Thursday, March 4, 2021

A Three-Book Deal, and Other News

 Happy March!

A few new updates this month, the first of which is that my Frostbite series has been acquired by City Owl Press, in my first official three-book deal. A Vision in Crimson, Dreams of Ice and Shadow, and Night of Storms will make their way onto City Owl's catalogue starting in 2024. I'm very excited to be working with them again to bring this series that is near and dear to my heart to even more readers. 

And because City Owl is just so good to me, Curse of the Amber has a splashy new cover. Take a look!

My horror novel Notes from the Undead and the EPIC fantasy The Shadow of Theron are on their way to finding their homes too. I'm very focused on polishing up Night of Storms, the third book in the Frostbite series, but in the back of my head, other stories are fighting for the privilege of being the next WIP. I have a pretty good idea of what's going to win out, but I'm not telling! Not yet.

Monday, January 18, 2021

I'm Back! Sort of...

Good afternoon, on this fine MLK Day. A vaccine is on the way, along with a new President, and I can bear to look at my computer screen for about an hour at a time. Progress. 

My vertigo is persistent but subsiding, some. Enough to get some writing work done, if not some reading. Fear not! When words swim on the page, that's what manga's for. And audiobooks. Nothing shall keep me from reading or writing, which is what I hope to continue doing as a new year dawns. Also, there's a puppy coming. I never post about family stuff, I know! But puppies are so very cute, and it's not something I can help. 

In the meantime, there are some updates to my bio to reflect the state of my writing. The Shadow of Theron is done and looking around for a place to call home, though interested betas are always welcome. I'm hoping to polish up book 3 of my Frostbite series, which, the more I think about it, is probably in better shape than I think it is to be rightfully called a first draft, and other standalone projects are pushing their way to the front of the brain. It may swim a little, but the noggin still works. 

In an attempt to unplug my head and enjoy the things I can do, my ability to read a book a week has been, shall we say, annihilated. As a result, I'm reverting back to being much more choosy, and therefore, reviews won't be the focus of this blog any longer. What it will be, only time will tell. A stronger focus on the state of genre writing and the writing process in general is very likely. Whatever I do read, you can see with my thoughts on the Goodreads bar running off to the right there- a line or two is about all I can manage these days, as are easy breezy regency romance reads. I have so many good fantasy books that I want to get into (Dragon Reborn is at the top of the list), but I'm just not there yet. And heaven knows how long it would take to listen to an audio of that.

Stick your head out the window, if you can, and get a gulp of some fresh air. That's what I'm going to do. And I may just take Giordano Bruno with me. 

Puppyyyyyy! This mini dachshund will be coming home by the end of the month, from the fabulous Dachshund Dude Ranch in TX

Monday, July 6, 2020

Taking a Pause

Good morning.

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you may have noticed that a couple of weeks have gone by without a new review. That's for a few reasons:

One: I haven't been really reading, as I've been focusing so much on writing. I'm preparing the first draft of The Shadow of Theron for beta-reading, and whatever free time I have has been taken up by that. It's a beast - over 120k so far, and I'm not done typing it up yet. I'm really happy with it though, and that's what counts.

Two: Even that work is happening much slower nowadays, as a resurgence of vertigo keeps me from focusing on the written word - anybody's words.

Three: When I can read, I often put down books or just don't like them enough to put in the effort to review them.

So: this blog is going to go on a temporary hiatus. I'll still be around, and when I'm able to read/write/operate on some level of normalcy, you'll see more of me here. For now, take solace in the fact that there are lots of reviews and recommendations up in the past feeds. As updates make sense, I will make them.

For now - take care of yourselves- your bodies, your brains, your spirits. Take a walk. Read a book. Write a story. And for all our sakes, stay safe.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Rushing to the Conclusion: Ghostly Echoes

I came back to this series quicker than I normally would, because the second installment of the Jackaby series left off with some very interesting changes in the resident ghost's activity, and I wanted to see what the series would do with a trope that is very well-covered and traditional, compared to redcaps and some of the other crazy paranormal creatures that made their appearances in the first two books.

Unfortunately, there was too much going on here in Ghostly Echoes, and as much as I wanted the book to focus on the murder-mystery style task of discovering Jenny's killer and putting her to rest, we got thrown into a whole other set of otherworldly creatures and rules of the fae and the River Styx. It's not that these things weren't interesting, but once again they're in a jumble with other things, so there wasn't as much depth of detail, and in that way the narrative that could have been very tight quickly lost focus. There was also a missed opportunity to develop how the ghostly realm and the realm of the dead works here. There was an effort at that, with Abby's descent into the land of the dead, but it had very little to do with Jenny's temporal changes, and just felt too far afield, even for these novels.

I'm not as hyped up about finishing the series as I was to come to this title. So it might be quite a while before I pick up book number 4, if at all.

K Rating/ 2/5

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Solid Serial Killer: Looking Glass

I was pleasantly surprised by how different Andrew Mayne's The Naturalist was, in terms of the investigation of a rampant serial killer working under the radar, and in the quirky, almost inhumanly scientific way that Dr. Theo Cray uses his weirdly wired brain to solve the unsolvable.

