Thursday, March 25, 2021

Spring '21 Reading List #mystery #apocalypse #zombie

 It's Spring - time for new buds, new growth, and new books! 


I've been seeing some really interesting books out so figured it was time for a new reading list. Enjoy!!

(**See more great books in the Feb. Reading List. All lists are posted in the bar at the top of this blog. All posts may include some affiliate links.)

Anthologies

 
 

After Dinner Conversation,  Season One Short Story Series - Something different, short stories in various genres, sci-fi, dystopian, thriller, horror, and more, that  also include a moral or ethical question for discussion.  

The Book of Extraordinary New Sherlock Holmes Stories - Collection of 15  new stories bring Holmes, Watson and other known characters back to life in new short adventures. 

The Great Filling Station Hold-Up: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Jimmy Buffet - Sixteen short stories by various authors, including Elaine Viets, Robert Randisi, Michael Bracken and others, based on Buffet songs. 

FYI: If you like short stories, get some great, free reads here:

* King's River Life - book reviews, short stories and  the Mystery Rat's Maze podcast

* Mystery Weekly  - monthly magazine, online and print; get a free story, sign up via email

* Mysterical-e - short stories, books and columns; quarterly

* The Infinite Bard - Free sci-fi, fantasy and some horror-tinged tales by assorted authors

Historical

 Strongheart: The Lost Journals of May Dodd and Molly McGill (One Thousand White Women Book 3), Jim Fergus - (Pre-Order, Releases May 4) - After the battle of Little Big Horn, some female survivors decide to take up arms against the United States, which has stolen from the Native Americans their lands, their way of life, their culture and their history. This ghost tribe of rebellious women will soon go underground to wage an implacable battle, which will continue from generation to generation.

 (I discovered book 1, One Thousand White Women a while ago and was mesmerized with the realistic but fictional story of women who go West to intermarry with the Cheyenne. I didn't know the series continued with The Vengeance of Mothers (book 2) and now the sequel.)

Horror

 

Lost in the Never Woods, Aiden Thomas - It’s been five years since Wendy Darling and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into the light. Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, asks for Wendy’s help to rescue the missing kids. But, in order to find them, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods. (Young Adult)

The Horror on the Links: The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, Seabury Quinn - Collection of 93 stories involving monsters, the supernatural and more investigated by the French detective created by Quinn, a prolific contributor to the early Weird Tales magazines. 

The Nightmare Before Dinner Cookbook: Recipes to Die For - Sixty-plus recipes from the Beetlejuice-inspired restaurant in New York City and Los Angeles. Cool idea! How about some Beetle's Juice with your dinner?

Mystery

** Some of these mysteries and short chats with the authors will be in my upcoming Author Snapshot column at Mysterical-e. Stay tuned for when it goes online! 


Death Grip (Angela Richman Death Investigator Mystery Book 4), Elaine Viets -  The ultra-rich know how to avoid a scandal, but Death Investigator Angela Richman is determined to see a killer brought to justice. 

Don't Lie to Me (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 1), Willow Rose - The town is outraged when a 12-year-old camper is found murdered. As FBI Profiler Eva Rae Thomas delves  into the case, she and her old police flame find the case hits too close to home...  

Haunted  Hibiscus (Tea Shop Mystery #22), Laura Childs - What's better than Halloween a little early? The Tea Shop and the town are in full swing as shop owner Theodosia Browing sets off to the grand opening of a literary and historical themed haunted house. Then the Heritage Society's grand-niece is tossed out a window and left dangling by a rope and Theo's police detective  boyfriend is shot by a shadowy intruder. Lots of creepy goings on for the eve of Halloween... 

 

Later, Stephen King - SOMETIMES GROWING UP MEANS FACING YOUR DEMONS - A child born with an unnatural ability his mother urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine when a NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who's threatened to strike from beyond the grave. 

Murder in Miniature (The Miniature Mysteries Book 1), Camille Minichino -  The dollhouse mysteries are being re-released with new covers. Retiree Geraldine Porter finds herself doing more than manning tables at the local show when her friend and a miniature desk go missing, and murders soon follow... 

