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text 2018-09-09 12:03
Free Horror Book Haul
The Amulet Thief - Luanne Bennett
Mothman Dynasty: Chicago's Winged Humanoids - Lon Strickler
Darkness - Brandon Faircloth
The Lighthouse - Ron; Ripley
Surviving the Fall - Stephen Cross
Sker House - C.M. Saunders
After Party (Life After Life, Vol. #1) - Domino
Greensmith Girls: Supernatural Witch Cozy Mystery (Lainswich Witches Series Book 1) - Raven Snow
Disquietly Vol. 1 - James G. Boswell
The Hermit's Creepy Pet (Single Shot Short Story Series Book 10) - Terry M. West

So, with the category Genre: Horror to fill, did I go to my Kindle folder for Horror and choose one of the 53 books waiting to be read? Noooooo...

 

This time of year it's more fun to go to the top 100 Free Books in the Horror category on Amazon and start loading up more! There are certain authors always there that I've learned to skip past because they don't write well or their stuff always turns out to be Romance. Nothing against Romance, but it's not what I look for under Horror and I resent spaces being taken up by inappropriate genres. Advice to writers to get their books listed under as many categories as possible actually harms their reputation.

 

So, I've acquired all those pictured. The Amulet Thief might take over the Relics and Curiosities square to relieve me of an 800+ page book and one of these will fill my Horror genre square. I'm leaning towards Creepy Pet, just my sort of thing.

 

I think I may need to keep a folder for possible future Bingo selections. I even found a cozy that looked fun. I seem to be finding a lot of anthologies this year. That could be an interesting category for a future Bingo.

 

If you're into zombie dystopia, The Fall series is all up for free today. Grab them quick because free offers often end after the weekend. I can't vouch for the quality of any of these but you can't beat the price.

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review 2014-09-07 15:37
Somebody tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead - Christiana Miller

New Review! SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE SHE'S DEAD by Christiana Miller, the first Toad Witch (yech) series mystery.

 

http://tinyurl.com/k3hj492

 

3.5-star fun, frothy lazy-Sunday #amreading and there's more full-figured witchy goodness out today! SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE WE'RE IN TROUBLE! just dropped.

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review 2014-08-06 20:37
Pulpy fun
Inspector Hobbes and the Blood - Wilkie Martin

Don’t you have those days when your brain just needs a break? I’ve been swamped this summer by the seriously un-fun Understanding Pathophysiology. After reading four or five chapters a week, there’s times when my brain craves a bit of shut-off, but my body isn’t ready to sleep.  That’s what television is for, right? And sports? But honestly, I’d rather read about silly people and needless danger than watch it, and that’s where Martin’s Unhuman series with Inspector Hobbes fits in. Well, Inspector Hobbes isn’t senseless so much as Andy Caplet is, the diffident reporter assigned to follow Hobbes. Think Sherlock Holmes with slightly more bestial tendencies and Lou Costello as Watson. Think modern English town with supernatural beings just trying to live their lives without harassment, whether its chomping on old bones or standing in a field thinking trollish thoughts. Think–dare I say it–puns.

 

Andy Caplet is a struggling reporter unexpectedly assigned to follow Inspector Hobbes, one of the fearsome successes of the local police force. The assignment is surprising as Andy’s most notable story to date was his unsuccessful attempt to do a piece on a show-winning hamster, resulting in nasty bite and an unflattering bit of press. Hobbes is focused an unlikely series of events relating to Mr. Roman, whose house was burgled, a violin stolen, and Mr. Roman subsequently found dead, apparently a suicide. When Andy follows Hobbes to the cemetery where Mr. Roman was found, he discovers a newly-opened grave and is almost victim to a ghoulish cover-up. It is the beginning of Andy’s introduction to the unhumans around him, and he decides to stick with Hobbes in hopes of an award-winning story. Perhaps even a book!

 

The basic premise of Inspector Hobbes is done well. The unfortunate Andy contrasts nicely to the enigmatic, powerful and intelligent Hobbes. Plotting moves quickly from event to event, establishing interesting characters along the way. Particularly entertaining was Mrs. Goodfellow, Hobbes’ live-in cook, housekeeper and friend, with her dental obsession and her tendency to tread quietly. I appreciated the the way Martin hints to the reader and Andy that something about certain characters may not be quite human, a much more enjoyable type of character development than the long-winded info-dump. Hobbes, of course, is the biggest mystery of all–what is he, exactly? And does it matter?

 

In truth, and in his own way, he’d looked after me. He was an enigma. He was a monster. He was a policeman. He was someone I out to be writing about.

 

Andy, being more of the anti-hero type, frequently leaps to the wrong conclusion, misleading himself and the reader. Although bumbling, he isn’t quite incompetent, and is sincere, so I found him more tolerable than in the second book, Inspector Hobbes and the Curse.

 

 

One of the few problems I had with the writing was what appears to me as a tendency to run-on sentences and excessive commas. It could just be my personal fondness for semi-colons and colons showing, but I did find it initially distracting. I think as the action picks up, the commas diminish–or else my mental filter blotted them out. An early example:

 

As I landed and turned around, the magazine fluttering to the carpet like a dying pigeon, the blood pounding through my skull, my shin bruised from a sharp encounter with the table, the old lady, standing by the sofa, gave me a gummy smile. Though I coulgh have sworn she did not have a single tooth left in her head, I thought a positive response was appropriate.

 

As a side note, although I love paper books, this might be one to read on e-reader. Martin has a tendency to sprinkle a number of English idioms–and by English, I mean country-cultural specific words. And, speaking of abuse of the English language, there’s a story about Hobbes’ stuffed grizzly bear:

 

The bus knocked him into a music shop, where his muzzle became entangled in an antique stringed instrument that suffocated him. And so my sad tale ends, with a bear-faced lyre.

