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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Under Her Skin (Shifter Shield Book 1)

“Some sons-a-bitches just need killing.” – Detective Daniel Moreland, Under Her Skin (Shifter Shield Book 1)

 

Lindi Parker couldn’t agree more. Some sons-a-bitches absolutely, positively needed killing. Like the father who kept coming into his little girl’s room at night – “He hurts me.” So, finally, she killed him. A ten-year-old girl killed her scum sucking pedophile father. Of course, as a counselor for the Child Advocacy and Protection Center, Lindi has seen horrific crime scenes, the horrors visited upon the most fragile, the most helpless among us. But this one? This one rocks her all the way to her core.

She isn’t alone.

“Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” – Jules Verne

Not that she hasn’t known love in her own life. Her adoptive family loves her with all their heart and soul. But understanding someone as ‘special’ as Lindi hasn’t always been easy. Especially when they thought that she was the only one of her kind. Now, not only has she found that others exist – they apparently all want her dead.

Well. That bites.

And hey! Look at that! They even have special people whose whole point in life is to track her down and murder her. Score!

Lucky her, huh?

Yes, this is a shapeshifter tale, with many of the same tropes as you would find in any other. But Margo Bond Collins steps outside the box in this one in ways both horrible and fascinating. And in doing so she writes a paranormal that leans heavily toward a blend of mystery and suspense that raises the bar to something beyond ‘just another paranormal.’

I enjoyed the book very much, and highly recommend it.

 

Playing With Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (With A Body Count) – R.J. Blain

“Warning: This novel contains excessive humor, action, excitement, adventure, magic, romance, and bodies. Proceed with caution.” — R.J. Blain — Playing With Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (With A Body Count)

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OK, Really? Who could possibly bypass that sort of intro? Of course, I am a HUGE R.J. Blain fan, so pretty much anything she writes I read. The Balancing the Scales series and the Witch and Wolf series are personal favorites, both Urban Fantasy and both marvelous. She also writes a wide range of other tales, from Magical Apocalyptic to Sci-Fi and, yes, Pack tales.  Oh, and don’t forget immortal pirates! Something for all.

Playing With Fire is something different again – and once more her wit, creativity, and the ability to craft a tale well outside the common is a winner. Baily Gardner is not your common-and-garden barista – not when she spikes your java with pixie dust on request. Of course, spiking drinks all day is often much more pleasant than her other job. You know, the one that requires cleaning up the world’s nastiest magical substances. I mean, come on! Who would voluntarily clean up gorgon vomit? And for “a cute little pittance” no less. Sigh.

I refuse to say more. You have GOT to read this yourself! But be careful about drinking or eating while you are reading. You might just wind up with your drink sprayed all over your tablet.

Just sayin’.

Highly Recommended!  Ms. Blain says she is bringing out at least two follow-ups (hopefully this year!) and I can hardly WAIT!

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The Case of the Disappearing Blogger!

““No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
― Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

It is amazing to realize just how long it has been since I last published. As we all know, life has a tendency to get in the way of where we want our present and future to go. Instead, we are at times forced onto other, more winding paths, often into a bleak landscape we fear to tread.

Other times we must put our heads down and hook up to our own personal plow, digging the rows of life, planting crops we wish to one day reap. I can’t say all my rows are planted, but I can say that I am seeing my way through. It will require discipline to start up again, but I can’t tell you all how much I am looking forward to it.

I have been editing books by various authors, Susan Bliler and Michael Angel in particular. If you haven’t checked out their works, I highly recommend them. I have also been editing business manuscripts, as well as supporting COBRA client agents. COBRA is a continuing program which allows employees to continue their benefits after they leave their previous position until they are insured by another employer or health insurance plan. And yes, that does veer wildly away from my love of books, but you do what you can to retain a steady income, right? I have been given the opportunity to work with a publishing house to edit for them, and I am thrilled about it! I will still be soliciting books from Indie Authors, so if you have a book that needs a keen eye, my rates are good! (Hint Hint)

So. I will be posting reviews again, though not steadily I imagine – at least for a while. I have to ‘get my feet under me again’ and get organized, but I am working on it. Currently, I am reading Bad Magic: 10 Novels With Demons, Djinn, Werewolves, Vampires & Rogue Gods . . .”  if you haven’t picked it up yet, I can Highly Recommend it so far. I Have read Chosen The Djinn Wars: Book 1, and Dead Rising The Templar – Book 1 so far, and both were wonderful stories. I am getting ready to start Hidden Blade Soul Eaters #1. I wasn’t familiar with the first story, but I have added the series to my reading list. The second I had already read, as I am a big fan of Debra Dunbar, but that was the only one of the series I had read. Both of these series are going on my “to read” list. If you previously followed my blog you will know that I have widely ranged, very eclectic tastes in books, and a bad case of “Oooooooo! Shiny!!!” so series often drop by the wayside when I find a new toy.

