Mermaid in Vegas
on Oct. 19, 2012
Interesting short work. The premise is explained by the title, literally - there is a mermaid in Las Vegas. What it doesn't tell you is that this mermaid is real, or that she has a different "name" for what she is. That comes out later on.
This is part gum-shoe detective mystery and part fantastical journey to the world of circus freaks. Oh wait, the world of circus freaks is just your typical day/night in Vegas. Or is it? The story is narrated by Tommy, who happens to be a casino 'dick' - a guy who is so average looking you could have a long conversation with him one night and walk right past him an hour later and not even see him, let alone recognize him.
Tommy works for the Mob, since they own Vegas, or did during the hey-day of the Rat Pack. He is low level, just catching those who try to cheat the casinos out of money, but he has a pretty good read on his boss. Tommy is almost too savvy about women to sound like a real man from that era of Vegas. Which is one of a few notes that feel just a bit off in this story for me.
All of the women in this story are out of tune with the times. While they read well now, they throw a wrench into the realism the author is trying to build. But then again, more often than not, the "dames" in your dime store detective pieces are a whole lot tougher than they look.
The dialogue could use a bit of work, feeling rather stilted in spots. The story begins in fits and starts - to get to the meat of the story the narrator zigs and zags a few times, so that the reader doesn't really know where they are heading. But once the story reaches a certain point it really starts moving and continues at a nice solid pace.
If the book had been longer I think it would have been a trial, but as it reads now the length is about just right. Once you get past the jittery beginning the story becomes pretty entertaining.
Dreams of the Queen (The Brajj 1)
on Aug. 07, 2013
Though I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book, my review is in no way influenced by the free receipt of this book.
An interesting book, we open to Dr. Cassiopeia Baros (Cass), her fiancée Dr. Julian Saunders (Julian), and several of their staff about to generate a Casimir Effect to create the only traversable wormhole known to mankind. Unfortunately for some reason things don't work, causing not only severe disappointment but also nerves, as everyone knows their funding will disappear in the blink of an eye. They have less than a week to fix things, all of the pressure resting on Cass.
After the stunning failure Cass takes off, eventually heading to see her therapist Louise to talk not only about the failure of her project but also to talk about her ever-present dreams. Dreams that happened so often they no longer even woke Julian when she had them. The dreams are always the same, a cavern which Cass recognizes though she's never been there, with chanting in the background, in a language that Cass doesn't recognize. But this past dream the night before had changed. In it she'd been in the cavern when someone spoke to her, calling her their queen. And she had looked into the face of the most beautiful man she had ever seen, except that he wasn't human. He had cat-like eyes and beautiful, long white hair.
Cass has Louise put her under, to see if they can make sense of the change in the dream. While under Cass comes to understand why generating a Casimir Effect had failed before. Julian finds her in the middle of the lab with parts scattered around her and grease on her hands, face, and lab coat. Though he is angry at her for disappearing since the failure the day before, he can't ignore her brilliance. He knows that though the project is "theirs" it is actually only Cass' in the design department, but Cass has no idea what Julian has done for her to secure their grant. And he wants to keep it that way for as long as he can.
After almost a full 24 hours of reworking the schematics, Cass is ready to run it again, this time knowing it will work. It works, all test coming back positive. The robot comes back showing that the atmosphere is almost the same as Earth's. It is time for the human team to go through, which is when the military team arrives & Cass finds out that all her funding was run from the military through MIT to her lab. She is shocked and feels betrayed by Julian who clearly knew about this long ago, but she buries her anger in the anticipation of finding out what her dreams have been trying to tell her all these years.
The party of twelve goes into the chamber in two groups of six, three scientists with three grunts. They arrive in a strange round rock chamber with no exits, but there is writing of some sort on the walls. One of the scientists begins work on deciphering it and when he touches one a door opens in the wall. They slowly move out to begin exploring, some worried, while others like Cass are thrilled. Cass was so excited everything worked that she didn't even notice the lack of pull from the wormhole on this end, something that flies in the face of basic and advanced physics.
While doing some basic exploring they come upon a room that holds a carving with a pool of crystal clear water at the base. The water is in constant motion gently spiking and eddying, catching the attention of the scientist in Cass. She is drawn to the water and feels compelled to take a sip. It is every bit as cool and refreshing as she expected it to be, with no immediate side effects. However she will collapse in a faint a short time later.
