Seeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson

Summary

Chaos reigns around the world. Strange creatures, accorded the title “Phantom Ninjas” by the media, are leaping off tall buildings and somersaulting back up without any scratch – and then disappear. There follows more spontaneous acts of magic, confounding the world. Who – or what – is responsible? In the middle of the mystery arrives Detective Hetfield, a private investigator just recently released from the FBI due to an on-the-job injury. Hetfield, who arose to fame as a star witness in the murder trial of a beloved actress, uses the media to put forward the theory that a person of extraordinary magical powers is behind all the incidents, and labels him Dr. Magic. Hetfield gets much more than what he bargained for when that powerful being does exist – in the form of a young man long disillusioned with his past – and cruelly takes him up on his offer.

Characters

There are two characters – former Detective Tony Hetfield and “Dr. Magic.” Each of them are very unique and everyone else feels like lifeless blobs that are just filler for the story constructed around these two characters. I really liked the inner strength and determination of Tony. He has to be one of my favorite characters written by this author. “Dr. Magic” has a somewhat tragic story but is an adult that never had to grow up. Very much felt like he had peter pan syndrome—having magic helps…

Plot

This is very much a modern mystery with an urban magic feel. I wouldn’t say this necessarily a fantasy in a traditional sense but it did have that super hero feel and a magical abilities piece. There are lots and lots of layers to this story and the strength if this entire novel rests on its plot. Tony is driven to find the identity of Dr. Magic, but is also very principals—so what happens when the most dangerous person meets in an unstoppable force?

Overall

This book was very easy to read and enjoyable to turn the page to find out what came next. A few twists and turns kept things interesting where I wasn’t 100% sure where the story was going to go. I appreciated that there were a few surprises where I was like “Where is he?” out loud. Any book that can make me do that is good! The downside was the secondary characters. They could have used some development to round out the novel and bring extra depth to the characters. Some were decent but others felt very flat.

In short this is a great plot and okay characters – so overall a good read! I’d recommend this book ahead of most of Spotson’s other books just because I felt this book had the best flow. It was pretty consistent and I never felt bogged down by details or overwhelmed by information coming in. Instead I was able to follow along and just get immersed into the story. I didn’t love the ending, I felt like the author wanted to give more closure and show that these characters were moving in a certain direction, but I actually would have preferred if it ended one chapter earlier. I get why it was done and actually appreciated the open-ended conclusion.

Rating

4 Stars

Overall an enjoyable read that was an easy page turner. If you like mysteries where you are following along as each layer is peeled away this is a great book. If you also like magic, this delivers!

This is a voluntary review.

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White Clay by Dora Ilieva

Summary

After a horrific car crash which kills her aunt and uncle, Kossara discovers that she has a brother! Tormented by questions, she sets out to find the truth about her family. The search leads her to a secret much bigger than her personal problems. In a race against time, she struggles to decipher the instructions left by her father. Will she be able to carry out the task which has been entrusted to her or will the blind seer’s terrible prophecy come true?

Characters

I liked Kossara. She can be a little fool-hearty but given the circumstances I don’t blame her. Some of the supporting characters are very vivid while others just feel washed out and plain. Her grandfather is a very vivid and nasty character. Andre is one of those fence people, I don’t know how I feel about him and he doesn’t know which path to take. Don’t worry it turns out well. Toughest part of this book was the stilted conversations and the POV shifts. There was a narrative feel with lots of head hoping between characters with no clear transition. I loved the flashbacks with the Doctor and Venera.

Plot

At first I was just somewhat interested but I quickly was sucked in. I just had to know where it was going and how all the pieces fit together. That was as important as how the present mattered so much to the past. I cannot write anything but Kossara is a very resourceful woman who I really loved following around on her adventures.

There is a romance aspect near the end but it is super flat and lackluster. I’m hoping it has long reaching effects and that there is more meaning to it, but as it was not very exciting. I also felt the supernatural aspect was a little convenient as well – the blind seer – but since I was warned of it in the blurb it wasn’t as strange as it could have been.

Overall

I really liked this plot. It had this zigzag feel that the past having impact on the present. I felt a few times that this book was as much about what was said as what wasn’t. A few times you had to take leaps of faith with where the author was going, and fill in context or even movement of characters. It wasn’t as distracting as the POV switching but far warning you’ll have to fill in some gaps. Perhaps the gaps are filled in the first two books? Although I do feel like this book can mostly standalone.