The last anthology I just finished was From the Shadows: 13 Tales of Urban Fantasy, Witches, Werewolves, Magic, Romance, Shifters, Fae, Demons, Vampires, Dark Fantasy & More!  While I can’t say that I will love all the books in any one anthology (who does?) this one was, in a word, stunning. With eleven different authors offering thirteen stories (Annie Bellet offers The First Three!!! of her The Twenty-Sided Sorceress books!) there are plenty of stories here to please anyone with an interest in strong, well-developed female characters, males who don’t run over the top of them but stand by their sides, and storylines that grab your interest and hold it. While I discovered that I am not really a Dannika Dark fan based on the story in the anthology, that is simply a matter of taste, not a snark against the writer. To each her own.

As I have gotten more into reading again after a long drought, I have read books by a wide range of authors, from Margo Bond Collins’ Under Her Skin to Devon Monk’s Ordinary Magic series books one and two.

My favorite stand alone recently was Playing with Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (With A Body 

 

Count) by R.J. Blain. I adore R.J. anyway, and this start to a new series is a Hoot!

“You really are a one-track mind when you’re a unicorn.”

Yep. Get it. Read it. Review to follow 😉

Besides, it is free on Kindle Unlimited, and only $0.99 to purchase.

OH! And I read the first three of SM (Sara) Reine’s Preternatural Affairs Series (again!) and purchased the next three books in the series. If you haven’t read it, and you are fond of supernatural policing, this series is wonderful. I know I wouldn’t want to be a witch allergic to magic!

So, that is it for now. Reviews to follow. And if you need an editor or just a beta reader, be sure to drop me a line!

Hugs,

Leiah

 

Assault in the Wizard Degree – Fantasy and Forensics Book Six!

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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” 
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Pull out your “Happy Dance” ladies and gents! Assault in the Wizard Degree is printed!! The Fantasy and Forensics series has expanded to book six, and six is definitely a magic number.

Poor Dayna. The more she busts her backside to save the world on Andeluvia, the more it twists itself into a bloody mess . . . and guess who gets the job of straightening everything out each and every time? Yep. You got it. What is a Forensic Scientist stuck in an epic fantasy land supposed to do? Well, if you are Dame Chrissie, you dust off your hiking boots, gather your tools, and do your best to save the day. Again.

“Salvation shall come to Dame Chrissie only when she stands in the shadow of all that she has achieved.”

Well, salvation is something, at least. A bit of hope, after the court Soothsayer invades the throne room of the King bearing tidings of doom and death.

“I dreamt a dream of utmost import . . . that if not heeded, shall mean the downfall of this kingdom and the ruin of all Andeluvia!”

And this time, he might just be right. Dayna’s life in Los Angeles is hard enough as the evil attempting to take over Andeluvia bleeds over into her birth world. Now, an evil long thought buried and gone is awakening. Death and despair, war and horror are looming on the horizon, and Dayna’s small group will be tested beyond anything they have ever faced before.

It begins, as do so many things, with a request for Dayna’s help. The centaurs, you see, have a problem.

“A centaur that has committed an act of sacrilege regarding the ‘Ceremony of Equilux’.”

It should be a simple case – use her forensic skills to discover who committed a crime. But what she finds is so much more. The Creatures of the Dark have made deeper inroads than anyone expects (well, anyone other than Dayna and her friends) and even the densest and most purposefully ignorant will no longer be able to deny the truth.

There are, of course, the light moments Michael’s writing is so well known for. Characters are well written and believable, the landscape of the world of Andeluvia is sharply drawn, and the storyline holds perfect continuity throughout the series. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, I would highly recommend you do so before reading this installment. I am not saying you couldn’t understand or enjoy this book as a standalone, but it is such a wonderful series it would be a shame to miss the run-up to this pivotal point in the series.

