10.08.2019

Book Review: Murder at the Marina

Murder at the Marina
Book Review

What would you do if your hubby gave you the worst anniversary gift ever?

A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary—not very romantic. A dead body on board—even worse.
Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her clueless hubby presents her with a rundown boat. She's not impressed.
When she discovers someone murdered on board, things get even worse. Mollie hopes it will convince her husband to rethink his hare-brained scheme of sailing off into the sunset. Instead, he's more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set off to sea.
Poking her nose in where it doesn't belong, Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.
Will Mollie be able to discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?
Murder at the Marina is the first book in the light, humorous, and original Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery series. If you like kooky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you'll love this cozy mystery. Buy Murder at the Marina today and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.
My Review:

Mollie McGhie’s husband buys her a dilapidated sailboat for their 10th anniversary—even though she doesn’t sail. Fearful that he’s having a bidlife crisis, she goes along with her husband’s dream in the hopes that he loses interest once he realizes what bad condition the sailboat is in.
No such luck. Her hubs sees nothing but potential, even after the body shows up. And guess where it turns up? Sorry, no spoilers here!
As any good sleuth worth her salt, Mollie can’t help herself. Instead of talking her husband out of buying the boat, she gets sidetracked investigating the murder. Plenty of people had reasons to want him dead and Mollie is in a perfect position to find out whodunnit.
Mollie fits quickly into the marina scene, which is much like an RV park for sailboats. She meets all the residents aka suspects who live on their sailboats and together they make a cozy little community.
Just add murder and stir!

9.17.2019

Book Review: Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner #fantasy #fay #fairies

“A book for anyone who has heard the horns of Elfin in the distance at twilight, as much as it is for readers who crave fine literature and are certain that elves and their kingdoms are bosh.” - Neil Gaiman.




I fell in love with this collection of short stories. I confess I hadn’t heard of Sylvia Townsend Warner and hadn’t read any of her work, although she wrote numerous novels over a long life, and many of these stories were originally published in the New Yorker. I was introduced to the book at a conference, at the launch of a new edition by Handheld Press (it was originally published in 1977, the year before Warner died). I’m very glad I took the plunge and bought a copy as the book is a gem. It’s described as containing “sixteen sly and enchanting stories of Elfindom”, and that catches it perfectly: these are stories about the Elfin courts that are dotted around in our world, hidden away under hills and in woods: Brocéliande in Brittany, Elfhame in Scotland, the Kingdom of the Peris in Persia, Mynydd Preseli in Wales, Zuy in the Low Countries, Pomace near where I live in Herefordshire in England (haven’t found it yet), and so on.

They are aristocratic societies, with queens (never kings) and nobles - as well as those less lucky fairies who have to do all the work. The fairies can fly, but to do so is beneath the dignity of most higher-ranking Fay. The delight of the book is in the regional differences and quirks of the courts: each is a little world with its own oddities and eccentricities, so that the book reads a little like a travel guide written by an expert of Elfin cultures – although that makes them sound dry, when they breathe with wit and intrigue and conflict. No end of intriguing details of each distinct court are thrown in: the pack of hunting werewolves at Brocéliande, the rotating island of the Peris, the fairies’ various obsessions with birds, or singing four-part harmonies, or the use of larks for divination, or playing the flageolet, or whatever it may be.

The elves in Warner’s stories are capricious, self-obsessed and bordering on the sociopathic (from our perspective). Mortals - us - are their playthings, to be stolen at birth and then cast aside when they become boring or old. Fairies, too, are treated with utter cruelty when circumstance conspires: these are creatures capable of delicate gentleness and absolute brutality, like highly-cultured toddlers. In truth, apart from their longevity, and their wings, and their occasional magic use, there isn’t too much difference between the Elfin and us - not that they would see it that way. They call humans “mortals”, although, in fact, we have immortal souls, and the Fey do not. They are simply long-lived. They are equally fascinated and bemused by religion - although mostly indifferent, as they are to all aspects of humanity.

