Mike Gleason

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Smashwords book reviews by Mike Gleason

  • Harm None: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012
    (no rating)
    Harm None (Book One in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M. R. Sellars © 2000 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) Mr. Sellars writes from experience, that much is obvious from the very first pages of this book. Of course, in the “Author’s Note” before the start of the book he makes it clear that what follows is a fictionalized story, but that much of the information is factual. I can agree with that, even if I don’t see eye-to-eye with him. Anyone who has been in the Craft for any length of time will recognize these truths. Previous reviewers have compared Rowan Gant to Mercedes Lackey’s “Diana Tregarde” and I have to agree with them. The story is told crisply and efficiently. The hero is very human in that he struggles to find the answers and blames himself when he fails to live up to his own expectations (while reminding others not to do the same thing). By the end of this, the first book in the series, he finds himself cast in a role which he had not anticipated. He finds that his religious beliefs have made even deeper inroads into his day-to-day existence than he had thought. He finds his mundane job of protecting others’ computer systems has prepared him for a job of protecting other members of the Craft. He and his wife, Felicity, help to solve a series of murders and then have to assume the leadership of a coven left suddenly leaderless. He finds himself going from relative obscurity to being a police consultant. He confronts prejudice and manages to change a few perceptions. It doesn’t happen instantly, it isn’t total, and it comes with hidden costs. As an introduction to a new series, I found it entertaining. It lays the groundwork and makes you want to see more of Mr. Gant. It is well worth the money and effort to add this book to your fiction collection. If you enjoy good mysteries, add this to your list of books to read.
  • Never Burn A Witch: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    Never Burn a Witch (Book Two in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M.R. Sellars © 2001 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) Rowan Gant is back. And his life hasn’t improved markedly since we last saw him. He is still reliving his experiences from the first book; still recovering from the miscarriage of his child; and still trying to convince members of the Police Department in St. Louis that Wiccans are not involved in “,,,lurid orgies by the light of the full moon for the purpose of spawning demon children.” I commented in my previous review (Harm None) that earlier reviewers had compared Rowan Gant to Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde. I said then that I agreed with them, but I feel that Gant, in several ways, surpassed Ms. Tregarde. Of course the author of this series has a few things in his favor that Ms. Lackey did not have. First and foremost is the explosion of interest in Forensics and “Crime TV” on the cable networks. There is an atmosphere of acceptance that was not present before. Secondly, there is an indefinable appeal that Rowan Gant exudes that was missing with Diana Tregard. If you have not read these books; if you enjoy Pagan/Wiccan friendly fiction for adults; if you are willing to look beyond the shelves of your local mega-bookstore, do yourself a favor and buy these books. Use Amazon.com, do a Google search to find out where else you can find them, but buy these books. It is such a pleasure to read adult fiction from an author who knows modern-day Wicca, that I find it hard to recommend these books too much. There will be things you won’t agree with; Gods know I’ve got a couple of issues with Mr. Sellars’ views. Don’t let that stop you from reading these books and enjoying them.
  • Perfect Trust: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    Perfect Trust (Book Three in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M. R. Sellars © 2002 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) Book Three of the Rowan Gant Investigations picks up where Book Two (Never Burn a Witch) left off. Actually, it picks up a bit before Book Two ends One of the things I like about Mr. Sellars’ writing style is that it is a first-person narrative. You get to see and experience things from Rowan’s point of view. Another thing that I really enjoy is that his characters are all too obviously human. They are fully believable, short-tempered, loving, caring individuals. If that sounds contradictory to you, it sounds real to me. I may not live in St. Louis; I may not be in the software development field; I may not have a homicide detective as my best friend, but I can easily identify with, and relate to, his characters. I may not be them, but I certainly know them. As is to be expected, each case Rowan finds himself drawn into reveals the inner workings of each of the main characters in greater depth. This is maintained along with the ability of each story to stand on its own. It is nice to have read the preceding books, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. This particular story finds Rowan questioning his own sanity for a number of reasons. This is something which many Witches can identify with, I am sure. We experience moments when we question the validity of our own experiences and wonder if, perchance, we are losing it. This case is a first for Rowan in several ways. For one thing, his ability to control his spiritual operations (for lack of a better description) is severely compromised. For another, his treatment by entities that have crossed over is unique in his experience. And then, there is the fact that this is his third involvement in this sort of activity within the past twelve months. Any one of those factors would be enough to keep one off-balance. All three of them are just a bit too much, even for someone raised in the Craft. Rowan Gant is no super-human hero. He is beset by all the emotions shared by the rest of the human race. Although he subscribes to the Wiccan Rede, even that is not an absolute. When his wife is endangered, he desires vengeance and is not above homicidal thoughts. It is enjoyable watching Rowan, Felicity, and all the other major characters in this series grow and develop. Each book in the series has been a real pleasure to read. I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon.
