Showing posts with label thriller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thriller. Show all posts

Early Book Review: Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino

Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino is a manga style graphic novel currently scheduled for release on June 10 2020. It is a psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan. After that day, she stopped being a girl. In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.

Not Your Idol is a well drawn and suspenseful story. I liked the pacing, including the action and the character backstory and development. I really enjoyed the character dynamics of Nina/Karen and how her life and perspectives have changed over time. The issues of sexual assault and related issues are handled very well, and how different people react to them is an issue we all need to think about. The story is very engaging, and kept me turning pages to learn more about the characters and what might happen next. It is not an easy read, as there are a number of tough moments and some things that survivors might find very triggering, and others will find upsetting. However, it is well written and I am very eager to see where the story goes from here, and learn more about the major players as the story continues. My only complaint is the cliffhanger that the volume ends in. Be prepared to be left wondering, and eager for the next volume. 

Not Your Idol is an intense and engaging read. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Book Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire is a stand alone, separate from her series. Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realize it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own. Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Middlegame was a harder start for me than most of McGuire's book, I think it was just the amount of information necessary to set up the characters and the story. However, once I got past the first couple chapters I was hooked and I was immersed in McGuire's imagination once again. The world and character building is wonderful, and the story id complex with lots of nuisance. I thought the relationship between Roger and Dodger was fascinating, and while there were times I did not agree with their choices, I could always understand the reasoning behind it. There were so many different ways the story could have gone at every turn, and sometimes they do go multiple ways. I would hate to ruin any of the surprises the book holds for new readers so I will refrain for going into details about the action and important plot points. Just know that I found this to be darker and more dense than I was really prepared for- and had I picked it up at a different time it might have been exactly what I was looking for. It was extremely well written, and the mythos built for the story was absolutely amazing, I just had trouble connecting with the characters and enjoying the read as much as I had expected. I honestly think the issue was more with me than the book, and I will continue to read everything I can from McGuire. 

As an aside, since I had trouble getting into the book the first time I started reading it, I got it via Audible and listened to it. Amber Benson is the narration- and she does some amazing voices which helped me keep track of who was talking and a better understanding of their characters. Regardless of how you read this, do not skip the chapter intros- which I admit to having done with other books, they are important and will help with the greater understanding of the story.

Middlegame has exceptional world and mythos building with complex characters and plot line. Something did not grab me as much as I had expected, which I think has more to do with my mood than the book, but it was not my favorite of McGuire's. I will still keep on reading all of their urban fantasy.

Book Review: Missing by Kelley Armstrong

Missing by Kelley Armstrong is a young adult thriller. The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere. The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree. But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

Missing is a bit of a mystery and very much a thriller. I liked the characters and the mystery surrounding Winter's search for Lennon and the missing teens from Reeve's End. I thought the reality of the hard lives people in Reeve's End face is engaging and makes the larger story and mystery much deeper. Winter's struggle to get a better life, and her willingness to risk it all to do the right thing draws the reader and makes them care so much about her as a character and a person. I found Lennon and Jude, and the personalities and mystery surround them, to be extremely well done. I will admit to being surprised several times with the elements intrinsic to the thriller aspect of the story. I like that the physiological component was high, and that while there was some gore, it was not overwhelming. The balance of character and setting development was pretty much perfect, making the town and characters all very real and multi dimensional rather than flat and boring bits in the background. While I am not a big fan of thrillers, I found myself rather hoping for even more about Winter what might happen next to most of the characters. 

Missing is a young adult thriller, a new direction for Armstrong. I have been a fan of her other works, but I am not usually a big thriller fan, but I recognized the writing style and enjoyed the read very much. I might even continue reading her thrillers because of her character and setting work, despite my general avoidance of the genre.

Book Review: The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé by S.L. Saboviec

The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé  by S.L. Saboviec is a stand alone novel set in the same world as the Fallen Redemtion series (which I have not read).  

Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé, busy executive and less-than-stellar mother and wife, has a problem that only an exorcist can solve. Except she’s not precisely a devout Catholic parishioner any longer, and to gain assistance from the Church means telling a whopping lie of omission. Fortunately, she discovers Father Angelo Ambrosio, whose commitment to helping the afflicted means he’s willing to overlook the things Scarlet prefers to keep hidden. Unfortunately, his sordid past keeps him under a microscope with the bishop, who’s not so liberal in his views. But the demon harassing Scarlet is relentless. It makes its motives clear: in a previous life, she struck a bargain, promising it her body on her fiftieth birthday. Now, she and Angelo must unravel the mystery surrounding her forgotten past in order to stop the possession by next week or risk losing her to the depths of Hell forever.