I liked the nice little twist at the end. Well one of the two twists, the first one was very abrupt and more than a little disappointing but I applaud the author for doing the twist near the end, just when you think it is all over, I didn’t see it coming. I wondered if it would happen but thought it wouldn’t happen yet. Nice surprise! I do love a good twist. Not to mention the core idea behind the story – the subtle meaning behind the title and what the whole point was. Very thought provoking.

Rating

3.5 (Rounded up and down)

I was super torn on this book – I liked it so that’s what I’m going to mark on each. The plot was such so catching and I was quickly sucked in. However, with every POV shift and shaky dialogue I was shook out of my revery. WIth a few fixes this could easily be a solid 4 star book.

This is a voluntary review.

Whiskey Kills by Lolli Powell

Summary

Big cities are known to be dangerous, but former New Yorker and bar owner Ricki Fontaine is finding the small town of Waterton, Ohio, is proving to be the murder capital of the world—well, at least her world.

The new Top Shelf is open for business, but business as usual for Ricki and the Shelf translates to another dead guy. Ricki’s friend, Ruby Fogarty, is charged with murdering her boyfriend by clubbing him to death with a bottle of whiskey. The police consider the case closed, but Ricki is convinced Ruby is innocent and sets out to find the real murderer. Although Waterton police detective Gabriel Russell is crazy about Ricki, he isn’t too crazy about her trying to do his job.

The killer’s not too happy about it either.

Characters

Ricki is fantastic. She is charming and stubborn. Her antics should get her into more trouble than they do, which tells me she is lucky. She touch and warm and so many things that all seem to fit! Gabe is…*fans self*…adorable. I love their relationship together and I hope they make it for the long haul. I’m a little iffy on how good of a detective he is during parts of the book but that was minor. The supporting characters are varied and vivid. Adam is just the greatest – so much love for him. Not to mention Ricki’s mom and stepdad! All around great characters.

Plot

At its heart this is a sleuthing novel – a whodunnit if you will. Yet it is so much more. It touches on social issues, family, grief, and greed. There is even romance – although I don’t get her obsession with eyebrows! Following Ricki as she fumbles around trying to help her friend out was nail biting and entertaining. Who killed Frank? That’s the first question and boy do you go on a journey to get that answer. As she digs deeper into the truth, even she is surprised by the ending! Plus she learns a bit about herself and how awesome Jasper (her cat) is. Good luck figuring out all the angles, because I missed some!

Overall

This book just grabbed on a wouldn’t let go. Despite its few drawbacks and some unrealistic moments, I just loved it. This is a book that you overlook its pitfalls because overall it was such fun and just pure entertainment. Plus it felt like you were with Ricki at times, and she was telling you what happened – recounting the events rather than reading a book which was amazing! This is what a good book is supposed to do. One I started I just had to know the ending and I have to say, I loved even that! I was surprised by the ending (no who did it), but by the accidental way in which Ricki stumbles upon the truth. I thought the book could have gone one of two ways and although I guessed who the killer was (mostly) I was in for a surprise! Things are not always what they seem.

Downside was this was book 2 in a series. I wish I had read the first book before this one because this book does give away what happens in the first book so I can’t go back now. If the first book was as good as this one, it must be worth reading!

Rating

5 stars

Such a fun read! I was completely absorbed and just had to finish it! It took me quite a bit longer to figure everything out and even then I missed some things. A great mystery read for sure!

This review is voluntary.

Albedo by R. Leib

Summary

Ranner’s done a lot of things in his life, defended planets in the HSG, shot it out with pirates, and muscled for smugglers. Now he’s settled down into being a bodyguard so that his adopted daughter can have a normal life. Offered the chance of a lifetime for just doing his job seemed too good to be true. He would have to see what the albedo deflected to know for certain.

Overall

This is a like a hardboiled detective novel but with a science fiction feel. Actually it reminded me of those old noir movies but a futuristic version. For such a short snapshot it had the pieces necessary for a mystery. Ranner is both clever and reformed…as best as he can be from his old ways. The plot was both interesting and horrifying, but I don’t want to say more in case I’ll ruin the mystery. I felt like it was wrapped up a little too easily but may have just been a nod to Ranner’s ability.