During all this Jeamon and his brajj team have been traveling from the city to the Sacred Chambers to meet the arriving queen. Unfortunately another group gets there first, and they arrive to find the queen and her party locked in battle with creatures known as the "inferiors." Luckily, the brajj arrive in time to assist the military with killing off the remaining inferiors. It is around this point that Cass faints.
Jeamon is utterly devoted to Cass, their queen. He'd had a vision of her before setting off on his journey to get her for Master. Master ruled the brajj and was thought to be the wisest, having lived hundreds of years;1 long before Jeamon was ever born. Subsequently it never even occurred to a brajj to question Master. As Master's right-hand man Jeamon had been honored above all others to be chosen to lead the party to bring back the queen. Which is why Jeamon is so conflicted when the queen awakes from her faint, only to see him and say "it's you" as if she too recognized him.
Jeamon fights his growing feeling for Cass as he knows she is meant for Master and the revitalization ceremony of Ta'mat, for Ta'mat is the source of all being for the brajj. Yet between Cass' behavior and his developing feelings Jeamon can't help but fall in love with their queen.
Aside from the main storyline of the attraction between Cass and Jeamon there are several other dynamics within the group. The question of how Cass can understand and speak brajj is a mystery to be solved. Julian's anger over Cass tossing him aside for Jeamon causes other problems, though Cass had already seen some of Julian's controlling side and wanted nothing to do with it long before Jeamon entered the picture. Not that Julian is willing to accept that. And the military team is suspicious of everything and everyone.
This story is fascinating. It begins a bit slowly, possibly because of the mundane location, but as the team arrives at the other end of the wormhole things pick up. The backstory has been built and the action begins. Very little is as it seems, and as answers are discovered you begin to see the true creativity that Ms. Patrick has infused this story with. The ending is nothing I'd envisioned or imagined, but it leaves plenty of room for the sequel, "Nightmares of the Queen." I wasn't particularly drawn to the story as described in the teaser, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I was drawn into the story to the exclusion of all around me, reading it cover to cover in one sitting.
Temperature: Dead and Rising
on Aug. 13, 2013
I was honored to receive a copy of the ebook for free, in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to meet zombies like you've never met before. Mr. Santo has a whole new vision for the genre, and it is as unusual as the story is entertaining. Full of fascinating characters that follow a well developed story arc, you can't really go wrong with this book. Just get comfortable before you crack the spine, because you won't be going anywhere until you've finished this from cover to cover.
Sally Mertill wakes to find herself in a morgue of all places, only to find herself looking up into the face of a total stranger. Completely confused, Sally asks what is going on and who he is. Explaining that his name is Bocnic, but everyone just calls him Bo, he tells her he is there to help her & will explain everything, but first they must leave before anyone sees them. In a state of semi-shock, Sally goes with him, making it to a car he had parked just outside the side door to the basement of the hospital.
As they are driving away from the morgue Bo tries to explain to Sally that she is now one of the undead. Not like comics or horror movies, but undead nonetheless. He asks her the last thing she can remember, which was friends visiting her in Denver. She took them on a tour of the area including hiking, then everything goes all foggy and she can't recall a thing. She panics and begins to think this guy is a whack job, and she was nuts for trusting him, so she does the only thing she can think of and jumps out of the moving car. It was moving fast enough that her tuck and roll didn't work too well, as she bounced upon impact, causing her to untuck. By the time she stopped moving she was wrapped around a street-post, and only able to move her head.
Bo immediately backs up to hide her from oncoming traffic while he goes over to her and explains that be all rights she should be dead. In fact, had she been living she would be dead now. But now that she's undead essentially nothing can kill her. The whole time Bo is putting her back together, breaking and resetting bones, popping joints back together and finally fixing her spine he tells her more about her 'new' life. How it will take her body a while to fully die before the magic that sustains her truly settles in, which means she will still need to eat, use the restroom, and will still feel pain. Once finished it takes Sally about 30 minutes before she manages to get up again & stagger to the car, surprising Bo by just how fast she recovers.
