Saturday, October 31, 2020
Brave and Bold! Female DC Super Heroes Take On The Universe by Sam Maggs and numerous artists who are credited in the back pages. This book highlights the various DC female superheroes based on four categorizations: compassionate, bold, curious, and persistent. The book highlights female superheroes of various backgrounds that exhibit those traits. The foreword for the book is written Gail Simone who is famous for her stories in the Batgirl franchise and for being one of the most prominent female comic book writers at DC Comics.
The author includes commonly known heroes such as Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Woman among others as well as other heroes like Fire, Ice, Bumble Bee, Spoiler, Lady Blackhawk and more. Of course, even in a book this detailed, there are several female heroes left out. Those not included are mostly female superheroes who operate in countries outside of the USA, appear in the Legion in the DC future, as well as Platinum of the Metal Men. Also, Dreamer, Alex Danvers, and Sara Lance of the television shows in the CW DC Universe are not included and they are not part of the DC comic book universe.
The table of contents is split in the aforementioned categories with each female superhero appearing in only one category regardless of how strong she is in the other categories. The author did not choose to have the order appearance in each category mean anything in terms of how strong the female character is in the category nor did the author make the appearance alphabetical. Each character is given a short bio along with an iconic quote. The small box labeled “Data File” consists of a few cool facts about the hero who is also depicted in artwork. With over 40 female superheroes discussed in the book there should be at least one hero that appeals to the young reader.
This is a fun book for kids that showcases the large amount of female heroes that exist in the DC universe. I would recommend this book for middle schoolers or mature elementary readers because the origins of some characters might be uncomfortable to explain to a child. For example, Mera was raised as assassin and was sent by her father to kill Aquaman. Instead, she fell in love with him and became his wife. Then there is Katana whose family was murdered by a gang. She seeks vengeance for that crime with a sword that consumes people’s souls. Inside said sword is her deceased husband who she talks to while he is stuck in a limbo between life and death. Both of these situations and several others could be awkward trying to explain that to a child. However, in other cases, they have done a good job simplifying the origins of several heroes to make the characters less complicated and lessen the traumatic origins several of the characters have.
With the aforementioned concerns, this is a good book for young readers who would like to learn more about the various female superheroes. At the end of the book there is a small glossary of terms and an artists acknowledgement page which includes over thirty artists. As these artists have other published projects, this page also serves as a great resource to look for artists whose work inspires the reader. Brave and Bold! Female DC Super Heroes Take On The Universe should be a fun read for many young girls who are looking for more female superheroes in their stories.
Brave and Bold! Female DC Super Heroes Take On The Universe
Hardback (eBook format available)
My reading copy came from the Central or Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2020
Friday, October 30, 2020
Back in September I reminded you of The Drifter Detective. Today I remind you of the second book in the series, Hell Up In Houston. It appears that the eBook is no longer available and the print is only available via third parties at an insane price.
After you read the reviews, make sure you head over to Patti Abbott’s blog as well as Aubrey Nye Hamilton’s Happiness Is A Warm Book blog and see what they suggest today. Todd Mason is back collecting links so you will have even more suggestions om his Sweet Freedom blog later.
Private Detective, Jack Laramie, is back in another gritty fast moving tale that is also very good. First seen in The Drifter Detective Jack makes his money by drifting from city to city across Texas doing work as a private detective while living out of the horse trailer he tows with his Desoto. Having wrapped up the current case after discovering the real truth of the matter the grandson of legendary US Marshal Cash Laramie is headed to Galveston to deal with a client as Hell Up in Houston opens. That mission is temporarily stopped thanks to mechanical problems with the old Desoto requiring him to stay for at least a few nights at “The Fulton” in Houston.
Jack had no desire to be back in Houston as the last time he was in Houston things did not go well. He also didn’t want to stay at “The Fulton” either. However, it is clear the Desoto is going to be at the garage awhile, the horse trailer is miles back on the side of the road awaiting its own tow truck pickup, and he really has no choice. “The Fulton” has a bit of a less than stellar reputation as well, but Jack doesn't care as the place has air conditioning. In 1946 Houston, Texas as now air conditioning is all that truly matters.
He also soon learns the place also has a house detective by the name of Frank Grogan. Frank wants him to do some work for him and will pay him a decent amount of money for a few days of work. Considering the repair bill for the Desoto, Jack doesn't really have a choice. Besides, Frank said the work should be easy. If Jack keeps his head down and goes about his business quietly with no one wiser that he is in town everything should be easy.