This is a Wonderful series, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!! Of course, full disclosure, I work with Michael on his books – but that doesn’t mean I don’t adore each and every one.

Where, Oh Where, Is A Cat When You Need One?

mouse

Wow. I literally slept for over 18 hours last night! With pulling 12-hour shifts and editing two books over the past two weeks (reviews coming! Whee!!!) life has been busy enough… but then I had a mouse invasion. EUU!!!  And don’t let that “Oh, so sweet and innocent” face fool you… Hantavirus is a huge threat around here, so allowing any little four-legged pests of the rodent variety to hang around is absolutely verboten.

Living in the country around here comes with foxes, coyotes, and the occasional wolf, not to mention snakes that are definitely on the ‘unfriendly’  side – but the little four-legged star of Ratitouille truly isn’t someone you want in your kitchen.

rat
Image property of Pixar Movies

So, out with  the scrub brush, mop, broom, and a bucket filled with hot water and Lysol, and there is Leiah, on her knees, pulling everything out of the cabinets, ripping out shelf liner, rubbing, scrubbing, and generally working up a sweat with face mask firmly in place! One cabinet down, and on to the next to let the last one dry. Wow. I had no idea how much dross got pushed to the back of the lower cabinets! (Oh, and a little hint? No. Mice do NOT like mothballs . . . but putting mothballs out behind the cabinets in a dish? Uh, not my smartest move! Choke! Choke! Gag!) stinkHey, at least my mousetraps are the ‘no kill’ kind! Of course, you should have seen me the other night when I heard one scratching around and took the trap outside to release its inhabitant by the creek . . . sucker jumped straight up, smacked me on the nose, and then took off through the brush – while I landed on my backside with a THUMP and a Shriek!! Yep. Nothing like embarrassing yourself in the back yard in your underwear!! At least my closest neighbor can’t see into the back yard. . . . though since my housemate came flying out the back door to see if a coyote jumped on me, I will never live it down . . . Oy! LOL

Then, of course, the dishwasher went ‘kapluey’ and refused to drain water. (Yes, BEFORE I could put my pots and pans I keep in a lower cabinet in to run a scrub cycle on!) As it is a good 20 years old, I can’t say I am surprised, but now that I have the lower cabinets cleaned (thank goodness they didn’t get into the upper ones!), and every single item in them either cleaned (what fun scrubbing all the pots and pans! Can we all say whee?) at least that part is taken care of. Good, right?

Weelll, not so much. I got under the sink on Saturday to finish up by cleaning under there, and so I could pull the hose on the washer and move it out into the kitchen floor and clean the cabinet and around the washer cutout, as well as repairing the washer.

Ahwwwww, MAN!!! Yep. You guessed it. Leak city – as in, a leak from an unseen opening in the caulk around the back of the sink. Ugh. Rotten wood, the floor broke through when I leaned my weight on it . . . can I not get a break? Sigh.

argh

Fine! BE that way!!! 

So, I showered. Crawled in a hot tub with a book and a bottle of YellowTail Merlot and a bar of chocolate, and soaked away the aches from being on my knees for three days. Then I crawled in bed and slept and slept and slept! Ah, the joys of being single and owning a dog door and an automatic-waterer/feeder for the dogs! Hey, I don’t do it often, but since my furry babies slept with me pretty much the whole time, they didn’t complain!

dogpile

This weekend I will have to remove the sink and dish washer and rip out the cabinet and floor underneath it. Scrub, rebuild the cabinet, (or maybe I will run down to the Habitat for Humanity resale shop. I bet they will have a usable cabinet down there. . .) paint on sealer, paint on paint (see how I did that? lol) and rip the washer out into the middle of the kitchen and fix that.

And here all I had planned for next weekend was to catch up on my reading and build myself a new headboard. Then start a matching quilt and couch cover! Oh, here’s the pattern. Well, part of it anyway.

 

This is more the middle part, but you get the idea. I found that middle fabric and fell in love with it! The quilt will follow the theme, the couch in my room will get a yellow or blue upholstery with pillows in the floral, and the walls will be repainted once I figure out what color. I already have new curtains in fuchsia I picked up on sale, so something that works with that. As for the floors? Meh. I will try to spend some time this winter making old-fashioned braided rugs from scraps and old, colorful shirts I pick up at Goodwill, but after having male dogs? Yeah, you get it. Shih Tzu and “go outside go potty” don’t exactly mix!

