Book Talk, February #Reviews

I thought I’d share my thoughts about books I’ve been reading during the winter storms. As you can see my tastes are eclectic. I have a simple criteria–I like a good story.

Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs – an Urban Fantasy Classic

Dracula by Bram Stoker, a horror classic originally published in 1897

Following Faith, by Jacqui Nelson, a historical short story set in the old west, from the anthology Journey of the Heart

The Cold Dish, by  Craig Johnson, the first book in the popular modern mystery series, which has been adapted for the Netflix TV show, Longmire

Click on the covers for direct links to their Amazon page.


Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs

moon-calledMoon Called is the first book in the highly popular Mercy Thompson, urban fantasy series, and it sure won’t be the last one I read. It is set at a time when the werewolves are about to “come out.”

Patricia Brigg’s prose is so smooth you forget you’re reading. I love her finely crafted characters. Particularly: Mercy, the auto mechanic, skin walker who tells her own tale, Adam the sexy, alpha werewolf you desperately want her to hook up with, Stefano a vampire whose allegiance is impossible to pin down and Zee, her intriguing helper. The detailed and complicated plot takes the reader through an exciting adventure.

As Patricia Briggs has over a thousand reviews on Amazon for this book, I won’t post mine, but I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Have your read it? What do you think?

 


Dracula by Bram Stoker

I read Dracula, because I wanted to read one of the first vampire stories, draculaand I’m glad I did. Although the language sounds long in the tooth and might remind readers of their great-aunt Betsy’s tales at the super table, after she took her teeth out, the story is filled with suspense.

It’s the journal of a young Englishman, Jonathan Harker, who travels to Transylvania to meet Dracula and help him move to England.

The first scenes describing his journey to Count Dracula’s castle are some of the most suspenseful I’ve ever read. Talk about dark and scary! It was the perfect read for the stormy weather that raged outside my windows.

Here’s a taste:

“I waited with a sick feeling of suspense. Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road-a long, agonized wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by an other dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling legion, which seemed to come from all over the country … the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night.”

Shivers, eh?

He arrives and meets Dracula. “Welcome to my house! Enter freely of your own will!”

Every fiber of my being screamed at the guy, “Don’t go in.” But he did.

Did I finish the book? No. I enjoyed the first ten percent, but by the time I made it to the 20 percent mark I was skimming. The language was too old and the plot too slow, but I could see that it was a great story in its day.

As Bram has over two thousand reviews, I didn’t post mine. I would have difficulty starring it, as it would undoubtedly have been a five in its day, but I found it hard to read.

Have you read his book? What do you think?


Following Faith, by Jacqui Nelson

journey-of-the-heartJacqui Nelson is my favorite writer of western fiction. Her latest short story, Following Faith, is in the newly released anthology, Journey of the Heart. I loved everything about this story. It has adventure, suspense, a touch of humor and romance.

As the story opens Faith Featherby is abruptly dismissed from her teaching job in a small logging town by the school committee. Nelson draws the characters so well, you feel as if you’re part of the scene, listening to two old bitties accuse her of inappropriate behavior. With no relatives and no friends, Faith sets out to find the little girl she believes owns the spirit horse she has befriended. On the journey she meets Eagle and their adventure together begins. It’s a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.


The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson

The Cold Dish, the first book in the Walt Longmire mystery series by Craigthe-cold-dish Johnson is beautifully written. His prose reminds me of Steinbeck. The way his detailed setting enraptures the story reminds me of James Lee Burke. His unbelievably, witty lines crack me up. I could go on and on. It really is a “must read” for anyone who likes well-written genre stories with compelling characters who drive the plot and the reader through an adventure to be remembered.

Some of my favorite lines:

“Artists are always good for conversation, so long as you want to talk about their art.”

“Nobody makes an emotional bulletproof vest, so you just have to carry the shrapnel around with you.”

“He had his mother’s looks, his father’s temper, and nobody’s brains.”

I’m reading this book when I spin at the gym, so it could be a while before I finish it. I keep going over my thirty minutes on  the bike, because I’m so caught up in the tale.

Have your read any of Johnson’s stories? Do you like the TV show Longmire?


 

shutterstock_104723360 (1)How about you? What have you been reading?