  • The Law Of Three: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    The Law of Three (Book Four in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M. R. Sellars © 2003 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) As Book Four in the series of Rowan Gant Investigations opens a living nightmare from Rowan’s recent past is back. It has been less than two years since a self-appointed “witch hunter” tried to kill Rowan, and was presumed to have died during that attempt. Rowan never believed he had died, and he was proven right. Now their lives are set to intersect once again. It has been a hectic couple of years for Rowan. He has had to deal with the death of fellow Witches and Pagans; his own sense of disconnectedness had to be addressed; his wife was kidnapped; six young women had been killed, and that didn’t even count the necessity of maintaining his family life and keeping up with his work in software design. But, a new year has dawned, and there is nowhere to go but up, right? Then a man is found executed, a man Rowan knows. Rowan got started in all these investigations because a former student of his, currently High Priestess of a coven, had been the first victim of the “witch hunter”. Now one of her students has been executed, a young man Rowan and his wife, Felicity, have worked in circle with after the death of the young lady in question. It has come full circle. This book explores in great depth the workings of the relationship between the “witch hunter” and the forces of his delusion. Eldon Porter, the aforesaid “witch hunter”, sees Rowan Gant as the “leader” of the conspiracy by Satan in the St. Louis area. He won’t be content with Rowan’s death, but is convinced that it will make it easier for him to carry out “God’s work”. We see more of Rowan Gant’s interactions with local and federal law enforcement groups, including his butting heads with a local office who epitomizes the idea of an intolerant Bible-thumper. He receives some unexpected support in his confrontation with her. We also get to see some more of his wife’s Irish temper. The book ends with a cliff-hanger ending, thus preparing us to move swiftly forward into the fifth book in the series, Crone’s Moon.
  • Crone's Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    Crone’s Moon (Book Five in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M. R. Sellars © 2004 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) Crone’s Moon picks up the Rowan Gant narrative immediately after the conclusion of The Law of Three. There has been no time for attitudes to change or for tempers to cool and that is, most definitely, not a good thing. He has seen his arch-nemesis (and self-appointed “witch hunter”) Eldon Andrew Porter arrested and found a new opponent in Lieutenant Barbara (“Bible Barb” or “B.B.”) Albright, who is almost as offended by Rowan’s religion as Mr. Porter and worse (for Rowan, at least) she has a badge to back up her prejudices. The fact that Rowan was responsible for an Internal Affairs investigation targeting her has not improved their relationship at all. Lieutenant Albright finds herself ordered to bring Rowan in to assist with investigating another case of a serial killer. Her dislike, no let’s be honest here, her hatred of him and his wife notwithstanding, she is in a position where she has no choice in the matter. This does nothing to improve her attitude regarding the “…damnable Satan worshippers…” and their friends, Detective Ben Storm and FBI Special Agent Constance Mandalay. The case is ultimately solved, but at a horrendous cost to Rowan and Felicity. This series is well worth reading and enjoying.
