Monday, September 18, 2017

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards

Jim Qwilleran has his string of bad luck since leaving his job with a big city paper, not he has taken a position with the Daily Fluxion, and small town paper, doing a column he has no knowledge on...the art column.  Many of the artists in the town are hopeful that this means the replacement of the ever too critical art critic, many try to convince Qwill of how horrible of a man the art critic is while he attends art functions and does human interest articles on local artists.  Qwill decides to met this critic and ends up living in the same house on a lower level.  While the critic is away, Qwill takes care of his Siamese cat whom Qwill nick-named Koko.  This cat has extra ordinary talents of being able to read backwards and know when something is amiss.  Soon artists and others in the art community become victims of murder.  Qwill's old investigative journalist talents kick in and he begins o try and solve this murder, with the help of Koko of course.  The question is will Qwill be able to find the correct murderer and save the reputation of many artists as well as the critic? Or will he soon become the murderer's next target?


This is a series of books that I read when I was younger and starting to really get into mysteries and longer chapter books aside from the typical baby sitters club (that's like a rite of passage for little girls).  I loved that a cat helped solve mysteries by leading Qwill to different clues and seem to pick up on subtle things the humans in the books don't pick up one.  The cat in this book, Koko reminds me of my friend's cat Artemis (pictured on the left) with his perchance of running around the room, wanting specific food and making his discontent known.  Braun gives the cat as much personality as she does her human characters, which is something you don't see in many books with animal.  Normally the animal is just that an animal whereas in these books, Koko is another personality rather than a prop so to speak. 

I love this series even 20 some years after beginning to read the series and returning to it time and time again.  This is the perfect novel to begin with since I believe it is the beginning of the series as it introduces Qwill and Koko and how they became a dynamic duo. The writing isn't too complex and easy to understand which is one reason why it was great for a youngster as I once was.  There also isn't blood, gore, or sex in it.  Sure Swill has attractions to ladies and flirts a little, but it's all innocent and clean, another reason why it is a great starter series for young readers (and a nice break from stuff included in some books today). This is a short, cozy mystery that is easy to read within a day.  Perfect for a rainy afternoon curled up with your favorite feline. 

I do recommend this book as well as the series to any young reader who wants to grow in their reading library.  I also would recommend this to anyone who loves a cozy mystery, easy to read book or who feels a little nostalgic.  I give the book a 4 out of 5 for a rating, it needed more Koko!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Woodcutter


A man known as The Woodcutter stumbles upon a maiden's dead body, with no trace of foul play, nor who could have caused her tragic fate.  The only thing left behind were her glass slippers.  The Woodcutter seeks to find her killer before other maidens suffer the same fate.  The Woodcutter is not your average man, he is the keeper of peace between the kingdoms of man and the realm of the faerie.  He searches the realms for clues to the mysterious events happening around the kingdoms and the forest, along with three axes blessed by the River God, he begins to find clues to lead to the truth.  Shortly into his search he discovers information that is troubling: one of Odin's hellhounds has escaped, a nefarious mansion appears and disappears and princes and princesses along with it, pixie dust being turned into a drug ring, and more young woman proceed to go missing without a trace.  The Woodcutter must find the truth to all of these before it is too late, as task proven more difficult with an evil queen lurking in the shadows intent on stopping his every effort.  Will he be able to stop the queen before she destroys the kingdoms and the fae or will it be too late?


I love fairy tales.  Everything about them brings me back to my childhood.  I love reading retellings and other author's takes on the different stories.  When I picked this book up I expected it to be along the lines of the woodcutter in Snow White or Red Riding Hood, but was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be something completely different.  I love the idea of a mysterious protected of the realms that no one knows his name, his name never gets revealed and leaves the read in as much a mystery as the characters.  It almost makes you as frustrated as the queen in not knowing his name.  That adds an air of mystery around this character, and at the same time the reader knowing he cannot bear children but must wait until the fates bring a child to him and his wife makes your heart break especially after he comes across young children.  You can almost feel the fatherly desire in his heart.

Danley creates a world where the characters come to life, without specifically referring to the characters by name or tale, readers can get an idea of who is supposed to be who based off minor descriptions such as the glass slippers left behind when the maiden was killed.  Readers get the idea that someone harmed Cinderella without specifically being told.  It was also interesting that Danley incorporated some mythology in the tale with the use of Odin and the hellhounds.  That was a great touch though I wanted more from that storyline, it almost takes a backseat to the other events of the tale. This was a great story, one that I finished in a few short days.

