Book Review: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Outrun the Wind
Elizabeth Tammi
Flux, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-63583-026-2
Trade Paperback

Never, ever forget to honor Artemis. This Greek goddess relishes revenge. With a fine-tuned, blood-curdling cruelty. One retaliation resulted in the creation of The Calydonian Boar. In an either epic display of ignorance, or a sick desire to taunt the deity, the very King that caused her anger, proceeds to order his son to select a hunting party to slay her beast.

Despite vehement opposition, Prince Meleager includes Atalanta. He knows she’s an asset as “…the fastest runner he’d ever heard of and the most precise archer he’d ever dreamed of,” but his comrades simply see a beautiful, but (by definition, useless) female.

Until the moment the boar is felled. And the men see Artemis, in her righteous rage and flanked by her huntresses, glaring at them over the corpse of her creation.

Then, the hunters happily give Atalanta full and complete credit for the kill. She has only one real option. Atalanta runs.

Fighting to make her own way (quite literally), Atalanta is followed by one of Artemis’ patronesses as her father frantically searches for her. Kahina, a natural huntress with hidden knowledge, makes it to Atalanta’s home first, and awaits her arrival.  It is when Atalanta and Kahina come together that the sparks really fly.

I’ve always been a fan of retold fairy-tales, so I was certainly psyched to check out mythology re-imagined. Ms. Tammi manages to stay true to themes; the lives of mere human beings are secondary to the quarrels among the gods and goddess, while keeping current with quick-witted, cutting dialogue. This is simply too good to keep to myself, so I’ll be sending my copy to my favorite classroom library. And I’ll be looking forward to more from Ms. Tammi.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2018.

Book Review: Scythe by Christina Bauer

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Title: Scythe
Series: Dimension Drift Worlds Prequel #1
Author: Christina Bauer
Publication Dates: April 24, 2018 and November 27, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks
Indiebound // Amazon

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Scythe
Dimension Drift Worlds Prequel #1
Christina Bauer
Monster House Books
ISBN 978-1945723049
Ebook April 2018
ISBN 978-1945723582
Trade Paperback November 2018

From the publisher—

Truth time. I go to a Learning Squirrel High School. Don’t judge.

On second thought, judge away. Learning Squirrel is one step above attending class in a junkyard. But what do you expect? Everything’s made out of garbage these days. At least, I have my freelance work to keep Mom and me housed, clothed, and fed. How? I’m your regular high school science geek for hire, except my work manipulates space-time. The good news is that these gigs pay really well; the bad news is that the government likes to kill people like me. Whatever. I’m not worried; hiding from their detection systems is easy for me.

Then I screw up one of my illegal projects. Badly.

In fact, things go so sideways that my house slips into two-dimensional space-time. The shift only lasts for a few seconds, but that’s long enough to set off a dozen government alarms. If those goons track me down, Mom and I are as good as dead. Long story short, I need to pay someone off, hide the evidence, and keep us safe.

Unfortunately, that means asking the Scythe for help. He runs the local underground crime scene and has absolutely no conscience…Or at least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. It’s hard to think straight when a guy’s that hot in an ‘evil Mafioso kingpin’ kind of way. Most importantly, the Scythe is a crime lord who can conceal my slip-up with a few clicks on his minion’s computer keyboards. But the man has his price. In this case, the Scythe wants me to finish a certain dimensional prototype for him in twenty-four hours. I can do it, but it might mean Learning Squirrel High gets blown up in the process. Oh yes, and there’s also my new hot classmate who may or may not be an alien…and he says he’ll do anything to help me.

This job won’t be easy, but I’ve gotten out of worse scrapes. Maybe.

Wow. Just wow. If Scythe is any indication, the Dimension Drift series is going to be a corker, hands down.

Meimi is only 16 years old but she’s much older than the usual teenager, having lost her father and sister, acting as caretaker for her emotionally and mentally fragile mother and living in a world where monstrous beasts are created to “dispose” of undesirables as defined by the Authority. Meimi supports herself and her mother by doing freelance scientific work for the local crime lord, Scythe, and becoming beholden to him for their very survival is not a choice she would have willingly made, had she actually had a choice.

From the first few words, I was completely hooked on this story and its characters. The plot is full of nonstop action and tension while the characters, Meimi as well as others, are vividly drawn, even the exceedingly dangerous Lacerator, the newest of those killer monsters. Beyond all that, though, Ms. Bauer is a master craftsman of worldbuilding and that alone would have kept me fascinated.