And since we’re talking book reviews today, I’ll share my latest five star review from The Paranormal Romance Guild:

vikingghost_cvr_smlAnother wonderful addition to the Gambling Ghosts series. Abigail Jenkins (Abby) is a widow with three children all under the age of five. The only job available is at the Haunted Teahouse the very teahouse where ghosts meet nightly for a poker game. Abby has agreed to be the night cleaner and her hours are flexible. Money is very tight especially with her youngest being sick and requiring medication.

Abby has heard all kinds of stories about the teahouse but feeding her children takes precedence over any fears she could have. Azalea who runs the teahouse has only one rule, Abby is never to enter one of the rooms no matter what she hears and Abby intends to keep that promise.

Eric Eklund is a one thousand year old Viking who died in an accident making going to Valhalla out of the question. Since he didn’t die in battle and could not go to Valhalla he decided to stay where he was and the poker games are a highlight of his nights. When he accidentally came across Abby everything changed for him because suddenly he found himself totally taken with a living woman.

Eric revealed himself to Abby and it doesn’t take long for her to accept the fact that the teahouse hosts a poker game every night for ghosts and one of them a gorgeous Viking god has become her protector. Neither of them have any idea that an evil spirit known as a poltergeist is determined to get Abby’s children to feed him.

Zane Carrington is a cop that has made a deal with the spirit in order to save his two year old daughter. The poltergeist Louis has his daughter prisoner and although the idea of being the cause of death for three small, innocent children is beyond anything he could have ever have imagined his daughter’s life is at stake and he has no choice.

Eric is determined to stop Louis and save Abby’s children and also wishes he could be human again so that he could show her how much he loves her. There is supposedly something that can change him back to human but if that is real or not is not something I will reveal.

This novella has it all, a gorgeous Viking ghost, a widow doing everything she can to save her three children and an evil spirit. There is love but of course it is between a ghost and a human woman so what are their chances? There are also surprises. I loved this addition to the series every bit as much as the first.

Reviewed by: Linda Tonis

Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team

Magic, Mist, & Magic – #Anthology #Review

Moon, Mist, & Magic – Review

An amazing collection of paranormal, romance novellas by award-winning writers filled with humor, suspense and surprising plot twists. Reading this anthology is like going to a really good smorgasbord and not knowing where to start. Each piece is perfectly crafted to entertain you and leave you smiling.

A Ghost of a Chance by Abigail Owen

Josie is a young woman with a problem. Her brother’s ghost tells her he needs help and the only person who can help is his best friend Bryce, who Josie has avoided for years because of her their heart-breaking past.  Owen pulled me into this story on the first page. Her characters are engaging, the plot surprising, and the writing beautiful. I can’t wait to read the next book about these characters.

Dangerous Dreams (an Obsidian Flame Prequel) by J.C. McKenzie

With her trademark, wicked sense of humor, sexy romance and strong heroine J.C. McKenzie knocks this novella out of the park, or I guess I should say dragon’s kingdom.  It’s a first taste of her new series that left me hungry for more. Rafael Dragoi, the big, bad Astarot of the Obsidian dragons hires Lara to protect him, not knowing that she herself is a dragon. Secrets and magic abound in this story. The inner-dialogue between Lara and her dragon had me laughing out loud. A true delight.

Myths and Legends 101 by L.A. Kelley

A demon and a lovable Hawaiian demon hunter propel this story of a mild-mannered academic, Jim who discovers there is more to life than what you see and that love is part of that. A fun paranormal romance.

And that’s not all. There are two more great stories: The Keeper by Sharon Saracino and Witch You Were Here by Maureen L. Bonatch.

I strongly recommend this anthology to anyone who likes paranormal romance. It’s amazing.

Amazon Buy Link

 

How to Survive Writing an Apocalypse: The One Big Rule

revolution-logo-500x301_1561“Dystopia. Apocalypse. Death and destruction… whatever the cause, the end result is going to be pretty much the same: mass starvation, anarchy …” (Andrew Horowitz)

 what The experts say:

To write a good, post-apocalyptic story, you need to twist the farenheittropes and avoid cozy-catastrophes and cliches. Plots must make sense and characters need to be fully developed. That’s what the experts say. <I scratch my head.> I agree, but isn’t this true for every genre? So what is different?

