It’s been ages since I put out a book review, and it took me several months to work my way through The Fifth Season. I want to assure you right away, this was not because it was a bad book. Quite the opposite, really. I’ve just been having brain problems because of MS relapses, and there were days when I couldn’t retain anything I tried to read. This makes it hard to review something if I can’t remember it, so I usually put the book down on those days and wandered off to play Dark Souls.
Let us begin with where my interest in the series started because it wasn’t with me buying the first book. I bought it for my husband, who was about to go on another long distance flight for work, and I remembered N.K. Jemisin being a writer I followed on Twitter who writes fantasy, and hubby loves fantasy. So one book purchase later, I went back to work on my stuff and promptly forgot about it.
Then in mid August, the 2018 Hugo awards winners were announced, and here’s N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky winning Best Novel of the Year. So I do a bit of digging and see that all three books in the trilogy won a Hugo, and The Stone Sky also picked up a Nebula and a Locus award. That makes the whole series a bit more intriguing. I mean, sure, one book in a series wins, you’ve done good. But if the whole series wins year on year? Then you must have done something special to earn that kind of praise. So, is that the case? Continue reading
Here we are with the fourth and final excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 47. I hope you’ve enjoyed these previews of the story, and that you’ll consider picking it up for some fun Halloween reading. In any case, now that this is done, I’ve got some paid editing work coming up soon, and then I’ll be getting to work on my next book release, which should be in December if I don’t get too lazy with the editing. But for now, here’s Alice involved in yet another bad day already in progress…
Okay, I need to think and put together a plan. My apartment is off limits with the cops looking for me, and I don’t want to be seen in town looking like I tripped and fell in a swamp. If I’m dealing with a warlock, I’ll need help from friends better equipped to handle magic. So, that’s Peter, who’s probably at work right now. I can’t fathom a run to Matilda’s, and Sophia is out given that she’s in Philadelphia for an art exhibit. I’ll give her a call after I’ve got some clean clothes, though.
I call Mona’s cell phone first. After two rings, she picks up and says, “Alice?”
“Mona, I need you to pack up a clean change of clothes for me, along with my pelt and my geode. If the cops show up before you leave and ask about me, tell them you don’t know where I am.” Continue reading
Welcome back to the sneak peekage into my newest novel, Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), and this time I’m posting short cuts from two chapters, 29 and 30. (Quite a jump ahead from the first two samples.) Neither of these are complete chapters, but they help show how Alice is having a bad night out while trying to help one of her newer packmates out of their shell.
Half an hour passes in this sweltering crowd, and my throat soon feels dry and raw. I look for Mona and Jesse, and I find them not far away. Mona wears a huge grin despite being covered in a shiny layer of sweat.
Jasmine leans closer to shout. “She’s doing fine. How about we go and get a drink?”
I nod and shout, “Jesse!” He looks around. “We’re going to the bar!” Continue reading
Here’s the second excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 9. You may notice that instead of posting these one day after another, I’m posting them a week apart. I’m doing it this way to spread out the promotions a bit longer. If I do them in the same week, I’ve spent all my efforts too soon, and with the way social media streams run so fast, it’s practically an eye-blink before I’m off the social radar. So, new plan, yeah? One post a week and multiple promotions in the stream, hopefully leading to catching more peepers.
Aren’t these glimpses into indie marketing for social media so fascinating? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. So, let’s move on to the book excerpt…
Monica is surrounded in her bed, with me and Jesse standing over one side, and her parents on the other. Pi and Josie are at the foot of the bed, and Evan is sitting in a chair across the room with Uncle John and Brandon standing on either side of him. Continue reading
This is the first of several excerpts I’ll be posting over the next few weeks for Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), as has become my custom when I release new books. This time, I’m offering at peek a part of chapter 6, following immediately after a big fight. (Wouldn’t want to give away all the best bits, right?)
The gauntlet is breaking down as most of our opponents divide to run left or right up the halls to deal with the larger packs of dogs led by the Prestons. At this point, I have trouble finding anyone to hit because one member or the other from my pack is mauling them before I get within range.
I get to the corner where the counselor’s office is, and I’m thinking this is way, way too easy. Aisha and Regina have a huge army at their disposal, so why are there so few skilled fighters involved in this attack? The only conclusion I can come to is that this is a diversion.
Maybe Aisha will humor me with an answer.
I open the door and walk inside. Aisha has Monica tied to a chair with duct tape, and she has a knife to Monica’s throat. Monica’s mouth is covered in more tape, a move I almost understand given Monica’s typical bluntness. Continue reading
This has been a long, long time coming, but at long last, I have a new book out. (Hard to believe that when I started writing, I was able to put out a book every three months.) Here, finally, is the cover and blurb for Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4):
Life as a pack alpha hasn’t been easy for Alice. She’s lost loved ones, struggled with raising a child on her own, battled an army intent on slaughtering her and her allies, and barely survived a deadly disease that’s left her scarred and weakened. A quiet life seems even more impossible with the looming threat of war against Regina Burke and Aisha Warner and their combined forces.
But her enemies have come up with a new plan to publicly expose her as a lycanthrope. Alice is forced to play along, polishing her public image while at the same time building her pack into an army of her own. As if that weren’t enough to keep her nerves frayed, she has to take responsibility for a packmate fleeing from a bad home, avoid a band of determined assassins, and still find time for homework. It’s a tall order even for Alice the unflappable.
Could life get any more complicated? Unfortunately, yes.
Wolf in the Headlights is $4.99 and can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and on the blog bookstore. (Keep in mind the price will be different if you live outside the US.)
