Friday, September 30, 2011


James Barclay's novel Dawnthief is  the first book in his Chronicles of the Raven trilogy. The storyline follows a very basic pattern common to most fantasy fiction. We're introduced to the “heroes” and they undertake a mission (or quest) even though some of them have misgivings about the mission and the employer. Along the way they lose some people and gain others. Distrust becomes trust as they all work together for the common good. Or do they?

What's different about Dawnthief is how Barclay follows fantasy fans expectations and adds some interesting twists. Dawnthief is a spell powerful enough to destroy the world. Our heroes must find the elements needed to cast the spell before an ancient foe awakes and plunges the world into war. There are three elements and each of them will require a different set of skills to obtain.

My one complaint with this book is that an interesting side story about a universe full of talking (and educated) dragons was introduced and then left alone. I'm hopeful that they will show up again in the other two books. If not I'm going to be rather disappointed. I realize that to get the story going the mage had to steal something from the dragon (isn't that always the way?) but if you aren't going to use him again why make him interesting? I'm just saying.

I will warn people that the body count in this book is quite high. I realize that certain people had to die in order to get someone else to go along with the mission. I still don't have to like it. Overall I liked this book. It's a classic fantasy story with some interesting twists and turns. I can't wait to read the next book.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

inkBLOT Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
An award winning junior crime writer meets the teen-entrepeneur who owns inkBLOT, a popular quiz website. What transpires is a tangled web of crime and deception. Who's to blame? The attention hungry reporter or the website owner whose business has links to all of the victims.

Buy inkBLOT

Monday, September 26, 2011

PR: The Exorcist 40th Anniversary Edition

William Peter Blatty
40th Anniversary Edition

Forty years ago, William Peter Blatty published a novel that changed the literary and cinematic landscape. A masterful and often shocking blend of horror, mystery, and religion, THE EXORCIST spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, including seventeen consecutively at number one, and was turned into an iconic film that received ten Academy Award nominations, with Blatty winning the Oscar for best screenplay. The novel and film spawned countless imitations, but Blatty’s unabashedly profane, terrifying, yet faith-centered original remains the sine qua non of the genre.

For the special 40th Anniversary Edition of THE EXORCIST, William Peter Blatty has returned to the manuscript, reworking portions of the book that never satisfied him. Due to financial constraints and a pressing workload at the time, he was forced to forego a desired revision. “For most of these past forty years I have rued not having done a thorough second draft and careful polish of the dialogue and prose,” Blatty says. “But now, like an answer to a prayer, this fortieth anniversary edition has given me not only the opportunity to do that second draft, but to do it at a time in my life—I am 83—when it might not be totally unreasonable to hope that my abilities, such as they are, have at least somewhat improved, and for all of this I say, Deo gratias!” Among the changes, Blatty has added a chilling scene introducing the unsettling minor character of a Jesuit psychiatrist.

Or is he?

THE EXORCIST begins in northern Iraq, where an archeological dig led by Jesuit priest Father Lankester Merrin yields a demonic artifact, a harbinger of things to come. In Washington, D.C., young Regan MacNeil—daughter of famed film actress Chris MacNeil—begins exhibiting disturbing behaviors. Odd, haunting occurrences also begin to take place in the MacNeil’s rented Georgetown townhouse. Chris seeks medical and psychiatric help for her daughter, but Regan continues to descend into a state of apparent demonic possession. Desperate, Chris turns to a local priest, Father Damien Karras, who at the last decides that the life of the girl can only be saved by an exorcism. Because Karras is undergoing a crisis of faith, the higher powers of the Church turn to an experienced exorcist, with Karras to assist, and the priests are tested both spiritually and physically by the grueling sacred rite of exorcism. Facing their fears through the power of faith, they pay the ultimate price for saving the life of young Regan MacNeil.

With the storytelling gifts of a true master, Blatty crafts a riveting narrative that still retains the power to both terrify and edify its readers, including those who have come of age since its monumental debut.

Buy The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Favorite Vampire Series

I thought about posting samples of my favorite books in each genre but I realized that would make this entry extremely long. So I'll write about the genre, actually sub-genre, I read most - Vampire Fiction. Here are my top three Vampire series:

Vampire: St. Germain
Author: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
First book: Hotel Transylvania
Published: 1978
The Saint Germain Historical Fiction Series is into double digits. St. Germain is a 3000 year old mostly heterosexual vampire who gets his blood during sex, usually while giving head. A big deal is made of how well he can sexually satisfy his donors but once you get past that the books are quite interesting. If you like historical fiction you'll like these. Yarbro does a lot of research. There's a lot of detail and the plots are quite complicated. The first book I read was Blood Games. It's based in Rome at the time of Nero. St. Germain is drawn in to the politics of the time trying to dance between different factions. Yarbro's Rome is both brutal and beautiful. Much the action revolves around historical events.

Vampire: Henry Fitzroy
Author: Tanya Huff
First book: Blood Price
Published: 1991
Tanya Huff's Henry Fitzroy is the bastard son of Henry VIII. How's that for family baggage? His partner is ex-Toronto police detective Victoria (Victory) Nelson. She had to quit the force because of a problem with her eyes that left her almost blind at night. Get it? He can't work days and she can't work nights. Together the solve supernatural mysteries. Oh, did I mention that Henry makes his money by writing "bodice rippers"? The books are funny and set in Canada. What could be better? I think my all time favorite line in a vampire book is inBlood Price. Henry says, "A vampire, waiting for a demon, gets cruised in a graveyard. I love this century!"

There are five books in the "Victory Nelson" series and Huff swears that there won't be any more because she's taken Victory as far as she can go - I won't spoil it for you. Never fear, there is a new series that features Henry and his favorite "donor." The new series takes place in Vancouver!