  • Love Is The Bond: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    Love Is The Bond (Book Six in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M. R. Sellars © 2005 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) In my last review (of Book 5 in the series, Crone’s Moon) I said that the advantage of having missed this series for as long as I has was that I didn’t have to wait for each sequel. The disadvantage to getting them all at once is the same. This series, by M. R. Sellars, is composed of well-written, authentic, and compelling page-turning stories. To give you an idea of just how compelling they are – I started Book One (Harm None) on a Thursday morning and finished Book Six (this book) on the following Sunday evening (less than 96 hours later). Granted, I didn’t have much else going on, but better than 2000 pages in 96 hours is pretty compelling stuff. I could have stopped at any time, I just didn’t want to. This book marks a departure in Mr. Sellars’ style. Instead of picking up his narrative where he left off in The Law of Three, he has allowed two years to elapse since we last saw Felicity and Rowan Gant, which is one more example (in my opinion) of the realism he brings to this series. Nobody exists at the frenzied pace of Rowan Gant’s life in the first several books without suffering burnout or worse. There have to be periods of decompression, and this has obviously been one such period.. As with all good series, we continue to learn more of the “back story” of the major characters. Some of what we learn is totally unexpected. Who would have suspected what lay in Felicity’s past? Some of it is merely interesting. But all of it helps us to develop more of a feel for these people. For the past four years Rowan Gant has channeled entities that exist on other planes of existence. His wife, Felicity, has done so as well. This time Felicity ties in to something which is far too powerful to be dealt with on her own, and Rowan doesn’t seem to be able to help her. The lines blur between Felicity and the spirit she is channeling. Although she is a Witch, as is Rowan, she has little protection when she is ridden (even if it is second-hand) by a Lwa. Her link to the Lwa’s actual “horse” removes her a bit from the full force of possession, but not far enough for her own abilities to offer her any protection. Not only are Rowan and his friend Detective Storm looking for her, so are large numbers of police officers, as well as at least a few FBI agents. Of course those who don’t know her (the vast majority of the searchers) are only looking for an armed fugitive. And then there is “Bible Barb” Albright, who would love nothing so much as an excuse to lock up one of those “spawn of Satan.” I’ll say no more about the plot. In fact I will simply say that this is another work by M. R. Sellars which will sweep you up in its current and carry you along rapidly to its conclusion. I seriously suggest that you NOT start this book if you don’t have time, at the least, to read large chunks of it in one sitting. You won’t want to put it down once you start, and will probably exhibit impatience if you have to stop reading it for very long
  • All Acts Of Pleasure: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    All Acts of Pleasure (Book Seven in the Rowan Gant Investigations) by M. R. Sellars © 2006 Willow Tree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) I have an almost iron-clad rule when it comes to reviewing books. Unless a review is time-sensitive, or I have a particular request for a review, books get reviewed in the order I receive them. This book almost made me break my own rule. I had just started reading another book, when an Advanced Reader’s Copy of All Acts of Pleasure arrived in my mail box. I have thoroughly enjoyed the “Rowan Gant Investigations” series to date, so I almost jumped right into this one. Then I decided, “No, I’ll do the other review first and I can have this one for dessert in a few days.” This book, the second in what is being called “The Miranda Trilogy”, picks up where the previous book left off. If you have not read (at least) that book in this series (Love is the Bond), you are going to be playing catch-up throughout much of the first part of this book. I’ll try to help you out a bit, but trust me – you need to read Love is the Bond to fully appreciate this book. Rowan Gant is a consultant for the St. Louis (Missouri) Police Department Major Case Squad. His wife Felicity is a professional photographer, who sometimes freelances for the police department as a crime scene photographer. Rowan is a computer security consultant and programmer. He communicates psychically with people who have, usually, died a violent death. His wife has now been implicated in at least one (and possibly two or more) violent deaths and an assault. She was apparently possessed by a Voodoo Lwa at the time. Oh, did I forget to mention that both Rowan and Felicity are Wiccan? And that one of the senior officers on the Major Case Squad is a fundamentalist Christian who is looking for an excuse to lock up either or both of them. And that…well, you get the idea. So read the previous book(s) already! I read the first six books in this series about nine and a half months ago, so I was fully expecting to feel slightly out of the story for a bit, but as soon as I started reading, I was right back in the flow and felt as if I had just pout down the previous volume. That impressed me more than almost anything. There is a flow and a believability to these stories which make it seem less like a novel and more like friends sitting down to catch up on what has been happening in their lives. Although you could never consider the events related in this book as common-place, to someone in the occult community they have a distinct tang of the possible. The one disadvantage to these stories (and this one in particular) is that it really isn’t possible to set it down and walk away from it for any length of time. I enjoy well-written fiction; I like to savor it, but this story grabbed me and dragged me along. Any attempt at reading a little at a time was doomed to failure. The Lwa inhabiting the killer’s body is also capable of affecting Felicity is a similar way. Why this is happening is the sixty four thousand dollar question. Sure, Felicity is a Witch, but she has never been involved with Voodoo. Some of the evidence found at the crime scenes implicates Felicity’s sister. The only problem is that she doesn’t have a sister and never has. I won’t spoil the story by giving any more details. Suffice it to say that, as well as being a “whodunit” this is also a “WHO? dunnit?” As always, my regret with this book is that I will have to wait until 2007 for The End of Desire, the final book in the “Miranda Trilogy,” and book number eight in the Rowan Gant Investigations series.
