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Winter of the Gods in more than one way

winterofthegodsIt’s winter for the gods in more ways than one in the second book of the Olympus Bound trilogy. Literally, it’s winter. It’s Christmas season in modern-day New York City. And, things are looking bad for the Greek gods who have taken refuge there. Someone is out there sacrificing gods in what appears to be the manner of a cult. Selene and Theo are once again sucked into the investigation.

And what’s worse, perhaps, is that Selene suspects that it is one of her family members who is doing the sacrificing in order to regain power. Who can she trust?

Two of Theo’s close friends get involved in the research for the case. They turn up a lot of information. And a lot of it is given to the reader. For me, there was just so much information at one point that it slowed down the pace of the book. The rest of it was pretty action packed.

The mystery itself is well done. It’s hard to figure out who is responsible for the deaths.

The characters of Selene and Theo were well done. The problems portrayed in their relationship are logical outgrowths of one being immortal-ish and the other one being pure human. And, I liked the addition of Hephaestus as more than a minor character.

Overall, it was a good book. I gave it 3.5 stars. I liked it, but I had trouble with the amount of information at that one point in the book even though it was obviously well-researched information. There was just so much of it. I would recommend this book for people who enjoy Urban Fantasy and fictional accounts of the Greek gods. I am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy. I want to see what will happen next for Theo, Selene, and the rest of the Olympian pantheon.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays

joytotheworldsDo you like your science fiction and fantasy blended with a dose of mystery? If you do, you will like Joy to the Worlds. It is exactly as it says in the title: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays. Maia Chance, Janine Southard, Raven Oak, and G. Clemans each wrote 2 stories for this anthology. The stories range from a medieval magical setting to an outer space setting and all kinds of stuff in between. Some of them focus on a holiday while others focus on a winter scene. There is even a Krampus tale by Maia Chance.

The book is structured so that each story is introduced by a different author and ends with a note on the writing of the story by the author who wrote it. At the end of the book, you can find additional information about the authors and their web presences.

Most anthologies I read are hit and miss – some stories I think are good, others not so good. In this anthology, I have to say I liked all of the stories. I had only read a historical mystery by Maia Chance before reading this book. I enjoyed her writing then and in this anthology as well. I had not previously read any of the other authors but enjoyed their imaginative stories.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. The blend of speculative fiction and mystery was a good choice for an anthology. And this makes for good holiday reading.

 

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Mystery Writers of America Announces 2016 Grand Master

If you are into mysteries at all, this may interest you.

Stacy Alesi's BookBitch.com™

EdgarAwardLogoA.20105538_stdMystery Writers of America Announces 2016 Grand Master Walter Mosley

2016 Raven and Ellery Queen Award Winners

November 23, 2015 – New York, NY – Walter Mosley has been chosen as the 2016 Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA’s Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Mr. Mosley will receive his award at the 70th Annual Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

When told of being named a Grand Master, Mosley said, “Receiving the Grand Master Award is the apex of my career as a crime writer; as a writer. It is, joyfully, one of the seminal events of my life.”

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Tree Trolls and Copper Crushers and Humans oh my

A review of Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

The blurb starts out “Something Wicked This Way Comes…” and that pretty much sums it up. Lila Merriweather has preferred the shadows as a thief. But with the advent of the Tournament, she is thrust into the spotlight whether she likes it or not to be a representative of the Sinclair family. This means garnering the attention of everyone including Victor Draconi. And that just might be something she could do without since Victor is responsible for her parents’ deaths and Lila wants revenge.

Meanwhile, someone is killing Tree Trolls. The trolls are afraid. And they might not be the only monsters being stalked and killed. Copper Crushers also play a part in the story. The biggest monster of all though may be a human responsible for the monsters’ deaths. And the same person might not be averse to stealing magic from other humans.

This is book #2 in the Black Blade series. The characters are the same from book #1, Cold Burn of Magic. One of the good things about book #2 though is that the characters grow and change and become deeper. Even Victor Draconi is shown in more detail than in book #1. He’s turning out to be quite the bad guy.