The One Big Rule

… is knowing the world.  Inside and out. To make the story believable and the plot hold together, the new world has to be consistent. The big additional rule to all the others rules of writing a good story is to immerse the reader in a rich and understandable setting.

Ebola K: A Terrorism Thriller: book 1 by Bobby Adair

ebola
click on cover for link

I read the first book in Adair’s popular Ebola series this weekend. It’s a quick-read and I enjoyed it. Adair twists, pulls and weaves his  plot threads with suspense from the very beginning to a cliff-hanger ending, leaving the reader wanting more.

As he explains, Ebola is described accurately in the story, but he takes literary license when he allows the virus to mutate and become air-born. A truly chilling thought.

What I liked best about the book, was his insights into how the politics of the world would be affected by such an epidemic, and how a disease could be weaponized for terror. If you like medical thrillers, you’ll love this one. (and it’s perma-free)

Here are some quotes:

“A disease that infects so many so fast does not have to do all the work of killing on its own.”

As soon as the news of an epidemic gets out:

“…the world will start to change. Slowly at first, but as the evidence builds over the coming days and weeks, the Western countries will close down every airport in the world Commerce will stop. They will do whatever they can to save their own people …”

Did Adair pass my One Big Rule?

In spades, or I guess I should say stethoscopes. The settings were believable.  I could smell the dying. I would have preferred more complex characters, but that’s me. The story works, because the world he depicts is believable.

Interesting blog sites:

7 Tips for Writing Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 

Guide: Post-Apocalyptic Cliches to Avoid

Things to Remember When Writing Post-Apocalyptic

Writing Apocalyptic Stories

Andrew Horowitz’s Top Ten Apocalypse Books


 

To learn more about me and my writing, check out my website and/or sign up for my newsletter.

Cheers,

Jo-Ann

A Sexy Spy #Thriller – True Deceptions by Veronica Forand Book Review

True Deceptions
Click on cover for buy link

Veronica Forand’s action-packed, Romantic Suspense thriller, True Deceptions is a phenomenal read. I can’t think of a better word to describe it. I couldn’t put it down.

The opening chapter is brilliantly written, rivalling the openings of James Bond movies. Filled with emotional drama, well developed characters and conflict it leaps off the page. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say she had me within a few pages.

British, alpa-male hero, Simon Dunn, a somewhat reluctant MI6 operative, has class, intellect and courage beyond measure. Forand builds an intriguing character motivated by conflict and heart. Ruggedly handsome, the heroine notes, “…his body appeared molded by Roman gods for purely hedonistic activities.” And he’s good at those activities.

And Californian, Cassie Watson, a peace-loving, vegan, computer nerd turns out to be his perfect match. Simon describes her as, “…a brain in a centerfold’s body.” He tries not to notice the leggy blonde too much, because he has a huge assignment to complete, but he can’t help but note, “…her looks could disarm a man even if her fighting skills couldn’t.” And, “…She could break the concentration of a Tibetan monk!”

The heat between them sizzles.

The secondary characters are equally intriguing. The plot is fast paced and has surprising twists. Even though the subject is dead serious, Forand’s rich sense of humor plays through the dialogue deepening the texture of the plot and the tone of the novel.

Thoroughly entertaining! I recommend Veronica Forand’s True Deceptions for any reader who loves sizzling romance and intriguing spy stories.

I’m going now to Simon’s Facebook page. I’m totally his fan. Then I’m putting up this review on Amazon and Goodreads and giving it 5 stars.

My favorite line: “Crawling around in the mud and digging a ditch under a hidden section of barbed wire fencing were not his favorite activities, but he’d walk through molten lava to bring Cassie to safety.”

 

 

 

The Sheriff Meets his Match #Book Review

0.99 cents / click to buy
0.99 cents / click to buy

The Sheriff Meets his Match (A Wounded Hearts Novella)  by Jacquie Biggar

The Sheriff Meets his Match is a Romantic Suspense novella, heavy on the romance,  set in the small town of Tidal Falls. Ms. Biggar captures the warmth of the small community where family and friendship ties connect everyone and all the latest news can be found in the local diner called the Grits and Grace Café . But what really sets her writing apart is her understanding of people, her use of visceral details and her subtle sense of humor.

