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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.

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A Perjury of Owls – The Next Fantasy and Forensic Is OUT!

perjury“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”  ― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

A Perjury of Owls

Dayna Chrissie’s life has changed, drastically, since she was first yanked, very much against her will, into  Andeluvia. There has been death and loss, friends made – and enemies as well. She has fought griffins and demons, dragons, and even magical deer (yes, magical Deer… and a psycho one at that!) She has been through Hell and back for her friends and the land of Andeluvia, even when those she protects demean and try to destroy her.

“Nothing could be more heart rending than this mute and motionless dispair” ― Émile Zola, Thérèse Raquin

Dayna Chrissie is a Crime Scene Analyst for the LAPD, but these days she only works there third-time while she spends the great majority of her time in Andeluvia. But Andeluvia hasn’t been all that friendly to her. The nobles consider her an interloper, and as much as the King wants to hire her as his court Forensics Examiner he isn’t willing to go against the nobles to force her into place. So, what is a King to do but dub Dayna Chrissie “Dame” Chrissie? But being a Dame has its own perils indeed. And unless the Owls release their death grip on the Andeluvian treasury, her Damehood may not last more than a few days before the whole of the country descends into anarchy and murder.

Ah, but there is more going on. The Darkness is growing, feeding. The Griffins have lost the majority of their aerie. The Fayleene have been forced from their devastated home, and though the Centaur community is standing stable? The Owls, ah the Owls. Dayna’s friend Albess Thea is missing, and Raisah of the Noctua, a feared warrior sect of owls, has taken her place. And Raisah certainly does not the the welfare of Andeluvia, or even of the Parliament, at heart.

Sirrahon the Stone Dragon, ancient, cruel and released from his three-thousand year prison has disappeared, and no one knows where he might be. There are dark things moving, and in the Shadows the outline of a man lurks.  The demons are moving in the dark, and though everyone has seen what is happening, all are hiding their heads. All but Dayna and her intrepid crew, Grimshaw the Griffin, Liam the Fayleene Prince and Galen the Wizard who have been with Dayna through thick and thin, through war and death, but also through hope and understanding.

Michael’s Fantasy and Forensics remains one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. Alternately funny and touching, painful and heartwarming, if you haven’t started it yet, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to do so. Andeluvia and its inhabitants will be sure to pull at your heart, your mind, and your soul. Enjoy!

I work with Michael on his stories, so I should say here that I received this book for free but all of my thoughts are my own.

 

Review: Grumpy Old Wizards by John O’Riley

Grumpy Old Wizards
Kindle Cover (click for Goodreads Link)

When you are an 80-year-old Wizard with top-notch rating in a world gone wonky, where magic is rated in categories like tornados and just because you are 80 it doesn’t mean you don’t look like a 20-year-old, life can get a bit interesting. Such is the case with Josephine. She and her two best buds, Alice and Helen, live in a retirement home, and the first time you meet them they are playing gin rummy. Josephine has two of the aces, and life is looking good – until the phone rings. Obnoxious Detective Whiney (well, Detective Riley, but he really is Obnoxious and Whiney) has a case for her. (Being a category six wizard, the highest category there is, means that her retirement is frequently interrupted by Obnoxious Detective Whiney. Them’s the rules, if you are a wizard, the government owns your ass.) Uh. Anyway. With a serial killer on the loose who appears to match Josephine in strength, it will take a lot of work to track him down and stop him.

The idea of Grumpy Old Wizards is quite good. There is humour, it isn’t really bloody, per se, and the idea of elderly ladies, while done before, are done uniquely. But then, there are the problems. There is an overall flat choppiness to the writing that pretty much left me cold. Sort of a ‘See Spot, see Spot run, run Spot run’ delivery that had me skimming through the pages shooting for the end. And as other reviewers have said, the very fact that everyone was surprised at the identity of the killer at the end was sort of “Well, duh. Figured that out a long time ago.” I hate that in a book that is supposed to be a mystery – it defeats the purpose and makes the rest of the book, after you saw the big red flashing billboard, mere filler. And what is UP with that cover??? It should be on the cover of a YA romantic 18-year-old witch story, not the cover of this book. I almost didn’t accept the book because the cover literally pushed me away. Goodreads shows two other covers:

 

Grumpy Old Wizards
Createspace Paperback Cover #2
Grumpy Old Wizards (Grumpy Old Wizards, #1)
Createspace Paperback Copy #1

 

♥Which cover do you like? And if I could look like the one on Createspace Cover #1 at 80, I would want to be a wizard, too!♥

Overall, the idea was good, the delivery mediocre, the mystery nonexistent, and the writer needs an editor. However, I am not totally throwing the idea of this series in the trash. With a good editor and good beta readers this could be a funny, interesting series.