I highly recommend this novel if you enjoy fairy tales, fantasy, young adult, and a good story.  As for a rating I will give this a 5 out of 5, pick it up today.  You won't regret adding this to your book shelf.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

TV Gods Summer Programming

Take your favorite god from any pantheon, mash it with your favorite tv show, what would that look like?  How would the characters act differently or similar to the original characters?  For example how would Guilligan's Island be different if Posideon was involved? Or would Raj from Big Bang Theory act around the Fates differently than he would around normal women? Interesting ideas, interesting concepts, this is exactly what happens in T.V Gods Summer Programming, the sequel to Fortress Publishing's Tv Gods.  There are many different stories in this collection that are entertaining, humorous and makes one wonder how would their favorite show be different if a god was involved.

I picked this book up at Confluence a few weeks ago because I have the first book and well...Fortress Publishing are some of my favorite people.  There is something endearing about reading stories by people you know personally, it adds a certain touch to the tales.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Rogue Mountain

A creature hidden in the mountains, lurking, watching, waiting.  Down below a town living to survive with hellish beings living in their backyard, learning to protect themselves from the creatures of the mountains.  Three teenagers long for a life away from wood devils and hell cats.  A woman doing everything she can do to survive while another lives in a perpetual nightmare.  A monster hunter comes on a mission to cleanse the area of the beasts, only to bring unwanted attention from the witch on the mountain.  Secrets rise to the surface and a town finds out the truth behind their fears.  Welcome to the Rogue Mountains where nothing is ever what it seems.


I will start the disclaimer that this book is not available yet, it is set to release in October, October 3rd I believe.  But I had the honor of sort of beta reading this book for an author dear to me.  This is the debut novel for Joshua Tarquinio.  The book is a mix of supernatural/post-apocalyptic thriller, horror, fantasy, self-realization, with a touch of questioning theology.  The story centers around a small town outside of Pittsburgh after an apocalyptic event that opens the doors to the supernatural.   Now this town learns to survive with various beings attacking them, and the knowledge that there is a witch hidden in the mountains that no one has ever been able to go near. Three teens are the only entertainment in town, but long for something more.  Everyone basically lives their lives one day at a time hoping to survive, hoping to one day be free of the beings that prowl their woods and mountains.  Then a monster hunter, Del Ballatine rolls into town with the intent of ridding them of these creatures.  He and na├»ve Nigel venture out to the woods and happen upon a hell hound, which they take down.  But this gains the attention of the witch in the mountain and all hell breaks lose, literally.  Secrets are revealed and the state of the village changes forever.


The novel does start out a little slow with a great deal of background on the characters, and takes a little bit of time to build up to the climax.  But those details are necessary in understanding the characters and why they act and react the way the do in situations that arise further into the book, also this gives you an understanding of the town functions together, how they arise to the mob mentality so to speak.  Through this part you form a connection with the characters and town in general.  It helps with the wow factor and the twists that's happen throughout the novel.  Tarquinio does a fantastic job dragging his readers into his world, and holds them under a spell, much like the cave worm in his story.  One of my favorite elements in the story was a being known as a nightmare, one that attaches itself to a person and causes them to live in a state of a living nightmare.  It preys on the happy memories and changes them into nightmares.  It is literally the stuff of nightmares and almost makes your skin crawl.  The creatures he creates in this book are not only characters, but become apart of the atmosphere as they lurk in the shadows.


There are times in the novel when some of the characters question the existence of God in that the book takes place 20 years after the Biblical apocalypse takes place and well the world didn't end.  So characters wonder where is God, did he ever exist, is there such as thing as intrinsically evil or can a supposed evil being redeem itself.  A couple points in the story I found myself audibly whispering "no" when something happen.

I am excited to see what else Tarquinio has in store for readers with sequels, prequels or other stories unrelated to this one.  He has a knack for bringing the thrill of the unknown to the surface and his readers.  I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy supernatural thrillers, horror, fantasy, adventure.  Because I am a little bias for the fact the Josh is a dear friend of mine and my opinion of the book reflects my friendship, I will not rate the book the way I normally do.  But will simply say definitely keep your eyes out in October for when the book is release.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Confluence

I have been MIA lately for various different reasons, but I am coming back with some awesome books, including several that i have gotten from Pittsburgh's science fiction and fantasy convention "Confluence".  What could be better for a bibliophile than a convention all about books!  So far I have met some really awesome authors and publsihers, helped celebrate the launch of several books from two dear friends, and found numerous books, even attempted a picture with JD Barker that didn't come out (sad panda). 