There is only one thing wrong with Scythe—it’s a prequel and by the very nature of the beast (so to speak) that means the story ends way too quickly and leaves you hanging, swinging in the breeze. I really hope the next prequel, Umbra, will be out soon, followed by the first full-length novel, Alien Minds 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina On Social Media – She Loves It!
Blog: http://monsterhousebooks.com/blog/category/christina
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorBauer/
Twitter: @CB_Bauer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christina_cb_bauer/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-bauer-481b12139/
Web site: http://monsterhousebooks.com/authors/cbauer

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Follow the tour here.

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Waiting On Wednesday (102)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.
This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Valiant
Merrie Destefano
Entangled Teen, December 2018
Science Fiction, Young Adult

From the Publisher—

The Valiant was supposed to save us. Instead, it triggered the end of the world.

Earth is in shambles. Everyone, even the poorest among us, invested in the Valiant’s space mining mission in the hopes we’d be saved from ourselves. But the second the ship leaves Earth’s atmosphere, our fate is sealed. The alien invasion begins. They pour into cities around the world through time portals, possessing humans, forcing us to kill one another.

And for whatever reason, my brother is their number one target.

Now the fate of the world lies in the hands of me, a seventeen-year-old girl, but with the help of my best friend, Justin―who’s suddenly starting to feel like more―maybe if we save my brother, we can save us all…

Why am I waiting so eagerly? Post-apocalyptic? √ Aliens? √ Time travel? √ Armageddon whiplash? √ What more could a science fiction groupie like me possibly want?

Changes

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to tell us non-authors just what goes into finally getting that book published.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net/

Have you ever seen a movie, or read a book, that includes a scene about a writer finishing a book? The one that comes to mind is Romancing the Stone. Remember? She is crying as she writes the last sentence, types in The End, packs it up and sends it off to her publisher, the next time she sees it the book is in print. Wow. If only it were so.

I thought today we’d talk about what really happens. This is fresh in my mind because I just sent the manuscript of the latest Mary McGill canine mystery, Boo, You’re Dead off to my wonderful agent and no 1 editor, Dawn Dowdle. After months of writing, staring into space, doing research, rewriting, it’s finished. Not quite. I will get it back, and there will be changes. Why, you ask? Let me take you through the process, from idea to seeing it in print.to better understand how this works, at least if you are traditionally published. The following is a generic time line, it isn’t about me or any particular author, it’s  about the process.

No.1 The Idea:

The author has a glimmer of an idea, usually in the middle of the night when you can’t go back to sleep. She is certain it will make a great book. She writes her idea in a few sentences (harder than it sounds) and presents it to her agent. Will it fly? The agent likes it, she sends it to the publisher who either says yes, write the book, or you’re out of your mind. For our purposes, the publisher loved it. How fast can you write it and get it to them? Once that has been established, the fiction author begins. She has nothing to work with but a blank computer screen and this vague idea, but soon the framework of an actual story appears. She begins to flesh out the characters, develop plot points, create settings and generally tears out her hair when she gets stuck. She stares at the calendar and shudders. The deadline for turning in the finished manuscript is getting closer. Finally, she’s finished. She’s even written The End on the last page. She’s rewritten it, discussed it with her readers, rewritten it again, put it through spell check and its ready to go to her agent. No more changes. It’s finished.

No. It’s not

2. The agent: The agent goes over the manuscript. She lets the author know where the story falls apart, when it drones on, where it doesn’t make sense. The cute little passage about the small child and the dog that the author was so proud of must go. It doesn’t push the story forward, it’s a distraction. Sadly, the author complies. The agent knows what she’s talking about. She also knows where comma’s go. The manuscript comes back to the author and the changes, corrections, rewrite where need are made and back it goes to the agent, all the time keeping a close eye on the calendar. The deadline looms.  Finally, it’s ready to submit to the publisher. It’s ready to go to print. There will be no more changes.

Well…

3. The Publisher: Each author is assigned an editor. He/she will be the first person at the publishing house to read the manuscript. Politely, changes will be asked for. Remember that small child and the dog? The editor says on page 47, third paragraph down, we need something a little softer. Can you write in something that will still push the story forward but warm the heart? Sure. There was that small child and the dog you cut. The author really liked them and is happy they are back in but how they will push the story forward, she doesn’t know, but she’ll figure it out. Somehow. That won’t be the only change. Hopefully there won’t be too many. After a few days sitting in front of your computer, tearing out what remains of her hair, she’s complied with the requests and it’s ready to go back to the publisher. She’s finally finished. Oh, wait. The editor says she’s delighted with what been done, and she’s passed the manuscript off to the line editor. He has some changes to make.

About now the author is sick of the characters in the book and wonders what ever made her start this project, but she sighs deeply and goes through it one more time. Back it goes, fingers tightly crossed.