  • The End Of Desire: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    The End of Desire by M. R. Sellars © 2007 WillowTree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) Once again we get to slide into Rowan Gant’s world…a world of psychics and Witches; of police and professional photographers; of things that not only go bump in the night, but which can bump you in the night. Rowan is the Witch (as is his wife, Felicity), his friend Ben is the police, and Felicity is the professional photographer as well as a channel for the things that go bump in the night. I have been a fan of this series since I was turned on to it by a request from a reader of my reviews a few years ago. And the “Miranda trilogy”, of which this is the concluding installment has maintained the high quality of story-telling I have come to expect from Mr. Sellars. Oh, the magick is a bit over the top, and the Witchcraft owes a (very) small debt to Hollywood as well as a larger one to the Pagan community, but overall this I one of the most realistic series dealing with the topic of Witchcraft to come along, ever. Rowan begins this book far from his native turf. He is in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. His wife and High Priestess, Felicity, is in a mental ward in St. Louis as a result of (take your pick): a disembodied spirit, a Vodoun Lwa, or a major psychotic break. Rowan is searching for information which will help him to help her. Unfortunately, Felicity is the logical half of this couple, and Rowan finds himself in deep trouble almost from the moment he lands in New Orleans. As with the previous books (and this is #8 in the series), the action catches you and sweeps you along. Once you start reading, it becomes difficult to put the book down. The images are crisp and so realistic that you have no trouble visualizing what is happening. In fact, that fast pacing, is one disadvantage to reading these books. It is hard to take the time to savor them. It normally takes me four days or so to read and review a book. The Rowan Gant books never take me more than two days each. Even though this is the end of the Miranda trilogy, I can’t help feeling that we will encounter her again. The ending was a trifle too quick and clean, something that seldom happens to Rowan and Felicity. I know there are more books forthcoming in the series, so I wouldn’t take bets on what is coming up.
  • Chasing The Rainbow: Facilitating A Pagan Festival Without Losing Your Mind on Feb. 19, 2012

    Chasing the Rainbow by Tish Owen © 2007 WillowTree Press eBook $6.99 (U.S.) Okay, how many of you have ever attended a Pagan festival? Okay, how many of those have felt “I could do a better job of running a festival?” Want to bet? Do you think these things grow organically? Just plant the seed of an idea and it will all come together. Sure it will…and if you believe that I have some ocean-front property in Arizona I want to unload. I started reading this book and was immediately transported to some of the festivals I attended years ago, during the infancy of the festival movement. Admittedly, it has been years since I have been able to attend, but I definitely could sympathize with some of the events she related. My first experience of festival attendance was an over-nighter in the Midwest and everything went perfectly (except for the biker gang that wanted to have a “witch hunt”). We managed to survive that encounter without any bloodshed and only a few hangovers in the morning. Tish offers plenty of suggestions and personal experiences to illustrate the joys, and sorrows, of running a festival. She writes in a friendly, easy to understand style. This book is one that has needed writing for quite a while. I am gratified that it has finally made its way into print. No, I don’t plan to run a festival, but I really feel that the festival-going Pagan community needs to know what goes into make a festival happen. Of course, there are some things at any festival that you will not be happy with. Maybe this will inspire you to offer constructive suggestions, and perhaps even cause you to volunteer your time and experience to make the next festival more enjoyable for all. After reading this book you will, I hope, have more understanding of what the festival organizers have gone through in order to attract you, your friends, and all those VIPs to the festival. And you will, I sincerely hope, take the time to express your appreciation to those individuals.
