Copen Lights It Up Again!

I’ve become an E. A. Copen Fan. If she writes it, I’m reading it! You may have caught my first review of her first book, Guilty By Association. If you haven’t, I provided a convenient link for you to check it out. Guilty By Association is the first Judah Black book. Book number four, Playing With Fire, has just gone live, so I’m now allowed to release my review of this book. The title of this post should make it clear that I love this book! This review has minor spoilers, but you still have to read it for the important part of the story!

Judah Black is back and you’ll want to get it soon! In the 4th installment of the Judah Black series, Playing with Fire, Judah’s called to the scene of a fire, and runs into a startling situation as she sees two friends, Gideon Reed and Ed, fighting to the death. When she arrives, one of the friends turns on her and the fun begins. As the fight continues, Sal, Judah’s werewolf boyfriend and mentor to her werewolf son, jumps into the fray and is severely injured by the blade swung by Reed. Ed was singed by the fire thrown by Reed. In the confusion after Sal’s injury, the sword slinger and fire flinger escapes.

As the investigation begins, Judah is pitted against a group called the “Tribulation Adventists” – a so-called Christian fundamentalist organization and Reed is in cahoots with them. The problem this group poses becomes personal for Ed as he reveals that Mara has come under the sway of this group which ostensibly seeks to include supernaturals in the ranks of Christianity. We meet Espinoza who is part of the Concho County task force for Supernaturals, a group created by the sheriff to help Judah. As the investigation continues, Judah discovers treachery at high levels of government and, in the process, we learn a bit about how she got transferred to Paint Rock, Texas.

While Sal lies wounded in the hospital, we realize that the sword that Reed struck him with is enchanted, and becomes a part of the struggle for power between Judah and another old nemesis. She learns a startling secret about this sword and why it’s become the centerpiece of this battle. Meanwhile, because Sal is dealing with his enchanted wounds, we see Ed transforming into a major player who’s beginning to come of age in this story. I really enjoyed the development of his character in this book.

This is the most intense Judah Black story so far, and you won’t be disappointed. Important people die in this story – I won’t tell you who. You’ll have to read the book to find out. While Copen doesn’t go on a killing spree of Gearge R.R. Martin proportions, I teared up as old “friends” died. Magick flows throughout the book, sometimes from those whom you’d least expect to show it. And, in a horrifying turn of events, extreme measures are taken to save the life of one of the characters. This book was well worth waiting for. I recommend it highly.

While there are a few spoilers in this review, I’ve tried to avoid major spoilers. I wish I could say more about what happens! There are two personal issues I need to point out: 1) I’m one of the few readers who has actually lived in Paint Rock. I’m predisposed to like these stories. The Paint Rock of the book is different from the Paint Rock I lived in – but that makes sense given the whole back story and situation. 2) I’m always leery when people start bringing in “Christian fundamentalist” organizations as the bad guy. Followers of Christ are “my people” and as the Tribulation Adventists were introduced, all sorts of warning bells rang in my head. Copen deals with the issues in a very respectful manner as she unveils the true dynamics of this group. My personal commentary on this is that it’s easy for any manipulative group to claim to be a “Christian” group by taking a few verses of things Jesus said out of context and using them to control others. Copen revealed the manipulation in a way that shows this group isn’t really a Christian group. (I guess that’s a bit of a spoiler, but I did it anyway.)


It’s Coming! Time to Get Fired Up!!!

Almost a year ago, someone pointed me to a series of books starring a hard-nosed, female, supernatural investigator by the name of Judah Black. Her job is to investigate crimes committed by or against supernatural beings: werewolves, zombies, vampires, fairies, etc. I had read the beginning of another series in the Urban Fantasy genre, more on that in a couple of weeks, so I was more open to the books than I might have been before.

I fell in love with the books almost immediately! I love seeing a strong female lead portrayed so effectively. Of course, before I saw how well E. A. Copen wrote the story of Judah Black, I was drawn to the setting: Paint Rock, Texas. “Where is Paint Rock?” you might ask. My standard answer is “Go to the middle of nowhere and take a left.” I know that because I used to live I Paint Rock when I was pastor of First Baptist Church there. For a small town, it’s a great place. The people are wonderful. Copen doesn’t deal with the people who live there, because of the nature of her books, but she does an amazing job of showing the physical attributes of the area and I have enjoyed reading about my old stomping grounds.

I’m bringing this up now because….insert drumroll here….Judah Black #4 is being released on October 31! This book is called “Playing with Fire” and I can tell you that Copen does an amazing job of continuing the story. I’m excited that this is coming out now! I’ve had the privilege of reading an Advanced Reader Copy, ARC, and I told my wife that she‘ll want to buy it the instant it comes out! (I don’t let her read ARCs when I get them, but she’s chomping at the bit to read this book.) I will be posting my review on the 31st.  If you haven’t read any of E. A. Copen’s books, let me suggest you check out the Judah Black series. You can find her Amazon page at E. A. Copen. You’ll notice a couple other books outside of the series. The Fairchild Chronicles is good, but, to be honest, her later work is much better. “Beasts of Babylon” shows how much she’s grown as a writer in a very short time. That’s an awesome book and introduced me to Western Horror – a genre that combine two genres I didn’t like before.

If you’ve read her books before and you just want a shot at “Playing with Fire,” the pre-order link is here. If you pre-order the Kindle version, it will be delivered as soon as possible so you don’t have to wait to read it. Order now….don’t get burned.

Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives

As I get closer to publishing, these kinds of stories are frightening. Amazon makes unilateral decisions, doesn’t explain their rationale, and doesn’t give due process. They are, of course, a private business that doesn’t need to give due process, but they should realize that shaming people without giving them a chance to respond is bad for business.

David Gaughran

Phoenix Sullivan is well-known in the indie community – I’ve known her myself since 2009 or 2010 and consider her a close friend.

Aside from being exceptionally generous with her time and knowledge, tirelessly sharing her insights on marketing and algorithms, Phoenix is also well known as a vocal campaigner against scammers and cheaters – particularly on the current big issues of book stuffing and clickfarming.

And now she is being targeted.

Phoenix made a box set free for a few days back in September, advertising on Freebooksy, KND/BookGorilla, and Digital Book World – all legitimate sites – and there was no other promotion involved with this title. No BookBub CPM ads, no Facebook campaign, no tweets, no newsletter swaps, no mailing lists.

On the third day of her free run, Phoenix’s box set was rank-stripped by Amazon, a punishment normally reserved for those who have used clickfarms or bots…

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