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So, I Read This Book Today

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Review: The Black Swan Inheritance By Marigold Deidre Dicer

23635267Books often reveal the personality of their authors. How can they not? The author pulls the characters and worlds straight from their brains and their hearts. If the author is basically a nice person it shines through their work. If not, well, I can usually tell.

Marigold Deidre Dicer (Sarah to her friends) is a truly wonderful person. She is kind, considerate, dedicated, all the things you want in a friend. And I have been happy to get to know her over the past several months, first as a compatriot in the ‘blogosphere’ and later as her editor for The Black Swan Inheritance. Now, if I could just travel to Australia to give her a hug, how great would that be?

The Black Swan Inheritance is an urban fantasy, true. But it is more than that. It is a story that incorporates the fantasy world, but wraps it around a core of what it is like to be not only a young, popular-for-all-the-wrong-reasons girl, but different from all your peers – no matter if that ‘difference’ is based upon natural or supernatural reasons. Now, if she can just save herself from werewolves, vampires . . . and her own insecurities. What is a freshman college student to do?

This is a multilayered tale of deception and danger, hatred and love, and the lengths one will go to save family. Anita is flawed, without a doubt, but her very flaws encourage a deep compassion for her and what she is going through, the changes in her life and the danger to her family.

Character development, in this case, is one of the strongest aspects of the book. Anita herself is a multi-layered character of both strength and weakness, while the other characters are more ‘real’ than many others in the genre. Strengths are often overwhelmed by weaknesses, emotional and psychological damage abounds, and personal growth is a stop-and-start process that leads to a deep emotional connection with not only the ‘good’ characters but even with the ‘bad’. She makes terrible decisions, but all the decisions, good and bad, are real in the context of the story. Children must learn, grow and learn, and that growth is often painful, not only for the child herself, but for those around her. But that very pain strengthens. And Anita has the potential to be one of the strongest new urban fantasy characters in the genre.

I am the editor for The Black Swan Inheritance. My review, however, is based only upon my feelings, not upon my friendship with Sarah. (OK, so I pay really close attention to my client’s books, what do you expect? 😉 It is still a great book!) If you enjoy my reviews, please “Like” them on Amazon.com and/or Audible.com. Thanks you!

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Review: Centaur Of The Crime by Michael Angel – Audible.com Edition

centaurDayna Chrissie is the lead Crime Scene Analyst for the LAPD, and from the perspective of a former crime scene analyst, I found myself breaking out in laughter at just how apt our first introduction to Dayna is. Michael Angel really “gets it.” CSI may be “sexy” to the television watching public – but it really isn’t sexy in real life!

As Dayna arrives at the crime scene where we first meet her, she cracked me up right away. First, we have the idiotic politico, Deputy Chief McClatchy, whose response to the murder in question is to send beat cops swarming all over the crime scene, stomping any possible evidence into the ground, and telling the “scene techies” to “Hurry up, we’ve got real work to do,” is spot on, and her response to him, which has him running for a puke bucket, is hysterical. Then there is her description of her crime scene wear; ‘the overall which assures that her hips stay slim and the cottage cheese stays off her thighs,’ because, damn those things are hot, and her “Stompy Gothic Boots of Doom” (They wouldn’t win any awards on the fashion runway. But they would keep corpse juices out of my socks.) Angel caught my attention right away. If you can make me laugh and identify with the main character that quickly, you have my attention. And Angel never lost it.

This particular scene is an odd case, to say the least. Peculiar clothing is only the start. Besides bullet wounds, there is a huge, charcoaled hole in the middle of his chest and Dayna has no idea how it was caused. Add that to “python-like” patterning all over his face and upper body, well, he is a puzzle wrapped inside a riddle, forensics wise.

Oh, but this isn’t the oddest thing. Oh, no. For Dayna finds an odd gold coin inside the body – a gold coin that transports her to another world. Oh, and what a world! I was tempted to say that Centaur of the Crime could be described as Alice in Wonderland Meets CSI but that is doing Dayna a disservice. She is a strong, competent, take-no-crap woman (hey – if you are a woman in a police position, you have to be all those things – just breathing the testosterone in air can cause unwarranted beard growth!) But she is also kind, understanding and very, very intelligent. A balanced character that I couldn’t help but admire.

Pulled into another world to solve the murder of a king, Dayna takes the transition well. She doesn’t go hysterical and flighty when she realizes she is surrounded by centaurs and “The Parliament” (wait till you meet these creatures – they are wonderfully written) and tasked with an investigation that no one here thinks can be done. Especially not by a woman from another world.

I loved this book. The fantasy aspects, the world building, as well as the creative development of the species and their various aspects. I have read what I would call “modern-day day fairy tales” before, and this one is at the top of my list of favorites. Enough so that I am dying to see the second volume, The Deer Prince’s Murder, come out on Audible. I am also adding some of his other works, especially The Detective and the Unicorn, to my Audible library.detunicorn

Of course, a narrator can make, or break, an Audible recording. In this case, I was very disappointed by the narrator, Katrina Carmody. Narrators should understand that they are creating a piece of performance art with every book that they read, and Carmody does a less than acceptable job. As another reviewer, Busy Reader from New York New York put it in their Audible.com review: The pacing was terrible, the characters all sounded the same (with the exception of one character, which had an Irish accent, which would have been fine except that she used this accent for the Hispanic character, who otherwise didn’t have accent); she mispronounced very basic words, sometimes used the wrong words which changed the meaning, and even left words out (I checked with the e-book). Where was the director?

Drove. Me. NUTS. Yes, I have heard worse, but she is far, far from the best. How can a professional narrator care so little for her work product? And how can the production company expect to retain business when their offering is so poorly done?

Other than the disappointing narration, I would highly recommend Centaur of the Crime to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel with centaurs, griffins, and other fantasy creatures. And if you also like procedurals, Angel has a good grasp on that aspect also, so it is all good! Highly recommended.audible

 

About Michael Angel

michaelMichael Angel’s worlds of fiction range from the unicorn-ruled realm of the Morning Land to the gritty ‘Fringe Space’ of the western Galactic Frontier. He’s the author of the bestselling Centaur of the Crime – where C.S. Lewis meets CSI. His books populate shelves in languages from Russian to Portuguese.

Michael currently resides in Southern California. Alas, despite keeping a keen eye out for griffins, centaurs, or galactic marshals, none have yet put in an appearance on Hollywood Boulevard.

 

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