Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen – Review

Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen – Review

“Welcome to Paint Rock” is asign that signals you’re entering a very small town in west Texas. How small is the town? The sign is painted on both sides. Ok, that’s a bad joke, but you get the idea. The people in Paint Rock are wonderful people, but it’s a small town. I used to tell people trying to find me when I lived there, “Drive out to the middle of nowhere, and take a left.” Imagine my surprise to begin reading Guilty by Association by E. A. Copen and finding out that the Judah Black novels are set in Paint Rock, Texas. (You had me at “Paint Rock,” E. A.)

Paint Rock is a different town from the one I knew and loved. As the truth came out that Vampires, Werewolves, and Fae lived among us, the government had to do something. Someone took a map, put their finger in the middle of nowhere, moved it left slightly, and decided that Paint Rock was the perfect town to use to isolate the Supernatural Beings. Each group re-formed the area of the town that they settled in to their liking. It would be easy to look upon the new Paint Rock and channel Obi Wan: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” Yet as Guilty by Association shows, evil is not caused by form. People who aren’t “supernatural” can look pretty bad too.

Paint Rock was the end of the line for BSI agents. (That’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigations.) And so we see Judah Black living there on assignment with her last chance. Doing normal things. Like laundry at the laundromat. And keeping knowledge of her son away from everyone.  Only that day, the laundromat was a crime scene that would lead Judah Black on a hunt for a vicious killer. A werewolf is splattered all over the laundromat and Judah has to begin the hunt while getting her boy ready for school, all in dirty clothes to boot. It was not going to be a good day.

While investigating the murder, Judah and Detective Tindall, her unwilling partner in the investigation uncover the disappearance of three children – one werewolf, one vampire, and one fae. The missing werewolf is the nephew of the murdered werewolf and suspicion begins to rest on him as the abductor. People soon learn that talking to Judah Black is dangerous to their health and it gets even harder for her to gain information. Her neighbor, a war veteran and a werewolf, steps in to help her during this time.

Things turn to the worst for Judah when her son is kidnapped as well. Death, destruction, and mayhem continue to follow Judah until the end of the book. By the time it’s complete, Judah has managed to make enemies with practically everyone in Paint Rock, and also in Eden – 22 miles to the south. Can she redeem herself by solving the murder and rescuing any of the children, including her own?

I have to admit that I might be prejudiced in favor of this book because of the setting. I have actually lived in Paint Rock, and while the overall building set up may have changed because of the circumstances of the story, I relived some good days I had there while reading. The story is gripping, E.A. Copen spins a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. She introduces you to a great idea in this book: if all these fantasy creatures really existed, how would we be able to live side by side in the world with them? I highly recommend this book and have enjoyed the next volumes in the series so far.

E.A. Copen is the author of the Judah Black novels and the forthcoming space opera, Broken Empire. She’s an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and other genre fiction. When she’s not chained to her keyboard, she may be found time traveling on the weekends with her SCA friends. She lives in beautiful southeast Ohio with her husband and two kids, at least until she saves up enough to leave the shire and become a Jedi. (This last paragraph taken from her Amazon page)

Unleashing the Dragon! (A Review of Grave Measures)

I can’t imagine anything worse than waking up dead. Well, ok, you could wake up dead in a mental hospital. Want it worse? You could wake up dead in a mental hospital, in a strait jacket, and find out that one of the patients is someone who worked with you in the past…and that’s the reason she’s in the hospital. Yep, the wise-cracking Vincent Graves is in trouble again.

Grave Measures is the second book in The Grave Report series and R. R. Virdi outdoes himself in this tale. Patients are dying without explanation and Vincent Graves comes back as one of the dead patients. (Can you imagine the confusion for the staff and the other patients who knew that Charles had died. Who would they tell without someone thinking they were crazy?) At least this time it didn’t take Vincent too long to learn something about his body. And when he runs into the mysterious Church, he’s given 44 hours to solve the paranormal crime.

Helped once again by Agent Ortiz who had didn’t realize she had worked with Graves before, you know, the new body thing, she puts Vincent in a class of guys with tattoos on their arms. They pick up a child who converses with ghosts, especially her own sister, and embark on a case that involves many trips into Virdi’s fantasy world: the Neravene. The “extra time” Graves gets to solve this case is needed because Neravene time does not run at the same level as our time. Well that, and the story gets complicated.

Graves and friends race against time knowing that anyone of them could be the next victim. They chase the killer down through long forgotten passage ways of the hospital trying to save the little girl before it’s too late. As appears to be the case with Vincent Graves, cleaning up the mess creates an even bigger mess before it’s all over. The action is hot and heavy in this story so get yourself a nice, cool glass of ice water, sit back, and enjoy the book. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Grave Measures was nominated for a Dragon Award!

Grave Beginnings – Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Die

Grave Beginnings – Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Die

You will see one more review of R.R. Virdi’s work after this one soon. Then, I will be unable to review his work until Grave Report #3 (title unknown to us common folk yet) comes out. I am expecting it this year. He is becoming one of the most well known Urban Fantasy authors around. I highly suggest you check out his books. My review of Dangerous Ways is here. In the meanwhile, Grave Beginnings was the starting point. Here’s my review of Grave Beginnings!

