Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blood on the Tracks (Sydney Rose Parnell Series) --Barbara Nickless

Fiction / Thriller
384 pages
5 Stars

I so seldom read thrillers, and yet lately, I've read a couple, and I wonder why I haven't read them in so long. I believe Nickless has brought me back to the fold.

Let me begin with the Bad News first, and get it out of the way, Book 2 will not be released until next year (2017)—but it is pre-ordered. I can't give her more than 5 Stars. I tried hitting the 5-star button twice, but it didn't work.

There is nothing usual about our heroine, Sydney Rose Parnell.  She enlisted in the Marines and was deployed to Iraq where she worked in Mortuary Services. She suffers with PTSD, she has lost, and lost big time. And now, when we meet her, she is a railroad cop in Denver.

If Nickless wasn't in the military, she certainly did her research. I found Sydney Rose believable to the point of tears on more than one occasion. 

I quit reading thrillers years ago because so many of them were filled with female victims, a lot of gratuitous sex and violence, and too much detail on how the body became a body. Sydney Rose gets called into a homicide case because there are a lot of hobo signs at the murder scene and she knows a lot of hobos. It turns out she knows the victim. We get a bit of description, but most is in our imaginations. The alleged killer is also an Iraqi vet also suffering with PTSD, and for various reasons, Sydney doesn't believe he did it and sets out to find the truth. It's really nice to have a flawed female cop solve the crime.

But she solves it at great cost. She must face some ghosts, she will be injured, she will not just waltz in, solve the crime, and waltz out unscathed. Sydney Rose is, above all, human. And she has family which she will do anything to protect.

This is a gritty story, very well told, but being forewarned is also being forearmed—the language is pretty gritty at times, especially in some of the dialog. Lots of f-bombs, and similar words. If those bother you, don't read the book. This is a who-done-it book of the best kind, but there are sub plots and stories, and more twists than a new rope.

Nickless uses epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter—mostly excerpts from Sydney Rose's journals and an interview published in the local paper. They are a fascinating way to get to know her better, without a lot of flashbacks.

There is violence in this book, and a bit of sex, but none of it is gratuitous. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to those who like a good mystery, but more important, I think I would recommend it to anyone with PTSD. It might be a good book to show them how others live with it, to let them know they are not alone.

Witches' Bane (The Soul Eater) (Book #2) --Pippa DaCosta

Fiction / Urban Fantasy

174 pages
5 Stars

Ace Dante, aka The Nameless One, gets a name—and it ain't George!

Once again, the Soul Eater is ordered by Osiris to commit acts he doesn't want to do, but absolutely has no power to refuse. He can, to a degree, circumnavigate the orders, but he cannot refuse.

DaCosta has created a universe that is more fun than a barrel of, well, cats. Black cats. With green eyes. She writes about the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt in modern day New York City. In this book, she wove threads of witchcraft into the tapestry of her story.

This was, literally, a one-sit read. I knew going in it would be great fun, fast paced, and full of twists and turns. I made a pot of coffee and sat. I was not disappointed, not in the least.

We learn more about Shu in this book. Ace actually calls on her to help him trace magic from a severed arm back to the killer. Which is not what anyone expects. By the way, she and Ace are linked, by Osiris, and as much as they hate each other, they cannot sever the link. Osiris and his wife/sister, Isis, are not what I would call super nice people. Super, yes. Nice, no.

I do believe I rather like Shu. She is a great foil for Ace, and the black cat, which Ace hates (he hates all cats!), turns out (of course) to be a special cat.

I do recommend you read Hidden Blade (book #1) before you read this one, if only because you will be familiar with the characters and their backstories. Although, if you're familiar with the formula of urban fantasies, you probably won't have much of a problem filling in the blanks.  But, then, you'll just want #1, so you might as well start there.

The absolute worst thing about this book is that #3, See No Evil, won't be available November 2016. I know, that's just a few weeks away, but....

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kro & Corinthian --Jason McIntyre

These are two short stories, free downloads on Kindle. They are companion pieces to , and part of the Night Walk Men Series. Total reading time is, maybe, an hour.