The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé  is a story with an interesting premise and a diverse, if not slightly twisted, cast of characters. It is a supernatural thriller that also deals with homophobia and the related issues in the church, and society in general. I liked that no one seemed to be written as a token character to fit the desire to be diverse, they just happened to be who they were. That is not always how the characters seem, but it did play completely organic which I liked. Scarlet was a well written character, and while her stubborn nature is key to the story, she frustrated me on several occasions as well. Although I have to admit that Father Angelo and Zoe were my favorite characters in the book, much more so than Scarlet. I found Zoe's voice to be much stronger and more engaging than Scarlet's, and I thought Angelo's character was very compelling and I was much more engaged with his well being than Scarlet's.

The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé  just did not grab me. Perhaps if I had read the related series I would have enjoyed it more, or maybe my reading style and the author's writing style do not compliment each other. However, I can think of so many readers that would enjoy this read and that I would happily recommend it to.

Early Book Review: A Whole Latte Murder (Java Jive Mystery) by Caroline Fardig

A Whole Latte Murder is the third book in the Java Jive Mystery series by Caroline Fardig and is currently scheduled for release on November 8 2016. While the character and personality dynamics are laid down in the previous books, I think the actual mystery portion of this book will be accessible to readers weather or not that are up to date with the series. If you want to understand the love lives of the main players, then you will need to read the books in order. The first book is Death Before Decaf and the second book is Mug Shot.

Juliet's personal and professional lives have recently received an extra jolt of energy. Her romance with the hunky detective Ryder Hamilton continues to simmer, and business at Java Jive has never been better. But her good mood quickly turns as stale as day-old espresso when she finds out that Ryder has been promoted to his precinct's homicide division. With him risking his life to catch the worst kind of criminals, Juliet's growing sense of unease ignites when a local college student goes missing. Suddenly every Nashville resident is on high alert, especially Juliet's neighbor Chelsea. Juliet does her best to calm the girl's nerves, but her worst fears are confirmed when she finds Chelsea dead. Even though she tries her best to stay out of it, Juliet's involvement puts a strain on Ryder's first homicide case. The situation soon becomes even more personal for Juliet and her best friend Pete Bennett when one of their employees disappears during her shift. As a killer lurks in the shadows, Juliet, Pete, and Ryder seek out a double shot of justice.

A Whole Latte Murder is quick moving with lots of changes for Juliet. Once again Juliet stumbles across a dead body, investigates with well meaning friends, irritates or beguiles the police, and gets herself in a whole pile of trouble. I like that Juliet continues to grow and change as a character, getting more mindful of how her investigation might effect those around her- and fearing for the safety of others more than for herself. I liked that several relationship questions are raised, examined, and dealt with during the book- although there is plenty of room for further changes in that front. I like that despite the danger, and general insanity that seems to surrounds Juliet, she talks to people and hashes out problems rather than just letting them fester or magically disappear. There are some exceptions, but she seems to be taking more and more responsibility for her actions and relationships. She is just as flawed and imperfect as the rest of us, but she is willing to admit it- even if she does not want to. As a bonus, I did not guess the full extent of the final twists, and was glad to be somewhat surprised by the big reveal, and then a few more times as everyone had to survive the ordeal. A fast, fun, and exciting read.



A Whole Latte Murder is just as intense and action packed as the previous books. I think Juliet got herself into even more danger this time around. An entertaining read that had me turning pages well past my bedtime.

Book Review: Betrayed by a Kiss (An Unlikely Hero) by Kris Rafferty

Betrayed by a Kiss is the first book in the An Unlikely Hero series by Kris Rafferty. Marnie Somerville is sure Dane MacLain is just another bad guy. Her job as resident investigator at Whitman Enterprises is to track down the owners of delinquent accounts, but something about Dane’s case is off, and Marnie can’t resist a good mystery. The secret files and cover-up she finds after hacking her boss’s computer are more than she expected, and now she’s fleeing her former employer, right into Dane’s arms. Former detective Dane MacLain has spent the last year gathering intel against Whitman Enterprises, the company he believes responsible for his wife’s death. When a beautiful and intense woman shows up with information, Dane is willing to accept all she has to offer, especially when the help comes in such a sexy package. Caught in a deadly cat and mouse chase, Dane must do everything he can to protect Marnie as they run for their lives.

