Saturday, January 22, 2022

Scott's Take: Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow by Chip Zdarsky

 

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow by Chip Zdarsky is one of the first books that is launching Marvel’s new What If line. This is the only title in the new line, at this point, due to delays caused by the Covid pandemic.

 

The what if question here is simple: what if Peter Parker became Venom? In this read, it ties into a series that had Peter Parker fight off world and then return to Earth with what he thought was clothing from alien technology that was actually a symbiote. In that other series, he eventually figured out he had a symbiote and he was able to get rid of it. This book takes us back to that storyline and postulates the idea that the symbiote is Venom.

 


Peter Parker has been having nightmares and is increasingly under stress. After a personal attack by the Hobgoblin, Peter Parker succumbs to the influence of the symbiote, aka Venom, and decides to take a more violent approach to fighting crime. Who will be able to stop an unhinged Peter Parker from dispensing justice, as he sees it, under the influence of Venom?

 

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow by Chip Zdarsky is a very violent and dark read with pretty good art work that is heavily influenced by the original story. Since it is based on the original story, only characters who were active during that time period are featured so there are a smaller number of heroes in this book.  I enjoyed this mature read even though I wish it was longer so the impact of the events could be better explored. There are multiple deaths, maimings, and lots of violence. This tale sets up a rather interesting universe if there is a sequel.

 

 

My reading copy came from the Timberglen Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.

 

Scott A. Tipple ©2022

Friday, January 21, 2022

Lesa's Book Critiques: WINNERS AND MYSTERY CLASSICS GIVEAWAY

 Lesa's Book Critiques: WINNERS AND MYSTERY CLASSICS GIVEAWAY

Patti Abbott: FFB Review: THE LOST DAUGHTER by Elena Ferrante

 Patti Abbott: FFB Review:  THE LOST DAUGHTER by Elena Ferrante

Dark City Underground Review: "LOVE TRAP" BY LIONEL WHITE

 Dark City Underground Review: "LOVE TRAP" BY LIONEL WHITE

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Cat Saw Murder by Dolores Hitchens

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Cat Saw Murder by Dolores Hitchens:   Reviewed by Jeanne   I have been delighted with the reissues of classic mysteries of late.   Both British and American authors have be...

Jerry's House of Everything: FORGOTTEN BOOK: FRANK READE CHASING THE JAMES GANG

Jerry's House of Everything: FORGOTTEN BOOK: FRANK READE CHASING THE JAMES GANG: Frank Reade, The Inventor, Chasing the James Gang With His Steam Team , anonymously written (1890?) Frank Reade, inventor extraordinaire , w...

Happiness Is A Book: FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOK: APPLEBY AND HONEYBATH BY MICHAEL INNES

Happiness Is A Book: FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOK: APPLEBY AND HONEYBATH BY MICHAEL INNES

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 1/20/22

 In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 1/20/22

Blood-Red Pencil: 2022 Writers Conferences and Workshops To Be Determined

Blood-Red Pencil: 2022 Writers Conferences and Workshops To Be Deter...:  W hether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop, writing related events are a good way to commune with ot...

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sandi's Birthday

 

This was us long ago when Scott was attending Centennial Elementary in Plano. I  had no idea that a time would come when I was supposed to go on without her. I thought we would grow old together.

If things had gone right, my everything would be 62 today. This is one of the brutal days each year in the never ending grief sea. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dark City Underground: HONOR AMONG HORSE THIEVES: WILD BILL HICKMAN’S CHRISTMAS DAY SHOOTOUT

Dark City Underground: HONOR AMONG HORSE THIEVES: WILD BILL HICKMAN’S CHRISTMAS DAY SHOOTOUT

The First Two Pages: “Skin” by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

 The First Two Pages: “Skin” by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Lesa's Book Critiques: 2022 LEFT COAST CRIME “LEFTY” AWARD NOMINEES

 Lesa's Book Critiques: 2022 LEFT COAST CRIME “LEFTY” AWARD NOMINEES

Jeanne Reviews: One Poison Pie by Lynn Calhoon


Mia Malone is back in her grandmother’s home town of Magic Springs Idaho after breaking up with her long time boyfriend, Isaac.  She’s purchased an old school house to use as a home, catering kitchen and cooking school in order to get her life back on track.  Isaac’s sister, Christiana, is also living with Mia after some unspecified trouble in her past.

Oh, yeah, and Mia’s a kitchen witch.

And her cat is possessed by the spirit of her grandmother’s late boyfriend, who was also a witch.

Mia is gearing up for her first real job in Magic, catering a birthday party for Adele, her grandmother’s inexplicable best friend.  Inexplicable because the woman is haughty, hypercritical, and a general pain to all who know her, so when she turns up dead no one is too upset.  Well, except for Mia, who seems to be suspect #1 as far as the police are concerned.

