Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: Faith Hunter

Friday Reading Recommendations

It’s the end of the week and that means hopefully more time to read. Today’s recommendations come from the traditional publishing side of the street. One of the books I read years ago, when it first came out. I rediscovered it at the library the other day and reread it. Another is a cross-over between one of my favorite UF authors and another author I enjoy. The final is the first book in a second series by that same favorite UF author. Next week, I’ll return to reading recommendations from the indie side of the street. Oh, one last thing. Two of the three recommendations should be available through your library as dead tree books. All of them should be available as e-books (that way, if you are like me and don’t buy many trad published books any longer, you can still enjoy them).

First up is Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell. At first glance, it is easy to dismiss this book, and the rest of the series, as nothing more than police procedurals. In a very real way, they are. But they are also so much more. There is a hint of the paranormal — and sometimes more than a hint — in most of the books. No, no shifters or vampires. These most definitely are NOT paranormal romances. But there is a feel of supernatural about them. Another way they are different is the main character. Kathy Mallory is not normal. She isn’t your empathetic cop. In fact, she could possibly be described as sociopathic. But she has a code she adheres to, one where justice will be done.

Here’s the blurb:

At its center is Kathleen Mallory, an extraordinary wild child turned New York City policewoman. Adopted off the streets as a little girl by a police inspector and his wife, she is still not altogether civilized now that she is a sergeant in the Special Crimes section. With her ferocious intelligence and green gunslinger eyes, Mallory (never Kathleen, never Kathy) operates by her own inner compass of right and wrong, a sense of justice that drives her in unpredictable ways. She is a thing apart.

And today, she is a thing possessed. Although more at home in the company of computers than in the company of men, Mallory is propelled onto the street when the body of her adoptive father, Louis Markowitz, is found stabbed in a tenement next to the body of a wealthy Gramercy Park woman. The murders are clearly linked to two other Gramercy Park homicides Markowitz had been investigating, and now his cases become Mallory’s, his death her cause. Prowling the streets, sifting through his clues, drawing on his circle of friends and colleagues, she plunges into a netherworld of light and shadow, where people are not what they seem and truth shifts without warning. And a murderer waits who is every bit as wild and unpredictable as she….

Filled with deep, seductive atmosphere and razor-sharp prose, Mallory’s Oracle is gripping, resonant suspense of tantalizing complexity—a genuinely unforgettable novel.

Next up is Blood of the Earth, the first book in the Soulwood series by Faith Hunter.   I’ll admit up front that I almost didn’t read this book. Much as I love the Jane Yellowrock series, I wasn’t all that interested in a series focusing on a character introduced in one of those books. Nell Ingram didn’t call to me for a lot of reasons, most of them personal. But I wanted something to read and I knew I could trust Hunter to spin a good tale. What I didn’t expect was to find Nell to be more interesting and spunkier than I expected. Most of the supporting good guys were fun too (okay, I’ll admit I have an issue with Rick LeFleur but that’s another story).

Here’s the blurb:

When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.

Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.

Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…

Finally, we have Easy Pickings, a cross-over story by Faith Hunter and C. E. Murphy. As I said earlier, Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock is my go-to series if I want UF. I enjoyed Murphy’s Joanne Walker series but felt she got a little heavy-handed with a couple of messages in the last few books in the series. Still, they were enjoyable reads and I still recommend them to UF fans. I had hesitated when this title first came out to get it because I couldn’t see how the authors could manage to successfully merge two very different worlds (Jane’s world has vamps and witches and shifters and who knows what else where Jo’s is missing vamps but has gods interfering in what happens). I gave in because I wanted something new to read.

Here’s the blurb:

A Jane Yellowrock / Walker Papers Crossover

Welcome to the crossover event fans have been waiting for: Joanne Walker and Jane Yellowrock meet in a world not quite like either of their own, where they must find and defeat the magic that brought them there–or they just might find themselves . . . EASY PICKINGS!

Since we are only a few days away from Halloween, stay tuned for an announcement. I will be putting several of my titles on sale later today. I’ll update the blog when the new prices are in place. this sale will last only through the end of the month.