Betrayed by a Kiss is fairly fast paced, with plenty of danger and action. Marnie had been trying to go straight, only to discover that the company she worked for was worse than anyone she had worked with while she was growing up. Dane is a former cop that just cannot let go of the wrongs he knows exists, and whats to prove that they exist. They have each been through betrayals and danger in the past, but when Marnie tries to save Dane's life they end up working together to bring down Whitman Enterprises. I liked that we get to see Dane's daughter and sister, and that there is plenty of action and danger to keep things moving alone. I also like that Marnie seems to be a very complex character. She has a serious past and some crazy connections, but sometimes I felt like there must have been a previous book of something to connect people that seemed important to the story and had backstory that was not included in this story. The tension between our main players was high, and the intentions and decisions believable. It all fit together well, but I just did not connect to the characters or story, and found myself skimming over bits of the high action just to get to the resolution faster. I am not sure why the disconnect, there was nothing I can point to. It is perfectly possible it was my mood weather than the fault of the material.


Betrayed by a Kiss is one of those books that had everything, and should have been fantastic, but I just never really got invested in. There was nothing really wrong with it, but I never connected with the characters for some reason. It could have been just not the book I was in the mood for when I read it. I still cannot put my finger on what did not click for me. 

Release Day Blitz: In The Line of Duty by Carolyn Arnold

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itlofdBLURB He devoted his life to seeking justice. But would she get any for him? It was an ordinary day for police officer Barry Weir. It was the end of shift, he was tired, and he just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. But someone had other plans for him, shooting him down and forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice. When news of Weir’s murder reaches the department, it leaves Detective Madison Knight and every cop in the Stiles PD itching for revenge. It cuts Madison’s boyfriend, colleague, and Weir’s childhood friend, Troy Matthews, deepest of all, driving him away from everyone he loves just when they need one another the most. With evidence pointing to a gang-related drive-by, Madison and her team investigate the town’s seedy underbelly in search of justice for their fallen brother. But the deeper they dig, the more convoluted the case becomes. Now they need to figure out if this was a random shooting as part of a gang initiation, a straight-up hate crime, or a targeted kill. But with members of the Stiles PD under attack, they have to do it fast…before more officers pay with their lives.    

PURCHASE
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  ABOUT THE DETECTIVE MADISON KNIGHT SERIES 
Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. 
Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology. This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O. Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Ties That Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Found Innocent, Just Cause, Deadly Impulse, In the Line of Duty, Life Sentence (Bonus Prequel).   
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Author Bio CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures. Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™. Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower. She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.   

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online: Website - http://carolynarnold.net/ Twitter - https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold   And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Early Book Review: Demon by Jason Shiga

Demon is a the first book of a four part mystery adventure in graphic novel format by Jason Shiga. It is currently scheduled for release on October 4 2016. Jimmy cannot die. When his body is killed, Jimmy simply takes over the body of the person in closest proximity to him. Simple, right? Not once Jimmy gets started. His mind is sharp and highly analytical, and he cares about nothing but his own survival and the survival of his adorable daughter. To avoid the shadowy government agency on his tail, Jimmy will do anything, even if it means tearing the world down around him.
Demon is an interesting idea taken down a dark path. The idea of being immortal is not new, but the concept of taking over the body of the nearest living person when you die is interesting. I liked the way the exact circumstances of Jimmy’s powers were revealed, and some of the effort he going to in order to escape. However, I feel like there are so many unanswered questions, most importantly why he was so determined to kill himself in the first place. I know that there are more books coming, but I do not know it I had enough crumbs to those answers to make me follow along. The art is the expected style from the artist, and worked well, but was nothing earth shaking for me. I think there is a definite audience for the book, I am just not part of it.



Demon is a dark and sometimes funny graphic novel. If you enjoy the twisted humor of the author you will enjoy this new series. I found it a little less interesting than I was hoping for, but I can see the appeal for certain readers.

Book Review: Daring in a Blue Dress by Katie MacAlister

Daring in a Blue Dress by Katie MacAlister is a contemporary romance that is part of the Matchmaker in Wonderland or Ainsle Brothers series. the first book in the series was The Importance of Being Alice which was great fun. The series is tied together by the family of the main players, but each can also be enjoyed on their own.