This latest installment in the series is another good one. Reminiscent of the hard boiled pulp of yesteryear, Jack Laramie is a man's man who gets his hands and boots dirty which fighting the good fight. As in the preceding book, the read here has plenty of action, deceitful characters, and a twisting storyline to keep readers very entertained. You certainly don't have to read the very good The Drifter Detective before reading Hell Up in Houston but, I recommend doing so. You won’t regret it.
Material supplied long ago by David Cranmer in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R Tipple ©2013, 2020
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Please welcome author Rosemary McCracken to the blog today as she explains why she writes financial mysteries.
One Sleuth’s Bottom Line by Rosemary McCracken
When I decided to write my first mystery novel, I had been writing articles about personal finance for a number of years. As a financial journalist, I had interviewed scores of financial planners and investment managers. I’d attended their conferences. I understood the issues they faced. There was, and still is, a huge concern about the bad apples in their industry: the bent advisors and investment managers. The financial services industry revolves around money, so it provides opportunities for those clever and greedy enough to challenge the system.
Those issues certainly got a reaction from me. I was horrified when I heard about Bernie Madoff, the New York money manager who swindled his clients out of $65 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme. And we had scumbags in Toronto, the city where I live. One of them, a Bay Street advisor, operated a classic confidence scam. He’d get close to his older, wealthier clients, dazzle them with his interest and concern. Then he’d sell them bogus stocks and drain their bank accounts. I knew how I’d feel if I had been one of his victims.
This was the fuel I needed as an author. A topic that would resonate with me for the months—and years—it takes to complete a novel. I decided to make the central character of my mystery novel a financial planner. Before long, my protagonist, Pat Tierney, took shape in my mind. She believes convicted financial scamsters get off too easily. She wants to see tougher penalties, prison terms and hefty fines. And what really makes her blood boil is the crooks who go after decent, ordinary people who’ve worked hard to pay off their mortgages and put away money for their retirement. When these folks get ripped off, Pat gets hopping mad.
So I started to write a financial thriller, although at the time I’d never heard of financial thrillers. But I soon discovered a number of authors who were writing in this sub-genre. Their books are popular because everyone understands the lure of easy money: we’re all attracted by it and some people will do anything to get it. Most of us have fantasized about what our lives would be like if we won a big lottery or received a surprise inheritance. Easy money. Money we didn’t have to work hard for.
Most of us are content to keep our money fantasies as fantasies. The few of us who aren’t go on to commit financial crimes. Rob banks. Skim money from clients’ investment accounts. Steal personal information in order to write cheques and take out mortgages and credit cards in another person’s name.
Some people will even murder for money.
As an amateur sleuth with a financial background, Pat Tierney recognizes the red flags for fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes. Not surprisingly, they turn up in her mystery novels, and they’re all crimes that you and I can fall prey to. Uncharted Waters, her most recent adventure, features a nasty scam to defraud homeowners.
I’ve heard readers say, “Oh, financial stuff is boring. I don’t understand it, and I don’t want to.” Well, some financial thriller writers get into the nitty-gritty of market trades and insider details, but the best writers make their characters’ worlds accessible to all readers. They make their stories human with colorful, relatable characters with distinct voices. I stay away from too much financial jargon and the dry details of investing. Financial planning is Pat Tierney’s work, but I keep it on the back burner. Pat knows that money isn’t about figures on a spreadsheet or the intricacies of an investment portfolio. Money is about people—the young couple saving to buy their first home, the older couple worried that they may outlive their savings. And, of course, Pat knows that some people can never have enough money.
As a journalist, I wrote articles about many of the financial crimes that Pat encounters. Now, I often look up the people I interviewed for these articles, and ask them more questions. But my research largely tends to be in other areas. I’ve attended refugee hearings to find out what happens when displaced people apply for asylum in Canada. I’ve talked to scene-of-the-crime officers to learn what police do at different types of crime scenes. I’ve talked to forensic cleaners—people who clean up crime scenes.
Welcome to the world of Pat Tierney.
Rosemary McCracken ©2020Rosemary McCracken lives, writes and teaches writing in Toronto, Canada. Her four Pat Tierney mysteries—Safe Harbor, Black Water, Raven Lake and Uncharted Waters—are available on Amazon. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney short story published in Thirteen, was a Derringer Award finalist in 2014.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Please welcome author Judy Hogan back to the blog. Her latest book, A Teen's Christmas in Wales: The Fourteenth Penny Weaver Mystery is out now in paperback with the eBook release set for November 15, 2020.
I first visited the Gower Peninsula near Swansea, Wales, in the summer of 1981. My landlady was friendly and her B&B, not very expensive. I visited Gower after that almost every time I went to Europe. My last visit was in 1996. Three of my mysteries are sited there, the first The Sands of Gower, Tormentil Hall, the eighth, and now the fourteenth.