And now, for something different

I’ve been on a quasi-political bent of late. Part of that is because my muse has been, well, my muse. She’s evil and she loves to torment me. Part of it is because there are times when you just have to speak your mind. Today, however, I want to do something I haven’t done in a bit. I want to talk about some of the books I’ve been reading.

Any of you who have been following this blog, or my posts over at Mad Genius Club, know I’ve been an avid reader forever. I have my parents to thank (or curse, when I look at my bank account) for that. Some of my earliest memories are of them reading to me. There were always books in the house and they made sure I had my own library card as soon as I was old enough.

They also encouraged me to read beyond what school said I should. While my classmates in elementary school were reading chapter books and the like, I was reading books that came from the monthly book club my dad subscribed to or non-fiction books my parents checked out of the library. I can remember reading a science encyclopedia the baby sitter had. That was really fun because it discussed not only scientific theory and discoveries but what might be possible in the future.

That love of reading has stayed with me throughout my life. So, when I see a writer (usually a wanna-be writer) say they don’t read, I cringe. How can you be a writer and not read? You have to read to do some of your research. You must read to find out what the current market is looking for. You need to read to learn story structure and character development — both how to do it and how not to do it.

Anyway, here are a few of the books I’ve read or am currently reading.

One of my guilty pleasures when it comes to reading are the Bluegrass books (there are now several series) by Kathleen Brooks. These are quick reads with fun characters who love their family, friends, dogs and guns. The latest, Forever Concealed, is the 7th book in the current series.If you enjoy romance and suspense mixed with a healthy dose of humor, give Ms. Brooks a try. Each book stands on its own but I recommend starting at the beginning of each series. Heck, who am I kidding. I recommend you begin with the first book in the original series and go from there.

For non-fiction, and because we will be seeing the play based on the book in the near future, I’m currently reading The Most Reluctant Convert: C. S. Lewis’ Journey to Faith. This isn’t my usual sort of thing for my non-fiction reading. I tend more toward history, politics or military non-fiction. But last year we went to see the Screwtape Letters on stage with friends and it was such an excellent performance that, when we learned the same group was doing this on stage, we decided to go. Because there is a discussion period after the performance, I thought reading the book might be helpful.

This next book was on my to buy list but after the price was reduced because I refuse to pay more than $10 for a fiction e-book. However, a friend gave it to me (yay!). Another of my guilty pleasures are the Eve Dallas books by J. D. Robb. I’ll admit, she’s had some misses with this series, but that’s to be expected when there are as many books in the series as there are now. This last book, Silence in Death, while far from a miss didn’t hit the mark as solidly in my opinion as Brotherhood in Death or even Apprentice in Death. Part of that is because the victim in this case wasn’t someone I cared about. Part was because the killer also wasn’t anyone I cared about. But the story was still pretty solid and the favorite characters were there. So, I enjoyed it but it isn’t on the “to be reread very soon” pile.

One of my favorite series right now is the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. A big reason for that is seeing how Jane has grown and changed over the course of the series. Of course, Jane’s snark doesn’t hurt either. Her latest, Cold Reign, brings us closer to the big and potentially final battle the books have been leading up to. But, this being Jane, she’s thrown a wrench in the works that changes the playing field in ways no one yet knows. I highly recommend this book for any fan of urban fantasy.

Finally, two books from one of my favorite authors, Larry Correia. The first, Monster Hunter Siege, is the latest in the series. As always, there are guns, monsters and explosions. What’s not to love? It also sets us up perfectly for what is to come next in the series. All I can say there is never, ever piss off a new mother who has access to more guns and things that go boom! than the military. It won’t end well for the bad guys. As for Siege itself, we get some answers about Owen’s past and a lot more questions about what’s to come. Larry, as always, hits it out of the park with this book.

The last book is available for pre-order with a release date of October 3rd. That’s Monster Hunter Files. This is an anthology set in the MHI universe. It includes stories by not only Larry but also Jim Butcher, John Ringo, Sarah A. Hoyt, Faith Hunter, Brad Torgersen and more. I can hardly wait. I am not usually a fan of anthologies but this one, from everything I’ve seen and heard, will be well worth the money.

