Friday, September 30, 2022

 This Week, Victoria Helped Me Review. . .

The Secret Name

This is the second book in Sam M. Phillips’ Dead Sun Chronicles, in which the exploits of a troubled young man – Ryon Barker – are expounded in infinite detail. As well they should be, for as we remember, young Ryon, one of the refugees left over from the end of life on Earth, has been chosen to fulfill a special, very specific destiny. . .

Whether he wants that destiny or not.


Seeking direction and meaning on his journey through the cosmos, Ryon Barker must commune with the demonic beings which prowl just beyond the scope of his reality. But what do the eldritch gods of space want from him? And where are they guiding his ship? As they continue to whisper in his ear, he descends into madness, his whole life enslaved to the will of the Beast From Beyond. Fleeing into drugs and sex, Ryon seeks to escape, but he’s only playing further into the hands of the insidious cult which has infiltrated the ship.

Will he break free of their grasp and find a destination for their voyage? Or is the ship as lost as Ryon is himself?


Remember, Ryon is something of a pariah among his contemporaries. His mother is the ship’s captain; his father, the chief medical officer. And far from making the most of his privileges, he seems to go out of his way to squander them and alienate people. Just as well, then, that his mishap within the void engine room produced a side effect that opened a door in his mind through which another reality has revealed itself.

And that reality is more insidiously profound than he can possibly imagine, for it has been influencing his life’s course – and that of other crew members, it would seem – from the outset. To what ends, remains to be seen.


It’s not often that the second book in a series is a marked improvement on the opening volume. Yet – in my opinion – Sam Phillips has managed to do just that. A refreshing change from the norm, and a pleasant surprise for someone like me who reviews soooo many novels.

Ryon’s predicament becomes much more profound in The Secret Name; his interaction with other crew members more animated; and, as his understanding of what’s happening to him increases, his determination to take action grows stronger.

Yes, he still makes mistakes and ends up in a whole load of trouble as a consequence of not thinking things through properly. But now he’s a player, not a bystander. He’s starting to connect and make active decisions. And that makes for a much better story. I particularly liked the way Phillips manages to incorporate aspects of Through the Looking Glass and Eyes Wide Shut, with Outland. It makes for an engaging story that engages you very quickly and keeps you involved until the cliffhanger climax.

Yes indeed.

A cosmic game of chess is in play. But what will the next move be?

Friday, September 23, 2022

You Need to Dig Into This One. . .

My Review of

Buried Deep

Set six months after the events of Left in the Dark, we find Paige Aldridge’s life is chaotic as ever. Balancing her life as a detective with that as a special ‘consultant’ working with the FBI isn’t easy. Yes, her new powers are coming along nicely; yes, the team has enjoyed a pleasing amount of success in the cases they handle. But as for their personal lives?

Ah, the strain is taking its toll.

Bearing that in mind, let’s take a peek at the blurb:


The drama continues as Paige and Junna are summoned to New Orleans to investigate a double murder. From the moment they arrive, they find themselves in a whirlwind of death and devastation. Paige foresees the viscous murder of a beautiful young woman as she falls victim to this serial killer. Is she in time to save her? Meanwhile, Junna gives in to the dark powers that surround her in the back alleys. Is Junna in too deep and is she lost forever?


On the face of it, this is just another case. However, it turns out to be pivotal in the lives of our team. For one thing, it makes them take stock of the strain their caseload is putting on their relationships’. When you add to that the fact that Paige and Junna finally discover more about a so-called prophecy involving Readers and Watcher and a balance between opposing forces of good and evil? Well, something has to give.

What that is, exactly, you’ll need to discover for yourself in yet another rather nifty little story of murder, mystery and the mayhem invoked when you start calling on powers that simply shouldn’t exist.

And once again, I found myself rather enjoying the way Tincher allows her characters to evolve at a natural pace. Yes, they are powerful. Yes, they can do remarkable things. Yet they’re not omnipotent, and are just as prone to all the foibles and weaknesses of everyday life as the ‘ordinary’ folks about them.

And that’s what I like about this series. The interaction between the main players is as you’d expect from a close team, some of whom are intimately involved. Their reactions to the things they uncover are ‘normal’. It makes the supernatural events depicted in the story arc ‘real’ and relatable. And THAT takes skill. You often forget you’re reading a paranormal story, as you get sucked into the investigation itself, the personal revelations encountered by each member of the team, and the interjections of frantic action that make it so darn enjoyable.

And the delicious twist as you go into the final portion of the story? Ah, it rounds the story off in a profoundly satisfying way.

I can’t wait for the next installment!

Friday, September 16, 2022

 Listen to My Review of. . .

The Speaker

If there’s one thing you need to do with a series, it’s ensuring your characters evolve along with the actual plot. And in The Speaker, Tony Acree does just that in a profoundly satisfying way.

