Wednesday, May 31, 2023
WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #126: GODS AND MORTALS: ANCIENT GREEK MYTHS FOR MODERN READERS By Sarah Iles Johnston
As Snakebit: A Mike Bowditch Short Mystery by Paul Doiron begins, a woman has called Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch to report that she saw a rattlesnake. She claims to have seen it during her hike on Black Cat Mountain. Considering there have not been any natural occurring rattlesnakes in Maine in decades as well as the fact she does have pictures and refused to give her name or any other information and got angry quickly, Mike Bowditch doesn’t believe her. He soon has an opportunity to reconsider that thought when hours later he is awakened with news of the fact that a teenager has been bit while attending a keg party in the nearby woods. Something is going on and Bowditch is going to get to the bottom of it in this novella.
The read also includes the first three chapters of the next book in the series, Dead Man’s Wake. Thanks to a NetGalley ARC, I have already read the book. My review will go live here on the publication date of June 27th.
As to the novella, this is a solidly good read. Set in an earlier time of the series when Game Warden Mike Bowditch is only 27 years old (“..take place in the weeks before KNIFE CREEK…” per the author’s Facebook post of May 26th), the tale is complicated, and moves forward at a fairly rapid pace. For those of us long familiar with the series, it is an enjoyable read. For those new to these books, Snakebit: A Mike Bowditch Short Mystery is a good taste of why these reads are so good.
My eBook reading copy came by way of purchase using funds in my Amazon Associate account as it appeared the staff of the Dallas Public Library system had no intention of purchasing it for citizens. I have no way of knowing if they changed their mind as a city-wide ransomware attack took down all city systems back on May 3rd and many are still down. That includes the library system so we still have no access to the catalog, our accounts, and no ability to return books and other materials, or get anything from our holds list. Mayor Johnson and the City of Dallas staff have done an exceedingly poor job of keeping folks updated as to the status of the situation. All we have been told is that it could be “weeks” before things might be fixed.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Dr. Emilia McRoy has left it all behind to move to Sea Isle, Scotland. The small town and the countryside are beautiful and the local citizenry (for the most part), is thrilled to have her as they have been without a local doctor for quite some time. Moving here from Seattle, and an active ER full of violent trauma cases and other issues, to this quiet and peaceful place where the worst that might happen is some sort of fall or a newborn in distress is going to be a wonderful and very much needed change. At least, that was her plan.
She did not count on finding a body. She also did not realize she is the coroner as well.
That is her situation as, within hours of arriving, she has found the body of a local known to all as “Smithy.” The deceased apparently hated her family and very publicly threatened her just two hours ago. Now she has to deal with the annoying local constable, Laird Ewan Campbell, who is not quite treating her as a suspect, but that may chnage as rumors blaming her for his death have already begun to circulate among some of the locals. The good doctor and the local constable have not gotten off to a good start and she does not see any signs of that improving.
She also does not see what is coming as the threats increase and other folks become endangered. Much is going in An American in Scotland: A Scottish Isle Mystery by Lucy Connelly and the good doctor is in the middle of it.
This reader very much enjoyed this complicated and highly entertaining mystery. I’m not much of a cozy mystery reader, but this one worked really well in all aspects. The characters are complicated, the scenery and the weather is a character in to itself, and the story is one that moves forward at a steady pace with lots of twists and turns. There is also some humor and I found myself laughing out loud at points.
I would not have known about it at all except for Lesa Holstine’s recent review which convinced me to take a chance on it tough my local library. Glad I did as the read happens to be one of my favorite books of the year so far.
My reading copy came by way of the Prairie Creek Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
Monday, May 29, 2023
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Memorial Day in the Mountains by Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour
Written in response to the MeToo movement, Deadly Waters by Dot Hutchison (Thomas & Mercer, 2020) captures the routine incursions that women face at work, school, or anywhere they choose to go. The polemics in the book describe the no-win conundrums surrounding women’s clothing, speech, dating, and freedom of movement. “She was smart, she was careful, she was sober, and none of it made any difference when a man decided he was entitled to her time and attention.”