Now I guess I’d best find another cup of coffee and get to work. Until later!

A Review and a Few Thoughts

First of all, apologies for not getting back to the blog yesterday — and for whatever the heck happened to the theme selection. Somehow, even though I pressed the “activate” button, it didn’t happen and instead of the blog reverting to the current theme, it stayed with a theme I was considering, one that does NOT accept the header size it tells you it needs. So, for close to a day, I had a really, really odd looking site and didn’t know it because I’d gone off-line.

Now, as to why I didn’t get back to the blog. Between the hot water fiasco Monday and several other things that happened, I had to step back from the internet and social media. Of course, the fact I also had the newly released copy of Cold Reign by Faith Hunter might have had a little something to do with it and that’s where the review comes in.

If you enjoy Urban Fantasy and you haven’t yet read the Jane Yellowrock series, do so. Cold Reign is the 11th book in the series and while it could be read without reading the others, there’s a great deal you would miss. I can’t say that about a lot of series, just as I can’t say I stay with many this long. That makes the series, and this book, something special.

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Jane Yellowrock is a Cherokee skinwalker. For the most part, the series takes place in New Orleans. There are vampires — who most definitely do NOT sparkle. There are weres. There are witches. There are other supernats as well, Onorios, of which we are only just beginning to learn some of what they can do.

Unlike so many books/series that claim to be UF but are really, at best, paranormal romance, this is true UF. That’s not to say Jane doesn’t have a “honeybunch”, as she calls her lover. But that doesn’t define her and the book most definitely is not a series of sex scenes tied together with a flimsy plot. In actuality, the fact Jane can trust enough to allow someone into her life is something she’s had to work on from the beginning of the series.

And that is why I like the series so much. Yes, the plots of the various books have been good. Some have been better than others, but that’s something you always get in a series, any series. But the strength of the series, to me, is in the character development, not just with Jane but with other characters as well. That is especially true in Cold Reign where we see Alex, aka “the kid”, growing up and coming into his own.

Okay, to the book. A number of plot threads that have been woven throughout the series begin to be tied up in Cold Reign. Leo, the Master of the City (and a pretty good chunk of the rest of the United States) is a master manipulator and, as with any old vampire, his plans have plans and they, too, have plans. The European vamps, who would really like to reclaim Leo’s territory because of all the “cattle” (humans), also have plans within plans and those plans include deceit and betrayal. In the middle are Jane and her expanding “family”.

Writing a review about the book without giving spoilers is next to impossible. Let’s just say that I had already guessed the identity of one of Leo’s betrayers. The identity of another caught me by surprise. I’ll be honest, I think that could have been handled better. There was a feeling of lacking with that particular sub-plot because we never really saw it happening on-screen, nor did we see the reveal when Leo finally discovered the betrayal. All we saw was the after-effects and that was third-hand.

As with most of the series, this book starts off with a bang. If you read some of the reviews on Amazon, you’ll see some folks don’t like the lull that follows. Don’t let that mislead you. That lull is necessary. Not only for the resolution of the story but because it gives us more insight into Eli, Alex’s brother and another of Jane’s “family”.

I’ll admit, I sometimes tired of reading how Jane stepped into the ankle deep, or higher water. But that, too, was part of the story. New Orleans was getting pounded by rain that is later revealed to be part of a magical attack on the city (and I’ll say no more about that).

It is clear the series may be ramping up toward the big finale and, while I will be sad to see it end, I’d rather that happen than for it to become one of those where it should have ended books earlier. So, this is very much a book I’d recommend. Great action, a plot that will keep you guessing, the return of a couple of characters we haven’t seen for awhile and some closure for Jane with one of them. Even better, it left me wanting more and wishing it wouldn’t be at least a year before the next book comes out. (assuming normal traditional publishing schedules).

So, if you enjoy UF, get this book and set aside several hours to read it. I promise it is well worth the time and the money. (and, fyi, it is reasonably priced not only for traditionally published e-book but for a new release at $7.99)

Working Weekend

Sorry for the lateness of today’s post. Between staying up late last night writing and getting up this morning and doing some more redesigning of the site, actually writing a blog slipped my mind. So, what to blog about?

