampire in fiction and popular media comes a book dedicated to the lesser known relatives of the undead, the incubus.  The Demon Lover written by Juliet Dark is the story set in modern times, dealing with supernatural beings unlike those in other fantasy novels.  Juliet Dark is a pseudonym of bestselling author Carol Goodman, who is best known for being the author of Arcadia Falls.  The novel starts out with a passage said to be the unpublished manuscript of The Dark Stranger by Dahlia LaMotte, who is an important character in the story, although long since dead.  The story begins to unfold as Dr. Cailleach McFay interviews for a position as an assistant professor of English and Folklore at the small Fairwick College in upstate New York.  Callie as she is more commonly called is hesitant to take the position at the small school, as she wants to hold out to see if she got a job at NYU, and get an apartment with her longtime boyfriend Paul who is working on his Ph.D. in California.  The personal history of Callie, and the town and College history of Fairwick slowly unfold as we learn of Callie’s dreams of a fairy prince as a child after her parents’ deaths and the recent dreams of a phantom lover.  But is this lover who visits Callie every night just a dream?  Or is he the mysterious Demon Lover that Callie has based her career on studying.

The demon lover is the theme that takes up the first half of the novel, before we learn that the town hides its own secrets.  Which I do not wish to give away, as the book is a definite worthwhile read.  Let us instead consider the Incubus.  The Author tells the story of the Demon Lover, known in many cultures the world over.  He is the incubus, Lilu, El Trauco, the Alp, Popo Baua, the lidere and more important for the story, the Ganconer or Love Talker.

We hear the story of the Ganconer when Callie first sees a beautiful painted triptych called the Fairies Farewell.  The story is told to our heroine by the mysterious Soheila who notices Callie looking longingly at the face of a dark fae man in the painting, riding besides the Fairy Queen.  She tells Callie that the Fairy Queen abducted the Ganconer as a young man, and took him off the land of fairy, where he lost his human nature.  The tale claims that he seduces mortal women in an attempt to drink their essence and gain back his own humanity, but that he sucks his lovers dry before he can gain flesh.  However, later we here a version that says that he must make a woman love him to bring him back to his mortal self, but that he fails to make the women love him, and drains them dry after many nights of passion and days of obsessed creativity.

As the Graveyard Press caters to the gothic and occult community as well as the OVC, let us work with the assumption that the readers of this piece at least know someone who feeds on sexual energies.   The incubus and succubus are often lumped in with classical vampire myths; there are striking differences that are also ignored by modern living vampires.  To feed off of sexual energy, to create this frenzied need and then breathe in the life-force as the demonic incubi and succubae do is very different than the stories of reanimated corpses feasting on human blood.  The undead in myth are thoughtless bodies craving nothing but blood.  It wasn’t until modern times that the vampire became something of a sex object and a being with a will of its own.  Whereas the incubi and succubae are insubstantial unless in the act of love making.  And often times they are seeking to have a child by their mortal lover.  So why is it that the sexual vampires and psychic vampires do not identify with the incubi and succubae?  The beings of myth are handsome men and tantalizing women who are irresistible.  They come at night, and take only energy from their victims.  They do not bite or leave any marks behind.

Perhaps it is the popularity of Vampire fiction that leads to the label in the OVC.  Maybe Juliet Dark’s book will bring the Incubus in to modern consciousness the way that Bram Stoker’s Dracula first captured the minds of Victorian women with the dark seductive vampire lover.

A Modern Fairy Tale

Posted: Sunday, 1 January, 2012 by nicolajones in Book Reviews
Tags: ,

A Modern Fairy Tale

In a world of magics and dangerous brambles that slow the body to an eternal sleep comes a tale of a man seeking to save the world.  It is a true modern fairy tale, like something out of Arabian Nights.   The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi is a short novella that was written in a far off Renaissance world created in tandem with Tobias Buckell who created his own novella.  It is the story of a lone alchemist who seeks to save his city, and perhaps the world from the bane of the Bramble.  Whenever a person uses magic, somewhere a bramble shoots up.  The bramble has milky hairs that when it comes in contact with human skin causes a deep sleep that slows the heart until it stops beating.  The Alchemist is a widower, forced to sell all his belongings in order to feed his daughter and Pila, the servant who has stayed loyal and cares for the young Jiala. As the story unfolds we see the greed and corruption of the Mayor and Majister, out to execute anyone breaking the ban on magic in order to gain their lands.   The Alchemist with his miraculous balanthast that can destroy the brambles gets caught up in the twisted plot of the Mayor and Majister.

Nicola A. Jones

Royal Blood

Posted: Tuesday, 27 December, 2011 by deacongray in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Rhys Bowen. Mystery. Royal Blood. 305 pages

Rhys Bowen is an award winning mystery author. Royal Blood is the fourth book in the ‘Royal Spyness’ series, which features Lady Georgiana, penniless and 34th in line to the English throne.

While not the most recent offering of the series, Royal Blood called out to this reader. Here, we find Lady Georgiana at her wits end: her brother Binky and his wife, Fig, have descended upon House Rannoch in London, shattering the peace and quiet she has been almost enjoying. Binky is oblivious to his wife’s snobbery and the wife loves to harp on about Lady Georgiana making a “suitable” match before being placed upon the shelf. It is, after all, just the 30s and the Depression is in full force across the globe. So, what’s a girl to do? Accept the Queen’s order to travel to Romania and attend the wedding of a school friend as a representative of British royalty, of course. Especially if it means escape from the odious Fig and real meals instead of toast and baked beans for a change!