What kept me going back? Its history, where people have lived since the Ice Age–they got though it on Gower. Some caves show that human beings were there 200,000 years ago. The most studied one is probably Paviland, which plays a key role in this mystery. A human skeleton was found there, and first called “The Red Lady,” but she turned out to be a young man. This cave is now on the coast, but once was inland.
I also visited the remains of old castles from the period of William the Conquer in 1066.
Somehow the whole peninsula made history come alive over centuries for me. For some sites there were legends, which I found in the local library. I could do well on foot, and also use the local bus to get farther down the peninsula. I had a guidebook to footpaths, only it was old, and one I landed in a field of thistles. There were also reminders of when the Vikings visited, in the names. Worm’s Head, Port Eynon, and even Swansea (Swann’s Eye) etc.
One of my readers pointed out that the characters ranged in ages from teens to elderly in their 90s, who were still active, hiking and visiting caves. My two teenagers, Seb, Penny’s grandson, and his girlfriend, Naomi, managed to get into mischief, though Penny was trying hard to keep track of them.
Then we have the British Christmas rituals, from Boxing Day to crackers with dinner on Christmas Day. Another ritual turned up of making taffy and then dripping some into cold water to form initials for the person the teen was going to marry. Since Seb had already at fourteen picked his bride, he was quite upset when Naomi didn’t recognize her initial as an S.
I used the title on purpose, thinking of a favorite poem of mine: A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, who lived in or near Swansea. His poem reminds me of Gower. It took forever to find the copyright holder, two, in fact, one in the U.S. and one in England, but my patience won out. They each let me have four quotes from Thomas’s version. I recommend his book to you, if you have never read it. What fun. As for mine, maybe a family holiday gift?
Judy Hogan ©2020
Judy founded Carolina Wren Press (1976-91) and was co-editor of Hyperion Poetry Journal (1970-81). She has published seven volumes of poetry and three non-fiction works with independent presses. She has taught all forms of creative writing since 1974. In 1983 she helped found the North Carolina Writers’ Network and served as its first president (1984-7). In 2015 she decided to set up Hoganvillaea Books, her own publishing imprint, in order to publish more of her mysteries. The Sands of Gower: The First Penny Weaver Mystery was her first release under this new imprint. Her Penny Weaver series takes up interracial community issues. She has written 19 Penny Weaver mysteries, and will continue to publish them.
Monday, October 26, 2020
John Gilstrap’s series of thrillers about a private investigator who specializes in rescuing kidnap victims has been on my TBR list for a while. The first book worked its way to the top a few weeks ago, and it was just the escape from reality I needed. Unfolding mostly in Virginia and Indiana, the two places I’ve called home the longest, the high-octane story was satisfyingly low in angst and high in action.
No Mercy (Pinnacle, 2009) opens with Jonathan Grave, loaded with high-tech surveillance equipment, on the ground in a small rural community in central Indiana, preparing to extract a hostage, a music student from Ball State University in Muncie, from his captives. The maneuver goes sideways, and Grave kills the kidnappers to save the student. In his rush to remove the student and himself from the scene, Grave leaves enough evidence that the sheriff of the quiet town pieces together a credible picture of what happened. She is determined that the rescuers, regardless of their honorable intent, should go on trial for the murder of the kidnappers. We’ll have no vigilantes in our town, thankyouverymuch.
Oblivious just yet to the knowledge that law enforcement is looking for him and back in Virginia, Grave learns from his ex-wife that her husband is missing and she wants Grave to find him. Grave loathes his replacement and agrees reluctantly. Before he can organize his resources and begin a search, she is savagely murdered and her home torn apart in an obvious hunt for something. The Indiana police going all out to find him and the Virginia police asking questions about just what he was doing while his wife was being killed, Grave hides from them while tracking down his ex-wife’s assassins and the missing husband.
Definitely a cut above the usual action hero, Gilstrap’s protagonist is a real person with friends who try to protect him and mixed feelings about what he does for a living. I liked him, and I liked the momentum of the intense plot which is far from routine. Book 13 in the series due out next spring, and I have 11 more to get through before then. Highly recommended to readers looking for a well-written and original contemporary thriller.