 

Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (Jessica Fletcher Mystery 53 (Pre-order, Releases June 8), Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran After traveling to Bethesda for a mystery writers’ conference, Jessica Fletcher decides she’s earned a vacation and takes a train to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit an old college friend. But the morning after she arrives, Jessica discovers her friend's third husband, a cut-throat businessman, facedown in the koi pond. Despite what the police think, she’s sure foul play is involved. 

 (Book 2, Debonair in Death, which is set in Cabot Cove, is on pre-order and releases in Nov.) 

 
Murphy's Slaw, An Alaska Diner Mystery 3, Elizabeth Logan  - (Pre-Order, releasesMay 25) In the latest of author Camille Minichino's fun diner mystery series, when a local prize-winning farmer is murdered at the state fair, Charlie Cook gets called in to help investigate, but she’s shocked to learn the victim is a friend.  (Can be read independently or follow the series: Mousse and Murder (1); Book 2, Fishing for Trouble.)

Valentino Will Die (Bianca Dangereuse Hollywood Mystery Book 2), Donis Casey -  Now the greatest silent film star and friend to Hollywood legend Rudolph Valentino, Bianca promises her dying friend she'll find out who's responsible for what looks like a poisoning as Rudy falls deathly ill. (The series, stars with book 1, The Wrong Girl.) * Also, read Casey's interesting take on Hollywood, crime and Capone at CrimeReads.

Zombie

 

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, C.A. Verstraete - Think you know the Lizzie Borden story? You know... Lizzie Borden took an axe.... She was acquitted but... what if she did kill her father and stepmother for a good reason? They'd turned into.... zombies! Follows the real-life events of the trial with some twists!

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall, C.A. Verstraete - The story continues past the trial. Now Lizzie and the citizens of Fall River must battle a new surge of flesh-eaters, this time with a heartbreaking twist: the infected creatures are friends and family, hidden away by their grief-stricken caregivers. When her sister Emma becomes a pawn in the growing war against the undead, Lizzie has no choice but to pick up her axe again. With the help of her charming self-defense instructor, Pierre, she vows to end the horrific zombie menace, once and for all. But can she overcome her personal demons and the rampaging monsters, no matter the cost? NOTE: There are spoilers if you haven't read book 1.

Since the Sirens  (7 book post-apocalyptic set), E.E. Isherwood - Grandmas are the key to survival in this world where the elderly are the ones who can save everyone else from the increasing numbers of zombies... Or start with book 1 alone,  Since the Sirens.

Monday, February 1, 2021

2021 Feb Reading List


 Some interesting new books coming up that I know you'll want to read, so dive right in!

Anthologies

 
 

The 13: Tales of Macabre, Stephanie Ayers - (Book 2 of 4) Who can resist weird, scary short stories with creatures of myth/legend and killer... watermelons? (Free at time of writing.)

Turning the Tied, as in Tied-In fiction  - (Pre-Order, releases March 13) Presented by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, discover favorite characters in new settings in tales that'll will take you through the centuries and from the depths of the ocean to the stars. Includes stories by Tim Waggoner, Jonathan Maberry, Max Allan Collins, Stephen D. Sullivan, and others, edited by Jean Rabe. (* Paperback now available at B&N.)

Fantasy 

Black Heart of the Dragon God, Jean Rabe and Craig Martelle - USA Today Bestselling Author Jean Rabe returns to her fantasy roots! Capturing dragons isn’t a hero’s work, or is it?  The Barber is a reformed pirate. He’s built a town but wants more. Enter Goranth the Mighty, a hero from a different age, a Northman, and a warrior like no other. With nothing less than a dragon as their goal, the adventurers head into the wild. Hope springs when they find a small one, until they realize the challenge is greater than expected. But there’s more: raiders seek to steal what the Barber has fought for. An ancient creature rises from within the earth, and a beautiful enchantress fights to stop her.

Horror 


 Children of Chicago, Cynthia Pelayo - A horrifying retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale set in present-day Chicago. When Detective Lauren Medina sees the calling card at a murder scene in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, she knows the Pied Piper has returned. When another teenager is brutally murdered at the same lagoon where her sister’s body was found floating years before, she is certain that the Pied Piper is not just back, he’s looking for payment he’s owed from her. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.

Dreadful Dark Tales of Horror Book 1, Dean Rasmussen -Three supernatural suspense tales. A delusional, self-righteous serial killer takes care of the “trash” in town, but discovers it’s not so easy to keep it buried. A charismatic stranger entices three down-on-their-luck men to a party only to later reveal his true intentions. After moving into a new house, a brother and sister discover an aging tree in the backyard has a mind of its own. (65 pgs.)