DOWSER 4 IS HERE!!!! Shadows, Maps and other Ancient Magic

Book cover by Elizabeth Mackey
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Snippet:

I had new cupcakes to bake, a new treasure to hunt, and a new dragon in town — literally. Who wouldn’t be ecstatic filling their days with chocolate, trinket collecting, and martial arts training?
Yeah … me.
Because no matter how much chocolate I ate, I couldn’t fill the dark pit in my soul. A darkness born from blood alchemy. A darkness that reeked of the black magic I now knew I was capable of creating.
Maybe it was time to walk away.
But what if there were important things left to do? What if I was the only one who could do what needed to be done?
I wasn’t sure I could handle the responsibility, but as long as I had my chocolate stash and a good friend to back me up, I was willing to give it a try.

dance cupcake

Review: The Detective and the Unicorn by Michael Angel

“To die, to sleep –
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. – Maya Angelou
____________
unicornThe photo of a snow-white Pegasus in the company of the President of the United States had made the front page of the Los Angeles Times twice now. Both times this happened, someone close to me has been killed.

Derek Ridder knows about death. About loss, and pain, true. But most of all, he knows about Death. A Los Angeles cop, he sees humanity at it’s very worst; it’s darkest, cruelest moments. Three years ago, he saw that front page photo only moments before his beloved wife, Beth, died – the victim of a suicide who decided to take many with him when he parked in the path of an oncoming train. And the second time.

The second time nearly drove him mad.

Now, Derek Ridder’s life has been turned upside down, his niece and sister-in-law threatened, and the very fate of our world, The Other World as it is called by those who populate the dimension which has paralleled and overlapped our own, may come down to whether or not Derek, and those who help him, can find the key to destroying a man – a man who is also a Monster.

It is called The Morning Land. A land of pegasi and unicorn, of dryads and wizards and all manner of things that go bump in the night. And in this land, a wizard has gone mad, threatening our world, and his, with total annihilation at the teeth and claws of a demon horde.

He had dead, doll’s eyes, like a sharks.

Stuck in the middle of a war, Derek must do all he can to save the worlds, to take out the wizard who will use both technology and magic to become the mighty foot on the throat of our world.

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. – Veronica Roth, Allegiant

Much like Hamlet, Derek’s life had lost all meaning. But will he reach beyond, into what and who he was before, and use his pain to save his world? And possibly, his own soul?

Much like others of his work, such as Centaur of the Crime or The Deer Prince’s Murder, there is a strong fantasy theme throughout, which harkens back to the original Grimm, were fairies weren’t cute little winged creatures, and Red Riding Hood’s story was filled with blood. Angel’s works cross the boundaries of reality and magic, of this world and the next, and for all of their vast readability and notes of humour, there is lying underneath a dark pool of pain – and an immeasurable depth of hope.
____
If you follow my reviews you will know that Mr. Angel and I have a working relationship, and yes, the author gave the book to me. What must be taken into account is that we have that relationship because I truly enjoy his work. If he were to blow it, well, I would let you know. However, as always, Michael charmed me with his wit and wisdom, his humor and understanding. This book is highly recommended for lovers of Urban Fantasy and Fairy Tales. And anyone else who simply loves a well-crafted tale. Enjoy!

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About the Author

michael

Michael 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.

 

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.

 

Review: Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

another
The Audio Edition is available here!

As a culture, we are always looking for the next best thing. Computers, cars, you name it. And, of course, books. Everything from urban fantasy to suspense, young adult to horror. Sometimes, though, what is New isn’t what we really need. Instead, what is Old is new again, or rather, it should be!