The stories are often slight in tone and literary in style. They perhaps have a tendency to peter out, to dazzle and delight and then stop. This is not the sort of fiction where you get a whizz-bang, twist ending. Several times I wanted to know more about certain characters, certain situations, but that gets left for the reader to think about on their own. You may like that, you may not. A common theme is the outcast: a fairy who leaves their Court for one reason or another (intrigued, bored, thrown out, left behind), or a mortal changeling within a Court (a baby stolen at birth or an adult who finds their way inside).

The writing is beautiful, full of subtle literary flourish. More than once I found myself rereading sentences simply in order to savour their perfectly-formed elegance, their economy. Towards the end of her long life of writing, Warner was clearly a fairy queen of sentence-weaving. Her style is sly, witty, beautifully-observed, luscious. As I say, a gem of a book.

9.03.2019

Science Fiction = science + imagination


When I'm inspired to write a science fiction story, it's almost always because of something I've seen or read in the news. Climate change, new technology, an immune virus, or a controversial change in laws. This is the spark that changes the future, and I wonder where it will take us.

Over a century ago, much of science fiction was written about the far future (500 years or more in the future). It was difficult to see humans in space or how fast the world would change. The genre has evolved, and these days, much of it is written about the near future (50-100 years in our future). We know how fast things can change, and it's frightening.

The rocket of humanity has blasted off, and most people don't see a bright future. Dystopian books are popular, but is this because so many folks have accepted our dismal tomorrow or because they're looking for solutions?

By exploring what is logically possible through science fiction, we can seek out solutions to problems happening in society right now. We may not have the technology or a society which demands that change, but it may inspire people to become scientists or sociologists. Imagination is just as important as science.


8.21.2019

A Review of Familiarity: A Winston and Ruby Collection by Kristine Kathryn Rusch #fantasy #cats #familiars

Winston: A kind and quiet wizard possessed of small magic.
Ruby: A familiar with a big mouth and even bigger heart.

My Review: Winston lives in a small town on the Oregon coast along Highway 101. He runs a small curiosity shop catering to the tourists. The locals know him as "that crazy guy with the cat." The locals do not visit his shop, which makes little money. His real line is a mail order business. He ships potions on a weekly basis all over the United States, Canada, and Europe. He's not rich but it is a living. He has a small magic. And the shop gives him somewhere to go every day, a reason to leave his cottage.

Winston's magic would be nothing without his familiar. He works best with cats and they choose him. (If you live with cats, this won't surprise you.) His familiars also have a lot of attitude and have no problem expressing their opinions and desires in perfect English.

Winston wants to live a quiet life somewhere below the radar and tinker with his potions in the workshop in the back of his store. He used to live in San Francisco but an unpleasant misunderstanding required him to leave quickly. He wants nothing more than to avoid trouble but trouble wanders into his shop on a regular basis.

Familiarity collects five Winston and Ruby stories. “Familiar Territory” tells the tale of how Ruby came to live with Winston and the death of Buster, Winston's former familiar. Buster leaves some odd instructions for his funeral and his spirit sails off in a blaze of glory, literally. In “Saving Face” Winston and Ruby work with a local detective to track down a killer when a woman who visits Winston's shop turns up dead. In “Searching for the Familiar” Winston hears rumors that familiars are going missing and when the rumors become a reality for Ruby, Winston is frantic to find her. “Disaster Relief” tells the story of Ruby's attempt at altruism. She convinces Winston to open their cottage to the magic users and familiars displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In “Un-Familiar” Ruby teams up with a toy poodle-Chihuahua mix. Ruby usually has nothing to do with dogs and she won't tell Winston what's up with the poodle-Chihuahua.

If you love fantasy and you love cats, Familiarity was written for you. The characters are truly charming. My only disappointment is that the collection comes to an end and as far as I know, there aren't any more Winston and Ruby stories.

8.07.2019

Why I Wrote Interstellar Dad

Ever since my days of playing Sims 2, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of aliens visiting us. If you’re at all familiar with the Sims franchise, you know that there is on occasion this chance encounter with aliens, some of whom could very well make your adult male Sims pregnant. It is through this very concept where the idea for my science fiction series, Interstellar Dad, was born. But there are other reasons why I wrote for this universe.