Looking Glass (The Naturalist Book 2) by [Andrew Mayne]This continued with the second installment, Looking Glass, which handled the same kind of case - the kind that goes on and on for years with people not even realizing it's happening, but with the new twist of the killer being more of an urban legend than reality. Mayne is able to successfully demonstrate the gravity and scope of the crimes he writes about it in a way that gives you a real sense of urgency in the solving of cold cases. I don't read crime thrillers extensively, but this is certainly a unique take from what I've seen, and it's what keeps me coming back. That, and the fact that Theo is a likable guy, even though the other characters in the book don't seem to like him. This is especially true of law enforcement characters- they don't like being told how to do their jobs, predictably, even when they need to be told how to do their jobs. So that element of tension in the books, and what Theo will or won't have access to to complete his investigations is compelling. Also, I really do sympathize with a character who is always and indisputably the smartest guy in the room.

The other thing that I appreciate about Mayne's work is that he doesn't play it safe in the nature of his crimes. They are grisly and disturbing, and in many ways all-too-real. The same is true of the bleak backdrop, both in the opioid crisis of the first book, and of the broken family dynamics in low-income and/or crime-ridden areas, as is the case in this book. He's not afraid to have kids be his primary victims, and I appreciate that boldness and edginess. As someone who reads horror and thrillers that gear toward horror, in my estimation, it wouldn't be as good if it wasn't transgressive, and in a way that is also a pointed social commentary on social issues that are not fictional or imaginary. The backyard full of bones was an especially powerful scene.

Another excellent title on on fronts. And that kind of reliability these days is very hard to find.
K Rating: 5/5

Sunday, June 7, 2020

So Very Good: Death Come to London, and Kurland Hall

I've been reading these Kurland St. Mary Mysteries so quickly- because they are so good and such quick reads (I can't imagine putting the books down) that I'm going to review Books 2 and 3 Death Comes to London, and Death Comes to Kurland Hall together.

Death Comes to London (Kurland St. Mary Mystery Book 2) by [Catherine Lloyd]This is a great series, and has pretty much everything that I'm looking for in books like these. There's always a new mystery (of course), but those mysteries are complex and compelling and really draw you into each new round of characters and their motivations. All the while as we're looking at evidence and suspects, and twists and turns of the plot, we're following Major Kurland and Lucy along as well, and the chemistry- both as investigators and as romantic interests - is explosive.

In Death Comes to London, Lucy Harrington has gone to London with her sister to help her have her season, where hopefully she will come away with a husband. Lucy is hoping for the same, but her time is consumed with the murder of a wretched old woman who drops dead after being insulted by another wretched old woman. Rather than spending time with prospective suitors, Lucy is constantly visiting with Robert to get to the bottom of the case. This of course scares off any other men, and it becomes obvious to everyone (except Lucy and Robert) that something more than an investigation is brewing between them. By the end of this book, Lucy's relations pressure Robert into offering to marry her, since he's monopolization of her time has ruined her chances with anyone else. Needless to say, this doesn't go well.

So in Death Comes to Kurland Hall, things are tense between the two, to say the least, but that has to be put aside as there's yet another death, as Lucy is planning the nuptuals of her friend. It takes the interest of yet another person for Robert to realize how he feels and to act on it. Which was very satisfying indeed.

The fourth book, Death Comes to the Fair, was on its way to my local library when it shut down on account of coronavirus. So aside from my twice-cancelled Disney vacation, this book is the very first thing I'll be doing when I'm able to leave my house again. Stay safe and healthy - and find a good boo to read!

K. Rating: 5/5 (on both counts)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Good Dare Alternative: Suddenly You

The fact that I keep talking again and again about looking for a romance author that I like other than Tessa Dare should tell you everything you need to know about what I've been reading lately.

Suddenly You by [Lisa Kleypas]It's not my usual way of doing things, to read voraciously in one genre title after title without switching it up. But my reading habits are coming up against my writing habits. And right now, I am in the thick of finishing up my manuscript for The Shadow of Theron, a hefty fantasy title. (more on that in my bio) So my brain can't even think of reading someone else's fantasy at the moment, which is my preferred genre. All the same though, I like to read other people's work in between chapters to refresh my brain and get me thinking for the next one. Hence the quick brainless reads happening at warp speed.

So- now that I've explained myself, and why this blog has taken a heavy turn toward the romance titles - the book on today's chopping block is Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and the chemistry between the shark-like publisher Jack and the author-cum-spinster Amanda. In an unusual twist, rather than acting loutish and proving everyone else right about what a brute Jack is, he never presents himself as more or less than he is, and his attraction to Amanda is straightforward from the beginning - that is, except for the very very beginning, where Amanda mistakes him for the boy-toy birthday present that she buys for herself. Jack is happy to oblige, of course, and the tension comes from her mortification when she discovers who he truly is. But by then, the die has been cast- for both of them. Jack's desire for her is palpable and written in a compelling fashion, which I really liked, and the steamy scenes were executed well. Kleypas pushed the boundaries of the sensual encounters I have read up to this point, and did it in a way that felt intrinsic to both characters.

There was no major moment where a character lost my respect or my sense of their likability, and that's always what I'm looking for with new romance.

So this one was a win - hopefully when I pick Kleypas up again, I will get a similar result. Then I will be very happy.

K. Rating: 5/5