 

It was fun and entertaining–and didn’t mention molecular biology once. A perfect beach read, if you should be so lucky as to have time at the beach.

 

Thanks to Julia at The Witcherly Book Company for providing me a copy to review. Which, of course, was not contingent on my actually reviewing it.

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review 2014-07-28 03:28
Known Devil.
Known Devil - Justin Gustainis

With Hard Dark, I had the impression Gustainis was having fun. Enjoying the hell out of himself, in fact, and the enthusiasm translated to an entertaining read. This time, the writing feels forced, rote instead of fun. World-building, characterization and writing all left me left me wishing I had picked up my academic reading instead.

 

The third installment in the Occult Crimes Unit series begins in a local diner where Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski and his partner, Karl Renfer, are having a coffee break–or blood break in Karl’s case. Karl’s musings on the latest James Bond flick are interrupted by a pair of elves holding up the patrons.  The elves are behaving like strung-out drug addicts, but everyone knows supernaturals can’t get addicted to drugs, with the exception of those pesky goblins and their meth problem. Unfortunately, Renfer and Mark are about to discover a new drug that works on supes has made its way to Stanton. Before they can follow-up, they’re diverted to a mass shooting where members of a local vampire crime family are permanently dead, murdered by an out of town gang moving in on their territory. A supernatural drug, a local gang war, and the growth of the local Patriot Party all add up to trouble. Could they possibly be connected?

 

As a bit of background, while there isn’t anything new or surprising about the world Gustainis has created (unless you count the alternate history that includes Steinbeck writing Of Elves and Men), it’s been largely serviceable world-building.  Normally, if world-building isn’t particularly unique, I focus on character or plotting, but alas–the same cut-and-paste from genre tropes is apparent. Stan Sipowitcz as detective. Impaired but recovering relationship with daughter as well as partner. New drug moving into the city causing gang war. Supernatural discrimination. Not-so-shadowy figure who wants to incite a cultural revolution. Stan’s willingness to be jury and judge with lawbreakers.

 

I wasn’t offended by Detective Stan’s flirtation with the judgmental side of defending his city. I was, however, offended by the facile characterization–and read absolutely no political implications in my complaints–which relied on copy-n-paste anti-immigrant Tea Party description into the anti-supernatural Patriot Party. Ditto the insertion of every Italian mob stereotype you might remember from Godfather-knock-offs into the vampire mob family (“the devil you know…”).

 

Even more concerning is the general awkwardness of the writing. Take this fragment from a discussion between Markowski and Castle, the head of the supernaturals:

 

“‘It may surprise you, detective, but I also have read the works of Mister Ian Fleming. Mostly, I regard them as light entertainment, but sometimes, as in your present example…’ The fingers were drumming again, softly as tears falling on a coffin.

 

Or the awkward justification where Markowski admits he lied to his fellow officers, lied to a gang leader, but is willing to tell the police department he was lying if he needs to turn in the gang leader (dizzy yet?). Then the  transition after Markowski helpfully summarizes his reasoning and plans for the reader his adult daughter:

 

She swirled the remaining liquid in her mug and studied the little whirlpool that resulted. ‘This cop stuff gets pretty complicated sometimes, doesn’t it?’
‘Yeah, but it’s nothing that a master detective like your old man can’t handle.”

 

Yes, I suppose “this cop stuff” is complicated when you are an author and need  your character to behave in an uncharacteristic way, but don’t want to re-write everything you’ve done so far.

 

Then there’s a weird scene thrown in where the department witch does some sympathetic magic, so she kisses our lead.  I’d accuse Gustainis of being a bit of a sexist, since the few women characters are only accessories to our lead–except that virtually all the characters are one-note, so it’s hard to say it’s a female-only issue. It is worth noting that when females do appear, Markowski has a definite preoccupation with their sexuality (including his daughter’s, ew).

 

Quite honestly, I was bored reading, never a good sign. The only reason I didn’t quit was that then I’d have to read three chapters of Study Guide for Understanding Pathophysiology. It was the worst of both worlds; the guilt of procrastination coupled with annoyance at an unsatisfactory diversion. Perhaps I was trying to outwit myself, by selecting a book that would help me study? I like to think so, but I’m afraid I might just be witless.

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review 2014-05-26 01:34
Bargain
Half-Off Ragnarok - Seanan McGuire

Remember that period in college (and in some cases, post-college) when you were convinced Cinnamon Toast Crunch was an acceptable substitute for any meal? You know how you managed that, right? By not thinking about the fact you were basically eating vitamin-enriched pellets, and concentrating on that sugary, cinnamony crunch.

 

 

Half-Off Ragnorok is like that.

 

Half-Off explores the world of Alex, one of the human members of the Price family. Alex is officially working at the Columbus Zoo as a visiting herpetologist with Dee, a member of the gorgon genus. Unofficially, of course, he and his family are working to protect humans from mythological non-humans–and vice versa–and his work as a reptile specialist allows him the chance to research the more unusual species in the area. While in Ohio, he’s staying with Grandma and Grandpa, a ‘cuckoo’ and a Revenant respectively, as well as cousin Sarah, another cuckoo. Work has been complicated by dating Shelby, the visiting big cat specialist from Australia, and they’ve just snuck away for a little tete-a-tete when they discover a partially petrified human. Alex’s personal and professional worlds are about to collide as they follow a trail of petrified disaster.

 

More comparisons to cereal and book comments at:

http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/half-off-ragnarok-by-seanan-mcguire/

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