Tag Archives: book review

Dragon Hoard

Dragon Hoard

Cathleen Townsend’s Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie offers the reader the variety of adventures one expects from a well-edited short story collection, but manages to do so while also organizing the book around off-beat and entertaining twists on fairy tales and folklore. The appearance of characters from outside the standard slate of characters adds even greater variety and interest to the mix.

There’s also some refreshing variety in how Townsend tweaks these old tales, with fresh treatments of character, setting, and time. In some cases, such as the title story, “Dragon Hoard,” the faerie character is an old school dragon doing what dragons do, only in a modern setting. Bored with sitting on a vast treasure, the dragon consults a stock broker with the intent of leveraging his fortune into political power. (I wondered if the recent election may have inspired this delightfully wicked tale, but it was published in 2015.)

“Troll,” my favorite, features a very un-troll-like troll who yearns to enjoy a sunrise. Despite his love of beauty for its own sake, he’s still a troll, and knows the sunlight will transform his body into stone. The touching ending reminded me of John Hurt from The Elephant Man. A close second was “Faerie Travel,” an urban fantasy about a young runaway who meets beautiful but deadly faeries and a grubby and devious human.

In “BabaYaga.com,” we encounter a character from Russian folklore who’s set up shop in America. The old witch has partnered with a laughably sleazy salesman who learns that magic plus computers can be a deadly combination. I had to Google Baba Yaga to figure out the ending (bird tracks?), but you know, when the story interests you enough to make you want to learn about folk traditions outside your usual cultural sphere, that’s an added benefit. Another story worth special notice is “Gargoyle,” which manages to be both charming and sad.

Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie delivers a different kind of ride, offering scares, laughs, and tears. And, for the next few days, it’s free! Highly recommended.

A Few Reviews of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1 by Charles F. French

I just finished this book and left my review at Amazon. Now I know what all the fuss is about. Suspenseful and captivating!

charles french words reading and writing

wp-1476386546701-maledicus112“Maledicus is sure to be a literary horror classic. I was amazed to find that this story was not at all what I thought it would be. In this telling of good vs. evil, of bravery and self-sacrifice, we see a portrayal of the most constant of human struggles that death often defies through sheer force of will and therein lies the deeper meaning that brought this novel to life by the author, Charles F. French. Concurrently with the demonic theme is a well-thought out philosophical approach to horror, wrapped in an evocative story that will capture your fear and terrify you. This story is abundant with tantalizing details, unforgettable characters, and words that will not only touch your heart and mind, but also take your breath away. It is a completely riveting story with suspense, mystery, horror, bravery, and a great love that transcends time. You will not be…

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Traveling with The Travelers (Spring Break Edition): Road Trip Book “Mix Tape”

I loved these suggestions of books an author should pack for a road trip.

K.L. Kranes, Author

The end of the day today, somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 pm, marks the beginning of Spring Break for many kids. And as the mother of a child in the Fairfax County public school system, that means it’s Spring Break for me too. (It’s much better to take off work than to spend the week watching your daughter skulk around the house with her phone and complain about being bored. We’ve got all summer for that.)

I am most excited to have 10 blissful days20170219_172644-v2 where I can read and write with reckless abandon! I can’t wait to keep working on the sequel to The Travelers and to take Volume 1 on another trip (It’s now been to NYC, Atlanta and Dallas).

However, we’ve also planned quite an adventure that involves a little road trip action. So, alas, it won’t be only reading and writing for me. (But I’ll find time to…

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A Bhikku’s Tale

A Bhikku's Tale

Here’s a new work worthy of your attention. Irish writer David R. Jordan’s second novella is out, and it’s a blast. I’m not sure exactly how to classify A Bhikku’s Tale, other than to say it’s packed with surprises, humor, and action.

Set in an alternate Ireland called Inis Fail (Isle of destiny), the central character is an easy-going monk, or bhikku, named Reilly. Though he spends most of his waking hours meditating, he’s not averse to the temptation of cigarettes and good, strong drink, or wearing Star Wars tee shirts on occasion.

But Reilly’s blissful world gets shaken when the Green Man brings terrible news: Sam the Sybarite (the spirit of luxury) is spreading the news of a marauding Chinese dragon bringing terror and destruction among the peasants and nearby townspeople. Reilly and the Green Man decide to visit the horned god Cernunnos, where they run into Sam, who verifies the news, and adds that Morpheo, the bringer of sleep and dreams, is riding the dragon. But why would a normally benign god do such a thing?