Lilith: Hollywood Monsters, Dana Fredsti - (Pre-order, releases Jan. 11, 2022)  Third in the Lilith series -  Lee Striga is an actress, movie stuntwoman, and demon hunter returning to Los Angeles. Back at the Katz Family stunt ranch she finds animals of all kinds taking refuge on the grounds, and the supernatural creatures who populate Hollywood on edge to the point of violence. People are vanishing without a trace, and clues lead to a legendary mansion famous for its horrible deaths--the location for Lee's next film job. (Start with Book 1,  The Spawn of Lilith.)

Cozy & PI Mystery

 

Lavender Blue Murder, (A Tea Shop Mystery Book 21) , Laura Childs - Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor's lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.

Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (Jessica Fletcher Mystery 53 (Pre-order, Releases June 8), Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran After traveling to Bethesda for a mystery writers’ conference, Jessica Fletcher decides she’s earned a vacation and takes a train to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit her old college friend Dolores, who has recently married her third husband, Willis Nickens, a wealthy and cutthroat businessman. But the morning after she arrives, Jessica discovers Willis facedown in the koi pond, and despite what the police think, she’s sure foul play is involved. 

Murphy's Slaw, An Alaska Diner Mystery 3, Elizabeth Logan  - (Pre-Order, releasesMay 25) In the latest of author Camille Minichino's fun diner mystery series, when a local prize-winning farmer is murdered at the state fair, Charlie Cook gets called in to help investigate, but she’s shocked to learn the victim is a friend.  (Can be read independently or follow the series: Mousse and Murder (1); Book 2, Fishing for Trouble.)

The Last Straw, (The Jigsaw Files Book 4) Sharon Sala - (Pre-order, Releases Feb. 23)  Still reeling after a series of earth-shattering events, a desperate woman hires PI Charlie Dodge of Dodge Investigations to find her missing sister. The head-scratcher of a case is exactly the distraction Charlie and his steadfast partner, Wyrick, need .Charlie knows his partner can handle herself, but when she uncovers a past connection that paints a target on her back, the threat of losing her hits Charlie hard. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep Wyrick safe, but with the clock ticking on a victim they’ve yet to find, it’s only a matter of time before the cold-blooded killer leads them to a deadly end. (See Book 1, The Missing Piece.)

Short Stories

* Grab some scary reads on The Dark Side of Kindle Unlimited through March 2.

 ********

Thriller

Flash Drive, (A Dick Thornby Thriller Book 3), Donald J. Bingle -  (* Get in on the Kickstarter through Feb. 20.) Dick Thornby is not Hollywood's idea of a spy. He's a new kind of spy for a new kind of world. Of course, it's complicated when you're an international spy with a wife, a kid, and a mortgage, but everyone thinks you're really a waste water treatment consultant. And, it's bad when your family finds out about your clandestine life, your wife wants to keep tabs on where you are, and your kid tries to emulate your espionage activities. But, it's downright dangerous for your career, your family, your colleagues, and your prospects of living until retirement when the powers-that-be at the Subsidiary discover you haven't been keeping the secrets you should have.  (Start with Book 1, Net Impact.)

Zombie

 

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, C.A. Verstraete - Think you know the Lizzie Borden story? You know... Lizzie Borden took an axe.... She was acquitted but... what if she did kill her father and stepmother for a good reason? They'd turned into.... zombies! Follows the real-life events of the trial with some twists!

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall, C.A. Verstraete - The story continues past the trial. Now Lizzie and the citizens of Fall River must battle a new surge of flesh-eaters, this time with a heartbreaking twist: the infected creatures are friends and family, hidden away by their grief-stricken caregivers. When her sister Emma becomes a pawn in the growing war against the undead, Lizzie has no choice but to pick up her axe again. With the help of her charming self-defense instructor, Pierre, she vows to end the horrific zombie menace, once and for all. But can she overcome her personal demons and the rampaging monsters, no matter the cost? NOTE: There are spoilers if you haven't read book 1.