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I have managed to read a couple of good books as well, usually right before bedtime. I will post those as well. Right now I have to make myself another mug of tea and start getting ready for work.

How have your adventures in daily life been coming along?

The Colony – F. G. Cottam

The Colony (The Colony, #1)“It is, alas, chiefly the evil emotions that are able to leave their photographs on surrounding scenes and objects and whoever heard of a place haunted by a noble deed, or of beautiful and lovely ghosts revisiting the glimpses of the moon?” – Algernon H. Blackwood

“Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door of a cottage on the Shore of a dark Scottish lake.” – Sir Walter Scott

The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” ― J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds

 The island is known as “New Hope.” Hard. Unyielding. A tiny speck of rock in the Outer Hebrides, off the western coast of Scotland, it was an odd place to begin a religious colony. Especially as a colony of crofters. And odder than that? Their religious leader simply walked away from his lucrative business as a slave ship captain known for his murderous treatment of the slaves in his hold, embracing a desperate sort of religious fervor incomprehensible to those who knew him.

But the colonists arrived, and for a while, they thrived through sheer hard work and determination. Until, that is, they simply vanished from the face of the earth. No bodies. No graves. Food still on plates with chairs pushed back, boots and shoes left at the door. Gone.

Fast forward to modern time. Alexander McIntyre is a media mogul, determined to prove that paper and print are not a lost art – that the internet will not destroy the business he loves. And Alexander McIntire has a secret. A secret, he hopes, that will help him to do so. Alexander’s pet private eye has found a snippet of film from the 1930’s. A snippet which may well help solve one of the foremost mysteries of a century ago. What really happened to the 150 settlers who landed on New Hope Island, only to disappear into the ether?

His sturdy band of specialists includes everything from virology and forensic archaeology to a lecturer on alien abductions. Throw in a well-respected medium and a Catholic exorcist, and surely the mystery will be solved after all these years. And, of course, McIntyre’s paper will be saved.

So, off the intrepid team sails, to a land not only cold and inhospitable, but very, very deadly.

“A God capable of creating the universe would not wish to be worshiped by man, says Captain Ballantyne. Vanity is a human failing. Why would an omnipotent being crave our fear or flattery or even be sincerely interested in our gratitude?”

I don’t often read horror, but the premise and setting of The Colony caught my attention. And of course, a good cover always helps. For some reason, this stark, black-and-white image kept drawing my eye until I had to see what it was about. And then I was hooked. And the story itself didn’t let me down. As bleak as the shores which it portrays, the story strips its characters bare, touching the worst, and yes, the best, in the human soul.

The second book is The Colony: Dark Resurrection.

Yes. Humans never learn.

This book is free with Kindle Unlimited. So, what are you waiting for? It needs a solid Scottish editor, but it is highly atmospheric and readable.

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Inquisitor (Witch & Wolf Book 2) by R J Blain

inquisitor“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” ― Albert Camus, The Plague

“No one thinks of how much blood it costs.” – Dante Alighieri

“Can you please ask James to return to the lab?”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible, ma’am,”
“Why?
“He just locked himself in containment and started howling.” –
R. J. Blain, Inquisitor

When you are as old as Allison Victoria Mayfield Hanover, you realize that only are few things are truly immutable.  Blood and violence, horrors and hatred. And that one solid, totally immutable, truth of the universe: Everything eventually dies. Except, perhaps, for Victoria. Ah, but you see, someone wants, very much, to see Victoria dead. And they will do anything, kill anyone, to make sure that happens.

Which is a really crappy attitude when you realize who Victoria is. You see, she is the owner of Marrodin, one of the largest companies in the world. A company which goes out of its way to pay a hire those who have ‘special’ needs. You know the sort. Witches. Wolves. Single mothers.

Victoria is living in Atlanta as Allison Ferdinan these days, playing at being an accountant. Too bad money couldn’t buy me a life. Of course, sometimes what you wish for actually comes true – and too often in bad, very bad, awful sorts of ways. It started out as a simple favor for a client/friend, Mark. Let’s dress up and go to a party. You can be my fiancée!

Whoa. Hold the Phone!

