Saturday, May 24, 2014

Series gets better and better

Blood Thirst is the second installment in the vampire trilogy of the same name by Stephanie “Tate” Jackson. As with the first book, The Undead Heart, there is time travel, vampires, and out of the blue, we have angels (possibly - and hopefully - tying this book to another one by Jackson, When Angels Fall). I think the series just keeps getting better and better, and I have book 3, The Wrath of Potter, queued up to read next.

In the author’s bio, I read that she wrote this book for her niece and uses her family members’ names and descriptions for some of the main characters. In addition, she lives in the location where the story is set. I think I enjoyed the book a little more just for this.

Blood Thirst is in no way a “stand alone” novel. You really must have read The Undead Heart to understand and enjoy this installment in the series. Most of our favorite characters return, although some experience some changes as book one ended after a battle and with a massive cliffhanger. But the non-stop action continues from where it left off and additional characters enter the story and liven things up (i.e., Wes, Ester.) Characters from the previous book return (i.e., Detection Eaton.)

I had problems following the dialogue in the first book but that was fixed in this one. The same issues with grammar, verb tense, spelling, and word usage continue, and still only needs the soothing touch of a good editor.

As with the previous book, this one ends even more abruptly and you’ll have to go on to book three to get closure to the story. (And I believe you’re going to want to do just that.) Blood Thirst definitely won me over to the series and this author. I will have to pursue the conclusion to the trilogy and invest in her other novels as well.

An entertaining story of vampires, time travel, and a love that lasts through centuries

In The Undead Heart, author Stephanie “Tate” Jackson has crafted a very entertaining story of vampires (or vampyres as used in the novel), time travel, and a love that lasts through centuries.

The story opens with a mysterious man appearing at the high school graduation of our main character, Rebecca Stockdale. Seems this mystery man has appeared in “Beck’s” life before: always in time to save her from accident or injury. With this, the story captured my interest right away.

The novel boasts a vast array of interesting main characters and fresh minor characters that come and go throughout. The variety really gave the story depth and color. I particularly enjoyed Potter, and of the minor characters – Ester.

The settings change from current time in this country to the London of Jack the Ripper, and the Ripper mystery plays a major role in the book. Most of the action, however, occurs in Clarksville, Tennessee.

The execution of the story does have some problems but to me seemed easily fixable. The most problematic for me was the formatting of the dialogue. I found it difficult to follow character conversations when the paragraph would begin with one character speaking and then continue with the other character’s input. I had to reread a LOT to determine if the second bit of the dialogue was continued from the first speaker as it conventionally is, and mostly, it was not. This was almost enough to make me quit reading altogether which would have been a shame; I would have missed out on a good book.

Also, there are grammar problems, verb tense issues, misused words (i.e., the word “to” is continually used when “too” is what is meant, bazaar for bizarre, peaked for piqued.) Not biggies, but these things tend to “throw” me out of the story and interrupt the reading experience. Once again, this kind of thing is easily fixed by using a good editor.

Still, I think if you like vampire stories, time travel, romance with sex scenes, you’ll enjoy this book. However, to get the complete story be prepared for the long haul and the investment of some time. Book 1, The Undead Heart, ends with a cliffhanger and you must get your hands on the second in the trilogy, Blood Thirst to find out what happens next!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Ice Age by Iain Rowan - a new favorite!

Ice Age is a great short story collection in the horror genre. Each of the eight compact tales is a gem! Mysterious and believable, they come from everyday common place occurrences as well as dystopian futures. The results are somewhere between totally unexpected and delightfully, horrifyingly surprising.

For myself, I am so glad that I ran across this author – a happy acquisition as a free Kindle book! (There are JEWELS in those offerings!) Of course, this taste of Iain Rowan’s work sent me on a shopping spree for more.

Ice Age contains

Lilies, where we encounter a city at war and a young soldier that can see dead people. In this situation however, he is not alone…seems like it’s a regular thing.

In The Call, a man escapes to the coast from a city filled with memories of his lost wife and daughter.

A story that begins simply with a broken window in a vacant house along a commuter’s daily walk to work can be found in Through the Window.

A typical couple lost among country roads at night is the starting point for Driving in Circles.

Sighted takes us to another city at war and the dead that won’t stay that way.

In The Circular Path, a man revisits an early childhood home and confront his mysterious past.

Here Comes the New Way gives us a vision of a hard future and a horrifying “new way” that is sweeping the impoverished and starving populace.

Finally, in the title story, a man left by his wife of 11 years begins to freeze, trapped in his own private Ice Age.

If you enjoy this genre, do yourself a favor and find Ice Age. You will not be disappointed.