The party hearty frat boys at the University of Florida in Gainesville are known for their rapacious approach to the female students, who have learned they must be vigilant at all times to avoid assault. Even so, some of the male students leave a trail of injured and often drugged girls in their wake. Occasionally one ends up hospitalized. Such was the case with Kasey, whose asthma was triggered by a drunken attack at a party. The lack of oxygen left her in a coma that is likely permanent. Her dorm suitemates are devastated, especially Ellie, who tends to challenge would-be predators head on. She’s overwhelmed with guilt that she was not at the party to protect Kasey. Gainesville police take a blame-the-victim stance so punishment for confrontations lands squarely on Ellie, not the aggressive young man or men. Ellie and her friends have been thrown out of countless bars and parties because of Ellie’s take-no-guff response.
Someone is tired of the pervasive assumption that women are the male students’ for the taking and has begun feeding the worst offenders to the local alligators, who are especially active during spring mating season. After the second incident, the female students realize what is happening even though the Gainesville police chief, Southern good old boy to the core, insists they are accidents. Suitemates Rebecca and Hafsah are terrified that Ellie is behind it.
While Ellie’s over-the-top style is hard to take, her friends love her and do not want to see her in trouble. And there is strong sympathy for the executioner. There is a growing degree of satisfaction among the women that someone has begun standing up to these vicious thugs hiding behind Greek letters and family money. Open messages of thanks are posted around campus with recommendations for the killer’s next victim. When the police finally acknowledge the deaths as murders, the trails are long cold.
The tight-knit relationships of the seven suitemates illustrate beautifully the close friendships that develop during college among the most unlikely of people. The revelation of the killer at the end was not much of a surprise. I found this book to be a highly satisfying, if somewhat startling, read. Recommended.
· Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (September 1, 2020)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 301 pages
· ISBN-10: 1542005574
· ISBN-13: 978-1542005579
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, May 28, 2023
Please welcome back frequent contributor Judy Penz Sheluk today to the blog. Earlier this month through her Superior Shores Press she released, Finding Your Path to Publication. She tells you about that book today as well as how it came to be.
Writing, Rejection & Getting Published by Judy Penz Sheluk
You’ve written the book. Maybe you don’t want to self-publish, having decided it’s too difficult or scary to go it alone. Maybe you want to self-publish, but need a partner, a hybrid publisher that does the heavy lifting, for which you are willing to pay. Or maybe you need the validation of someone saying, “I pick you for the team.” The bottom line is, you’ve written the book. Now what?
That’s the question most asked at the 2021 NaNoWriMo workshop I led at my then-local library. For those that don’t know, each November, regional writing chapters and libraries across North America set up workshops and events around National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)—an annual, worldwide challenge in which writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
By the nature of their questions, it was quickly apparent that those attending didn’t have a clue. One had been writing on Wattpad for about a year, trying to build a following, thinking that might be his golden ticket into the big time. So far, it hadn’t been.
Another author had written seven novels over the past 10 years but had never attempted to get any of them published. When I asked her why not, she said, “What if everyone says no?”
Well, here’s the thing. Rejection is just part of the game. I always use the example of Kathryn Stockett, who wrote The Help. It was rejected 61 times over three years. She never gave up, just kept on querying until she found a publisher who believed in her story.
Even if you self-publish, there will be some form of rejection, e.g., a one-star review that pans your plot or criticizes your characters. Not selling enough copies to cover for your expenses (editing, cover art, etc.) can also feel like rejection.
Of course, there are ways to reduce the odds of rejection. Writing 50,000 words in November and querying 10 agents on December 1st isn’t one of them. Polishing your manuscript, hiring a professional editor, consulting with beta readers, and doing your due diligence when it comes to pitching agents or publishers, those are all ways to improve your chances.
My takeaway from that NaNoWriMo session was that there was a need for a book that took an honest and approachable look at the various publishing paths and how best to navigate each of those waters. And so, with the help of my research assistant, Emily Nakeff, beta readers, and final editor, Ti Locke, Finding Your Path to Publication came to be.
About the book: The road to publishing is paved with good intentions…and horror stories of authors who had to learn the hard way.