The beautiful and fun loving heroine, Laurel takes a temporary job in the Sheriff’s office and quickly falls for her boss. Jack the Sheriff, a straight-shooting man with a lean body and wide shoulders, can’t keep his eyes off of her. But there’s a problem, actually a few, and for a time it looks like they are destined to be star crossed lovers.

My favorite lines: “Men. You can’t live with them and you can’t shoot ‘em. It’s a felony.”

I’m posting my 4 star review on Amazon and Goodreads.

Hunky Highlanders + Adventure, #Book Review for A Bridge Through Time

Click on cover to buy
Click on cover to buy

A Bridge Through Time is an adventurous, romantic, time-travel story written by Jennae Vale, the first in her Thistle and Hive Series.

The heroine Ashley Moore is the kind of woman you would want to have as a best friend, big hearted, honest and dependable. But her life isn’t easy. Her parents are dead and she has no siblings. Her husband is history and the only man who calls to her heart is a handsome, ghostly figure who appears in her dreams wearing a kilt. (Yes, if you like Highlander stories, you’ll love this one.) She’s drawn to Scotland and that’s when the tale really begins. She crosses a magical bridge and enters another time.

Cailin MacBayne of the Clan MacKenzie is everything a woman could want in a sixteenth century warrior, well-built, funny, sexy and sexy. Did I say sexy twice? You know what I mean. The man oozes alpha male qualities. He loves women, but Ashley is the first to capture his heart.

So we have a modern American woman and a sixteenth-century hunky Highlander. That’s only a few hundred year age-gap. Usually this is where I lose interest, as I’m not a follower of this genre. But Vale makes the story larger than that. A gentle sense of humor flows through her lines, the couple’s relationship is compelling and there’s lots of drama as the two fight off enemies. Vale accomplishes all of this in a richly drawn Scottish setting.

If you like Highlanders or time-travel stories, you will love Jennae Vale’s A Bridge Through Time.

My Favorite Lines:

“I have to try to find this guy who’s haunting me; my gut and his kilt are telling me Scotland is where I need to be.”

“So you see…Cailin MacBayne robbed me of my wife and I intend to deprive him of his.”

I’ll be posting my review with five stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

**********************************************************************************************

I met Jennae Vale in Palm Springs and that’s why I read her book. I love getting to know writers through their stories.

Jennae Vale and me in Palm Springs (InD'scribe Conference 2015)
Jennae Vale and me in Palm Springs (InD’scribe Conference 2015)

 

Extraordinary Writing – Locked, Loaded and Lying #Book Review

Cover-SarahAndre-LockedAndLoaded Final cover
Click to buy.

If you like your mysteries layered you’ll love Sarah Andre’s debut, Romantic Suspense novel, Locked Loaded and Lying.

It has a tightly developed mystery plot, interesting characters with very human flaws, and a sexy love story. When I read it, I felt like I was standing at my dream smorgasbord and getting a good helping of everything I like in a story: Romance, Suspense and Mystery.

The feisty heroine Jordan Sinclair is my favorite character. A survivor of a difficult childhood (which I won’t give away) she has strong convictions about what is right and wrong. She wants to protect her mother, but not at the cost of hurting others. Her inner-conflict is compelling and I rooted for her all the way.

The bad-boy, hunky hero, professional ski champion Lock Roane is accused of murdering his heiress girlfriend Tiffany van der Kellen. That would be a life-changing experience for anyone, but what tears him apart is that he can’t remember whether he did it or not. As he waits for the trial to begin, he does some serious soul searching. And then he meets Jordan.

Together they piece together what happened the night Tiffany died. Along the way they fall in love. The pages on my Kindle zapped by.

My two favorite lines:

“I knew if I didn’t kill him that morning, he’d kill me.”

“My life is like tip-toeing along a greased log in a river of snapping crocodiles.”

This author is an exceptional writer! I fell into the story and couldn’t let it go.  I can’t wait to read her next book. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy Romantic-Suspense mysteries.

I’ll be posting my review with 5 stars on Amazon (where there are already 68 awesome reviews) and Goodreads.