· Mass Market Paperback : 464 pages
· ISBN-10 : 0786020873
· ISBN-13 : 978-0786020874
· Publisher : Pinnacle; Original Edition (July 1, 2009)
· Language: English
Aubrey Hamilton ©2020
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Up in KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of 3 more mysteries perfect for your Halloween reading as they involve sweets, cats and haunted mansions-"Murder Most Sweet": A Bookish Baker Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker, "A Case of Cat and Mouse": A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly, and "Haunted Homicide": A Haunted Mansion Mystery By Lucy Ness
Also a review and giveaway of "Cocktails and Murder" by H.Y. Hanna
And we have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier along with a giveaway of "The Corpse Who Knew Too Much" by Debra Sennefelder
And a review and giveaway of "Clockwork Gypsy" by Jeri Westerson along with a fun Halloween guest post by Jeri
We also have a Halloween short story by Margaret Mendel
For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly in KRL, you can now find the player here for the latest episode featuring part of the first chapter of "Lipstick, Lies & Dead Guys" by Jennifer Fischetto and read by Teya Juarez
Up in KRL during the week, mystery author Mollie Cox Bryan shared her Top 5 Favorite Mysteries Read During the Pandemic
And we had another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Lois Winston about writing during the pandemic
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of another perfect mystery for your Halloween reading, "Murder, Take Two" by Carol J. Perry https://www.krlnews.com/2020/10/murder-take-two-witch-city-mystery-by.html
What Do you do after you fulfilled a prophecy and save the world? Chosen Ones: A Novel by Veronica Roth is a book about such a situation. Five ordinary teenagers teamed up to defeat the Dark One who was destroying the world using magic. Ten years later they are all dealing with their lives post being the chosen ones and saving the world.
What does one do after saving the world and fulfilling the purpose of their whole lives prior to defeating the villain? How does one rejoin society after becoming one of the world’s most celebrated heroes? What do you do when you where trained for war, but there is no war left to fight? How do you go on?
The main character is Sloan who is struggling with PTSD and life in general. She and the other four are attending a reunion celebration that is honoring their work and the fall of the dark one. After the ceremonies and celebration, one of the other four is found dead. Things soon become very complicated with lots of twists and turns.
Interconnected between chapters are documents that flesh out the backstory of various characters and events. The book is full of action, magic, humor, and fully realized characters. The story is really different than most fantasy books. The plot is about dissecting various types chosen ones (the heroes fated to save the world in a prophecy) and their various flaws.
I highly enjoyed this book, but there are various things that might cause people issues such as the fact one character is dealing with PTSD, another is dealing with drug addiction, suicide as well as the ideas of loss and grief are discussed and more. The read is very adult in nature and should not be read by kids.
Chosen Ones: A Novel by Veronica Roth is a very complicated book and is not easily summarized while avoiding spoilers. It is also the first book in a new series. The next book in the series is currently untitled and the release date has yet to be determined.
Chosen Ones: A Novel
A John Joseph Adams Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Hardback (also available in audio, eBook, and paperback formats)
My reading copy came from the Mountain Creek Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
Back in January 2011, I first told you just how good INHUMAN CONDITION by Kate Thornton was and that you should read it. I am telling you again today. Make sure you also check out the full list of reading suggestions over at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog. It is Friday, but you have work to do.
Sometimes the blurb on the book encapsulates the book in an excellent way. From the back cover of the recently released collection, INHUMAN CONDITION written by Kate Thornton, comes this explanation:
“Human beings tend to fear the things they don’t know, and that is often sensible, given the lurking dangers that confronted our distant ancestors. But sometimes we need to examine carefully the things we think we know: the pet shop owner in town, the teenage girl who lives next door, or the nice man who walks his dog each evening in our neighborhood. The stories in this collection will drive that point home, and perhaps give you reason to re-define the word “'inhuman.'”
As well as define “human.” With a subtitle of Tales of Mystery and Imagination these twenty-one tales set on earth and in space, frequently push at boundaries defining what it means to be human. Frequently the tales are a bit disturbing, not in terms of graphic depictions, but in the meaning of what has happened or will happen thanks to the final twist at the end illuminating the dark working of a character's twisted mind. In nature, the concept of “camouflage” keeps both the hunted and hunter alive in the constant struggle to eat or not to be eaten. That same concept, passed down in the hardwired code of humanity from our distant ancestors is alive and well in these times. Make no mistake—this book is about the hunters hiding in plain sight among us and the prey they seek for a variety of purposes.
The anchor story in the collection is the very good tale, “Nightwatch: Cardenio” (pages 83-154). Using characters and other story elements originally created by Jeff Williams and with his permission as noted, the tale takes the Nightwatch team deep into the Amazon. A research site does not just vanish off the face of the earth in Brazil. But, it has happened and the research site is gone without a trace. It is now to the team to figure out what happened and why in this adventure tale.