For the emerging author, the publishing world can be overwhelming. You’ve written the book, and you’re ready to share it with the world, but don’t know where to start. Traditional, independent press, hybrid, self-publishing, and online social platforms—all are valid publishing paths. The question is, which one is right for you?
Finding Your Path to Publication is an introduction to an industry that remains a mystery to those on the outside. Learn how each publishing option works, what to expect from the process start to finish, how to identify red flags, and avoid common pitfalls. With statistics, examples, and helpful resources compiled by an industry insider who’s been down a few of these paths, this is your roadmap to decide which path you’d like to explore, and where to begin your author journey.
Judy Penz Sheluk ©2023
A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and Marketville Mysteries, both of which have been published in multiple languages. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. Judy is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served on the Board of Directors for five years, the final two as Chair. She lives in Northern Ontario. Find her at www.judypenzsheluk.com.
Saturday, May 27, 2023
Up on KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of some May mysteries for your summer tbr-"Dedication to Murder": A Beyond the Page Mystery by Lauren Elliott, "Mother of the Bride Murder": A Lucy Stone Mystery by Leslie Meier, "Murder on Mustang Beach": Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery by Alicia Bessette, and "Tell-Tale Bones": Sarah Booth Delaney series by Carolyn Haines https://kingsriverlife.com/05/27/may-mysteries-for-your-tbr/
And a review of "The Merry Messy Mummy" by R. A. Muth, along with a giveaway of the first book in the series and an interesting interview with R.A. https://kingsriverlife.com/05/27/the-merry-messy-mummy-by-r-a-muth/
And the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier along with a giveaway of "The Diva Delivers on a Promise" by Krista Davis mentioned in last month's Coming Attractions https://kingsriverlife.com/05/27/june-coming-attractions-beach-reads-and-fun-feeds-edition/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week, a review and giveaway of "Cappuccino Criminal by Tonya Kappes https://www.krlnews.com/2023/05/cappuccino-criminal-by-tonya-kappes.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of the novella "Murder of a Misfit" by Kelly Rey https://www.krlnews.com/2023/05/murder-of-misfit-jamie-winters-mystery.html
Rubicon by J.S. Dewes is the first book in a new series. Set in a science fiction world where resurrection is possible. Humanity is in a losing war against an alien race of machines that are keeping humanity on a small set of worlds near a dying star that will die sometime in the future. Sergeant Adriene Valero, the main character, has been resurrected 96 times. Each time you die you come back a little different. So much death has taken a heavy toll on her mental health.
She agrees to have an advanced AI chip implanted into her brain by a Major West who claims that he is on track to end the war. If she has this done, in exchange he will help her find a way to finally die. She is suicidal and done with life. Obviously things are not going to be that simple.
This is action packed adventure with lots of adult themes, exploration of trauma, some sex, and plenty of violence. This book is working through trauma and reconnecting with others. I am very interested in seeing where this series goes from here based on the ending.
My reading copy came from the Audelia Road Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2023
Friday, May 26, 2023
From my massively magnificent archive…
It is late January of 1960 as Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery begins and Ellie Stone gets some bad news from the local sheriff. Her father was found unconscious in his New York City apartment and is now in the hospital in critical condition. Eleonora “Ellie” Stone, a reporter and the only living child of Professor Abraham Stone, is going to have to take some time off from her job in New Holland and go back home to see about her dad. Their relationship is not a good one as they are estranged and now she is faced with dealing with their past issues as well as the current crisis.
Upon arrival she soon learns that it was not a stroke or a heart attack that put her father in the hospital. He was violently assaulted and his home office and library was ransacked. This occurred just days after her brother’s grave was severely vandalized. While the police believe the events are not related and the assault on her father, a renowned Dante scholar and esteemed professor, was nothing more than a random burglary, Ellie has her doubts. Especially since another professor, well known to her father and a colleague, died in somewhat mystery circumstances in close proximity time wise to the assault on her father.
