Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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

 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!

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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. Love this series and glad I came back to it as I remember being so impressed with the first book,  The Serpent's Shadow, years ago. I don't know how I failed to get back to this series. I'm thrilled to begin reading it again and glad I'll have a long series to keep reading!

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)


 
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. (Reading next.)

15  Jolene,  new release. See top of this post. 

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

What I'm Reading: Mercedes Lackey' & #SherlockHolmes #Sci Fi #Fantasy #paranormal

Yes, I do read other things. I'm kind of zombie-d out at the moment, so I got back into some other genres. 

It's been a while since I discovered Mercedes Lackey's fantastic paranormal series. I read book 1,  The Serpent's Shadow, years ago. I don't know how I failed to get back to this series. I'm thrilled to begin reading it again and glad I'll have a long series (15 books!) to read through.

So that's one of the 2021 goals...

While you can read the books out of order, some do interconnect with characters. Amusingly (or not!), it turns out I read several books backwards not realizing there was a sequel involved until I read some of the comments on Goodreads. So, I'm kind of catching up.

Interestingly, most of the series is based on retellings of classic fairy tales, though a few of the middle and later books involve Sherlock Holmes, his sidekick. Dr. John Watson and Watson's wife, Mary, who also are Elemental Master/Magicians. There also are two interesting women who are instrumental, recurrent characters, one a medium, one a psychic with their specially-trained  and magical raven and parrot.

* I also read her latest, book 15,  Jolene, which I'll include a short review in the follow-up post.

Here's a few I've read and am reading with the Holmes stories. (* marked as read.)

              

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.  (Reading now.)

 12 A Scandal in BatterseaChristmas 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.) (Read)

 

13  The Bartered Brides, 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. (Also started reading.)





Thursday, December 31, 2020

HAPPY 2021!

 


Thanks for reading and visiting during the year. May the next year be healthy, happy and full of better things for everyone! 

Come back later for more reviews, books and whatever else I can think up!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Alternate History #Paranormal Review: Mercedes Lackey

 

 The Bartered Brides, Mercedes Lackey -  (Book 13 in a magical alternate history series.) The writer stuck with me for years after I read one of her books, (I don't remember which, but the cover to the first book in the series, The Serpent's Shadow seems familiar), but it wasn't until now that I read one again. I picked up this book and realized why I enjoyed her writing, and wonder why I waited so long?!

The book is so smooth, interesting characters, unique paranormal elements. The combination of classic characters like Sherlock Holmes and the Watsons with magic skills and paranormal spirits was totally believable and added some unique elements to the book. There are some strange but intriguing moments in this book. I love the birds, too!

I was looking for another series to read and can't wait to make my way through the other books. The latest, Jolene, (book 15)  is next, so I hope it's as good and then I can go back to the earlier books.

 (Somehow I skipped over book 14, The Case of the Spellbound Child, which sounds interesting. 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 and the Watsons, and children missing in the Dartmoor bog.)

About The Bartered Brides:

Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, Sherlock Holmes, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty’s network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hires the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens.

The more bodies emerge, the more the gang suspects that there is dangerous magic at work, and that Moriarty’s associates are somehow involved. But as they race against the clock to uncover the killer, it will take all their talents, Magic, and Psychic Powers—and perhaps some help from a dearly departed friend—to bring the murderer to justice.
 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

#Scary #Christmas Advent Calendar #Horror

 How'd  I miss this?


Daily creepy and scary stories per day in this Sinister Advent Calendar

It's up until Jan. 6 so get reading!


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

November Black Friday Reading List! #horror #zombie #crime

 

Been seeing some neat books lately so figured I'd put together a Black Friday and Thanksgiving Reading List. It's always fun to discover new books and authors I wouldn't know about, too, except for others' recommendations. Enjoy some great deals!! Have a great holiday and be safe!

Anthologies:


 Hellcats  Anthology - Sixty-nine stories of feline adventure, from Mr. Darcy to Hunter S. Thompson as a cat. Including with stories by various authors including "Lead Me Not Into Temptation" by Craig Martelle. (Great concept!)

Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Songs of the '60s - This is a fun concept if you like '60s music! Twenty-three stories by assorted authors,including "It Ain't Me Babe" by Terrie Farley Moran and "Suspicious Minds" by John M. Floyd. Peace, love, and harmony were the goals. Meditation, mysticism, and psychedelic drugs were the way to enlightenment. Peace, love, and crime were often the result, sometimes humorous, sometimes deadly. 

* Black Friday - 99 cent specials: * 

Black Friday & Thanksgiving specials! Nov. 24-31.

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* All genres, Black Friday Book Blast!

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Black Friday - Cyber Monday sale to 12/1.

Fantasy & Sci Fi

Ghosts

 The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie's Borden's Fall River, C. A. Verstraete (On sale, 99 cts.!) - A ghostly mystery/love story companion novella to Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter from the viewpoint of Lizzie's doctor and neighbor, Dr. Seabury Bowen. Bowen was the first official on the horrific axe murder scene in 1892 of Borden's father and stepmother. 143 pgs.

Holiday Horror 

 
Holiday Horror Collection: Flash Fiction Anthologies, Eleanor Merry, Cassandra Angler, Brian Scutt - Killer Easter bunnies to a malicious Santa and more. Five different holidays with over 500 flash fiction stories. 

 Murder Machinery & Snowflakes, A Trio of Festive Terror, Mark Cassell - Three holiday-themed short stories that put the red in your Christmas stocking. (Great title!) 