I just listened to Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin, and narrated by Noah Michael Levine.  First printed in 1978, I found the series way back then, and have the whole collection in paper. Recently, however, the books have come out on Audible.com and, of course, I have to buy them all again. How can I help it? Noah Michael Levine does an amazing job of narrating! His voice and cadence are absolutely perfect for the reading. His grasp of accents is amazing, and he really brings the characters to life. I spent all night last night in my workroom, working on holiday gifts, and though I got really tired about 4AM, I couldn’t tear myself away. There is a sample reading on Audible, check it out and you will love it too!

Why SHOULDN’T Robert Lynn Asprin’s Skeeve be the next Harry Potter?!  It’s all there. Witches, Demons, and Wizards, Oh, My! And the Myth series is FUNNY. Like, burst out laughing on the airplane funny. And the voices by Noah take the laugh-out-loud character to a whole new level of laughter. Though Robert is now gone from us, his collaboration with Jody Lynn Nye means that the wonder of the tale lives on, and it is well worth the journey of discovery!

Skeeve, the main character of the series, is an apprentice wizard. He doesn’t really care all that much about being an apprentice wizard, of course. He was previously a thief, who got busted by the Wizard he was trying to rob. Instead of turning him into a frog, or something just as icky, the Wizard makes Skeeve an apprentice wizard. What are ya gonna do?

During the summoning of the Demon Aahz, an Assassin comes to call – and that is when things get rather messy. When the Wizard is killed, Skeeve is stuck now with the Demon Aahz, summoned from his own world, and none too happy about it. What follows? Well, you will just have to read the book to find out! Or rather, I would actually listen to it. You will NOT be disappointed if you like funny, well paced, creative and wonderful story lines.

Enjoy!!!! Highly Recommended

Review: Full Dark A Novel of the Hidden – Ty Lawrence

fulldark
Recommended if you like the dark . . .

Full Dark by Ty Lawrence is not what I expected when the publisher first offered me a copy for review. In the modern supernatural world populated by fantasies of sexy vampires and alpha weres, Full Dark is entirely different in ways breathtaking, horrifying and deeply disturbing on a visceral level. This is a world of darkness, a Dante inspired fantasy of blood and death. In these pages, the dreams of the Dark Ages are born anew, brought forward into modern times. These are not the fangs of teenage dreams, nor the fur and claws of the ‘sexy wolf’. This is black blood and torn flesh, torture and enslavement and pain.

Ashlyn is a sorceress in a world that makes her a victim, her blood a narcotic to vampires. At a very young age her family is slaughtered and she is taken from her home to be savaged by a group of feral vampires. Rescued by the Master Vampire Brennan she is still a captive, kept for her addictive blood. But at least she is safe from the rouges who would keep her chained and savaged. Called The Hidden, the supernatural exist in a dark and dangerous world, hidden amongst the humans, who know nothing of their existence.

Or do they?

War is coming in this dark and hidden world. And while war foments Ashlyn has become a pawn of forces out of her control, forces who wish to use her, or hold her for their own. And the relationship between Ashlyn and Brennan becomes even more strained as Ashlyn strains against Brennan’s control, while knowing that her only safety is actually within his care. Further complicating matters is Lord Sorcerer Finn, a sorcerer of great and terrible power, who controls the Vox, the lands inhabited by the supernatural Hidden, who has his own agenda, and a strange and terrible control over Ashlyn.

This is a magnificent and terrible story. The characters are more than just well written. The reach out of the pages and pull you into their story, whether in hate or admiration, and often in both at the same time. Ashlyn herself tugged me in both directions. A victim for so long, she made me deeply sad one moment and furious the next. She is deeply scared, reaching for a life she will never have while turning her back on the one she might, a life of strength and control over her own fate. Desperate for a humanity that is not hers to have, she protects the police officer, Hayden, who has secrets of his own which will put him directly in the sights of Brennan. And in so doing, places herself in tremendous danger on his behalf.

This is a multilayered tale of power and depth that I would not wish to have missed. A tale of bitter and broken characters, of hate and pain, loss and death and the choices one must make to survive. And yet, through it all, there is a thread of love and warmth which can be found in the worst of situations. But can one learn to accept that love, and what will one do to protect those whom we love?

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