The plot is fast paced. There are a lot of action scenes in part because of the tournament. I found myself reading the book quickly wanting to know what was going to happen next. There is a romantic subplot, but the action plot is the main plot.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It has good character development and a fast paced plot. It’s also a good urban fantasy. The setting is Cloudburst Falls – the most magical place in America.

There is an excerpt of the book available on the author’s website.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Is that you or your doppelganger? A review of Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden

deadringersWhat if you were walking down the street and saw someone you were close to, but they said they didn’t know you? Or maybe you even saw yourself? They say everyone has a twin somewhere in the world. Is this just a case of seeing your twin or is it something more evil?

It’s too much of a coincidence to ignore when you see two people that look like friends of yours, but aren’t who they seem to be. Mix into the plot a sinister object and a haunted house with a malign presence and you have Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden. Golden manages to take an idea that’s been done before, the doppelgangers, and make it new.

The characters are well realized. They all have a history and personality. You want to root for them. The plot has twists and turns that make it even more appealing.  It’s a fast paced, well-told tale. I read it in one day. And I have to admit to being glad that I read most of it during daylight hours, especially the parts with the Raggedy Man, yet another twist in the story.

This is a five-star horror book. Snowblind was good. Dead Ringers is even better.

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Mostly Ghostly – a Quickie Review of Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger

ghostlyIf you like ghost stories, then Ghostly may be a good selection for you. Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger is a collection of ghost stories chosen by her and including an original by her. The ghost stories range from Poe to Saki to A.S. Byatt and Neil Gaiman and more. Some of them leave you with a little chill others are humorous. What they do all seem to have in common is that they deal with the home or home life or houses. And most of them are told in a quiet sort of voice.

As with all anthologies, not all stories will sit well with everyone. I found that in spite of it’s being a classic I didn’t like Poe’s “The Black Cat.” I did like Ms. Neffinegger’s original story, “Secret Life, with Cats” and many of the others. Unfortunately, the ones I didn’t like were near the beginning of the book and I almost didn’t give it a chance. I took a break from it and when I went back I found that it was indeed worth my time to read it.

For me, Ghostly ended up being a 4-star anthology. I liked more stories than I disliked. The collection was perfect reading for the end of October. It was published October 27, 2015 by Scribner.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Chef Maurice Seeks Suspect Topping Off Chefs – Review: Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off by J.A.Lang

chefMaurice3cover

“Maurice?”

“Oui?”

“Is there anything that doesn’t make you think about food?”

` end of chapter 8

This is book 3 in the Chef Maurice series, released October 12, 2015 from Purple Panda Press. It’s time for the Beakley Spring Fayre complete with bake off. Chef Maurice isn’t one of the judges this year thanks to an invitation being extended to a famous television chef, Miranda Matthews. Miranda, being a bit of a prima donna, makes enemies easier than one could make a cake. As the day at the Fayre goes on, Miranda has disappeared and when she is found, she is no state for judging a bake off. She is face down in a brook. And Chef Maurice suspects there is a villain about with a penchant for topping off chefs. The good Chef feels this is a job for him and Arthur, who is on a diet, to test their detective skills.

As a sub-plot, Patrick, Chef’s sous chef, is being lured away to become a head chef for a Bed and Breakfast that his mother is opening. PC Lucy isn’t too happy about that, but doesn’t want to hold him back. This leads to all kinds of misunderstandings especially by Patrick who is a little dense when it comes to women.

PC Lucy soon has her hands full with the murder investigation and trying to keep Chef  Maurice reasonably out of it. The only way to do this seems to be to invite him to take part in a limited way so that he is in sight.

As the novel progresses, there are enough clues to point to one suspect. But in the way that Chef Maurice has, he believes it is the wrong suspect and that more investigation should be undertaken.

If Hercule Poirot were an eccentric french chef, then he could be Chef Maurice. His little grey cells are never mentioned, but they are obviously hard at work throughout the investigation.

It’s a bit of a page turner and the reader is presented with most of the same clues as the good Chef, but there are a few that are held back resulting in a somewhat surprising ending. Not entirely surprising, but somewhat surprising.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a really good story, but the execution was not quite as well done as in the previous 2 books. It is still a good book and worth reading. It could be read as a standalone, but the reader would benefit from reading the other 2 books in the series first. Book one, Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle, is currently free for Kindle on Amazon.com.

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