Stranded in England without money or a ticket home, Mercy Starling takes a job working for a medieval reenactment company. After all, who wouldn't want to pretend to live in the past, wield swords and long bows, and dress up in armor? And the best part of her summer job is Bestwood Hall, or rather, its intriguing new owner. The painfully shy Alden Ainslie is overwhelmed by the medieval reenactors who invade the Tudor house he's renovating, but he's drawn to the bubbly Mercy. And he valiantly joins in the fun, dodging not just arrows, lances, and the odd sword thrust, but also some pretty suspicious—and potentially deadly—attacks on himself. Someone wants him to give up on the house. But Alden is desperate to prove himself—and win the heart of his lady fair.

Daring in a Blue Dress is a romance with a heaping spoonful of suspense. Mercy is a character with a money problem and a strange solution. Taking a job that was offered on a train by the person backing out at the last minute is a desperate solution, but one that she is willing to take. Alden is a perpetual student with few social skills, but the need to restore Bestwood Hall and keep the former owner, who still lives on premises reasonably happy. When Mercy's job just happens to be working for medieval reenactors that unexpectedly set up camp in Alden's back yard hilarious missteps and compromises ensue. several cases of assumptions, mistaken identity, and social awkwardness keep readers happily reading and enjoying the story. The chemistry between Alden and Mercy have is wonderful, and their banter is highly entertaining. The mystery.. danger, and action of the story are a great bonus- however I was just thrilled to see another book where MacAlister concentrates on fun, quirky characters that engaged me and kept me interested through the entire book. Now I need to go back and read the couple books I missed between Alice's book and this one, especially if MacAlister is back to the awesome characters that originally made me a fan.


Daring in a Blue Dress is a fun and fast read with plenty of laughs and romance, but a significant amount of mystery endanger as well. I think fans of MacAlister’s quirky characters and readers that have never read her light hearted romance will all enjoy this entertaining mix of mystery and sweet romance.  

Book Review: The Haunted Pub by Melanie Tushmore

The Haunted Pub by Melanie Rushmore is a contemporary novel that will appeal to adult and new adult readers. Suffering from depression, and going through a rough time because of it, Fizz's misery culminates in his parents throwing him out, leaving him with two bags, twenty pounds, and nowhere to go. Desperate, he calls his brother, who takes him to The Queen Anne's Revenge, where Fizz winds up living in a room that hasn't had a human inhabitant for more years than anyone can actually count—a room that seems to already have an occupant.

The Haunted Pub is full of characters with flaws. Fizz has struggled with depression, and perhaps more, all his life. His parents have just kicked him out of the house, and the only place for him to stay is with his cousin at a pub that is rumored to be haunted- in the creepiest room to boot. The majority of the pub’s staff lives in the upper floors as well, and one roommate’s band also reverses there. The story is about the haunted inhabitants of the pub, and the connections the living inhabitants make as well. I really felt like I got to know five or six characters really well, and enjoyed reading about their interactions and growth individually. The ghostly aspected built slowly, but that was the perfect pace to make the big conflict at the end so real and high emotion. I became so enthralled with the characters that I really have not stopped thinking about them, and how they might be doing, since I finished the book. Since it is the characters that hook me, I know I will be looking for more from the author.


The Haunted Pub has a little bit of everything. Readers that are offended by LGBTQ relationships or characters will want to steer clear, but readers that do not care how the characters identify as long as they are well written and that their book is compelling will enjoy the read. There is a gothic feel, with plenty of adult angst and mental and emotional struggles to keep readers (and characters) guessing at every turn. I only wish I could read more about how the characters deal with whatever comes next, because life always throws something new at you when you least expect it. 

Book Review: Devil and the Deep (Deep Six #2) by Julie Ann Walker

Devil and the Deep is the second book in the Deep Six by Julie Ann Walker. I do recommend reading Hell of High Water before this book, because it includes the first meeting of our leading couple and the personalities and dynamics of most of the characters, but newcomers would catch up pretty quickly.

Cocktail parties, political fundraisers, and charity events are Maddy Powers' way of life. But the daring man who appropriated her father's yacht a couple of months ago is still out there, somewhere, and she wants to pay him back for the scorching kiss they shared. Behind his suave smile and ladykiller eyes, Bran Palladino carries a dark secret that keeps him from pursuing Maddy, even though he can't get her out of his head. But when Maddy is kidnapped as part of a grand scheme, it's time to put up or shut up because Bran can't live without Maddy now.