After We Collided, the second book in the After series, is a slow train wreck, but I don’t mean that in a negative sense. I mean it’s a story in which I know something bad is going to happen, and yet I can’t look away. But actually, it may be more accurate to say the book is a series of slow train wrecks, as it is a very long story with several smaller disasters for Hardin and Tessa to alternately create and then overcome. I must be a sucker for reading about these kinds of disastrous relationships because while book hunting around town, I picked up a spin off featuring a side character whose relationship had seemed so stable as seen through Tessa’s eyes, and the prospect of that story turning into another train wreck had me running to the cashier with ridiculous enthusiasm.
In this second installment in the series, Tessa is often just as responsible for the friction in her relationship with Hardin. But I’m perhaps getting ahead of myself. After the first book ended with Hardin and Tessa seemingly separated for good, Tessa attends a book convention in Seattle as part of her internship working for Vance, and after a night out on the town, she drunks dials Hardin, who of course comes running to see her. This encounter ends about as well as I expected, but it does get them back on a path to becoming a couple again.
Their relationship is never going to win the feminism seal of approval for totally healthy relationships. Hardin is a jealous jerk with a tendency to speak first and think later, and Tessa has a few really dumb moments, usually inspired by drinking more and thinking less. Alcohol plays a big role in a lot of their mistakes, which is sorta hypocritical given the histories of both their fathers. But the kids of alcoholics statistically do have more problems with alcohol, so I’m not saying it’s unrealistic, just hypocritical. Continue reading
Amnesia as a starting point into a story is a trope so often used that it is mocked for being a cliché, but there’s a reason so many stories return to it. That’s because amnesia is the perfect unreliable narrator. Someone with amnesia can’t tell you if they’re good or evil. They can’t tell you who is friend or foe, and so every connection they make is viewed with the same nervous tension. Amnesia can make even the most mundane character instantly more thrilling.
Days Long Dead uses amnesia to bring the reader into an event that could have been far more terrifying if it had been allowed to expand into a full-sized novel or even a novella. Julie Travis wakes up from a car crash and discovers her passenger is dead. Closer inspection reveals that he has been dead a long time, and Julie must trace her path away from the crash to find help. At first, it seems she has, but then the people she encounters are just as suddenly long dead for no explainable reason.
It’s hard to explain more than that without spoilers because this is a short story that explores three locations very briefly before revealing the truth. It’s not a bad way to finish the story either, but as I said, the main problem is, it’s not nearly enough running time within this world to properly build a sense of terror or even dread before the final revelation. Normally I’d say this is the best kind of complaint, that I want more, but in this case, the story doesn’t have enough time to explore its setting before the finale. It desperately needs more time to develop a connection to Julie so that I as a reader feel invested in her well being. I’m not, so when the truth is revealed, I can only react with a shrug and, “Well that was a thing, I guess.”
Days Long Dead is still a pretty good story, so I’ll give it 4 stars and recommend it to fans of mysteries and ghost stories. It could have been a great horror story with more time to build tension, but maybe the author wasn’t aiming for the full horror show.
When a Hap and Leonard TV series was announced, I picked up the first book to read it first, and Savage Season got lost in the virtual ebook pile on my Kindle (I have a TBR pile so big I may never finish it, but that never stops me from buying new books. I’m an addict for sure.) We had a work-ish trip to Spain come up, and I figured what better way to pass the time than with a crime story?
The Hap and Leonard stories take place in Texas, a place I’m intimately familiar with. Although I live in Italy now, I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in Texas towns both big and small, so I know Texas in all its forms. This then, should be a series that I would enjoy, right? Unfortunately, Savage Season never really worked for me.
Before I get into the problems, I’ll describe the basic plot. Hap Collins is a former 60s hippie who refused to go to Viet Nam and went to prison to prove his principles. As a result, his wife left him and he lost everything. His college degree was worthless, and so Hap came out of prison with no work, no house, no truck, no wife, and no pet. If the pet had been a dog, his life would be considered fair game for a classic country song. Continue reading
This is going to be a shorter review than is typical for me, mainly because I don’t have much to say about The Humans. I went into it with too high expectations based on my first read of Matt Haig’s work, The Radleys (which I loved), and by the blurbs littering the cover with gushing praise. And I should say that yes, I liked the story. But do I think it is “Wonderfully funny, gripping, and inventive”? No. Would I call it “Hilarious”? No. Would I describe it as “A laugh-and-cry book”? No. (I also wouldn’t call it that because ugh, hyphen abuse.) What I would call it is “Somewhat adequate.”
Putting it simply, The Humans is a retread of just about every “going native” story I’ve ever read or seen as a film. It’s the same as the many stories of tourists visiting another country and being bewildered by culture shock, only to eventually fall in love with the people (usually first with just one person) and coming to terms with their unusual habits. It’s Dances with Wolves, and Avatar, and any other number of examples across multiple genres.
The narrator for this book is an unnamed alien sent to Earth to erase evidence of a mathematical breakthrough that might somehow evolve the human race to the point of space travel. Why? Well because even if the claim is made many times that the whole race feels no emotions, they clearly fear the humans. I’m not even going to argue with their reasoning, because just look at what we’ve done with the internet and smartphones, and it’s clear that we do indeed have a problem with our technology advancing far too fast for us to catch up culturally and socially. So even if it seems illogical that the aliens who feel no emotions should fear humans, I can’t fault their desire to keep us constrained to one planet until we’ve had the chance to mature beyond our territorial pissing contest mentality. Continue reading