Gack. Killing Mark in Central Park really probably isn’t the best idea. But what was a really Bad Idea? Yeah. You got it. Going to a Halloween party as the fake fiancée, only to find out that your fake mother-in-law-to-be is a real witch. No, I mean it. A Real. Witch. And if you want to drop the W and add a B, well, please feel free.

But the party isn’t the only thing wrong in Allison’s world. Pretty soon it seems the whole world is out to kill her. And when whoever it is that hunts her begins going after her employees, well, let’s just say that Allison/Victoria won’t let it stand.

Here’s a hint. Don’t tick off an ancient werewolf. You won’t like the outcome.

I loved this book so much I stayed up way too late into the early morning hours reading when I had to get up early the next morning. In fact, I liked it so much, I immediately downloaded the next one and started on it the next night. I am not saying there aren’t issues inherent in the writing. There are some continuity and relationship logic issues that were frustrating – but you all know how picky I am about that sort of thing. I still think you should at the very least pick it up on Kindle Unlimited for free the way I did. And I look forward to hearing what you think. This isn’t just another Paranormal – great character development, world building and a marked lack of the sort of sloppy writing that is so common in Urban Fantasy makes this series well worth the precious reading time if you like strong women characters. There are several between these pages!

About the Author

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

Wild Man’s Curse: A Wilds Of The Bayou Novel (Book 1) Susannah Sandlin

wmc“The bones said death was comin’,
and the bones never lied.”
 – Susannah Sandlin

“Morning, ma’am. I’m looking for Tommy Mason. Is he around?” Polite and professional, that was Senior Agent Broussard.
“Lord, what’s that no-good sonofabitch done now? Wait, you ain’t a cop; you’re a game warden. “What’d he do, run over a fish?”
― Susannah Sandlin, Wild Man’s Curse

The songs, the songs, of Bayou Country. Gator’s roar and painter’s scream. Moans of the wind through the cypress trees, the sibilant slide of a body into the water. Whether gator or fishin’ boat, or the sound of a body being slid over the side. Songs and scents – and always, life goes on. Until it doesn’t.

The bayou lives on, as it has always lived, private, dark and secretive. A mystical land where the boundaries between life and death are small. Where Catholicism resides side-by-side with hoodoo, Santaria nestles down with Southern Baptist, and one is just as likely to visit a traiteur as an M.D. She is ancient, unbending, the cycle of life personified. Don’t piss-off the Hoodoo Woman, the veves, or the houngan, for magic is real in the Bayou, and the bones, they never lie.

Eva Savoie knows all about the bone, about life and death . . . and she know, in her own bones, that old man Death is coming. So she cleans her house, scrubs her floors, and sits down to die. But the Savoies have never known the pleasure of a quiet death. And Eva’s is more painful, and bloodier, than any Sovoie before. The curse will have its due, just as it has for the last three generations of Savoies, for what her grandfather did all those years ago.

Gentry Broussard, un bon garde-chasse, a Senior Enforcement Officer for the Louisiana Depart of Wildlife and Fisheries, is the one who finds Eva’s body. He even catches a glimpse of her murderer – a murderer who is, or should be, a ghost. Now, he is on the hunt for a man dead four years, and what he finds may destroy not only his life, but that of Ceelie Savoie, Eva’s niece and heir. Heir not only to Eva’s property on Whisky Bayou, but to Eva’s ability with the bones.

“Its dying call is weak but clear
Yet it’s a plaintive voice I don’t want to hear.
I won’t go back,
I won’t go home,
‘Cause next time, Whiskey Bayou won’t let me go.”

Ceelie promised her daddy on his deathbed that she would escape, and never return. But ain’t life funny that way? Now Ceelie is back in the swamp. And it may be her blood Gentry wades through this time.

Admittedly, I am a HUGE Louisiana novel lover. My favorite author of all time for the stories of the bayous, swamps and small towns has always been James Lee Burke. His soulful renditions of the voice of the land touch the soul, drawing you into the land that time forgot, the land where the curtains of civilization fade away, leaving only the truth behind. Susannah Sandlin doesn’t quite have that soul-deep ability to draw you in, to allow you to close your eyes and smell the funk of brackish water, the sweet waft of water orchid. You don’t quite see the cypress in your mind, or hear the egret’s call. But she is close. The suspense is there, the respect for the peoples and culture of the South. I look forward eagerly to Black Diamond, the next in the Wilds of the Bayou series.

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