I first entered the universe of the Night Walk Men through that story, then I read the novel, The Devil's Right Hand, and in searching for the next novel in that series, came across Kro. In a way, Kro is a prequel to The Devil's Right Hand, but is not a required read to enjoy the novel. More of a companion short story, I'd say.

If you're not familiar with the characters, or the universe, and you like fast paced stories, you're in for a treat. Do you like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files? If so, I think you'll enjoy this series. Both are hard punching and fast paced. End of comparison.

Download it. Go for a terrific rollercoaster ride in the comfort and (relative) safety of your living room.


Another in the series about the Night Walk Men. I read the first short story, The Night Walk Men
(also a free download), as well as the novel, The Devil's Right Hand, so was familiar with the universe and story line. It might help to read The Night Walk Men first, though I make no promise.

I truly enjoyed this story. I truly enjoy the universe, and can't wait for more stories and or novels to come out of it. Jason McIntyre has a way of writing that is fast, pulls no punches, and jerks you around corners you'd normally be too afraid to even peek around. And he does it in language that is, well, poetic in its beauty.

One of the Night Walk Men pays a midnight visit to Geoff Saylor, and brings him face to face with the most horrifying choice a parent can ever face. If you're a parent, you will understand. Maybe.

The universe of the Night Walk Men is frighteningly familiar, and yet, is most assuredly fiction. Isn't it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Devil's Right Hand (The Night Walk Men, Book 2) --by Jason McIntyre

Fiction / Suspense / Urban Fantasy

350 pages / 957 KB
5 Stars

Just finished reading this book. If possible, I would give it more than 5 stars. I think Jason McIntyre is one of the most original authors I've read in a while. The book is suspenseful, at times terrifying, and is beautifully written. There are lines in the book that are pure, unadulterated poetry. I think I'm safe in saying that if you like Jim Butcher's Dresden File books, you'll enjoy the Night Walk Men books. However, they are not the same. Not by a long, or short, shot!

The story is narrated by Sperro, one of the Night Walk Men. He tells us the main story, and several back stories, and by the time he is finished making and pouring us tea, and we are finished drinking it, the story is finished, and all the loose ends are neatly tied and properly disposed. It takes place in Vancouver, BC, for the most part. There are a few side trips out of the city.

Mind you, I had to finish this book. And yet, there was that feeling I had when I first read The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I couldn't put that book down, either, and was somewhat surprised when I finished it to realize there wasn't a good guy in the book. Well, there aren't too many good guys in this story, but everyone has their own shade of gray to wear, so to speak. And what determines goodness, anyhow? Is it vengeance for a killed child? Or a lost marriage? Is it to survive at any cost? Why do we do what we do? What do we do to and for our children? What rules do we follow, which ones do we snub? All of the characters in this book face questions, and find their own answers. And Sperro keeps us apprised of all the anguish, the pain, the smelly parts of it. This book is not for the squeamish.

If you've read many of my reviews, you know my one criterion for fiction is that when I put the book down at the end, I want to feel better than when I picked it up at the beginning. This book more than meets my criterion. Jason McIntyre is a new author to me, but one whose books I intend on reading.

Highly recommend this book. It's a world of darkness one can become lost in, with always the right amount of light at the necessary times. Shivery good fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Night Walk Men: A Novella --Jason McIntyre

35 Pages / 361 KB
5 Stars

First off, please note: this is a NOVELLA. It's a short story; it is not a novel, but it's also free on Kindle, so what do you care?

I think I am safe in saying this is a dark story, and if you don't like dark stories, pass. Or, if you're like me and don't like dark stories, but do like well written stories, give it a try. I finished it and immediately bought and downloaded the novel that comes next.

This kind of writing, nor the story, will appeal to everyone, but it appeals to me. You can read the first few pages, and if it appeals to you, download the whole story. McIntyre's style is in your face, immediate—your long lost friend telling you his story over a cuppa, and it's so fascinating, you don't interrupt. Not that you'd be given a chance....

As one reviewer said, it's like he's "channeling Rod Serling while Ray Bradbury whispers in his ear". There is a reason he is the #1 Kindle Suspense author.

Thank you, Jason McIntyre, for a well-told and fantastical story.