Horror

Sci-Fi and Horror Specials through Dec. 25

 

Ink , Jonathan Maberry - Tattoo-artist Patty Cakes has her dead daughter’s face tattooed on the back of her hand. Day by day it begins to fade, taking with it all of Patty’s memories of her daughter. All she’s left with is the certain knowledge she has forgotten her lost child. The awareness of that loss is tearing her apart. Something is out there. Something cruel and evil is feeding on the memories, erasing them from the hearts and minds of people like Patty and Monk and others.

Pestilence, Breathe If You Dare, Brian L. Porter - English countryside, 1958. The idyllic village of Olney St. Mary has stood in its peaceful location for over 900 years. Until one day, when two teenage boys are struck by a mysterious illness. The newly arrived Doctor Hilary Newton suspects a common flu to be the cause of their malady. Before long, the doctor and residents of Olney St. Mary are plunged into a nightmare, as the disease ravages the local population. Despite the doctors employing the latest medicine available, the death toll keeps rising. Someone in the village knows the reason behind the pestilence that has struck at the heart of the village, but can the medics learn the truth before it’s too late, or will they join the growing list of names that appear on the death roll in Olney St. Mary?

The Good House: A Novel, Tananarive DueThe house Angela Toussaint's late grandmother owned is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But is it? Angela hoped her grandmother's famous "healing magic" could save her failing marriage while she and her family lived in the old house the summer of 2001. Instead, an unexpected tragedy ripped Angela's family apart. With the help of Myles Fisher, her high school boyfriend, and clues from beyond the grave, Angela races to solve a deadly puzzle that has followed her family for generations. She must summon her own hidden gifts to face the timeless adversary stalking her in her grandmother's house -- and in the Washington woods.

The Water Shed, Suzanne Madron -After receiving an impossible phone call, Sam returns to old stomping grounds to discover who - or what - is calling from beyond the confines of an old property. (Short fiction, 42 pgs.) 

Magical Realism

Defying Gravity, Jack Wallen - Wil Jackson's dream is about to come true. Broadway. Playing the Emcee in "Cabaret". Willkommen to the world of professional theater, where the blinding lights of the stage transcend time and give life new meaning. When the soul-healing joy of creation breaks the bonds of reality, nothing is what it seems.

Mystery

 
If Wishes Were Dragons: A DragonEye PI Story, Karina Fabian When Vern's gaming friends find a genie's lamp, they wish for a real-life adventure - and boy, do they get it! Vern's party is transported to Faerie to fight monsters, crawl dungeons, rescue fair maidens...and deal with some of Vern's old schemes that have come back to bite him in the tail. Vern even gets his secret wish fulfilled when he sees his dragon kin for the first time in centuries. But the genie is not what he seems. The Wish World is the real-world Faerie of Vern's past...and their adventure is no game. Book 2 in the DragonEye PI series.

No Good Deed, Victoria Pitts Caine - Jessa Fisher grew up in the small mountain community of MontaƱa Verde, but when she and her fellow detective, Eric Lane, are assigned to a murder case she begins to question what she knows about the town’s inhabitants. Is her current case linked to multiple deaths spanning decades? What are the connections, and who holds the answers? As she unravels these secrets, she’s inspired to look into the mysterious disappearance of her great-grandmother.


The Haunting of Bechdel Mansion, Roger Hayden - A young couple move into their dream home only to find a dark presence lurking from within. For Curtis and Mary, the small town of Redwood, Indiana seems too good to be true. Everything is perfect, including the Victorian mansion they purchased at a great price. But they soon experience terrifying supernatural encounters tied to the deadly secrets of an unsolved mass murder. Can they solve the mystery in time? Or will they face the same doomed fate as the tenants who came before them?

The Highway, CJ Box - Watchng the TV series. Pretty good though I see the book is different, which isn't a surprise but then makes it worth reading. Private investigators search for two missing girls and a killer in Montana. 

Women's Fiction

Deceiving Elvera, Peg Herring  - (Pre-Order, releases Dec. 4) A tale of friendship, love, loss ,and the transformative power of helping others spanning the decades from the 1960s to the present. A ship's steward on a cruise in Thailand vows to succeed in helping the difficult Elvera where others have failed.  The more steward Michael learns of Miss E’s past, the more he suspects that she harbors a host of secrets, (including people smuggling) even in her seventh decade and despite functional limitations and constant pain. Getting to know Miss E brings Michael to a reckoning with his own past, which brings them both to a suspenseful situation and a shocking conclusion.

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.

 

The Underclass, Dan Weatherer - In a world where the rules of death suddenly no longer apply, thirty-something Lee Callows, prepares for the greatest day of his largely uneventful life: promotion to the first rung of middle management. However, his (after) life takes an unexpected turn when he is involved in a fatal road traffic accident on his way to work. Yet his death is the least of his problems!

Zombie Jig and Jive, Karla Brading - For fun, a children's book with seven "blood-curdling" short stories of ghosts on the moon, to zombie best friends and more!


Zombie Mermaids from the Deep,  Chris B -  In 2113., nations under the control of GlobalCore nations have united to feed the masses and protect the elites inside gated cities from the undead virus, dubbed Zbola. Outside the walls, those who are able-body seek safety against raging weather and changing landscape. When destiny meets prophecy, a band of Outsiders clash with a group of Insiders on their way to the coast where they find worse creatures crawling ashore turning tropical dreams into a biting nightmare.