  • Utterly Wicked: Curses, Hexes & Other Unsavory Notions on Feb. 19, 2012

    Utterly Wicked by Dorothy Morrison © 2007 WillowTree Press eBook $6.99 What a delightfully honest approach Ms. Morrison takes in this book. “This is not a book” as she clearly states in the introduction, “for those who believe that life can be lived without ever harming anyone. This is not a book for those who are overly concerned with Karma, the Threefold Law, and the Golden Rule. Nor is it a book for the squeamish, the straight-laced, or the easily offended.” I think that pretty much sets the tone of the book. This book is guaranteed to offend a large segment of the Pagan population, and that is before they even open the cover. It will be attractive to a smaller number solely based on the title. It really isn’t aimed at either of those two segments. It is aimed at those Pagans who are willing to accept responsibility for their actions; those who are willing to realize that sometimes others cause their problems, but sometimes they are the cause themselves; and those who are willing to acknowledge the difference. While I, personally, am not really fond of dealing with entities and divinities with which you are not fully familiar, I recognize that I am in a minority in this position. This I, personally, would not recommend making invocations and offerings to the Orisha Oya, as Ms. Morrison recommends, until you have a deep understanding of her, I recognize that as a personal bias. So long as you deal with her respectfully, as the author stress, you SHOULD be all right. Just be aware that Oya’s energy tends to be more primal than many people are used to. As I, personally, subscribe to the idea that cursing and curing are opposite sides of the same coin, I have no problems with this particular book. And since I fully endorse taking charge of one’s life and owning one’s actions, I truly believe that sometimes one must stand up for one’s self and decide that enough is enough. Her hexes and curses are easily do-able. She doesn’t include any obscure, hard-to-find ingredients. Plus I like the fact that she includes instructions for breaking and undoing your hex if (hard as it may be to believe) you discover that you made a mistake in identifying your target. Her take on sending negative energy back to its source is one of the most common sense approaches I have ever seen, and gave me one of those “d’oh” moments. This book belongs in your library. No, I take that back. It belongs on your end table, bedside table, or wherever you are likely to see it often. You don’t want to have to hunt for this book when you need it.
  • Lucinda's Web on Feb. 19, 2012

    Lucinda’s Web by Dorothy Morrison © 2008 WillowTree Press eBook $4.99 (U.S.) I have read some of Dorothy Morrison’s non-fiction work and enjoyed her approach and style. But there is often a difference between “teaching” and “storytelling” so I was looking forward to this book. I was NOT disappointed. Ms. Morrison’s talents are equally at play in each genre. I love well crafted (if you will pardon the pun) fiction by people comfortable with the Pagan life. Too many authors make a character’s religious belief the center point of an otherwise pedestrian story. That is not a problem on either count with this book. The religious beliefs, although important to the development of the storyline, are not dominating; and the story is anything but pedestrian. The pacing is excellent; the characters are thoroughly believable (and enjoyable); and the plot is not so outrageous that it is an insult to the intelligence of the reader. I can tell you the following items: First, it is a fun book. I don’t mean that it is sweetness and light. It definitely has a darker side, but it is not depressing. Second, it is obvious from the ending that this is only the beginning. There are more stories to tell involving these characters (and I am sure Ms. Morrison will be telling them over the next several years).
  • Blood Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    Blood Moon: A Rowan Gant Investigation by M. R. Sellars © 2008 WillowTree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) I began reading the series several years ago and got hooked from the very first installment. And that is why I have a dislike for books series. If they are any good (and this series is better than good) they take what seems like forever for each new book to come out. I had the good fortune to find this series in 2005, when I had the pleasure of reading six books in very short order. After that I had to be satisfied with one excellently written book per year, and I am not a particularly patient individual. Rowan Gant, along with his wife Felicity, is a practicing Witch in St. Louis. He is a computer consultant and she is a professional photographer. And he “feels” dead people, often at inconvenient time and very strongly. He has a friend, Ben Storm, who is a full-blooded Native American and happens to be a homicide detective on the Major Case squad of the police force. Can you spot a trend here? Rowan has dealt with serial killers in the past, including at least one who wanted him dead, as well as one who wished the same for Felicity. He has dealt with ritualistic killers, witch hunters, and Vodun lwa. But a vampire? Even Rowan has trouble with this one. There are, as you would expect from a well-written mystery, twists and turns, red herrings, good guys and bad guys (who sometimes are hard to tell apart), and solutions to mysteries. However, as you would expect from a well-written series, there are questions unanswered, and circumstances unresolved at the end of the book. We learn more about one of Rowan’s major antagonists on the police force, get a glimpse into what is to come when he confronts his wife’s half-sister, and are left waiting to see where all of this is going. If you enjoy mysteries; if you enjoy books with an occult theme by people who know what they are talking about; if you enjoy well-written books, you don’t want to miss this book, or any in the series.