Rating

4 stars

A great little detective short story that is a great read for a short lunch break. If you like a grim science fiction with a mystery, this is a great read for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

The Murder of Manny Grimes by Angela Kay

Summary

When three young boys stumble into Lieutenant Jim DeLong’s life one night during a winter storm, they claim they’ve seen a dead body by the swing sets of the Columbia County Elementary School. After he investigates, DeLong sees no evidence, not even a body. But were the boys telling the truth?

With the help of his oldest friend and mentor, former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun, DeLong sets out to find whether Manny Grimes is alive or dead. The further away he gets to the bottom of the mystery, the closer he comes to realize that his own life is falling apart.

Delving deeper into the murder of Manny Grimes, Lieutenant DeLong begins to unravel, losing his sense of control, falling into old temptations he spent years to overcome. Will he be able to move past his own demons and untangle the web of lies before it’s too late?

Characters

This book is filled with deeply flawed characters. There are no white knights in this dark detective noir. Chock full of moral ambiguity on right and wrong, Lieutenant DeLong does one thing right – solving murders. Calhoun is just as flawed. A womanizer with questionable friendship choices, he at least wants to make everything right by solving murders and fixing past mistakes. These are complex characters.

Plot

I absolutely love to be surprised. In the beginning of this plot I thought the author was going to play it safe. I am happy to report that is not the case! This book edges on reality that anything can happen to anyone at anytime. I was well over halfway before I begin the suspect the killer, even though their motives became clear to me earlier on, I still wasn’t sure who the actual killer was. That is the hallmark of a good murder mystery!

This book also explores DeLong’s personal life. Although it enjoyed parts of it, some of it felt long and drawn out. I’d have to stop myself from skipping forward to the next part that involved the mystery aspect. I’m wondering if DeLong’s paranormal encounter will continue into the second book – I sure hope so!

Overall

Part of it reminded me of an old hardboiled detective movies/books brought into the modern age. The only difference being that DeLong is actually a detective. The writing could be stilted at times but also felt very hard detective story. There were some errors, but most of it was punctuation. The author did an excellent job of building suspense, but I felt that the ‘personal drama’ aspects sometimes distracted from the growing tension.

The setting was consistent and added another eerie aspect of being deep winter. The author played this up well. At the end of the day the plot and flawed characters won out. It almost felt like a movie you’d watch on Netflix on a cold winter day. I don’t see why this couldn’t also be read on a cold winter day as well!

Rating

4 stars

If you like complex murder mysteries with a touch of drama, this is perfect for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

Midnight Over Moores (The Children of Carmen Chronicles Book 1) by A.M.H. Johnson

**This book CAN standalone**

Summary

Jenna Sheffield is an average girl from Savannah, Georgia. However, this year her life is about to change. She’s starting at a new, all-girls boarding school in the middle of high school. She’s having to learn how to deal with a roommate who seems more inclined to torture her than be friends. And on top of all that, she learns she has inherited her family’s ability to communicate with the dead, when the ghost of Christine Wedge starts to haunt her. All Christine wants is her body to be found, but this mystery is shrouded by 60 years of local legends and feuds. Can Jenna crack this cold-case, or will Christine drive her insane, or worse, kill her chances at getting into a good college?

Characters

Jenna is the main character and takes the spotlight for 90% of this book. She is interesting and for sure coming into her own as a young lady becoming a woman. She is very much the typical high school girl who moves halfway across the country. Oh and can see ghosts. I respected her immediately for the very gutsy move she made for her future. Her friend Sarah is a decent of Christine and is the big reason Jenna sees Christine’s ghost in the first place. Sarah and her brother are good supporting characters. Plus I liked the added conflict of Jenna’s snooty roommate Francesca.

Plot

This story had it all. Romance, a ghost story, some adventure, and a mystery. I don’t want to give anything away but the romance was very YA. It was cute and sweet. The turmoil that happens is realistic and not too far over the top. The ghost story was more in depth and the idea behind seeing ghosts even more so. Also I have to say I’m super pleased to say that the normal cliches with roommates who are jerks doesn’t happen here.

Overall

This is such a YA novel. Despite its silliness at times I really enjoyed it. The author did a good job of balancing the progression. I was a little surprised as how some of the story progressed because it was sudden when I thought the resolution would take longer. It took me a little longer to realize that the author was setting this up as an origin story – utterly brilliant. I don’t want to give too much away but I’m totally going to read this second book because if this is the author’s debut then they can only get better!