That fact, what happened to her brother’s grave, the very specific damage in her father’s apartment, and more makes Ellie question the police investigation from the start. Ellie considers herself a “modern woman” and has no problem with asking questions and pushing for answers when she isn’t thinking about the past or enjoying the pleasures of the present. She drinks, she smokes, she likes a good time with a man who strikes her fancy, and Ellie won’t put up with nonsense from others.
Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery is the start of a series and a good one. While all the characters are complicated in this tale to some degree (no cookie cutter cardboard cutouts need apply), Ellie Stone is exceedingly complicated. There is depth and nuance to this character that is rarely found in the first novel of a series. She also has a subtle sarcastic streak that appealed very much to this reader.
While historical mysteries are not my usual reading material, I thoroughly enjoyed Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery. A complicated tale with characters of depth and nuance, the mystery itself was a difficult one to solve kept this reader engaged, and the read was flat out very entertaining on all levels. Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery was a very good book and is strongly recommended.
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2018, 2019, 2023
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
I had a doctor deal yesterday and missed the celebration at The Rap Sheet, but the place turned 17 yesterday. I am a big fan of what J. Kingston Pierce has built there. If you are not reading his stuff, you should be. (I also share his frustration with blogger.) Congrats to THE RAP SHEET!
Monday, May 22, 2023
The Devil’s Advocate (Orion, 2021) is the sixth book about defense attorney Eddie Flynn. Created by Irish lawyer Steve Cavanagh, Flynn is a former grifter who learned the trade from his father. He abandoned a lucrative life running scams to attend law school and lead a socially acceptable life. A hair-raising encounter with the Russian mafia, related in The Defense (Flatiron Books, 2016), forced him to resurrect his swindler’s tricks and to call on his not altogether honest friends and they have been part of his legal arsenal ever since.
Flynn needs all the help he can get when Alexander Berlin, a high-level U.S. government troubleshooter, approaches him about representing a young man on trial for murder in Sunville County, Alabama. The district attorney there, Randall Korn, is known for requesting the death penalty whenever he can and getting it. His death row statistics are completely out of line with the rural county’s population and are among the highest in the nation. This discrepancy has been noted by the Justice Department and others but so far Korn has skillfully covered his tracks and no overt reason for challenging him presents itself. Berlin hired a lawyer to represent Korn’s latest target and he has disappeared. Berlin thinks he’s been killed and he wants Flynn to take his place, believing Flynn can outwit the underhanded local machinery in Buckstown.
Flynn has an uphill battle. The local hotels won’t rent a room to him and his sidekick retired New York justice Harry Ford, the restaurants won’t serve them. His vehicle tires are slashed, critical evidence that supports the defense is missing, the county sheriff refuses to allow him to see his client. When Flynn does manage to talk to him by getting arrested himself, he learns the sheriff has threatened to hurt the young man’s mother if he talks to Flynn. Civil rights violations abound and Flynn and Ford are in imminent danger. Flynn quite reasonably fears his client may be killed in his cell in a faked suicide.
I tore through this compulsively readable book in about six hours, staying up well into the night. Darker than many legal thrillers, this story has strong overtones of To Kill a Mockingbird but the people here are frighteningly malevolent instead of ignorant. Cavanagh works small town character and U. S. contemporary race issues into a scary and heart-pounding legal thriller that demonstrates clearly just how deeply the justice system can be compromised. Finalist 2022 Steel Dagger Award.