  • Magick, Mystery & Medicine: Advanced Shamanic Healing on Feb. 19, 2012

    Magick, Mystery, and Medicine: Advanced Shamanic Healing by Kristin Madden © 2008 WillowTree Press eBook $6.99 (U.S.) Of all the various aspects of healing used in the Pagan world, this is the one with which I am least familiar in practice. It is also the one in which theoretical knowledge is the least important. Those two facts make me, in my opinion, the ideal individual to review this book. If Kristin can make things clear to me, anyone should be able to understand and use the information. As with any book concerned with such an intensely personal topic as shamanism, and especially advanced shamanic healing, there are personal anecdotes scattered throughout the book. There are also exercises/experiences to be undertaken and some suggestions for what to look for. Since this work is subtitled “Advanced Shamanic Healing” I would not recommend to anyone not having (at the bare minimum) some background in shamanic healing, or at least some experience with out-of-body or astral work. There are some appendices in the back devoted to animal and plant lore. Although not all-inclusive they are extensive enough to provide a leg up for those looking to expand their knowledge, although if you are already working in the field of shamanic healing, you will undoubtedly have encountered/developed a great deal of this information on your own. This is an informative, well-written book which I highly recommend.
  • Spell It Correctly on Feb. 19, 2012

    Spell It Correctly by Tish Owen © 2009 WillowTree Press, LLC. eBook $6.99 (U.S.) If you have read Tish Owen’s previously published book, Chasing the Rainbow (see my review), you know why I enjoy reading her work. She writes in a friendly, chatty style, while still conveying the essential information. Even when I’m not really a big fan of the topic (and I don’t really like spell books), I enjoy how she presents the information. Tish has made every effort to make the spells she provides easy to accomplish. The instructions are clear; the basics are repeated as needed (you can’t say “I forgot” because she won’t let you forget); and the ingredients are, for the most part, easily obtainable. Add to that the fact that she provides encouragement for the reader to create their own spells, and you have a well-written spell book. Tish provides spells for a variety of uses from breaking an addiction to stopping gossip. While she may not have dealt with EVERY eventuality, she has certainly dealt with a significant number of potential situations. You should be able to find inspiration for almost any use within the covers of this book. Tish is an author who knows how to get her lessons across. You won’t want to “read” this book, you’ll want to refer to it. Read the first few and last few sections of the book (“If At First You Don’t Succeed…Read the Directions”, “Real Magic”, “Different Methods of Spellwork”, “Glossary”, and “References/Resources”) and use the rest of it as needed. You won’t find a lot of ceremonial in her spells. Tish writes for the average individual. It is easy to see why she is one of the up and coming authors being published by WillowTree Press. I hope to see a lot more of her work in the future.
  • Miranda: A Rowan Gant Investigation on Feb. 19, 2012

    Miranda by M. R. Sellars © 2010 WillowTree Press eBook $2.99 (U.S.) I have been anticipating this book for quite a while. If you’ve been reading my reviews for more than a couple of years, you know that I am a big fan of M. R. Sellars’ work. Since I picked of my copy of Harm None “A Rowan Gant Investigation” (the first installment in the on-going drama which is Rowan Gant’s life), I have been hooked. This book continues the saga, although it brings a cycle to a close. The series will continue that much is obvious, since Rowan has decisions to make. The “Miranda” cycle has ended, but Rowan is still committed to helping people on both sides of the veil. This book sees Rowan suffering for a number of reasons, some of which are unexpected. If you have read the previous books in this cycle you know who (and what) Miranda is. She is hell-bent on possessing Rowan’s wife (Felicity), and will let nothing stand in her way. To that end she deprives Rowan of the one thing which he hates, but which gives him the edge he needs – his connection to those who have passed over. For years he has wished that he couldn’t hear them, but when they go away, he realizes that he has come to depend on the information they give him. Rowan nearly dies (which isn’t terribly unusual for him), and finds himself being offered a new job. As if his work in the computer field and consulting with the St. Louis Police Department Major case Squad didn’t keep him busy enough, the Feds want him to work with them. M. R. Sellars has not lost his touch. His writing continues to be compelling and engrossing. If you like novels which are firmly set in the real world; which treat Wicca as a normal part of life (even if some parts of it are a little “Hollywood”); and which sound like conversations you would hear on the street, this book (and its predecessors) will be something you can kick back and enjoy. My one warning, however, is that you MUST be aware just how addictive they can be. Don’t plan on doing anything else once you crack the covers. It is a great way to spend a weekend at the beach.