As a first in series, the book is sort of obligated to introduce the cast of characters, including Trent Majors the hot grocery store owner who gets Mia’s heart racing despite her fear of another relationship so soon.  He is apparently immediately smitten and can’t do enough for Mia.

I did say this is a first in series, but apparently there is a previous, e-book only novella which details how Mia’s cat came to be possessed. No details are really given in the story—not even if the cat is in control or the spirit, which made me question some incidents because the cat’s actions can be an important story point.

The writing is lively enough, and romance fans will definitely find it a treat.  Mia has done some growing up and has valuable insights on her past relationship which will serve her well going forward which—despite Trent’s amazing hunkiness, sensitivity, and all around perfection—she is trying to avoid. She is likeable and kind.

The flip side for me is that this magical world isn’t really well defined.  The rules seem to be whatever is needed at the moment. The book ends up a sort of mish-mash romance, mystery, magic, ghosts, cooking, and small business book all rolled up into one.  It’s as if the book is trying to be all things to all readers.  I was also put off by the number of people who are just mean or shallow.  Most never develop as characters.  They’re one dimensional, and their function is to plague our heroine.

The cardinal sin, though, was the solution to the crime seemed to come out of left field but then I prefer “fair play” mysteries.

That’s not to say that this won’t develop into a good series.  For me, it needs to define itself first and decide what sort of series it wants to be.

 



The print books in order:

One Poison Pie

Two Wicked Desserts

Three Tainted Teas (April 2022)

There are also three e book novellas, Chili Cauldron Curse (prequel); Murder 101; and Have a Holly Haunted Christmas

 



Monday, January 17, 2022

Critter's Poll Results: Kevin's Corner wins "Best Review Site"


For the third consecutive year, this blog has finished in first place in the annual poll.  I am honored and stunned.

On behalf of myself, Scott, Barry, Aubrey, Jeanne of the BPL, and numerous other folks who have been a part of things here for another year, Thank You. If it was not for all the guests who contribute to this blog every month, this award and the recognition does not happen.

A massive and heartfelt thank you goes to you, the readers, who come by here and read this blog. If it was not for your support over these past months and years, espcially after Sandi passed and my word crashed in flames, this blog never would have contuinued or been around for this to happen today. You have showed your support in public and in private, and by voting this blog number one again. 

Thank You. It truly means a lot. 

The Rap Sheet: Turning to the Leftys

 The Rap Sheet: Turning to the Leftys

Lesa's Book Critiques: A CONTRACT WITH GOD AND OTHER TENEMENT STORIES BY WILL EISNER

Lesa's Book Critiques: A CONTRACT WITH GOD AND OTHER TENEMENT STORIES BY WILL EISNER

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Toshikazu Kawaguchi: This lovely little book is about a tiny café in Tokyo which has been serving a special coffee for more than one hundred years. Visitors to t...

SleuthSayers: Next to Last Step by Steve Liskow

SleuthSayers: Next to Last Step: I always read my work aloud as the last step in my editing/revision, but there's one last step I take before that. It's the "Re...

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 1/17/2022

 In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 1/17/2022

Markets and Jobs for Writers for 1/17/2022

 Markets and Jobs for Writers for 1/17/2022

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: Death Money by Henry Chang


Henry Chang is a native New Yorker, a published poet, and author of five police procedurals set in the Chinatown section of New York City featuring Detective Jack Yu. The fourth one is called Death Money (Soho Crime, 2014). It’s a smoothly flowing and realistic homicide investigation immersed in the side of Chinatown that tourists do not see.

The body of a young Asian man is found in the semi-frozen Harlem River. The autopsy reveals a single lethal stab wound, ruling out the possibility of accident or suicide as cause of death. With no identification and only a couple of annotated receipts and a photo, Yu doesn’t have much to kickstart his investigation. Needing a name above all else, he searches for anyone in Chinatown who might have known the victim. His childhood friend Billy, the owner of a tofu shop, helps Yu gain entrance to a neighborhood association to ask questions. Yu gets another kind of help from Ah Por, an elderly Chinese lady who knew his family years ago. Ah Por is something of a psychic, although Yu calls it yellow witchcraft. She holds the receipts and the photo and gives Yu snippets of information about the dead man, such as he came from the North and was always moving. Just what Yu is supposed to make of that isn’t clear but he keeps her comments in mind as he talks to potential informants.