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Die

What do you get when you cross Mike Hammer and Jack Bauer…and then kill him? Meet Vincent Graves, a dead detective who solves crimes and isn’t afraid to bash in a few heads in the process, as long as he does it by the deadline. A real deadline it is, too. If he fails, he dies. Lon Chaney may be the man of a thousand faces, but Vincent, is the man of a thousand bodies…probably…but who knows. He keeps coming back as the victim of the crimes he solves and no one knows exactly how many crimes he’s had to take care of. Except, perhaps, his enigmatic handler, Church. Church doesn’t help Vincent much; he just gives him the time that Vincent has to solve his cases. He doesn’t tell Vincent his new “name” or even what kind of creature killed him. Did I fail to mention that Vincent is a paranormal investigator?

In Grave Beginnings, Vincent begins his short-lived case by clawing his way out of a casket that had just been buried. Then, without knowing the name of the body he has come back in, he meets Church who gives him 24, no, make that 13 hours to solve the case. In that time he has to figure out who he is, who and what killed him, and then dispatch the monster to its eternal punishment. Along the way, Vincent is joined by an FBI agent who helps him figure out what’s happening. Meanwhile, she doesn’t know he’s dead. And she doesn’t realize that they are dealing with a supernatural world until things become obvious.

Vincent and Ortiz, the FBI agent, take on this case wisecracking their way through New York City as the clock keeps winding down. Along the way they meet all kinds of supernatural creatures: some who would be just as happy to kill as help, others who are out for blood, while others just enjoy killing their prey, and Vincent and Ortiz are their prey. In the end, as destruction reigns all around them, Vincent and Ortiz make life and death decisions that ultimately end the chase. Who lives and who dies? You’ll have to read it to find out. It’s a great read and I am looking forward to more Case Files from the Grave Report.

Fasten Your Seat Belts – A Review of Dangerous Ways

Dangerous Ways by R. R. Virdi

When R. R. Virdi was a young child, I am sure that people told him that he lived in his own world. In Dangerous Ways he doesn’t so much invite you into his world, as he opens a vortex that sucks you in from opening scene. Virdi’s world is the foundation for all his writing in the Urban Fantasy genre. His first series, The Grave Report, and this book, the first in The Books of Winter series, all take place in this amazing world and not only do we get a compelling story, we get another view of this wonderland from a different angle.

Did I say wonderland? Well, Alice surely wouldn’t recognize this wonderland as we see the ominous side of many fantasy creatures we have come to know and love in the writings of others. We follow the journeys of two characters, dare I name them? Yes, I will. Jonathan Hawthorne and Cassidy (Cassie) Winters lead us through this world popping into the most interesting and frightening places. Their journey is fraught with danger from the very creatures they need to contact.

Jonathan gets involved in Cassie’s problems knowing full well that his help could cost him his life. But, Cassie is a girl in trouble whose amazing powers have marked her for death from the creatures of this world while she has no understanding. The journey through the world also sees interesting growth in the characterization of Cassie as she adapts to this unknown world and its strange ways during her adventures. The adventures keep you guessing as new dangers and creatures beset the two all the way to the end of the book.

Given what I have read from Mr. Virdi there is a simple rule to follow: when he releases a book, buy it. You will be sure to be on a roller coaster ride of adventure and emotions that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Dangerous Ways

I’ve recently had the opportunity to get to “know” RR Virdi online. He is encouraging, funny, and an overall nice person. He’s recently made ARC chapters of his newest book, Dangerous Ways, available online – one a week. I am thoroughly enjoying each one! That being said, someone who got a full Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) posted a review.  Check out this review at A Drop of Ink Reviews. Then, if you’re still wondering, go to the link above and check out the first few chapters. You’ll be hooked.

Rage’s Echo – Review

Rage’s Echo by J.S. Bailey Publisher: Tate Publishing Copy provided by Author

Ok, now that all the disclaimers are out of the way, here’s the review!

Jessica Roman-Dell is a paranormal investigator (read ghost hunter) with a problem. Nope, it’s not that she spent all of her money on her ghost hunting equipment and has nothing in reserve. Nope, it’s not that she’s lost her job and had to move in with her ex-coworker and a long time friend. It seems that Jessica has found a ghost, and, like the proverbial puppy dog, it followed her home. Jerry Madison, the ghost, has found a way to communicate with an adult human being and seems to have found that he likes having a friend – a little too much. Jerry begins to show signs of jealousy and possessiveness when it comes to Jessica and soon her house-mates Sidney and Wayne begin to see Jerry or feel the effects of his presence in bad ways.

