Sunday, January 27, 2019

January's Book Reviews and Previews

Happy 2019!  

This month, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a teen fantasy (yeah, I know.  I'm a bit outside the target market, but I still enjoyed it), a murder mystery with a metaphysical twist, an outer-space, murder mystery, and a police procedural and occult-themed novel (yes, it was both; that's not a typo).

Use the link at the end of each summary if you want to see the full review or to get more information about any of these books.

Tainted Luck by Cynthia Austin

A Mixture of Humor and Horror in a Fast, Enjoyable Read

Tainted Luck features a seventeen-year-old high school student, Levi, who worries that he’s “… invisible when it came to the female species” and that he’s a distant second in his dad’s life.  Then, we have the cute cheerleader, Stacy, the object of Levi’s dreams if only he had the courage to act on them.  And finally, there’s the enigmatic, gothic, new girl in school, Taylor, who attaches herself to Levi, never taking no for an answer.  Sound a bit like the setup for a typical story about teenage angst?  Tainted Luck is that … and more.  Taylor’s darkness turns black.  Is it witchcraft or just a crush taken too far?  Levi, on the other hand, starts off annoyed with Taylor, describing her as a gawky scarecrow with a shaggy, black mane but later, as “mesmerizing”.  Has Taylor bewitched him?  Or is this just the normal course of male hormones?  And Stacy actually seems interested in Levi … or is this just part of his delusion as well?  It’s an enjoyable undertaking to find out.  See the complete review or get more information from Amazon here:

Hopatcong Vision Quest by Steve Lindahl

A Murder Mystery with Some Unusual Investigative Techniques

Hopatcong Vision Quest is a murder mystery that starts fast with the killing of two women.  Subsequently, the police conclude the deaths were accidental, leaving the families of the victims (Ryan and Diane) to solve the crime.  Believing that Ryan’s daughter may have witnessed her mother’s death, they turn to a hypnotist to help her retrieve this repressed memory.  What they get from the process, however, is much more.  It’s information from their past lives in a Native American village hundreds of years ago.  Those lives differ in many ways from today, but in one important respect – the commission of the crime – they are identical.  Those glimpses of the distant past become the basis for solving the present-day crime.  See the complete review or get more information from Amazon here:

Perax Frontier by Alistair Potter

Likeable Characters in a Taut Mystery Set in a Fascinating Outer-Space World

How do you fight crime without the benefit of electricity and electronics?  No computers.  No phones.  No cars (as we know them).  That’s the quandary facing Sheriff Artur Perax in Perax Frontier.  That, and the fact that he’s sitting on a potentially lethal boundary between two universes and dealing with complex, government bureaucracies on both sides.  And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a mix of alien races, each with their own characteristics and capabilities.  If you’re thinking author Alistair Potter had his world-building work cut out for him, I’d have to agree.  And for the most part, he does it well, describing technologies like phonographs driven by compressed air and aliens who read human body language like a book, but don’t understand our slang.  See the complete review or get more information from Amazon here:

The Coven Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 3) by Brian O’Hare

Mix of a Police Procedural and the Occult (Seriously – and Seriously Scary)

If you are prone to check a book’s genre, as I do when seeking a new read, you may do a doubletake when you view The Coven Murders.  It’s listed in the occult and the police procedural genres, the latter having a focus on investigative processes.  Are we talking about arresting demons?  Actually, that guess is not far off, as author Brian O’Hare has penned a unique and intriguing mix of detailed detective work in pursuit of some bad guys, not all of whom may be human.  And if you’re thinking that could be amusing, you’re at the wrong end of the spectrum.  It’s bone chilling, truly scary, without resorting to graphic details of ritualistic murders or grotesque beasts.  Not many authors can do that.  See the complete review or get more information from Amazon here:

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