Yu methodically traces the identity of the victim and then links the victim to his friends and ultimately to his killer through careful and logical legwork. This book is a highly competent procedural with a striking sense of place. How Asian natives keep their traditions while adapting to a new country is intrinsic to the story line. The community associations, formed to help new immigrants and to give a sense of belonging to the neighborhood, are portrayed as key to the lives of Chinatown residents. The snippets about the tiny shops run by hardworking Asians eking out an existence is illuminating and sad. The presence of organized crime is always felt if not always visible.

The competition between police precincts and the incidental racism that Yu encounters add to the depth of the narrative. Recommended as much for the well-done procedural as for the compelling and informative setting.

Starred review from Library Journal.


 

·         Publisher:  Soho Crime; First Edition (April 15, 2014)

·         Language:  English

·         Hardcover:  224 pages

·         ISBN-10:  9781616953515

·         ISBN-13:  978-1616953515


Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Dru's Book Musings New Releases: February 2022 Releases

 Dru's Book Musings New Releases: February 2022 Releases

Lesa's Book Critiques: HAVE YOU HEARD? – LINDA CASTILLO’S SWORN TO SILENCE

 Lesa's Book Critiques: HAVE YOU HEARD? – LINDA CASTILLO’S SWORN TO SILENCE

Adding Color


 

I have been told I need more color in  my life. Gifts were sent. I look like a giant highlighter.

The Reading Room: Death and the Maiden by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman: Reading Room Review

The Reading Room: Death and the Maiden by Ariana Franklin and Samant...:   When author Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman) passed away in 2011, she had published four books in the Mistress of the Art of Death series....

Guest Post: The Challenge of the Amateur Sleuth, Or What a Nice Girl Like Me is Doing in a Place Like This by Lori Robbins


Please welcome Lori Robbins to the blog today. Her latest book is Murder in Second Position: An On Pointe Mystery. This is the second book in the series that began with Murder in First Position.

 

People often ask why I’m drawn to mysteries. Aside from the fact that I love puzzles, I think it’s because mysteries, on some level, deal with justice. This has added resonance when the protagonist is an ordinary person, who finds himself or herself in an extraordinary situation. That’s a setup with inherent suspense, and it enables readers to investigate in real time with their fictional alter-egos. But this framework poses a creative challenge of no small proportion. The only way to credibly place a teacher, a dancer, a bookseller, or a baker at the heart of a murder investigation is to somehow make the impossible seem inevitable. For me, the best way to solve the problem is to imagine myself in the protagonist’s place.

 

That’s when the tough questions emerge. The first is: Would I be brave enough to follow someone I thought might be a killer? The answer, in every case, is a resolute no! And that’s where the fun comes in, for both the reader and the writer. Something has to happen to make this seemingly quixotic pursuit not only likely, but reasonable. Otherwise we’re in a situation that strains credulity and diminishes the connection between reader and writer.

 

I enjoy many stories in which an ex-cop with a tortured past and a Glock pistol fights bad guys. Suspenseful books that feature international spies, who use the computational skills of an MIT professor to unlock a global conspiracy, are another favorite. And the words “Scotland Yard” are all I need to see before going all in.

 

I do rather fancy myself as a glamorous spy, dressed in designer gowns and racing from one exotic locale or another. The truth, however, is I’ve never packed anything more deadly than a red pen, which I use to grade English papers. Except red is too punitive. I usually go for purple or green. Much less violent.

 

My protagonists are similarly ill-equipped, both professionally and sartorially, to deal with a deadly situation. The English teacher heroine of Lesson Plan for Murder has, well, that red pen. And my ninety-pound, crime fighting ballerina in the On Pointe Mystery series is armed with pair of pointe shoes. But both women have wit and courage and plenty of determination. This is how they find themselves, on page two hundred, doing things that would have been impossible for them on page two.

 


We’re accustomed to thinking about motivation in connection with the perpetrator and the familiar trio of means, motive, and opportunity. But in amateur sleuth mysteries, motivation is as important to the investigator as it is to the killer. Chance plays an important role in moving the story and the character in a more perilous direction, but personal choices bring to life everything that happens after that inciting moment.

 

The protagonists don’t simply learn the identity of the killer. They learn important things about themselves. Both my heroines end up rejecting the confines of being defined by what they do, as opposed to who they are. That’s a challenge many are facing, now more than ever. Plenty of people have found themselves outsourced and out of work and have to rebuild their lives in ways they never imagined they could do. My amateur sleuth stories are pure invention. But their lives are real.

 

Conflict is central to books of any genre. It’s the thing that propels the characters out their comfort zone and into new territory. In this chaotic world, a decisive resolution is deeply rewarding, and when a seemingly unexceptional person has the opportunity to provide that kind of ending, it’s a win for ordinary people everywhere.

 

Really.