They hole up in a hotel room for a day so Bo can explain the undead 'life' to Sally. He ends up staying longer than planned as he discovers that she is one of the undead effected by the sunset, what the undead call the "sun-downing crazies" - and in Sally's case lust is her "crazy." Eventually Bo leaves her, giving her a pile of cash to get herself started again.
Before heading out to buy necessities Sally turns on the TV to find her picture is plastered everywhere. There is a story of her accident and how she just walked out of the morgue, that clearly a mistake had been made and she must have wandered away in confusion. Everyone was looking for her. Sally hacks off her hair with the blades from her razor and to help change her appearance, then ventures out for supplies, including hair dye.
Meanwhile Bo sees the story and rushes back to the hotel room. He plans to take Sally to an undead camp outside of Aspen, when members of The Church try to catch them. The Church is an evil organization that has been around for ages, dedicating themselves to ridding the world of the undead. For some reason they have a really intense desire for Sally. They manage to elude The Church agents, and Sally goes to the camp to begin her training with the shaman, Larry.
It is at that point that things go from wild to crazy, as the threats to Sally, and by extension Bo, multiply drastically. What has happened to brings all of this down on Sally? Will they both survive? A serious cliffhanger ending, but since I'm lucky enough to have the second book in the series I'm not too upset about it.
Temperature: Bitter Cold
on Aug. 13, 2013
I was lucky enough to be gifted a free copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
***If you have not yet read the first book in the series, "Temperature: Dead & Rising" do not continue reading this review, as it contains spoilers inherent to book one.***
Sally has just been kidnapped by The Church's goons right before Bo's eyes. She hadn't been swatting at mosquitoes, she'd been swatting at tranquilizer darts! She wakes to find herself tied up, wearing yet more damned gold handcuffs, and in a moving vehicle. Her plans to pretend she is still knocked out are spoiled when the vehicle hits a bump and causes her to make a small exclamation of sound. This promptly brings one of the goons back with a syringe, which he stabs into her shoulder, presses the plunger & under she goes again. When next she wakes Sally is on a plane, still tied up and wearing the gold handcuffs.
Demric, The Church's equivalent of middle management, had Sally brought to to an old church in the middle of nowhere, Scotland. Next to the church is a cemetery, and below are catacombs dating back hundreds of years. Derrick and his henchman Von plan to torture Sally to death repeatedly, as they are well aware there is only one way to really stop any of the undead. But they know that Sally is special, and therefore they plan to take her apart piece by piece to find out just what it is that makes her so powerful.
Meanwhile Bo had run back to the southern camp in the hopes of catching Adelwin before he departed for home. One his way he runs into the witch Zemra, who convinces Bo that she knows the best route to catch Adelwin . Though Bo hates witches with a burning passion he is more afraid for Sally, and so he agrees to travel with her. He can't really figure her out, her stories have her swinging from being ruthless and only concerned with herself to sounding as if she actually has a heart and is capable of compassion for others. After numerous trials they connect with Adelwin, who somehow knows where Sally is being kept and gives Bo the means to get there, hopefully in time to help save her.
During all of this, Sally is being sadistically tortured, being asked for answers she doesn't have. Demric refuses to listen her repeated pleas for mercy. Being an accomplished liar, Demric assumes everyone else is as well, which is why he is so sure Sally is lying to him. Plus he believes dishonesty to be the true nature of the undead, and since Sally is one of them she must be lying to him. He is not worried though, for he believes he has plenty of time to experiment upon her, and is sure she will talk eventually.
Sally manages to escape & meets Bo on the road leading from the church. He was stuck waiting outside as he can't enter a church so close to a cemetery, not too mention above catacombs, since cemeteries put all undead into 'perma-sleep' until someone removes them from the cemetery. Sally appears to be the only undead exception to that rule.
The two begin a wild ride in an attempt to return to Colorado's northern camp. Being waylaid by werewolves, Reapers, and a demigod are just a few of the challenges they must overcome if they are to make it back home. Will they survive all of these different challenges? Can they manage to keep from being separated along the way?
Once again Mr. Santo has created an ingeniously wild ride for the readers, crafting a story that will keep you in its grip to the last word, leaving you disheveled and maybe a tad disoriented, but crystal clear about one thing. . . You, eagerly awaiting the release of the next book.