Devil and the Deep is a faced paced book with plenty of danger, action, and more. Maddy and a group of scholarship students are at a nearby beach, a reward for hard work, when a group or mercenaries attempt to kidnap Maddy. Fueled by an email telling him of Maddy’s location Bran goes to visit, and interrupts the attempt. Fire fights, power plays, and deception are the words of the day as they struggle to get everyone out of there alive. The chemistry between Maddy and Bran is an added distraction, as is Brans past. A few moments of passion that could be much better timed and promises of no strings finally get the pair to talk, but with high stakes and everything on the line they might not be able to keep any promises. The action was intense, as was the danger. I had a few face palms when they decided to have alone time, not necessarily the best time for it, but when there is that much going on I guess you take what you can get. I really enjoyed the personalities and interactions of the secondary characters, and look forward to continuing the series to see what happens next.


Devil and the Deep is a high action, high emotion, edition to the world Walker has created in her interrelated romance series. If you are a fan of the Deep Six or Black Knights series you will enjoy this story.  

Book Review: Grave Illusions (Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter #1) by Lina Gardiner

Grave Illusions is the first book in the Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter series by Lina Gardiner.  Lieutenant Jess Vandermire, New York City police officer, is uniquely specialized to recognize and fight an unseen threat. It's her job to forge a black ops team, an assortment of men and women who wouldn't be considered for the job under normal circumstances. For her, it's all about retribution until ex-cop John Brittain is recruited to her team. Suddenly, her priorities aren't quite so easily definable. John Brittain has a chip on his shoulder and is as tough as they come. But is he ready for the whole truth? When Jess tells him the truth about herself, will he stay and fight or will he turn against her and not only threaten their lives but destroy the fragile relationship developing between them?

Grave Illusions is an urban fantasy with a solid show or world and character building, and a good pacing. John is a well built character that kept my interest. I like that neither Jess nor John are perfect characters, or so completely flawed that redemption seems unlikely. The dangers they face, and the team they put together, and very well written and capture the attention and imagination. They face large challenges, but deal with them head on, forthe most part. My only problem with the book is that it felt like there might have been a prequel or relate series before it (none of which seem to exist) since some of the characters had such complex back stories and interconnected relationships which readers only get a glimpse of. However, I still greatly enjoyed the complex reveals of some of those pieces, and the depths of the characters and larger story arch.


Grave Illusions is a solid start to a urban fantasy series. The characters are story are intriguing, with some new twists to the well explored ideas about vampires and the law. I have added this series to my to be read list, and look forward to reading on. 

Book Review: Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs

Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs is a young adult book with adventure and science fiction elements. Elena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporation selects her for a top-secret project, she can't say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future to bring back data, and she'll be set for life. Elena joins a team of four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy with his own reason for being there. But when the time travelers arrive in the future, something goes wrong and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own fates. Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future from unfolding. With time running out and deadly secrets uncovered, Elena must use her eidetic memory, street smarts, and a growing trust in Adam to save her new friends and herself.

Future Shock is a great book with vibrant characters. I like the fact that the characters are all so different, and yet share common issues. The majority of major players come from the foster care system but even Adam, the only one not in the system, has issues of his own. It was also nice to see a variety of races and background issues for each of the characters, and they all felt very real and organic rather than forced. Elena and the crew all have trust issues (who can blame them), but they doubt themselves as well as each other. Their mission seems simple, find technology and information in the future that can earn Aether Corporation big money. However, there are secrets and  lies that throw everything off and make everyone even more distrustful. I like the serious character development we see with Elena and the murder mystery component of the story, as well as the fact that the romance aspect did not take over the other aspects of the story. It was a real page turner, and I was very much engaged with the characters through the entire book.


Future Shock is a book with a great premise and execution. I enjoyed the read greatly and will be looking for more from the author, hopefully to continue the story.