Vampire: Jean-Claude and many others
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
First book: Guilty Pleasures
Published: 1993
TheAnita Blake Vampire Hunter series takes place in a heavily populated world. Not only are there vampires and vampire hunters but there are werewolves, wereleopards, wererats - pretty much were-anything as well as necromancers, voodoo priestesses and witches. It's hard to keep track of all the people and their complicated relationships to each other. But that's one of the things that makes the books interesting. The three main characters are Anita Blake, head vampire Jean-Claude and head werewolf Richard. The three of them have - unwillingly on Anita and Richard's part - formed a triumvirate that keeps the city under control. There's a lot of sex most of which is brought on by a kind of uncontrollable lust. Anita has a bit of a problem with the sexual aspects of her life. Each book pushes her a little bit closer to the idea that you can love more than one person at a time and you can have sex with someone you care about without them being "the one."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Targeted Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Chicago Police Detectives Pete Shannon and Marilyn Benson [are]thrust into a homicide investigation. A crazed sniper has been targeting cops, killing them for no apparent reason, other than for his own deranged satisfaction. The partners find themselves teamed with a pair of tough talking, abrasive, seasoned cops who do their best to interfere with the young detectives at every juncture, making their lives miserable. The hunt for the serial killer becomes a life-altering experience for the duo as they face individual challenges that threaten to destroy them. 

At the same time, Father Ed Matthews, a Catholic priest, has been accused of child molestation at the southwest side parish where he's assigned. Pete and Marilyn arrest him, but as the priest begins his journey through the Chicago judicial system, he decides to flee the city and become a fugitive. He begins a journey away from the priesthood from which he may never return.

Buy Targeted

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Labyrinth is the fifth book in Kat Richardson's Greywalker series. The stories take place in Seattle and revolve around P.I. Harper Blaine. At the beginning of the series, Harper is just your average investigator and then she dies for two minutes. When she comes back, she can see things the rest of us can't. She discovers that there is a “grey” side where the rules don't apply.

Blaine's life gets stranger and more complicated as she learns how to walk in the grey. Her clients get stranger and stranger and by book four she is working by the city's head vampire Edward Kammerling. In Labyrinth, Kammerling has disappeared. Harper comes face to face with his assistant, Bryson Goodall, who has been changed in some way. He is not a vampire but he's not human any more either.

The main bad guy of the book is a vampire called Wygan, who is an ancient Egyptian entity called the Pharaohn-ankh-astet. Goodall has become Wygan's ushabti, a day walking henchman with some extra-human powers. He wants to kill Harper but his boss needs her alive for a little bit longer. Harper has to stop Wygan's master plan, save Kammerling and come to grips with her grey given powers that keep getting stronger. Along the way she has to solve a riddle, save her father's ghost and keep all her friends out of harms way.

Anyone who likes Jim Butcher's Dresden novels will like the Greywalker series. Harper might remind some people of Anita Blake but she doesn't sleep with the monsters. She may be becoming more like them but she wants to have as little to do with them as possible. Vampire sex is kind of difficult when the smell of vampires makes you sick to your stomach.

By the end of Labyrinth, Harper has come into her full power. It will be interesting to see what she does with it when there is no crisis to focus it on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dark Eden Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?
Buy Dark Eden

Friday, September 9, 2011

Miss Pym Disposes

Josephine Tey was the first British author I ever read. While I liked The Daughter Of Time quite a bit it was a long time before I picked up another book by a UK author. I haven't read too many others. Besides taking place in a land I know relatively little about, their mysteries have a pace that I'm not used to.

When I saw Miss Pym Disposes on the library shelf I decided to give it a try. It was nothing like Daughter of Time. The murder doesn't even happen until some where around page 130. You slog through most of the book knowing exactly who is going to be killed and it's kind of obvious who the killer is. At least it was to me but maybe I've read too many mysteries to be fooled by one published in 1946.

Miss Pym, author of a book on psychology, is invited by an old school chum to give a lecture to a all girl's physical training college. I actually had to look up what that was. I had no idea PhysEd teachers went to special schools. Miss Pym decides to stay at the school for their graduation. The majority of the book describes her interactions with various students and staff at the school. It's a total snooze fest until the old school chum does something illogical and the game is afoot. So to speak.

I'm tempted to talk about a couple of red herrings but if I do it will give to much away. The book is well written and if you like British cozies you'll probably like this book. There are some amusing parts and some of the characters are interesting. I'm just not used to waiting for three quarters of a book before the main action gets going.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fury Trailer

Book description from Amazon:
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems... Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel....And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed. In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.

Buy Fury

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin is the second novel in her Jaz Parks series. I love the beginning of the back cover blurb:
I'm Jaz Parks. CIA Assassin. Black belt. Belly dancer.
The book is pretty much what you'd expect. Irreverent and sometimes downright snarky. The series takes place in an alternate world where "other" is the designation given to non-humans like vampires and demons. Like Anita Blake, Jaz is connected to a vampire. This story has Jaz's team of misfits undercover at a Winter Festival (hence the belly dancing) where they are supposed to kill a Chinese vampire who runs a group of acrobats.

Chien-Lung is completely batty. He's managed to steal a set of "dragon" armor that makes him almost invincible. He is willing to do anything to make an army of dragon warriors in order to take over the world. Jaz and her team have to come up with a way to kill him. Luckily the tech guy is the guy who created the armor.

Along the way Jaz has to stay out of her vampire boss's bed, stop her team from imploding and avoid being killed by a new kind of demon no one knows very much about. The book moves quickly. Some of the idiosyncrasies of Rardin's world are a bit confusing at first but you get used to them. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.