Let’s set the scene:


Tracking and killing demons is all part of the job for the Hand of God, Victor McCain, God's bounty hunter. In this fast paced sequel to The Hand of God and The Watchers, Victor learns facing his inner demons may be deadlier than the real ones. Turning to the bottle to drown out the memories of a lost love, he begins to take risks which could get him killed. One night, drunk and alone in a bar in Tennessee, he's ambushed by members of the Church of the Light Reclaimed. He would have died in the attack, if not for a beautiful stranger named Elizabeth. Later he learns the attack was orchestrated by an old nemesis, Preston Deveraux, and Cyrus Tyler, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. Victor must lean on the alluring Elizabeth to find the truth behind their plans-only she has secrets of her own which could doom them both. When yet another player shows up on the scene hunting Elizabeth, Victor must find a way to convince the two of them to work together to help him stop Tyler from reaching his ultimate goal: to throw the world into chaos and war.


Yes, the pressure is getting to Victor, causing him to drop his guard in the most insidious of ways: his personal habits.

It doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? Letting things slide a bit here; slack off there; perhaps enjoy that extra drink after a meal. Except when you’re the Hand of God, that is, and danger can strike at any time without a moment’s notice.

And when it does?

Ah, then it’s time to lick your wounds and man-up! Not as easy as it sounds. The women is Victor’s life are complicated, you see, and prone to making decisions that create huge repercussions. An environment Victor would prefer to avoid, seeing as how Satan’s plans are stepping up three gears and becoming ever more complex. Hell, it’s even getting harder to distinguish friend from foe.

As you can imagine, this makes for a rather interesting story. And once again, a great set of characters; sharp dialogue; cutting, no-nonsense humor; and well paced action, helps you navigate Victor McCain’s world without ever losing you place.

As always, a thoroughly entertaining dark thriller that sets the bar for others to aspire to.

Amazon Review

Thursday, September 8, 2022

 A Highly Rated Score In. . .

Dark Test

I’ve been looking forward to reading Marcus Abshire’s Ways of the Warlock series as the into blurb hits all the right buttons. See for yourself:


My name is Jakobus Shaw, and all I want is to be left the hell alone.

Once upon a time, I was a warlock. I killed, I tortured, I did all kinds of horrible things for more power, for more control, but I have tried hard to put that all behind me.

Now, someone just framed me for murder. A coven of white witches thinks I killed one of their own, and they want their pound of flesh.

My past is coming back to haunt me, and there isn't a damn thing I can do to stop it. If I don’t find the real killer before the witches find me, it’s all over.

Who is going to kill me first? White witches hell-bent on revenge? An assassin hired to tie up loose ends, or an Immortal with more power than he knows what to do with? I guess we'll see.


And ‘see’ you do in a nifty little tale that is as high on adrenalin as it is on dry humor.

I connected with Abshire’s style of writing from the outset, and was immediately reminded of then vibe created by Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It’s familiar. It’s cozy. It creates a welcoming tone that invites you in and encourages you to take part.

Jakobus is a guy with a checkered past who is doing his best to stay on the straight and narrow. Not an easy thing to do with a seemingly endless posse of magic-wielding practitioners lining up to get a piece of him. While far from happy about that, his down-to-earth and no-nonsense attitude help him deal with such problems head-on. So things get physical, and sorcerous pretty quickly. In a good way. Abshire’s main protagonist is far from invincible . . . but his nobody’s fool either, and sets out to discover just who it is that wants so desperately to set him up for a fall.

And it’s great fun!
I found his characters relatable and convincing. His story arc, entertaining. The pace a pleasing balance of action and plot development that keeps you intrigued throughout. And what the heck, there’s even a dash of sexual tension thrown in.   

As I say, it all adds up to a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed. You really ought to check this series out. I know I will be.

Friday, September 2, 2022

 A Story That Leaves you
Shaken & Stirred

As The Artifacts Stir

I’ve been looking forward to Radar DeBoard’s follow-up to The Altar From Space, as I thoroughly enjoyed his slaughter-fest in micro-g the last time Talisha Martison set foot aboard a ship she should have avoided like the plague.

The thing is, she might have survived the mayhem aboard the SS Revelation, but she hasn’t made it home yet. Or indeed, anywhere near a place of relative safety . . .
as the blurb to As The Artifacts Stir reveals:


After escaping the nightmare aboard the SS Revelation, Talisha awakes on an unfamiliar medical station. She quickly realizes that something truly awful is happening based on the blood splattered walls and piles of viscera. It seems that Talisha escaped from one hell, only to be plunged into another.


After reading that intro, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had flashbacks to when Rick Grimes woke up in the south wing recovery ward in the very first episode of the Walking Dead. Only, Talisha’s reality gets much bloodier, far more quickly. And before she’s had time to find her feet, she’s off and running – or should that be limping, with a lot of slipping and sliding – through an unknown base with a bunch of deranged psychopaths hot on her recuperating heels, all of them hell-bent on adding her entrails to the Picasso art-ery-work on the walls.

She’s not alone of course. There are others, desperate to survive, and unexpected benefactors, too. But picking friend from foe proves rather difficult when everyone and is hyped up on fear and adrenaline, and everything is covered in other people’s blood.

As before, I rather enjoyed this fight-or-flight of fancy. It’s fast paced, has relentless action, and proper decorum and ethics are thrown out the airlock when it comes to making split-second decisions to stay alive. . . (Although one or two could do with a kick up the self-preservation backside). You’ll see.

As The Artifacts Stir. A mission that will leave you shaken, stirred, and in dire need of a vodka martini.