This book did need work on the grammatical and the word usage (one paragraph and most of the sentences started with ‘she’). Despite the simplicity of the writing, which was to be expected for a YA, it really didn’t detract from the excellent story telling. Not to mention the clever plot. I could have done without some of the romance but it was sweet and I eventually got over it.

Rating

5 stars

This book was not amazing literature but it was super charming and I just loved it. I read it every night and had to put my phone away and not stay up late. I enjoyed reading about Jenna and if you love YA books that are as much about romance as a good story (mystery/ghosts) then this a book for you!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

Writing Update and Mailing Lists

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I started off with a terrible head cold that laid me up for days. I sincerely hope most of you started off 2017 better. On that note here are all the updates for what I plan to do in the new year.

Goals for my writing/the year:

  1. Building Mailing List – I’d like to get a mailing list so when I have giveaways and such, I can let everyone who is interested know.
  2. Finish Writing The Gate Trilogy (I expect this to happen within the next month)
    1. Get all 3 covers done for The Gate Trilogy, reveal the first one.
    2. Publish The Sixth Gate on July 7, 2017
    3. Finish editing all 3 books – get ready for Beta readers.
  3. Choose which book to have done for Audio Book
    1. Find a ‘voice’ for the audio book and pick a date for release next spring (2018).
    2. Send a poll in the fall for which book through Mailing List
  4. Start writing next book. Decide between 1001 Islands #2, Unfathomable Chance #2, or the new YA Fantasy novel – Temporum: The Four Seasons.
  5. Work on Seven Eves – Alaskan Supernatural Crime Novel
  6. Edit and get to Beta Readers An Honest Misunderstanding and consider publishing (maybe just on Wattpad).
  7. Breathe new life into my Historical Mystery Novella. Finish writing ‘The Red Door’ – SO MUCH REWRITING/EDITING!
  8. Editing/rewrite Truthseer 
  9. Participate in NaNoWriMo
  10. Keep up momentum on writing events, speaking events, and conventions.
  11. Read 45 books.

Mailing Lists:

I have created two mailing lists. One for Romance readers and another for Fantasy/Sci-fi readers. I’m hoping to send out discounts, deals, giveaways, sample chapters, and cover reveals of all my books. Not to mention upcoming releases and my decision on which books will first go to audio (that’s right!). I’m preparing for a giveaway shortly, make sure you get on the list!

Sign up here: Mailing Lists

Writing Plans:

I am painfully close to finishing the last book in The Gate Trilogy. Book 1 releases on July 7, 2017. I had the artist who said they were going to do it bail so I need to find a new artist, I may have a line on one of them to do all 3 covers. I’ll get everything ready for publication over the next 5 years.

After completion of The Gate Trilogy I’ll be ready to start on my next project. There are three items that are at the forefront of that race. In no particular order these are my possible next writing projects:

  • 1001 Islands #2
  • Unfathomable Chance #2
  • Temporum: The Four Seasons A new project that I want to do for my good friend Nicky. It is a YA Fantasy that is contemporary and involves the main character ‘falling’ into another world.
  • Another project that I’m working on as well is Seven Eves. An Alaskan Supernatural Crime Novel. This may move to the forefront of my attention until I can make a decision on what of the above projects to take on first.

I also have a few projects I’d like to revive. Namely Truthseer (a book I wrote for my sister but needs to be fixed/worked on before future publication) and The Red Door (a historical mystery novel set in New York City, 1899). I finished rewriting/editing An Honest Misunderstanding some time ago, but I’ve decided to look at publishing. Either to eBook or on Wattpad…or maybe both!

Audiobook:

I’ve decided that one of my published books is going to go to Audiobook. I have to decide on just one and I’m very torn. I’ll be sending out a poll to help decide so I’m hoping everyone will sign up to the mailing list and help me make a decision Fall 2017.

Local Events:

Happy to announce that I’ll have other writing events around town and in the Southcoast area in Alaska. I’m very excited about all these events. SenshiCon was amazing last year and I hope to meet as many amazing  people this year as I did last year! My first one is next weekend which is Yuki Fest – here is their Facebook Page.

Reading Goal:

It is my goal to read 45 books. Goodreads Reading Challenge is all set up and tracking me. Apparently I’m 1 book ahead of schedule – yay! I want at least 50% of these to be indie authors so make sure to check out my submission/review policy page if you’d like me to consider reading/reviewing your book.