Each time i attend the convention i am reminded of why i love reading and why fantasy is one of my favorite genres.  There are so many novels and variations of the genre to get lost in.  Something that I absolutely love about Confluence is being able to find books and new authors that I may not have discovered otherwise.  I was like an unsupervised child in a candy store.  So, be prepared to take a journey with me and some TV Gods, Bad-Ass Faeries, Bounty Hunters, and Superhumans, as I conquer the world once again one book at a time. 

 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cooking With Fire

I absolutely love cooking and am always on the look out for unique cookbooks to add to my collection and ones that give me things to experiment with.  While at a flea market in Ohio, I came across this gem.  Biker Billy Cooks With Fire.  So many different things about this cookbook appealed to me.  1. It's a biker, one that makes me think of someone I love dearly, 2. It's cooking with fire whether it is grilling, or hot and spicy things, either way it's good in my mind, 3. It is just so outrageous that I had to pick it up.  While doing a quick skim through I seen many different recipes that I wanted to try and wouldn't have thought of trying.

Each recipe has something to do with a pepper or hot sauce.  Perfect for me because I as my friend say, like to burn my face off, meaning I like my food spicy enough that it clears my sinuses.  It starts off giving tips and techniques of cooking with peppers and other ingredients, then it goes into the recipes.  Each one starts off with a small note describing the recipe and how it will come out and./or why Billy choose to add it into his cookbook.  There is everything in this cookbook from sauces and marinades to desserts and everything in between.  There are times when looking through a cookbook that I am not sure if I would try a recipe or not, but there are a lot of different recipes in this book that I would love to try and look forward to trying in the future.

Just from reading this book so far I get high hopes for the food inside.  I would recommend this for foodies who are looking for something different in their cooking repertoire. Bike Billy has some interesting ideas, and I will update this when I have cooked some of the recipes contained in this book.  So far the rating if 4 out 5 stars, this may change to a 5 once I have prepared some of the recipes.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Heartless

All Catherine wants for her life is to open a bakery with her best friend Mary Ann. But her parents have a different plan. For her to marry the King of Hearts. Cath believed her life to be boring and without excitement. That is until the new court jester, Jest, arrives on the scene. In the middle of a grand ball before the king makes a announcement the ball is attacked by a monstrous creature known as the Jabberwock. Since that night, Cath's life is forever changed as she tries to figure out how to open her bakery, avoid the king's advances, falls in love with Jest and evades the attacks of the Jabberwock.  All she wants to do is live the life she wants, but there are obstacles in her way at every turn.  Soon fate reveals itself and Cath learns sometimes you cannot outrun fate.

As many of you know I am an avid reader of Alice in Wonderland retellings, and absolutely love anything Alice in Wonderland related, so when I seen Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles) wrote an Alice in Wonderland adaptation, of course I had to read it.  I have to say this was not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed reading it immensely.  There wasn't an "Alice" character per-say, but Catherine is a representation of the Queen of Hearts.  This novel is almost a backstory of how she became who she is and the way she is. We see some of the same beloved characters like Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire, but we also see different characters that seem to always take a backseat to some of the other characters like the Mock Turtle or the Walrus. It was interesting to see these characters in a different light than what we see in the classic tale.

I am a huge fan of Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and I came into this novel with high hopes, and this book met every one of my expectations.  I wanted to see more of Jest and Raven, and hope to see them more in the future maybe if there happens to be more novels, maybe one about the kingdom of Chess or the white kingdom.  Meyer has a certain style to her writing that paints the picture vividly, it is easy to envision everything happening from the turtle turning into the Mock Turtle or the Jabberwock attacks, even smell the delicious tarts that Cath makes.  I enjoyed the use of the Fate sisters and treacle, as well as many element from Carol's tale.  It was still very much a Meyer story, but held some of the traditional elements we would find in Alice in Wonderland.

I would highly recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys Alice in Wonderland, fairy tales, Lunar Chronicles, and young adult novels.  Even if those may not be genres/topics that are your typical go to novel, break out from the norm and check out this book.  You will not regret it.  I give this book a 4 out of 5 star rating.