The next email she gets has a jpeg file. It’s the cover. It’s gone to press. A small package arrives and it’s her book, in print. She holds it in her hand and smiles.

It’s finally really finished.

The End

Book Review: Death of an Honest Man by M.C. Beaton

Death of an Honest Man
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery #33
M.C. Beaton
Grand Central Publishing, February 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4555-5831-5
Hardcover

All the familiar characters and nuances of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries are present in this novel.  That does not diminish the charm of the tale, which begins with a new arrival in the Scottish sergeant’s patch, one Paul English.  The newcomer prides himself for stating honest observations, which are really insults. For instance, telling an overweight woman she’s fat, or the minister his sermons are boring.  And, of course, there’s always Chief Inspector Blair and his hatred for Macbeth, and his constant attempts to take credit for crimes Macbeth solves.

Well, English’s mouth actually results in his misfortune, and he is murdered.  With any number of potential suspects, Macbeth has his work cut out for him.  A couple of subplots round out the novel: first is Macbeth’s fixation on his wild cat who apparently is no longer with him, and he finds and nurtures another in the hope that it is his lost pet; and then there is the constant loss of his assistants to the food industry.

The addition of a new novel to this long-running series is always a joy to read and “Honest Man” is good fun, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2018.

Book Review: Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson

Quiet Neighbors
Catriona McPherson
Midnight Ink, April 2016
ISBN 978-0-7387-4762-0
Hardcover

We all live in neighborhoods, some loud and raucous, some quiet and peaceful. In either case, we may know a good deal about those who live in those sheltering houses, and we may not. We might also be surprised to learn somethings good or not so good about our neighbors.

Neighborhoods are a collective façade behind which we often protect our privacy, letting others make assumptions without question until something upsets the even and normal fabric.

People have secrets and this is a novel of revelation, of history and secrets and the results of false assumptions. In some neighborhoods, or tiny towns, such as this one on the Scottish coast, the insertion of a new force, such as a stranger, can be benign or upsetting.

London librarian Jude comes on vacation with her husband to this tiny town of bookshops, fabric stores and teashops. It’s a quiet Scottish town and Jude discovers an odd bookstore nestled amongst other quirky shops. Lowland Glen Books turns out to be a treasure trove of used books. But the place is, to say the least, not well organized. But the store and its proprietor offer some quirky calm in the midst of Jude’s deteriorating life and marriage.

Weeks later, she needs a place to go to ground in a hurry and for unfathomable reasons, the town around Lowland Books rises in her memory and there she goes to hide. The mystery of her need to hide is one of the many mysteries so carefully unraveled as this story progresses. She needs shelter and a job wouldn’t be amiss, either. When the bookstore owner, possessor of his own secrets, offers her the job reorganizing the bookstore, and a roof over her head, the situation seems heaven-sent.

Naturally, in a small community like this, Jude discovers some people with secrets of their own and when a young pregnant woman, claiming a relationship with the bookstore owner, shows up, more yarn begins to unravel.

The revelations, the discoveries, intertwined with startling personality bends, are masterfully handled, retaining and enhancing wide-ranging literary comment, examination of some life styles and amazement as the sometimes slyly revealed truths come to the fore. Any reader who loves mystery, countervailing personal forces and a persistent, forward-moving narrative, will find this novel interesting and difficult to put  down.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2018.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: The Clincher by Lisa Preston

The Clincher
 A Horseshoer Mystery #1
Lisa Preston
Skyhorse Publishing, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-5107-3272-8
Hardcover

Apparently the last person to see her client alive, horseshoer Rainy Dale is on the police’s short list of suspects when Patsy-Lynn Harper is murdered on the afternoon Rainy shoes Patsy’s prize stud. Considering she’s a comparative newcomer to her small Oregon town, Rainy is an easy mark. Especially since someone seems determined to set her up, with clues pointing right at her.

But Rainy has her friends, too. Her boyfriend, Guy, who’s taken in Rainy, her dog, and even her horse, Red. There’s a young girl, Abby, who has her own secrets and is as horse-crazy as Rainy was at that age, who turns out to play a big part of the plot. And even a local vet takes her at face value.

Rainy is put in great danger by the end, and Guy, a gourmet chef on the cusp of owning his own upscale restaurant, is willing to give up everything to save her.

The plot touches on many subjects, all put forward in a logical and organic manner. Adoption, teen-age waywardness and angst, bullying, drug use–in this case steroids. And, of course, the shoeing of horses, one aspect of which fuels the title of the book.

The Clincher has some of the most interesting and unique characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. The plot is fast-paced, the characters are sympathetic and come alive under Preston’s sure hand. As a plus, the writing is excellent over-all. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.