As time goes on, we learn that Jerry is not just a human-infatuated ghost whose fascination with Jessica would be cute, had it not bordered on stalking. Jessica is torn between caring for Jerry and not really caring for any kind of relationship with him as a long covered up desire to be with Wayne begins to come to the surface. We soon learn that Jerry has a deep dark secret. He isn’t ready to “pass” to the after-life because he believes his destination would be hell because of that secret. As a result, the relationship with Jessica becomes more dangerous and lives are at stake as he slowly takes control of the relationship. As the story continues we discover that Jerry is not the only one with secrets as Wayne, the friend who owns the home has his secrets as do Jessica’s hated parents. Does Jerry get a chance to deal with his own personal demons? Can Jessica ever break free of Jerry? Will Jessica and Wayne ever get together? Will Jessica and her parents reconcile?

In small town, America everyone knows each other and knows each other’s business. It’s important to understand that when you get to the end of the book. As the book wraps up the relationships that bring all of the characters together are vital as they help you understand the plot. Slowly deep dark secrets are revealed as we come to the climax of the story; but will those secrets destroy or help the relationships?

I have to admit that when I heard that Rage’s Echo was a ghost story, I was very leery of reading the book. The only reason I agreed to read and review was that I had developed a friendship with the author, J. S. Bailey and she sent me a free autographed review copy. That being said I found this book intriguing, exciting and gripping. I had to put it down early enough so I didn’t read it too close to bed time because it is, after all, a ghost story. But more than a ghost story, it’s a story about relationships; how they go wrong and how they grow. How do our sins affect the way we deal with each other? How does our background affect the people we befriend? If we can’t accept ourselves, how can we expect others to love us as we are? Bailey touches on all of these issues in this book and soon the story becomes ours, if we think deeply enough, as we confront the ghosts of our own past.

I make a point of not posting reviews of books that I can’t recommend.  I can recommend Rage’s Echo highly. Buy it! It’s labeled as “Christian Speculative Fiction.” What does that mean? If you are into ghost stories, you will enjoy this book. If you aren’t into ghost stories, though, there is a lot to like about this book, especially from a Christian perspective. It is not meant to be a theological reference work. It does talk a lot about being truthful with those we love. It does talk about building relationships and how important it is to develop strong relationships with friends and family. Most of all, it does all these things wrapped around a great story and a believable premise.

Rage’s Echo is available now from the author (look her up on Facebook) and from the publisher (Tate Publishing). Here’s the secret: officially the sales start on Amazon on October 1, so you can get a pre-release copy by contacting the author or the publisher. If you want to wait until the official release date you can pre-order it from Amazon. The Kindle Edition is available to pre-order now at  http://www.amazon.com/Rages-Echo-ebook/dp/B00DOAX9CO/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_3 the paperback version should be available soon and it will be released just in time for Halloween.

 

The Land Beyond the Portal – review

Would you like to win the book I am reviewing below? I have an autographed copy of The Land Beyond the Portal available for one lucky winner. Here’s what you need to do:

1) Share this post

2) Give me the URL where you shared the post in a comment below.

3) This contest will last at least one week and I’ll need at least 5 entries. If I don’t have 5 entries in a week, it will last as long as needed. (Come on, I paid for this book just for you, so the least you can do is encourage others to read the review and share it!)

4) Winner will be announced in this location.

Now for the review:

book cover

Book Cover for the Land Beyond the Portal

The Land Beyond the Portal by J. S. Bailey

Laura is seeking to find herself. A bout of injury induced amnesia has left Laura clueless about everything but her first name. Stuck in an old house in the middle of a blizzard, she looks around the house trying to find anything she can about herself. When she gets to the basement she discovers a room below the basement. As she walks into the room an unknown force transports her to a warm summer day in the middle of a pasture.

She is discovered by a young boy who, with his sister, has wandered farther than he should have while exploring. As Laura enters what appears to be a quaint medieval village she begins a journey that moves from trying to discover her own identity to unlocking the mysteries of the village. She is taken in by the village’s benevolent leader,  only to find that many do not see him as benevolent as the rumors start flying about him. The rumor mill appears to be an attempt to replace him. The villagers talk in glowing terms of their deity, but underneath their praise is a strong measure of fear. What happened to the village leader’s boy who disappeared years ago? What happened to his daughter who disappears at the festival in honor of the village deity? As Laura seeks to unlock those mysteries, and prove that the village leader didn’t murder his missing daughter she also has the seemingly impossible task of finding her way back home.

As the book concludes, all of the loose ends are tied together as Laura and the other time travelers lead their friends to discover the truth behind the village deity, the ugly rumors about the village leader and how people are traveling in time. They also discover the location where the daughter had been spirited away, uncover the mystery of the missing son and ultimately who Laura really is.

Bailey sets an amazing web of confusion in this book that ultimately resolves satisfactorily in the end. One of the best messages that I got from this book is the reminder that God is present wherever and whenever you might be. Another time traveler reminds Laura of her love of the true God and under the power of prayer they embark together on some dangerous journeys seeking to solve the mysteries. Some of the people whom Laura thought she could trust turned out to be involved with the evil influence in the land and others turn out to be quite different and more helpful than they first appear.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It has good characterization and the descriptions of the valley where the village is located make you feel like you are actually there. Even more than that though is a story line that draws you in and makes you wonder what will happen next. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop reading until I was finished. If you’re looking for a fun read that touches on suspense, hints at the paranormal and even includes science fiction, this is a book you will love.