Tell Me When I'm Dead, Steven Ramirez - Dave, a recovering alcoholic, wakes up to find his town overrun by zombies. Dave Pulaski wasted his youth getting drunk. When he met Holly, a beautiful, strong-willed woman, he decided to get his life together. Now a plague is decimating the town of Tres Marias. And it turns the victims into shrieking flesh-eaters who hunt. To survive, Dave, Holly, and a small band of soldiers must kill the living as well as the dead. But Dave is this close to drinking again. The vengeful woman he cheated with is after him–and she’s no longer human. The ravening hordes are swelling. And the beleaguered military forces are outnumbered. How can anyone live through this?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

#Paranormal #SciFi Books: Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Series

See update below. Also two new books are coming out later in the year! See full list below.

 This year's goal: making my way through the 15 books in author Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, magical/paranormal retellings of classic fairy tales. And in case you're wondering, plenty of ghosts, eerie events and such to keep paranormal people happy!
 
I read book 1, The Serpent's Shadow, years ago and somehow don't know why I never read further. But I always remembered the book made an impression on me. I now know why as these are addictive! Great characters, magic, paranormal elements and more. 

******************************

I  also just finished The Gates of Sleep, (book 2 in the series). Now that I'm hooked on this series, I'm trying to read from the beginning though I also wanted to get  back to the later books with Holmes/Watson. The Elemental Masters series centers on classic fairy tales with a fantasy/paranormal/magical twist. This one made me think of Sleeping Beauty, which it is apparently based on.

 Marina is taken from her loving "adoptive" parents after the mysterious death of her parents into the home of her evil aunt. She soon finds that dark magic is tied to the family even as her aunt tries to reactive the ages-old evil curse she put on the baby Marina. 

REVIEW: Again, great paranormal elements, fascinating characters and dark history woven in, but the problem with this one is a lot of back story and description, with the real crux of the story not really showing up until a quarter way in. The book gets really interesting later, but it takes a while to get to the more magical and darker parts of the story. I still enjoyed it and was glad how it turned out in the end.

 Next, I wanted to continue the Holmes story so I'm reading book 14, The Case of the Spellbound Child. (It seems okay to read the books out of order, but I've since learned that a couple of these are continuations with stronger connections so I am reading  A Study in Sable (#11) as well. It turns out this I started mistakenly reading these out of order and backwards, but it hasn't ruined the enjoyment of the stories.)

* The Elemental Masters Series: (* marked as read)

 
 

* NOTE: Apparently when this series began, there was another book published originally by Baen Books. Amazon still lists it as the first book as well, so I added the cover and link here. (I'm excited as that gives me another book in the series to read. I don't want it to end!)

1. The Fire Rose - A Beauty and Beast kind of tale. A medieval scholar is hired to read ancient manuscripts, in near-forgotten dialects. Her employer's interest is anything but academic as he seeks something to correct a misfired spell.

-------------------
 
The Serpent's Shadow, A reimagining of Snow White set in India in Edwardian England.

The Gates of Sleep, After the mysterious death of  her parents, Marina is taken into the care of her aunt, who exudes a dark evil and is set on destroying the girl she cursed as a baby. Based on Sleeping Beauty.

3  Phoenix and Ashes, A dark take on the Cinderella story when after the death of her father, Eleanor Robinson comes under the care of an evil stepmother who performs a dark ritual tying the girl to the home's hearth.

  
 * 4 The Wizard of London, In this dark retelling of The Snow Queen, 12-year-old Sarah Jane Lyon-White is in need of more training and protection when her teacher in charge of training those with "special" talents learns a powerful Elemental Master wants Sarah dead because of her rare skills as a true medium. (Their story continues in book 11.)

5 Reserved for the Cat, Unknown to Ninette Dupond, a dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet, a magical cat sent to protect her is actually an Elemental Spirit. As she follows the suggestion to impersonate a Russian ballerina, she doesn't know the spirt of the real balleina has been absorbed by a dark spirit bent on the dancer's destruction.

6 Unnatural Issue,  (I'm looking on Goodreads to figure out some of the fairy tales these are based on. This apparently is based on Donkeyskin, a French fairy tale by Charles Perrault first published in 1695, whose queen asks the King to marry someone more beautiful than her after she dies.) In this retelling, the reclusive Kng Richard Whitestone wants nothing to do with his daughter, Sarah, also an Earth Master who lives in another wing of the castle after his wife died in childbirth. Richard increasingly becomes obsessed with bringing his wife back to life through necromancy. He needs an appropriate vessel - like the daughter who's the image of her mother.

