Posts Tagged Mystery

Venom of Vipers – K.C. May

Storyline: Oh, K.C. May! You got me again! Venom of Vipers is a science fiction tale that will grab you and hold you until the very end. 5 well-earned stars, K.C. May!

It’s the not too distant future and we human folk are down to a very small number due to an outbreak of a fatal disease. Kati Marsh, the daughter of a leading genetic scientist, has spent her life working towards developing a new species of human that will be resistant to this virus. In the process, she and her father’s team have created a race of part human, part reptile creatures that could be the key to helping us survive this epic illness.

Her friend, Ryder, is the result of these genetic experiments and all he wants is to live free and not be just another lab rat, being subjected to test after test. But, there are people in the world who want nothing more than to destroy him and other saphers like him. Can a middle ground? Can mankind and the newly created saphers help each other survive their own destructions?

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed very few grammatical/spelling errors. My usual suggestion is for one more read through by a good beta reader.

Character Development: The characters were fully developed and spectacular – as per usual when reading a K.C. May tome.

Can I say that I developed a crush on the main character, Ryder, without sounding odd? He’s a sapher, but I’m cool with that. Throughout the story were several “firsts” experienced by Ryder and each one was described perfectly. I really felt Ryder’s shock of his first time seeing a dog in person, the feeling of the dog’s coat and tongue as he was licked by the puppy. Can you imagine never have actually been around a dog? Or a cat? Or, really, any pet ever in your life?

Writing Style: It’s a sneaky sci-fi book. Somehow, (I guess through “talent” or whatever, pshaw!) Miss May pumps you full of information on diseases, reptilian DNA and various other science related facts without overwhelming or alienating the reader. I bought into every single facet of the story and did not find myself with any questions left unanswered about the various processes and techniques used by the researchers.

Continuity:  No issues with the continuity.

Overall Rating: 5

Look out! Venom of Vipers will getcha and leave you wanting more! K.C. May has created an exceptional sci-fi story that is both relevant and fascinating. I recommend this to anyone and everyone because, as I stated earlier, the science is well-explained, but not overpowering. I hope that this isn’t the last of her sci-fi adventures!

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I was lucky enough to get an interview with dreamy Ryder. Yay! But, alas! He is spoken for!

1.        How did you first meet your writer?

She just showed up one day like they all do. At first, I thought she was there to tell Katie’s story, so I didn’t really have much to say to her. Then I realized this was a perfect opportunity to get the word out about what’s happening in here.

2.       Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Never. I didn’t there’d be anyone left alive who’d care.

3.       What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?

I like how KC quotes me exactly. She wanted to edit out the curse words, so I told her she could write about someone else then. I guess she decided to leave them in.

4.       Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

I wanted her to give me a love scene with Katie, but she just gave me a sly look and said, “We’ll see.” Then I asked her to let me beat the crap out of Stuart Mann. She said if I could find him, I could do it. I looked for him. I looked all over.

5.       Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

Shhhh! She’s not supposed to know it was me.

6.       What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Dane and Mack and I shoot pool a lot, and then there’s my art. I’m pretty good, if I do say so myself. I paint, sculpt and draw. You should see the drawing I did of my daughter, Evie. Henry sold it on eBay for twelve hundred bucks!

7.       Are you currently engaged in a relationship?

Now, come on, Celia. You know I can’t tell you that. If you want to know who the repro scientists usually pair me with, it’s Teresa. She’s a fine Sapher woman, but she’s not currently pregnant. Maybe soon.

8.       Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?

Sure. I can’t imagine where else it would fit. I’m genetically-designed mutant, and I got people trying to kill me. Sci-fi thriller all the way, baby!

9.       If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

I’d make it so I find Stuart Mann. Can you guess what I’d do to him?

10.   Do you like the way the book ended?

*blushes* Yeah. I owe KC a beer.

11.   Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?

Are you kidding? After what I went through? No way. She can be pretty mean. Let her to do it to someone else. I hear Pavel wants to be in one of her books. *snickers*

12.   Do you believe that you are suitable portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?

Nah, I like knowing my story is out there being read right away. However people want to read it is fine with me — as long as they know the truth about what happened.

13.   Did you have any input into the book cover design?

You know, I swore I wouldn’t try to run if they took me out to the desert for the photo shoot, but noooo. I blame Hamilton. Pretty sure she nixed that idea. They got some human kid to play me for the cover. Kid with fake fingernails and special-effect contact lenses. KC told me she’s thinking of changing it, but I don’t know what she has in mind.

14.   What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

She tried to make me seem hot-headed. Can you believe that? Passionate, maybe, but hot headed? Give me a break.

15.   If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?

Well, since I can already heal people that wouldn’t be it. Maybe the ability to fly. Then they couldn’t keep me locked up in that place.