The four decide they need help if they’re going to confront Morpheo and stop him and his dragon. They recruit a shaman named Murray, a girl ghost named Tracy, and a snake. The team finds and, thanks to their mighty snake, destroys the dragon. But while they were preoccupied with the dragon, Morpheo managed to steal part of Cernunnos’ horn, giving the deranged, power-mad god control over nature. The threat is now worse than ever.

As I said, it’s a tough story to pigeonhole. Twisted fairy tale? A romping mash-up of several world mythologies? Read and enjoy this novella and decide for yourself. Whatever you want to call it, it’s thoughtful and entertaining.

A Bhikku’s Tale is now available on Amazon.UK

Beth’s Book Reviews: Aztec Midnight

MexicanMarine

From Beth’s Book Reviews:

“This novella is small but packs a definite punch. From the very beginning it draws you in and keeps you interested. It also resolves things quickly and cleanly by the last page so there are no loose ends to leave you wondering after you close the book.”

Thanks, Beth! Here are the other reviews of Aztec Midnight, and here’s a link to my publisher, The Novel Fox.

Suspense, Mystery, and Romance Make “Aztec Midnight” a Must-Read

Manhattan

The Manhattan with a twist blog offers readers “an all-encompassing perspective on living in New York City.” The site’s book review section, The Twisted Library, features this reaction to Aztec Midnight:

The novella follows Dr. Jon Barrett, an American archaeologist who was asked to come down to Mexico and retrieve an ancient, valuable (Aztec) weapon before the drug cartels get to it first. I found myself thinking, “well, this is fun to read” while reading, often, and, given the subject matter, that is a feat. Not many people would view a book that combines history, violence, criminals, and mystery as “fun,” but it truly was. Each page was like another step on an exciting journey, and, as a reader, I really did not have any idea where the story would turn next.

I also particularly enjoyed how the author throws in little romantic parts between the narrator and his wife. For example, when Jon returns home from a tiresome excursion, he walks in on his wife relaxing on the couch, and he takes a moment to simply admire the way she looks. He said it even temporarily alleviated him from the stressful thoughts and events that made up his day. This was a very nice touch, in my opinion. It reminds the readers that although there is a great deal taking place, and whole lot of drama, Dr. Barrett’s number one priority at the end of the day (literally and figuratively) is his wife and his love for her. This knowledge of his character plays an important role when, later, a few of his most prized possessions are put in jeopardy.

This novella is short, but filled to the brim with action and intrigue. Tuggle blends edge-of-your-seat scenarios with realistic and genuine dialogue. The characters are authentic and believable, while the story is unique and undoubtedly fascinating. No matter what your usual genre of books may be, “Aztec Midnight” is worth checking out.

Aztec Midnight is available in ebook and paperback. Check it out!

Review of Former

Former

The world A. E. Stueve creates in his just-released novel Former is warped, chilling, and bristling with menace. Battered and terrified from the Infection War, the survivors distrust one another. Their greatest fear is of formers, people who were once infected with a man-made disease that takes over the mind and fills the victim with one over-powering urge, to attack and eat other people. A shadowy and powerful pharmaceutical firm, Profine, which invented the cure, now houses the formers in compounds where it protects them and works to return them to something close to normal lives.

But the jumpy population outside Profine’s protective compounds is vulnerable to canny and unscrupulous media manipulators. One popular blogfeed is Zex Starshine’s Unreality, where master rabble-rouser Zex Starshine beguiles and horrifies his audience with startling revelations about corporate greed, government conspiracy, and the secret threat of another former uprising. (What are those people planning in those sprawling compounds?)

I know what you’re thinking — this horrifying world sounds like today’s venomous climate of mutual demonization and seething hatreds. In both our world and the world of Former, the Internet, that impossible-to-kill cockroach of misinformation overload, fairly throbs with voices screaming about what “those people” are up to now.

For Billy Dodge, the protagonist of Former, things go from dystopian to apocalyptic when he storms out of a group therapy session for formers like himself and ends up accused of complicity in murder. His only chance of clearing himself is to trust the mysterious figures within Profine. Billy has already lost much, including his wife, who killed herself rather than succumb to the dread disease. His brush with death and survivor guilt have made Billy world-weary, yet he is driven to prove to himself he’s still alive, sometimes in ways that only make things worse.

This novel manages to be both bleak and breathtaking, grim and darkly comical. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Billy Dodge despite his impulsiveness and semi-suicidal urges and bad choices. Billy’s determination to convince himself he’s not only a human being, but still himself, despite the disease that once made him a monster, reminds me of the works of Philip K. Dick.

I’ll make a prediction: This book will be used in writing classes to illustrate the right way to create an unforgettable atmosphere, one that perfectly suits the story that emerges from it. Highly recommended.

You may also be interested in the reviews at Kirkus and Foreword Reviews.