I guess we’ll start with this site. You’ll be seeing more changes over the next few days. I’m going to combine the blog site (this) with several other sites I have so there is only one actual site to log into and keep up to date. Back when the pen names weren’t open, it was necessary. But now, not so much. So URLs will need to be redirected, some more redesign of this site will be done and, hopefully, by Monday or Tuesday, everything will be in place.

You’ll notice I’ve added cover images of most of my titles in the sidebar to the right. there are a couple of short stories that haven’t been added as well as one series. Eventually, the series will go up but only after I get new covers for them. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, the books are broken up by author and series. Yes, I know there needs to be some tweaking on alignment but, like Faceplant, WordPress often works to make what should be simple functions more than a tad difficult.

On the writing front, I commented the other day that I was having problems with Battle Wounds. The opening just didn’t feel right. I worked on it, massaged it, tweaked it and finally tossed the opening. I tried a couple of different things that I thought might work and nope, nada. Until last night. It suddenly fell into place and it works.

Of course, that sort of major revision means there will be some tweaking to the story arc. I don’t think it will delay me too much but it does mean the story isn’t coming out this weekend like I planned. The goal now is to have it go live on Amazon on Tuesday the 9th. Although I may delay it to the 16th.

This Tuesday will probably be a reading day. Why? Because the next book in one of the few series I still religiously follow comes out. It’s been too long since we’ve had a new Jane Yellowrock novel and I’m looking forward to this one. Faith Hunter doesn’t write sparkling vampires — thankfully. Her fantastical characters fit into the New Orleans setting and I have yet to be disappointed in her books. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, click on the image to the left. BTW, this is one of the very few non-Baen books I will buy as an e-book and pay release date prices. Of course, the fact that price is $7.99 as opposed to the $12.99 or high I all too often see is part of the reason why.

Now I’m heading back to work. I have a short story to finish and I really, really like how it is coming along.

Halloween Reads, pt. 3

Two of today’s books go back a bit but they are, to me, still some of my favorites. I don’t think any Halloween list can be complete without at least one Stephen King book listed. Another is a story I was first introduced to through the movie. Another, also through the movie, made me never look at split pea soup again. The last is the beginning of one of my favorite series.

It

by Stephen King

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

***

Ghost Story

by Peter Straub

What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?
 
In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.

But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying accident. And they are about to learn that no one can bury the past forever…

***

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition

by William Peter Blatty

Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist is now a major television series on FOX. It remains one of the most controversial novels ever written and went on to become a literary phenomenon: It spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, seventeen consecutively at number one. Inspired by a true story of a child’s demonic possession in the 1940s, William Peter Blatty created an iconic novel that focuses on Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. A small group of overwhelmed yet determined individuals must rescue Regan from her unspeakable fate, and the drama that ensues is gripping and unfailingly terrifying.

Two years after its publication, The Exorcist was, of course, turned into a wildly popular motion picture, garnering ten Academy Award nominations. On opening day of the film, lines of the novel’s fans stretched around city blocks. In Chicago, frustrated moviegoers used a battering ram to gain entry through the double side doors of a theater. In Kansas City, police used tear gas to disperse an impatient crowd who tried to force their way into a cinema. The three major television networks carried footage of these events; CBS’s Walter Cronkite devoted almost ten minutes to the story. The Exorcist was, and is, more than just a novel and a film: it is a true landmark.

Purposefully raw and profane, The Exorcist still has the extraordinary ability to disturb readers and cause them to forget that it is “just a story.” Published here in this beautiful fortieth anniversary edition, it remains an unforgettable reading experience and will continue to shock and frighten a new generation of readers.

***

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, Book 1)

by Faith Hunter

Jane Yellowrock is a supernatural skinwalker–one sharing her body with the soul of a mountain lion. When the rogue-vampire hunter is hired to hunt down a particularly nasty vamp, Jane is drawn into the steamy New Orleans vampire society where she learns the ins-and-outs of the “sane” vampire culture, more about her own Cherokee heritage, and we are drawn into a rousing, fast-paced thriller.

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