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A Difference Maker

Over on the UK version of Amazon, someone commented on my review for Miss Maureen Miller’s “Widow’s Tale” book! Yay!
Mrs. S. A. Blane says:

Very well written review, told me everything I needed to know to judge whether I would want to buy this book – and I do!
Shirley Blane, author of The Widow’s Revenge

Celia Can Read: making a difference. 🙂

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It was an accident…

“What am I going to do with you?” The wizened old woman asked as she clucked her tongue and opened the door wide enough for the boy to enter her tiny hovel. It only seemed tiny from the outside because once he was inside he could never see all the way to the back of some the shelves on the wall. There was also a hallway to the left of the door that appeared to be so long and narrow, it never ended. He had never been down that hallway and had no real intention of finding out if it actually had an ending.

She gestured to the worn wooden table that dominated the room, “Just put it there, Andy. As usual…” She hobbled over to her dusty, film laden shelves and began her selection of various herbs, unguents and god knows what; all the while, humming a song that Andy could never quite place. He was certain he had heard it somewhere else before, but could never figure out why it sounded so familiar. Andy watched her seemingly random selections with fascination. It seemed like she always chose the same things, but they never came from the same location. How she kept any of this mess straight, he would never know.

But, choose she did and when her song reached a point when it sounded as if she would actually break into an actual song, the sound died out and she spun around with a toothless grin on her old, wrinkled face.

“You have done well in bringing this as soon as you could. Let’s take a look at what you’ve got here.” Unwrapping Andy’s bundle, she nodded her head as she appraised the lumpy creature.

Andy never meant to hurt it… He only wanted to play with it. He never meant to hurt anyone or anything… but his ventures into the world lately always lead him back here to this hovel for the old woman to mend. But this time, he really felt as if even she couldn’t undo what he had accidentally done.

“You’ve snapped her neck, my child! I’m not certain that even my abilities can repair this one. And a human at that! Oh, Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy.” Her voice trailed off and picked up the hypnotic almost-song again. Could this old lady be a land locked siren? Impossible. Andy had heard the stories from the sailors down at the docks. She was far too old…and ugly.

“Are you listening to me, Andy?” He shook his head, clearing his impossible thoughts. Andy hung his head until his chin was nearly touching his chest and his lower lip started to tremble. “Oh, my boy, don’t do that! Hush! We’ll fix her! Don’t you worry! Old Magpie will fix her right on up and she’ll be good as…well…she’ll be good. Why don’t you step outside and clear your head and let Old Magpie do her work?”

Andy nodded emphatically. Old Magpie would fix her! He had all of the faith in the world that she could undo his latest mistake!

Would he never know his own strength? It’s just that he was so curious and, at times, so hungry for knowledge. Sometimes you have to break something to truly understand how it worked, right?

Andy stepped outside and listened to the noises of the small night animals. He looked up at the cloud covered moon; he was glad to be just this side of the full moon. Maybe by the next cycle, he would have a better understanding of how to conduct his…investigations…without harming the subjects.

The old, familiar tingle started in his toes and his hands started to tremble as the clouds started to clear from the face of the bright yellow moon. His last thoughts were of the girl on the table and his unshakable confidence that by the time he got back, the old woman would be chatting it up with the young girl and everything would be right as rain… Or so he hoped…

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The Eye of the Idol – Paul Dayton

Storyline: We should all keep an eye on the Paul Dayton as his story, The Eye of the Idol, is surely the first out of many successful books.

The Eye of the Idol follows an incredible journey from the early 1600s to present day and impacts nearly every corner of the globe along its amazing journey and mystery.

The story starts with an obsession and a murder that leads to a series of unfortunate accidents and even more mysteries and murders. What could possibly be in that box that would mean the destruction and potential start of another world war?

Follow SIS agent Coleman, Detective Antonin and Professor Sanchez as they attempt to chase the clues to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

Storyline: Mr. Dayton would make any boring history class a lively and entertaining experience with his true talent of taking seemingly unrelated (and potentially boring) historical events and weaving them all together into a believable and compelling story.

Grammar/Spelling: I have a few, let’s call them quirks (I like that better than “ticks” because “ticks” implies that either I’m a little mad like the Hatter or I’ve been in the woods and forgot to check for those gross hitchhikers), one of which is the misuse of ethnic descriptors. I have a rule as it pertains to Asian peoples: If it’s a rug, it’s Oriental. If it’s a person, they’re Asian.

Of course, if the character is designed to be racist, then I can adjust the rule for that personality flaw, but I don’t think Mr. Dayton intended that when he wrote up this sentence: “Of those twenty, are any oriental looking?” I only noticed it once and it should be an easy fix.

Character Development: From the laidback Canadian agents, the oh-so-proper and well-prepared British SSI agent to the delusional North Korean agents, the characters are wonderfully developed. I even found the poor Jesuit priest who became obsessed with the Eye of the Idol easy to imagine – given I’ve met my fair share of fanatical Christians here in the south. (Not knocking those of the Flock – just saying I’ve met a few that kind of made me say, “Whhhhaaaaaaaat?!” and then quickly run away.)