 

 

Lori Robbins ©2022

 
After ten very lean years as a professional dancer, Lori Robbins became an English teacher and writer. The opening work in her On Pointe Mystery Series, Murder in First Position, won first place in the Indie Book Awards for Best Mystery, was a finalist for a Silver Falchion, and is short-listed for a Mystery and Mayhem Book Award. Murder in Second Position was released in November 2021. Her debut novel, Lesson Plan for Murder, won the Silver Falchion and was a finalist in the Readers’ Choice and Indie Book Awards.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Lesa's Book Critiques: KEVIN’S CORNER ANNEX – THE EVIL MEN DO by John McMahon

 Lesa's Book Critiques: KEVIN’S CORNER ANNEX – THE EVIL MEN DO by John McMahon

KRL This Week Update for 1/15/2022

Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of the latest Sherlock Holmes book by Nicholas Meyer, "The Return of the Pharaoh" along with an interesting interview with Nicholas https://kingsriverlife.com/01/15/the-return-of-the-pharaoh-by-nicolas-meyer/ 

And a review and giveaway of a signed copy of "Doggone Deadly" by Deborah Blake https://kingsriverlife.com/01/15/doggone-deadly-by-deborah-blake/

 

We also have reviews and giveaways of more fun mysteries for your tbr-"A Counterfeit Suitor": A Rosalind Thorne Mystery by Darcie Wilde, "Petals and Poison": A Flower House Mystery by Jess Dylan, and "To the Tome of Murder": A Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery by Lauren Elliott - Mystery Author

https://kingsriverlife.com/01/15/more-fun-mysteries-for-your-january-tbr/

 

And a review and giveaway of "Bake, Borrow, and Steal" by Ellie Alexander https://kingsriverlife.com/01/15/bake-borrow-and-steal-by-ellie-alexander/

 

And we have the latest Crime Writers of Color Coming Attractions https://kingsriverlife.com/01/15/crime-writers-of-color-coming-attractions-january-march/

 

Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Kate Lansing where she shares about Valentine's Day which is the setting for her latest book "Mulled to Death." You can also enter to win a signed copy of the book! https://kingsriverlife.com/01/12/unconventional-valentines/

 

Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review of "Fatal Solutions" by Becky Clark https://www.krlnews.com/2022/01/fatal-solutions-by-becky-clark.html

 

And a review and ebook giveaway of "A Fatal Family Feast" by Lynn Cahoon https://www.krlnews.com/2022/01/a-fatal-family-feast-by-lynn-cahoon.html

 

And a review and ebook giveaway of "Murder Under a New Moon" by Abigail Keam

https://www.krlnews.com/2022/01/murder-under-new-moon-by-abigail-keam.html

 

And Kathleen Costa shares her top reviews of 2021 (and I am thrilled to have my own book "One of Us" on that list) and you can enter to win a $3 Amazon gift card! https://www.krlnews.com/2022/01/youre-topyoure-waldorf-salad-my-best.html


Happy reading,
Lorie

Beneath the Stains of Time: No Friendly Drop (1931) by Henry Wade

Beneath the Stains of Time: No Friendly Drop (1931) by Henry Wade: Major Sir Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher was an English baronet who fought in the two World Wars with the Grenadier Guards and held the posi...

SleuthSayers: A Hundred a Day, and Expenses by John M. Floyd

SleuthSayers: A Hundred a Day, and Expenses: A funny thing happened to me three years ago: I wrote my first contemporary private-eye story. At that point I'd been writing short stor...

Scott's Take: Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy

 

Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy is another Batman book that is part of DC Black Label line of books. As such, that means it is a non-canon Elseworlds tale and is intended for adult readers as it will be more violent and features adult content.

 

In this graphic novel, the Joker is cured of his insanity and becomes plain old Jack Napier again. He then decides to call himself the White Knight and embarks on a quest the city of Gotham. He intends to expose the corruption of the wealthy of Gotham, GCPD, and turn the city against the Batman. At least that is the initial premise of this tale, but of course things do not stay that simple for long.

 


Since this is an Elseworlds tale, the author was allowed to create different versions of the Joker and the Batman than commonly depicted by most writers. This Batman is more violent and is clearly a more traumatized Batman then what readers normally get to see. This Joker officially has a less violent reputation and is a more of a redeemable human being than most depictions of the Joker. The author tries to write the Joker as a more heroic character than normal while writing Batman as a loose cannon vigilante.

 

The supporting cast of this tale is rather large and includes various Gotham villains, and heroes. The main characters in this graphic novel are Batman, Harley Quinn, and The Joker. This is an action packed read that raises very philosophical questions about the DC universe and features detailed artwork. Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy is very good and launched a series of graphic novels that are pretty good too. This series is continued in Batman: Curse of The White Knight.

 

 

My reading copy came from the Lochwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.

 

Scott A. Tipple ©2022