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text 2016-08-19 01:56
Thirty Days Later: Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time - B J Sikes,Dover Whitecliff,A.J. Sikes

Disclosure up front: Two of the paired tales in this book were written by me. My review covers the other stories in the volume.

One of the things I love about anthologies is the variety. In this book, there are stories by folks as varied as veteran author Harry Turtledove to brand-new authors with just one book under their belts.

The stories were all entertaining, but some rose to the forefront for me. Not too shockingly, Turtledove's stories about sasquatches living in the State of Jefferson was a front-runner. Other delights included Dover Whitecliff's prequels to her forthcoming book, T.E. MacArthur's archaeology stories, and Anthony Francis' new stories about Jeremiah Willstone. All of these stories managed to get a lot of detail into a limited amount of space, and kept me turning pages long past my bedtime more than once.

Throw in that proceeds from the book benefit local literacy programs, and you have a winner all the way around.

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review 2016-07-31 14:56
Gods of New Orleans - AJ Sikes,Eloise J. Knapp

This is the first dieselpunk novel I've read. Not sure what that is? Think Chicago Gangland, 1920s -- Frank Nitti, Al Capone ... you know the deal, right? Now, throw in airships, paranormal stuff with gods and monsters -- and you've got this book!

"Gods of New Orleans" is AJ Sikes' second novel (the first is Gods of Chicago). While this book is technically a sequel, it stands alone. Emma Farnsworth, her saxophone-playing boyfriend Eddie Collins, and the Conroy family have escaped from Chicago City and are going to start life again in New Orleans. However, everything they think they know about New Orleans is turned on its ear. People of color are in charge. White people are expected to keep their eyes averted, refer to people of color as "sir" or "ma'am" ... and mixed ethnicity couples like Emma and Eddie are eyed askance. White people are also expected to carry a little tin badge with them if they're "working out" -- which is what slaves who were allowed to "sleep out" in New Orleans during the 19th C. were required to do.

In short: Sikes has turned the typical examination of racism on its ear with this book. He's created a tale people with relatable characters like Aiden Conroy, who is sold to a brothel as their houseboy ... and is putting his money aside to try to get him and his mother out of New Orleans after his father drinks himself to death and becomes one of the Mud Men ... monsters from another world who want to drag everyone down with them. We have Mitchell Brand, former newspaper boss and now Mud Man who is trying to get messages to the gods and monsters that are inside some of the characters; I found him to be one of the most sympathetic characters in the book. And, of course, we have airship pilot Emma Farnsworth ... who starts to smell a rat about what's *really* happening in a house called (you guessed it) the Rising Sun.

This is a great adventure in jazz-age New Orleans that will make you think and keep you turning pages.

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review 2016-07-10 15:24
Another Ripping Good Yarn by T.E. MacArthur
The Volcano Lady: Vol. 4 - The Lidenbrock Manifesto (Volume 4) - T.E. MacArthur

Disclosure up front: author T.E. MacArthur and I co-chair the author programming at a local convention.

There. Now, that's out of the way.

In this the fourth volume of MacArthur's Volcano Lady series, the star-crossed Tom Turner and titular Professor Lettie Gantry are both after the same man: the one the English newspapers call the Earthshaker. He claims to have created a weapon that creates earthquakes on demand, and plans to sell it to the Prussians. Tom and Lettie are working separately, unknown to the other, to stop the madman.

Throw in an homage to Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in the person of Professor Otto von Lidenbrock, and you've got the basis for quite an adventure.

Taking place in England and Iceland (where MacArthur has traveled extensively for research purposes), the adventure tale examines political science, geology, geography, and yes -- even the nature of love.

This book is simply delightful.

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review 2016-05-13 20:50
If Wishes Were Spaceships - Ainy Rainwater
"If Wishes Were Spaceships" is kind of an old-school sci-fi tale. A pilot (Jazlyn) has to set her craft down on what the maps all say is a quarantine planet ... but is anything but. She runs afoul of the autocratic planet owner early on and spends the rest of the book crafting her escape.

The book is an entertaining ride that ends on a cliff-hanger of the sort one expects in movie or radio serials: will Jazlyn and her cohorts escape the evil Sterneworth? Stay tuned until next time!

Author Ainy Rainwater has created an interesting set of characters and a location that relies on her experience as a gardener: the planet is populated by exaggerated versions of endangered carnivorous plants that actually exist on Earth.

Highly recommended for sci-fi fans.
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review 2015-11-09 16:20
Angels Sing to Rest (an Olivia Gates and Will Green crime series Book 2) - Chrinda Jones

"Angels Sing to Rest" is the second book in a series, but it stands well enough on its own.

Detective Olivia Gates is investigating a series of gang-related murders, while also dealing with an abusive ex-husband (Gabe) and a colleague who is becoming more than just friends (profiler Will Gates).

Author Chrinda Jones does a great job with "show, don't tell" ... sometimes a little too great, as with the vivid descriptions of some of the murders. While she "fades to black" on the bedroom stuff (which is fine), crime scenes are described in detail -- which may be triggering for some.

Overall, I found the book entertaining and enjoyable as a police procedural. The "mystery" wasn't so mysterious, as we are shown the "whodunnit" almost immediately and then hope that the police can stop the killer in time.

A solid sophomore effort.

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