Review: Into the Ashes (Taine McKenna Adventures #3) by Lee Murray

Into the AshesDisclaimer: I received an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

The third installment of the Taine McKenna adventures follows the format of the two previous books without becoming formulaic or predictable. It’s an action-packed adventure featuring human and supernatural dangers, full of both familiar faces and new characters I hope to see again in future books.

This time, the supernatural element is a lot less obvious — no giant monsters this time. Instead, Murray delves deeper into New Zealand mythology to use environmental dangers to great effect. For various personal reasons, I am NOT a fan of stories about volcanoes and/or earthquakes. But I tore through this book because I was enjoying the story enough not to be put off by the very realistic and detailed descriptions of being near an active volcano and its various environmental impacts. The only reason I knocked half a star off my rating of this book, compared with the two previous, is that I really liked the inclusion of giant monsters in addition to very human villains. Totally a personal opinion on my part.

Jules and Taine keep breaking my heart in this book. If this series was a single romance novel, I’d be smacking them both right now. But this isn’t a romance novel, and Jules and Taine are portrayed as realistic people — real people don’t always get a happy ending.

Just tell that to all the other people who die in this book: heroes, villains, and innocent bystanders alike. I like a healthy dose of reality in my supernatural thrillers, and this book has it in spades.

Can’t wait to read the next adventure featuring my favorite Kiwi soldier!

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Escaping Solitude (Escape #2) by Sara Dobie Bauer

Escaping SolitudeDisclaimer: I received an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

The moment I finished part one of the Escape Trilogy, Escaping Exile, I was already clamoring to the author that I needed part two right away. Of course, having completed part two, I’m begging for the conclusion immediately. While some middles of stories or trilogies drag, I enjoyed this story even more than the first one! Andrew and Edmund, and their relationship with each other, continue to delight. Continue reading

Review: Teeth of the Wolf (Path of Ra #2) by Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray

Teeth of the WolfDisclaimer: I read this book as part of the editorial process; I look forward to purchasing a hardcopy to add to my collection.

I was honored to be one of the first people to read this book, and it blew me away even more than the first in the series. I didn’t realize near-future noir was a thing I needed in my life until this series, and now I wish more of it existed. But I’m not sure whether any other attempts would measure up to the adventures of Penny and Matiu. This book ups the ante from the previous, with more action, more conspiracy, and more supernatural dread.  Continue reading

Review: The Flame (1001 Dark Nights/Desire Exchange novella) by Christopher Rice

FlameOften novellas either feel like a padded-out short story or a rushed novel. This was neither, giving all the background detail between each of the three main characters necessary to make the next step in their relationship feel natural and inevitable. Additionally, the supernatural element of the story blended seamlessly with the relationship arc between the characters.  Continue reading

Review: The Boogeyman’s Intern by Matt Betts

Boogeyman's InternDisclaimer: The author is a friend, and I reviewed this novel as part of the publication process. I look forward to purchasing a hardcopy version of my own.

This was a weird book set in an even weirder landscape. Betts proves that the supernatural creatures created as part of all human cultures are very similar to the humans that they support/stalk/haunt. Despite his paranormal origins, Abe is just a guy. When he’s swept up into the first murder mystery his world has ever known, that’s when things get interesting.  Continue reading

Con Report: Farpoint 2018

Farpoint2

Last weekend, I attended my first Farpoint convention! You could say that I got my start in speculative fiction as a Star Trek fan, so it was nice to get back to my roots, as it were.

FRIDAY

Since this is a “local” convention for me, I commuted from home rather than staying at the hotel. After working half a day in the morning, I headed north of Baltimore by mid-afternoon to get the lay of the land. My first panel was at 4 PM, which involved a fantastic discussion with other authors and readers about creating immersive worlds in speculative fiction (and writing in general). We discussed how to incorporate just enough detail (but not too much detail!) to allow a reader to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride in any genre.

My second panel was immediately after, where I switched gears into fan mode and discussed “All Things Winchester.” Supernatural is currently in season 13, and not everyone was caught up, so we kept it general in our discussion of how the show is successful thematically, various character issues, favorite episodes, and theories regarding the upcoming spin-off, Wayward Sisters.

I didn’t have any of my usual writing tribe at this convention, so I steeled myself and asked if I could join one of my fellow Supernatural panelists, cosplayer Jessica Crouse, if I could join her group for dinner. I’m so glad that I did, because I made some amazing new friends over the course of the weekend through that one act of courage! We had a great dinner and evening of hanging out, then it was back to the hotel for the evening book fair.  Continue reading