Paralan’s Children is a thoroughly enjoyable cross-genre adventure!

The story focuses on two protagonists: rookie Galactipol Inspector Vera Anemona Staven, a female Terran, and PD Joloran Durim BrunĂ hgan – a male Paralan investigator. The mystery/thriller is the kidnapping of 15 Paralan female children or “wee-ones,” the disappearance of a highly respected Paralan matriarch (and Joloran’s egg-partner), and the murder of a number of Terrans living in the research station and space port. The Science Fiction/Fantasy is the setting on the ice planet, Paralan, space travel, a matriarchal alien culture of furry creatures (the Paralans), and the male-dominated future Terran society that PIO Staven is attempting to enter.

The author has created an interesting and complex world both on Paralan and on future-Earth or Terra. She has characters from two distinctly different cultures, both of which are disdainful of the other. Prejudices abound on both sides: the Paralans call the Terrans “hairless apes,” while the humans routinely refer to the native inhabitants as “snow bears” and “animals.” This story brings the two cultures together to find common ground as well as capitalize on each one’s strengths in order to come to a successful resolution to the kidnappings, disappearances, and murders.

The setting on Paralan is a harsh one from the Terran point of view, and few human characters venture to the surface of the planet to the frigid temperatures and the company of the native population. Little is known about the Paralan culture by the humans and their prejudices keep them from gaining such knowledge. The same can be said of the Paralans who only suffer the presence of the Terran “tourists” because of the desperate need for ingredient twenty-two oh seven found only on the Terran home planet.

POI Vera Stavens is a plucky young woman yearning to be let loose as a fully functioning Galactipol investigator. She silently and maturely deals with the misogynistic hierarchy and idiot male coworkers while slowly learning her profession. She loves living and working on the ice planet and is glad when she is teamed up with a Paralan counterpart to help find the missing wee-ones.

Joloran is the “not-so-glad” male Paralan counterpart assigned to the children’s disappearance. He automatically sees Vera as a weak link but a necessary evil to gain the cooperation of Terran leads and witnesses. But Joloran is highly motivated to solve this case – one of the missing wee-ones is one of his grand-daughters and the missing matriarch, Munara, is the mother or egg-partner of his children.

The story is chockfull of the day-to-day implications of such two diverse races coexisting and working together from how they deal with each other’s temperature or climate requirements to what a simple “smile” might mean.

I highly recommend this to book to anyone that enjoys their science fiction less technical, their fantasy with talking furred beings, and mysteries with elements of the aforementioned. For me it was total enjoyment.

Hudson Owen's The Romantic gives us a man of two worlds

Sebastian Cloud is a man of two worlds. To the patrons of the Rock Island Casino & Resort – Live Arena, he is “Strike,” the champion gladiator of 27 matches against man and beast. At home, he is thoughtful, deliberate, spiritual, romantic, and completely comfortable in his own skin – physically, mentally, and emotionally (almost). Fighting to pay off a debt to the Yakuza, he is close to realizing his goal when a new partner in the resort pits him against a new gladiator robot. During the bout, Strike destroys the robot and wins the sympathy and heart of the partner’s beautiful, gladiator-in-her-own-right wife – Virgina. The adventure ensues and suspense mounts as Sebastian and Virgina attempt to outrun her husband’s (Volton’s) wrath and revenge.

The author has packed adventure, suspense, and romance into a compact 75 pages. The Romantic is a fun story, cinematically told, that you can pick up and enjoy from beginning to end in one sitting. (I highly recommend reading this at one go from start to finish.) Author Hudson Owen builds a complete adventure without leftover fluff giving us the minimum information to establish setting (the northwest), history, and character back story. It was quite a satisfying drawing me back for a second reading less than two weeks after first. My first experience was completed piecemeal, and I enjoyed it, but I picked up much more (the building of the relationship between the two protagonists for one) when reading was uninterrupted.

The story is presented in such a way that it is almost like watching a film. Sebastian is introduced to us via glimpses of his day. Also, dialogue follows naturally speaking and conversational patterns. Characters switch topics when talking to each other rather than completing one idea before going on to the next just as people do in real life. This took me some getting used to but when I began to “hear” the characters speaking, it really felt more believable.

Elements of the book – the dialogue patterns, the lack of side-bar details, and extraneous exposition - just may not be everyone’s taste, but I don’t want to warn anyone off this very good adventure. Relax and just enjoy. I think that it will entertain anyone that picked it up. (Parents, there are scenes of intimacy so this is not for children.) And if the author even decided to redevelop this as a longer work leading into a series I think he’d have a winner that way as well. I know that he’d get my attention, cash, and time.