Author Kate Thornton creates a sort of whiplash effect for the reader several times in this collection and this is a case in point. After the above noted adventure tale deep in the Amazonian jungle, she follows it with “Cell Phone Call” starting on page 155. In five short pages, the author makes parental nightmares all too real and leaves readers, at least those of us with kids, thinking twice about using our cell phones in public.
That story is followed by “Vinnie's Cargo” and readers are back to adventure and suspense. In this one, there are shuttle runs between the Moon and Mars in the unspecified future. Despite the rules and regulations, where there are humans involved there will always be some who attempt to move contraband and make some ill-gotten gains. Usually, nothing good can come of some attempts and that may, or may not, be the case here.
And so it goes through the entire book that contains both previously published and credited work and new. Author Kate Thornton consistently delivers through the entire book as each and every single story is a good one. That rarely happens. Whether it is late in the collection with the very disturbing mystery “The Eyes Never Change” or the strangely amusing science fiction tale “One of the Family” or any other, the read is constantly good and full of rich details in settings, characters, and storyline.
Not only is Kate Thornton to be congratulated, so too is the publisher. Denouement Press is an imprint of Wolfmont LLC owned and operated by Tony Burton. Known as a publisher of anthologies and cozy style mysteries, this is a new venture for the publisher and reflects the kind of book that might not have been published by Wolfmont before.
One hopes this is not the last collection released by Kate Thornton. Simply put, INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Imagination available in print and e-book editions, is a very good book and one well worth your time and money.
INHUMAN CONDITION: Tales of Mystery and Suspense
Denouement Press (Wolfmont LLC)
Paperback copy provided by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2011, 2016, 2020
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Sunshine Vicram is back in Del Sol, New Mexico, with her teenage daughter, Aurora, better known as Auri. She is also less than thrilled about living in the small tourist town of Del Sol again. Even if it is home for her parents and she and Auri are in the guest house about fifty feet from their backdoor. She is also not thrilled about being the newly elected sheriff. Especially when she wasn’t even running for sheriff far as she knew.
But, being elected in Del Sol when you are not even running for sheriff is not the strangest thing to happen in Del Sol as Sunshine Vicram well knows. She has been gone for nearly fifteen years and now that she is back, she is reminded again that Del Sol has a sun that never quits and neither does the strange.
While her fourteen year old daughter deals with her first day at Del Sol High School, Sunshine Vicram arrives at the station in her full uniform to see what her first day will bring. It soon brings a visit from the Mayor and a basket of muffins. The mayor is a problem, but nothing she can’t handle at this point. The muffins are another and, according to everyone else, a far more serious problem. Homemade by Ruby Moore, they certainly look and smell good. Ruby Moore can certainly bake as all can attest. The problem is that when she sends in food, trouble always follows. It does not matter if they eat the delicious offering or not, trouble is coming. They just do not know it yet.
Minutes after consuming the delicious goodness, they soon find out that they have a major problem on their hands. Wealthy new resident Mrs. St. Aubin reports that her daughter, Sybil, same age as Auri, is missing. She vanished during the night. Mrs. St. Aubin woke up this morning and realized that her daughter was missing. Having searched the house in an increasing panic she came to town in a full panic looking for help. If that is not enough, then comes word that an incarcerated prisoner known for kidnapping has escaped custody and could be in the area. Are the two situations linked? Does he have Sybil? Or is something else going on?
At about the same time as her Mom has her hands fill with her job, Auri has her hands full with her own issues at school. Being the daughter of the newly elected sheriff on top of being the new girl in school comes with a lot of pressure. A number of her fellow classmates are being less than welcoming. Three or four are being downright hostile as they take a page of the mean girls playbook. Her first day is turning into a real doozy and just like her Mom’s situation, thiings are only going to escalate.
A Bad Day for Sunshine: A Novel by Darynda Jones is a really good book. It reminds this reader of J. A. Janice’s Sheriff Joanna Brady series with considerably more humor and a tad more romantic intrigue. It shifts at the start of each chapter as well as occasionally in a chapter between Sunshine and Auri as they deal with various events and situations. The backstory, told through memories and dialogue discussions, is very complicated and applies to both Auri and Sunshine.
At its heart, it is still a police procedural in many ways and that fact is not sidelined by the backstory, the personal dramas, and potential romantic entanglements. Plenty is at work in A Bad Day For Sunshine: A Novel is a fun and fast read that lays an excellent foundation for the series. A Good Day for Chardonnay is currently scheduled to be released in late July 2021.
A Bad Day for Sunshine: A Novel by Darynda Jones is strongly recommended.
A Bad Day For Sunshine: A Novel
Thorndike Press (Gale, a Cengage Company)
Large Print Hardback
My reading copy came from the Lakewood Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2020