 

* 7  Home From The Sea,  (Someone on Goodreads mentioned this is a part sequel to The Wizard of Londonand introduces a grown-up Nan and Sarah.) Mari Prothero turns 16 and learns her family's fishing luck depends on each generation marrying a sea-dweller. (Is this based on the Greek tales of Poseidon perhaps or?) 

8  Steadfast, (A Goodreads comment mentions it's a "loose" retelling of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a Hans Christian Anderson tale of a soldier's love for a Russian ballerina.) A circus performer, Katie Langford loses her parents in a fire and later flees an abusive marriage.  She soon learns she's a Fire Master, but something has blocked her powers. The doorman, also a Fire Master and a "steadfast" man, tries to help her before her Element blazes out of control.

9 Blood Red, Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Rosamund, an Earth Master, was rescued by her adoptive papa after her teacher was murdered by werewolves. Rosa agrees to help two Hungarian magicians investigating a string of murders. But she doesn't know one is a hereditary werewolf, and there is a third kind that can transform themselves at will. 

              

10 From A High Tower, In this retelling of Rapunzel, Giselle a young Air Master has been isolated for the sake of herself and others. When a young man tries to climb into her window, she's saved by her mother, an Earth Master. When she's 20, she cuts her hair and enters shooting competitions to support herself, but wonders if that man, whose body was never found, will come back to attack her. Certain his magic saved him, is she prepared to stand against him.

* 11 A Study in Sable, This book introduces Sherlock Holmes and the Watsons to the series. Working with Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, (see book 4) since leaving school., psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have a new assignment - to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street next to the famous Mr. Holmes. Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary, themselves Elemental Masters of Water and Air, take the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains. Now they'll need every skill to confront and eliminate the mysterious and deadly entity that nearly killed them as children: the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square. 

* 12 A Scandal in Battersea, Christmas is a special time for Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki, who are determined to celebrate it properly.  It is special for their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters, who have found great delight in the season seeing it through young Suki’s eyes. It's also special for dark forces... As women and girl begin disappearing and others go mad, they and the Watsons called to examine the victims find it'll take their combined powers, magic and the greatest detective to stop the powers of darkness.  (* A sequel to book 11.)

 

13  The Bartered Brides, Mercedes Lackey -  Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson (and his wife) are also Elemental Masters who help two other Masters/Sleuths when girls keep disappearing and others are found dead. This has a strange paranormal link to Holmes' old nemesis, Professor Moriarty. 

* 14 The Case of the Spellbound Child, The opening line makes you wonder: Alf grinned as he pushed open the whorehouse door into the damp London night. This one also involves Holmes (still presumed dead) and the Watsons, and children missing in the Dartmoor bog. 

15  Jolene,  new release.  The latest in noted sci fi/fantasy author Mercedes Lackey's offerings, Jolene, offers a slight twist on the Dolly Parton song of the same name, with the unusual paranormal and magical elements she's known for.

This, #15 and the latest in her Elemental Masters series, which reimagines classic fairy tales, centers on a retelling of the Queen of the Copper Mountain and is set in America for the first time. Set around Tennessee's coal mines, the story centers on a poor girl Anna May who's sent to live with her aunt, the local herbal, "witchy" woman. Anna May works on developing her magical powers even as she falls in love with the local stone mason, who also has caught the eye of the mysterious and magical Jolene. 

REVIEW: Great story and characters, though the heavy use of dialect for Anna May was hard to read and had me skipping over those parts. But it's a great story. 

** Coming out later this year!

 
16. The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley, (Pre-Order. Publishes Dec. 14.)  Annie Oakley has always suspected there is something "uncanny" about herself, but has never been able to put a name to it. But when Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show goes on tour through Germany, Bill temporarily hires a new sharpshooter to be part of his "World Wide Congress of Rough Riders": a woman named Giselle, who also happens to be an Elemental Master of Air. Alongside this new performer, Annie discovers that she and her husband, Frank, are not simply master marksman, but also magicians of rare ability.

Also publishing later this year:
 

Briarheart (Pre-order. Publishes Oct. 5)  A teen version of an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. (See Book 2 above, The Gates of Sleep, in the series.) She's the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King's Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she's ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora's christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam's dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.