The most important reason of them all is simply this: fertility. Impotence.

When I wrote the first book in what has now evolved into a four-book series (so far), I was coming to terms with the fact that I would probably never be able to pass on my genetic information to offspring. There were some feelings of despair and inadequacy back then, of course.

Then I got to writing about my main character, Andrew Skyes. To him I gave him the desire of wanting to be a dad, just like my own desire. Only, I’d given him a plot twist. I let him encounter aliens in a way not unlike what went down in the Sims franchise. Before Andrew knew it, his life as the Interstellar Dad had finally begun.

Ultimately, I wanted to share with my readers the emotion of hope, of possibility. That sometimes the dream might’ve taken on a different version of itself, but that it was important to continue the chase.

Which I did.

Has your dream ever changed? If so, did you still pursue it?


The four books in the Interstellar Dad series are Interstellar Dad, The Battle at Stellar Daycare, Mass Reproduction, and Impostor Care. I also write fantasy and horror novels too, the latter being the genre of my thirteenth book, Fool’s Blood, currently in the editing phase.

7.23.2019

Book Review of The Bohemian Gospel by Dana Chamblee Carpenter


I chanced onto Dana Chamblee Carpenter’s Bohemian Gospel, part of her Bohemian Trilogy while searching for other novels online, and I’m glad I did. I’ve read the first two books and I’m onto the third, a rare thing for me, as I usually lose interest after the beginning of the second book. It is a dark, historical fantasy that moves back and forth through time, and begins in Thirteenth Century Bohemia. It provides lots of info about old religions, churches and bibles of various types, which might also be a deal-breaker for me, as I am not religious in the typical church-y way. Except it is so interesting!

The trilogy is quite the page-turner. Part of the appeal is Carpenter’s great, quirky characters, and the intensely wrought romance.

A girl simply called Mouse knows no other home than a monastery in Bohemia. And though the priest who cares for her calls her Little Angel, she learns that her father is the Devil himself.

Indeed, she has special powers: of hearing, memory and of healing—both of herself and others. When the young King Ottakar comes to the church badly wounded, she provides healing and intelligent counsel, their bond grows… and grows, to the point of a fierce love. But she has secrets, and he is bound by the parameters of protocol. Even if it includes marrying for tradition, not love.

I highly recommend this series if you like thrills, historical details, deeply wrought characters and intense romantic bonding. I am a third way into the last in the series and it is as good as the first two books.

7.09.2019

UFOs are Real and Everyone Needs to Get Used to the Idea

What? They're no longer relegated to the land of Big Foot? No! Says the Washington Post.


Not a tabloid, but a respectable news organization reported on the reality of UFOs. Although many may be explained by perfectly rational means we have yet to discover, the fact of extraterrestrial activity can not be ruled out.

The US government itself is beginning to actually admit that UFOs exist. Jokes of the current occupants of our institutions aside, this is mind blowing stuff.

Remember that weird obect in space? Oumuamua?



Credible astrophysicists theorized it could be an artificial construction with a solar sail.

We've always wondered whether we're alone, and the answer seems to be no. Is that Ancient Astronauts dude actually right about some stuff? It seems he just might be.

Although I always believed there was other life in the galaxy, this growing evidence gives me chills. If they are aliens, what do they want with us? Why do they find us so interesting? Or, are we a lesson on what not to be? We can't get along with each other, how can we get along with other beings from other worlds?

Are we a roadside attraction for galactic travelers? Are we a science experiment? Do they protect us from other aliens? Have some people actually met them?

Obviously, I have a thousand questions. If you'd like to read the full article from the Washington Post, you can read it HERE.

*****

If any of you visit my site, I have the comments turned off at the moment. This will continue for the next few months. Besides working full time, I'm taking classes to get certified to do medical coding. So, yeah, work and school and everything else. I don't have much free time these days. I squeeze in some writing when I can.

In the meantime, I have a few sales to tell you about:

In honor of the summer solstice and the season of monsters, The Rifters Box Collection: Books 1-3 is on sale for 99c all this month.







It's the summer Smashwords sale! Get your read on!

Until July 31st, get these great discounts!