Book Review: Lafcadio Hearn's "The Faceless Ghost" and Other Macabre Tales from Japan by Sean Michael Wilson

Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan is a collection of six of traditional Japanese ghost stories told in graphic novel format by Sean Michael Wilson. All of them are very well known in Japan, where ghosts and demons are often called yokai, meaning "the mysterious and weird." Today these stories find expression mostly in movies and manga, but they remain rooted in the traditional ghost stories of the Edo era known as kaidan, which means "recited narrative of strange, mysterious, rare, or bewitching apparitions." The book includes an afterword by William Scott Wilson, the esteemed translator and editor of Japanese texts and samurai philosophy, who puts the stories into historical context.

Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan is a good look at some of the traditional stories from Japan. I love learning about the folklore and legends from different parts of the world, and while two of the stories seemed vaguely familiar to me, the complete stories were new to me. I found it fascinating that despite the fact that these are ancient legends from the other side of the world, some ideas are consistent with the urban legends of my own region. I think it is important for readers to see that despite our differences and distance some parts of human existence is shared without ever having crossed paths. The black and white artwork was very well done and captured the emotion and atmosphere of the stories. The collection was a solid read, and while it did not keep me up at night, it certainly had a creepy vibe that stayed with me for a while.


Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan is an interesting and entertaining collection of traditional Japanese ghost stories. I would recommend it to young adults and adults that enjoy ghost stories and legends, particularly those from other cultures. 

Book Review: Silver Bullet (Preternatural Affairs #2) by S.M. Reine

Silver Bullet is the second book in the Preternatural Affairs urban fantasy series by S.M. Reine. I listened to the audiobook which is read by Jeffrey Kafer. This series does have major plot points that build upon each other. I do not recommend skipping ahead. If this sounds book interesting to you, I would start at the beginning with Witch Hunt. Knowing who everyone is, and the intricacies of their connections, is key to fully understanding and enjoying the read.

Former private investigator Cèsar Hawke has one rule: He doesn't deal with dead bodies. That's why he enlisted with the Magical Violations Department in the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He's happy tracking down witches that commit petty crimes, but he leaves the homicides to other agents. Except that he's been assigned to a new team and the job has suddenly changed. Now Cèsar has to deal with dead bodies. He also has to deal with necromancers, murderous cults, and demons that can stop a man's heart with fear. This isn't the job he signed up for, but it's the job he needs to do. If he survives the first week.

Silver Bullet picks up right after Witch Hunt ends. Cèsar and crew on an investigation trying to find the source of a flux in demonic energy. This leads them into a casino run by demons, and on the tail of werewolves, a cult, and an ancient power that seems to be waking up. Between the living nightmare demons, the giant spiders, and the apple cult hunting for stones of power no one is happy. The additional help of a few Union members adds a little back up for a team that received little to no training on demons, and is now deep in demons. I like that the character building and action continue in high gear, with magic is less important this time around. I liked getting deeper into the psyche of Cèsar, Fritz and Suzy- although Isobel is still a bit of a mystery. I also like that while there are hints of attraction between characters romance is a back burner storyline, rather than taking over the entire story.  I find this to be a grittier series than my much loved Dresden Files from Jim Butcher, but about equal in wit and smart alekcy comments.


Silver Bullet is a great balance of the paranormal and mystery. There is plenty of sardonic wit, action, hold your breath moments, and silliness to boot. A fast and fun serious to keep happy readers up well past their bedtime.  Listeners get the bonus of being able to listen to the talented Jeffrey Kafer do some high class voice acting at the some time as they get lost in Cèsar's world.

Book Review: In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler

In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler is the third book in the SWAT series. While each book can stand well on its own, I find that having a little prior knowledge of the characters ahead of time, and how the SWAT team work with and relate to each other, makes the read even better. The first two books are Hungry Like the Wolf and Wolf Trouble.

There's a new gang of criminals in town who are organized and ruthless in the extreme. When Eric Becker, along with the rest of the Dallas SWAT team, ends up in the middle of a shootout, he immediately senses werewolves-a lot of them. Turns out, the new bad guys are a pack of wolf shifters. In a spray of gunfire, Becker comes face-to-face with the most gorgeous woman he's ever seen. Becker does the logical thing. He hides her and leaves the scene with the rest of his team. Jayna Winston has no idea why that SWAT guy helped her, but she's glad he did. Ever since she and her pack mates got mixed up with those Eastern European mobsters, everything had pretty much fallen apart. So what's a street-savvy thief like Jayna going to do with a hot alpha-male wolf who's a police officer?
In the Company of Wolves is as high action and suspenseful as the previous books in the series. Becker is a good alpha, but I do not really feel like we got any new insights into him. We get to see his house, hear how he was turned, and see what a great guy he is. However, I never really feel like we got to know him as much as we get to know Jayna. We get to witness her traumatic turning and get deep into the trouble her pack has found itself in. I feel like we get a better look at the inner feelings of Jayna and her packmate Meghan than anyone else. the action was high, the story was a page turner with me catching my breath on occasion. I enjoyed the book, I just felt less of an emotional understanding or attachment to the characters than I had hoped for. It was still a satisfying read, but not as enthralling as I expected.