· Hardcover: 403 pages
· Publisher: Orion Books, 2021
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1398700177
· ISBN-13: 978-1398700178
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Up on KRL this morning a review of "The Ghost Goes to the Dogs" by Cleo Coyle along with a giveaway of the book and a special tote! https://kingsriverlife.com/05/20/the-ghost-goes-to-the-dogs-by-cleo-coyle/
And a review and giveaway of "Digging Up Daisy" by Sherry Lynn along with a fun summer gardening guest post by Sherry https://kingsriverlife.com/05/20/digging-up-daisy-by-sherry-lynn/
And a review and giveaway of "We Love to Entertain" by Sarah Strohmeyer along with an interesting interview with Sarah https://kingsriverlife.com/05/20/we-love-to-entertain-by-sarah-strohmeyer/
We also have the latest Queer Mystery Coming Attractions from Matt Lubbers-Moore https://kingsriverlife.com/05/20/queer-mystery-coming-attractions-june-2023/
For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly on KRL here is the player for the latest episode which features "The Last Liar Standing" by Danielle Wong read by local actor Molly Heng https://kingsriverlife.com/05/20/mysteryrats-maze-podcast-featuring-last-liar-standing/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Earl Grey and Shallow Graves" by VictoriaTait https://www.krlnews.com/2023/05/earl-grey-and-shallow-graves-by.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Marigolds, Mischief, and Murder" by Erica Wynters https://www.krlnews.com/2023/05/marigolds-mischief-and-murder-by-erica.html
And a review of the latest mystery movie on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries The Jane Mysteries "Inheritance Lost" https://www.krlnews.com/2023/05/hallmark-movies-mysteries-jane.html
Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry is the second book in the series that began with, Kagen The Damned. This novel is told from multiple perspectives and a lot of this book is mostly about the Witch-King and Kagen gathering allies and preparing for war against each other. The Witch-King also has a new weapon that he plans to use against his foes. Much later, more than 2/3rds of the book later, Kagen goes on the trip to the lost city full of monsters described in the plot synopsis.
This is a very good book, but if you did not like the first one you will not like this one. There is a lot of death, violence, rape, and other horrible things happening. More Lovecraft elements and horror elements are present here.
For people, who have read is other series, the new weapon is pretty disappointing since he is reusing ideas. His fascination with having characters piss themselves in fear all the time continues here.
I like his writing, but it’s always a shame when a talented author chooses to use what they done before instead of something new. I am looking forward to the third book, but I am hoping I won’t get burned out like I did in the Joe Ledger series.
My reading copy came from the Skillman Southwestern Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2023
Friday, May 19, 2023
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds: 100 New Ways to See the World by Ian Wright
After reminding you of The Rogues’ Game last week, I remind you of this second book by Milton T. Burton.
Tyler, Texas Author Milton T. Burton distinguished himself with the powerful debut novel The Rogues’ Game. Unlike many authors, there is no slump in his stand alone second novel just recently released titled, The Sweet And The Dead. The mystery is complex, the writing is superb, and the read is wonderful.
As the novel opens, it is the fall of 1970 and Manfred Eugene “Hog” Webern is deep undercover in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hog is a retired Dallas County Deputy Sheriff, a good man, and a damn good cop despite the word on the street. It is coincidence and nothing more that he got into some money at approximately the same time his former partner was gunned down and a couple of other nasty things happened. The word on the street is that Hog is dirty these days which makes him a perfect candidate to investigate from the inside the group dubbed the “Dixie Mafia.”
Bob Wallace is a Texas Ranger and a man that Hog has worked with before more than once and a man that Hog trusts without question. Wallace tells him that Curtis Blanchard, one of the chief felony investigators for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety wants Hog to come to Mississippi, hook up with Jasper Sparks, head of the aforementioned Dixie Mafia, and gather enough evidence to bring Jasper and as many others as possible down. Hog agrees for several reasons and before long finds himself deep undercover in a twisting case that seems to know no end.
As in the first book, Milton T. Burton has created another powerful main character full of internal demons and unresolved guilt who is seeking his own form of justice. Another dark hero beset by his own failings as well as the failings of others and yet finds a particular brand of honor among some in the criminal element. Once again, through his folksy storytelling style, the author has created a main character that could be anybody and who goes quietly about his business and would never rise to your attention unless he meant for you to notice and feel his judgment.
This stand alone novel features another complex tale from what could easily have been in the hands of another writer, a simple straightforward story. A hallmark of “The Rogues’ Game” was the author’s ability to create so many shades of gray where one wasn’t sure about character motivations until the every last word on the page. The same is true here and Hog figures out fairly soon that no one can be trusted—maybe not even himself. Nothing is as it seems and nothing is finished until the last word on the page.
The result is another entertaining highly complex novel mystery that results in a simply great read from an author that like his characters, seems to quietly go about his business. He deserves more acclaim than he is getting and his books deserve a place on your reading list.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2006, 2023