  • In The Bleak Midwinter: A Special Agent Constance Mandalay Novel on Feb. 19, 2012

    In the Bleak Midwinter by M.R. Sellars © 2011 WillowTree Press eBook $4.99 (U.S.) I have been a fan of M.R. Sellars' writing since I read the first Rowan Gant Investigation a number of years ago. Over that time those of us who have followed Rowan's adventures have gotten to know Rowan and his fiery red-haired wife (Felicity) in depth. We have also come to have a better understanding of Ben Storm, friend and contact with the St. Louis Police Department. Lately we have begun to know Constance Mandalay (FBI agent and Ben's on-again/off-again lover) in more detail. This is her first full-length, stand-alone excursion. The basis of the story has already been told (in “Merrie Axemas” - last year's e-novella from WillowTree Press). In fact, this book is a fleshing out of that particular offering, with some additions, a few subtractions, and a whole lot more story to be told. I have missed Sellars' style and ability to take subjects which should be totally unbelievable and make them come out as at least plausible. My only fear, at this point, is that with so many interesting characters to choose from (Rowan, Felicity, and Constance) the temptation may arise to divert more of his energy into stand-alone stories with less of the “team” stories. There has already been a sub-plot of stories which focused on Felicity as the central character and, although it was carried off well in a predetermined short arc of stories, I would hate to see Sellars get diverted from telling us about Rowan's experiences. I've seen other authors try to produce concurrent series and it has seldom worked out for the best. A lot of the questions raised in “Merrie Axemas” are addressed and answered in this book. Some of the answers are pretty unbelievable if you have never dealt with the sorts of things Constance has encountered in her experiences with Ben, Rowan and Felicity. And that even applies to Constance herself. She has trouble accepting some of what happens. To her credit, however, no matter how impossible things seem, she is willing to trust what she experiences. It seemed somehow fitting that I got around to tackling this book as the Christmas holiday barreled towards us. Honestly, I had hoped to get to it earlier, but I received a large quantity of books at about the same time, and I decided to save this until after I had worked my way through several more “serious” books, as a kind of holiday treat. I'm glad I did. If you have read any (or all) of the Rowan Gant Investigation books, you will want this book. If you read the e-novella last year, you need to get this book. If neither of the above apply, but you enjoy a good mystery with some supernatural overtones, pick up a copy of this book (or check out the publisher's website for information regarding the availability of this and other ebooks).
  • Merrie Axemas: A Killer Holiday Tale on Feb. 19, 2012

    Merrie Axemas by M. R. Sellars © 2010 WillowTree Press e-Novella Free M. R. Sellars decided to do a short story in the space of a couple of weeks. But he suffers from a serious problem. His nightmares (er...umm...I mean inspirations) don't necessarily pay attention to what he wants to accomplish in a given time frame, and the short story grew into a novelette, and then morphed into a short novella. Now, it might not seem that 41 pages is a lot to write, but a lot more goes into writing than most people are aware of. This isn't a Rowan Gant story, although it does center on FBI Special Agent Constance Mandalay, with a cameo appearance by Homicide Detective Ben Storm, both of whom are mainstays in the Rowan Gant universe. Rowan does NOT make an appearance, although there are enough paranormal aspects to make you expect him to show up. Sheriff Addison Carmichael seems to be stuck, like the town and townspeople of Hulis, Missouri, in a time which the rest of the world has passed through. There were horrible events which occurred in 1975; and which have been repeated for each of the past 7 years. In 1975 a ten-year-old girl was kidnapped, tortured and brutalized. She escaped from her abductor after hacking him apart with an axe. For the past seven years that killing has been re-enacted. In every case, the victim's fingerprints match those of the original perpetrator, although the individual men are never actually identified. But, who is killing these men? Several FBI agents have attempted to solve that mystery. The case file is missing some crucial information; Agents don't return calls; and the townspeople are protective of Merrie Callahan. The solution to the murders is easy to see, but more than difficult to comprehend. Constance vows to find an answer, even if it involves spending more than a single Christmas in Hulis. Maybe next time she'll bring along Ben, or Rowan, or maybe even Felicity. Rowan or Felicity would bring a better knowledge of the supernatural aspects, but Ben would bring some serious grounding for her. Enough of the speculation. This is an excellent story, and I highly recommend it (as well as any of the other works by Mr. Sellars). Go to the website and download this novella. Then sit back and enjoy.