And so, the journey from England to Romania begins. Because no proper young lady, especially an actual Lady, would dare journey without a companion, along comes the battle axe known as Lady Middlesex and her companion, Mrs. Deer-Harte. The latter is prone to superstitions and “feelings”, laying the groundwork of vampires in Lady Georgiana’s head. These feelings are only further cemented when it is announced that the royal wedding will take place in the original Lord Dracul’s Castle, deep in the mountains.  Coupled with the feeling that someone is watching her, seeing someone scaling the Castle walls, waking up with someone standing over her, the superstitions soon take full hold of Lady Georgiana. When a foreign diplomat is murdered at dinner, it is clear to Lady Georgiana that the intended victim is none other than the bridegroom. But the murder must be covered up to ensure the wedding takes place without international incident. And then, Mrs. Deer-Harte ends up dead at the bottom of a treacherous set of stairs and Lady Georgiana finds herself in a dungeon…

What’s a girl to do? Solve the mystery, of course! And she does, with aplomb. These are not the psychological thrillers of masters such as Koontz or King. No, they are lighthearted and fun reads. Lady Georgiana is addictive. You are invited to start at the beginning and work your way up to Royal Blood, but it isn’t necessary.

© Mikyla Abigor

Tempe Brennan shares a message to the reader, amidst thrilling tales of murder and mayhem.
The two newest novels in the Temperance Brennan saga contain serious messages about professionalism and the mission of forensic anthropologists. The author, Kathy Reichs, is a board certified Forensic Anthropologist, who works for the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de medicine legale for the Provence of Quebec. She is a professor at the UNC-Charlotte, and former vice president of the American Acadamy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. All this and she writes crime novels that inspired the hit Fox TV show Bones, that she also serves as an executive producer for. After such a long and diverse professional history, she has a lot of real experience to draw on to form compelling stories for her novels.
In 206 Bones Reichs’s alter ego Temperance Brennan is dealing with having been kidnapped. As she slowly comes aware of her surroundings after having been buried alive she remembers the twists and turns of the many cases she had been working as well as the personal issues she faced recently as she tries to figure out when and where she is and who is her unseen enemy. From identifying remains of older women who were brutally murdered, to helping a friend of her soon to be ex-husbands family find answers for a missing grandson she spends a complex winter in the frigid north, while missing her home in South Carolina. She is dealing with her ex-boyfriend and partner Ryan’s making friends with her ex-husband’s family as she tries to prepare for the holidays with them. And with an unknown enemy claiming she is incompetent and falsified cause of death on an old case she worked on. Soon both her work, and the work of the pathologists that she works with in Quebec are called into scrutiny as a bullet track is seemingly ignored by the pathologist assigned to a murder investigation and finger bones go missing that are crucial to identification on the case that Tempe is working on. I won’t give away any more details that that, but I will tell you that the epilogue from Reichs files talks about professional conduct and certification. The moral of the tale is that just because you wear a lab coat does not make you an expert. That it is important to have the education and certification in your field, and that unfortunately not all courts recognize the difference between a lab tech and a forensic specialist.

In Spider Bones Tempe is once again working in Quebec when a mysterious body appears in a small lake that is identified by fingerprints as a man who died in Vietnam. The case takes Tempe home to North Carolina to exhume the soldier’s grave, and then to Hawaii to the labs of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in order to find answers as to who the man in the lake and the man buried in the soldier’s grave really are. Throw in shark attacks, The Sons of Samoa, death threats, Ryan and his heroin addict daughter, and her own daughter Katy’s longtime boyfriend Coop having been murdered by insurgents while attempting to return from a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. The message of this novel is certainly that any death is tragic, and that every human deserves the respect of being identified and returned to their loved ones. Reichs brings to public awareness the JPAC motto and mission, “Until they are home” and provides contact information for various agencies in the military to contact for information about missing American soldiers. And this is a noble mission indeed.

Nicola A. Jones

A Whole New Vampire Mythos

Posted: Saturday, 17 December, 2011 by nicolajones in Book Reviews
Tags: ,

A look at Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Imagine a world not too far into the future, where a bitter world war has changed the face of the Earth and the poor use solar power for electricity, but the batteries only last a few hours into the night.  But these struggles are the least of humanities worries, as a sacred covenant between the sons of god and the daughters of man is about to be broken.  This is the setting for Kristen Painter’s Blood Rights, the first in the House of Comarrέ Trilogy.

Set in the year 2067 in the hidden city of Covinestri, Romania and Paradise City, New Florida the story unfolds in the hidden world of the supernatural hidden from human eyes by the covenant.  The world of the supernatural is made up of the children of the fallen angels, called Castus Sanguis. These children are the races of Fae, Noble Vampire, and Varcolai which are shape shifters.  Also inhabiting this hidden world are the Fringe Vampires descendents of Judas Iscariot and the Comarrέ a race of humans bred to have the purest blood and serve as concubines to the Noble Vampires.

As the story unfolds we learn secrets that the Comarrέ keep, from the point of view of the main character Chrysabelle.  She has fled the life of the Comarrέ after her patron was murdered, sending her running to Paradise City, and eventually the protection of Malkom an outcast Noble Vampire who lives under a curse that says he will kill anyone he drinks from.  At Malkom’s side are Maddoc the Varcolai under a witches curse whose life Malkom saved, and Fiona a ghost who haunts Malkom as part of his curse.  Vibrant characters who join in the dark tale of bitter revenge, ancient magics, and unholy beings.  The reader is drawn into the story, and can be captivated by the light and dark elements of the hidden world and left waiting for the next installment.

Nicola A. Jones