In the Company of Wolves is a little different from the previous books in the series, because we do not get to see much of the SWAT team as a whole. However, we still get plenty of high action, danger, and werewolves. The characters and action are on par with the series so far, and i am interested to see who finds their One next.

Book Spotlight with Excerpt: Last Stop by John Pearce

"An exhilarating journey that will satisfy the most avid thriller reader" - Kirkus Reviews

SYNOPSIS

A full-throttle adventure through modern Europe and the Mediterranean ... that’s part thriller, part mystery, and all rollicking ride.

Pearce again accomplishes every thriller writer’s aim: creating characters that the readers can root for and a believable, fast-paced storyline. The climax and denouement bring the storylines together neatly, but fans will see that there may yet be room for another book in the series.
When readers last saw Eddie Grant in Treasure of Saint-Lazare (2012), he was hot on the trail of Nazi war loot in the company of his on-again, off-again lover, Jen. As readers return to Eddie’s shadowy world of undercover deals and thugs in the employ of crime bosses, they find a quieter, more mature Eddie, now married to Aurélie, a scholar of some note, and living in pleasant domestic bliss. Onto this romantic scene come several of Eddie’s friends, who alert him to suspicious activity within his social circle, involving a man with criminal intentions and an interest in gold. Shortly afterward, a mysterious murder implicates another character from Eddie’s past. As he looks into the matter, Aurélie soon finds herself in danger; at the same time, Jen reappears in Eddie’s life, and he’s simultaneously drawn to her and eager to avoid falling into bed with her again. Soon, he and his comrades must track down another ring of criminals and protect themselves from fatal retribution.

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 EXCERPT

Aurélie took his arm again as they stepped off the curb. The crowd had thinned, leaving them momentarily alone in the street except for a young man in a red hoodie, dancing ahead to the beat of his own private music, a figure of grace and lightness who seemed to float a few inches above the pavement.

Halfway across, Eddie paused and turned to Aurélie for a kiss. He pulled her even closer and she turned eagerly to meet him — and glimpsed a dark sedan, headlights out, as it pulled quickly from behind a parked taxi and careened around the corner toward them. At the same moment, the taxi started to pull away and its front bumper caught the left rear door of the sedan, whose driver ignored the scream of tearing metal and tried to speed up, his front tires bucking and bouncing on the pavement. Aurélie instinctively tightened her grip on Eddie’s arm to pull him out of the street.

“Go!” she cried urgently as the car bore down. Together they took one long step before it was on them. At the last instant, Eddie pushed her forward and she landed in a heap on the curb. He almost escaped untouched, but the car’s left mirror scraped heavily across his hip. He staggered and fell next to Aurélie as she shook her head, beginning to sit up.

The sedan roared away from them at high speed and ran a red light as it turned onto Quai de la Tournelle along the Seine.

The cab driver jumped out and ran to them. “Are you OK?” he asked. “Should I call an ambulance?”

Eddie rolled slowly onto his back and moaned. Aurélie moved closer and asked, “Édouard?”

“I think I’m OK, but my butt's going to hurt,” he said. He looked down and added, “These trousers have had it, but I don’t think anything is broken. Did anybody get that bastard’s license number?"


PURCHASE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Pearce is a part-time Parisian but lives quite happily most of the the year in Sarasota, FL. He worked as a journalist in Washington and Europe, where he covered economics for the International Herald Tribune and edited a business magazine. After a business career in Sarasota, he spends his days working on his future books - The new one, Last Stop: Paris, is a 2015 project. It is a sequel to Treasure of Saint-Lazare.
For several months each year, he and his wife Jan live in Paris, walk its streets, and chase down interesting settings for future books and his blog, PartTimeParisian.com. They lived earlier in Frankfurt, Germany, which gave him valuable insights for several of the scenes in Last Stop: Paris.

  
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