Writing Style: His use of flashbacks and references to actual events and stories told from the point of view of someone going through the experience is fantastic. It really did seem like a movie. Maybe I lack the imagination to think beyond the reference of a movie with flashbacks, but dang it! That’s how I sees ‘em!

Continuity: No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

Diamonds. North Korean agents. British spies. Murder. Mystery. And even some Canadians. This story has it all.

Get out your Kindle, your Wikipedia and get to readin’ The Eye of the Idol. It’s sure to grab you by your scruff and shake some knowledge, action and adventure into ya!

A great read for everyone over the age of, let’s say, 14 because I have a hard time imagining my 6 year old son really following along with all of the historical references and there are some particularly violent situations, as well as adult language.

Great job, Paul! You’ve really knocked it out of the park with this one!

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Wrecker – Dave Conifer

Storyline: I feel like I hide behind my puns and so I’m not going to use one with Dave Conifer’s Wrecker. It doesn’t need one. So there. (Of course, I couldn’t think of one, but that’s not the point.) What the book needs is…well…nothing. It’s pretty damned good, if I do say so myself.

Jane and Steve are trapped in a bland, loveless marriage. She’s a nurse and he’s a computer programmer. Together, they have an average life, a decent home and a 4 year old daughter, Allie, and…a whole lotta nothing else.

After lucking out and finding a contractor, the mountain sized and simple Rob Manteo, at unbelievably low prices, Steve thinks he’s found a golden goose that he can use to remodel nearly his entire house. Jane isn’t so sure that he’s as simple as he appears and she decides to find out what it is he’s hiding.

Some things were never meant to come to light…

Grammar/Spelling: The only issues that I noticed were some odd punctuation problems – quotation marks – that a good read through by a beta reader would fix.

Character Development: All of Mr. Conifer’s characters were very well developed – some genuinely good folks and one genuinely irritating man *cough, Steve, cough, cough* – and I never felt as if I didn’t know what they were thinking or how they felt.

Character rant (ye be warned): Gah… I just wanted to punch Steve in the face. Mr. Conifer perfectly paints his character as the self-absorbed schmuck that everyone knows. He has a beautiful wife, a darling daughter and a great job with wonderful coworkers and friends; he takes everything for granted and treats everyone around him as if they don’t really matter to him. I usually reserve heckling for TV and movie characters, but I couldn’t help think some rather unpleasant things about good ol’ Steve.

Writing Style: The pacing was phenomenal; the mystery was revealed a piece at a time, but not at such an excruciatingly slow pace so as to leave the reader bored or too anxious about what was coming next. Granted, there were a few times when I did feel anxious, but that was because I was supposed to feel it due to the situation at the time. A delicate line to walk, Mr. Conifer, and you stayed on it straight and true.

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

David Conifer’s Wrecker is a well-written mystery with some great action and a few twists and turns. Who would have thought that one lie could spell disaster for so many people? I expect more great things from Mr. Conifer in the future! Thanks for allowing me to review it, good sir!

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Widow’s Tale – Maureen Miller

Storyline:  Maureen Miller’s Widow’s Tale is a tale for a long, cold winter’s night in front of a roaring fire with a many cups hot cocoa topped with extra marshmallows!

Our hero, Brett Murphy, is every girl’s dream, but he has a problem with our heroine, Serena Murphy.  Besides the fact that they are related by marriage, there is more between them than first meets the eye.  Serena’s deteriorating state is lost on him at first when he comes to town asking questions about his brother’s mysterious disappearance.  In his eyes, the residents of Victory Cove are all suspects including Serena.

Serena, on the other hand, seems to have a death wish regarding her brother-in-law, which appears to be insurmountable. She has her own ideas about her husband’s disappearance which leads the reader to assume that she is either deranged or at the very least deserving of Brett’s suspicions.  As the story develops and the mystery unfolds, so does their on again, off again relationship.  In the end, it was not what either of them expected.  Her warm descriptions of O’Flanagan’s Tavern has me yearning for a trip up the eastern seaboard and a bottle of Allagash beer.

Grammar/Spelling: I found very few typos and/or grammatical errors in Widow’s Tale.  Maureen put together an excellently edited work with no more errors than a reader might expect to find in a Danielle Steele novel.

Character Development:  The characters are very well developed over the course of the novel with emphasis on the two main characters, Serena and Brett.  Her descriptions of them paint wonderful pictures of two very real persons with real issues and real emotions.

Two secondary, but very distinct personalities were also well portrayed.  My personal favorite was Harriett, who ran a local fishing tackle and charter boat operation.  She is a very colorful character that added a touch of humor to the situation.

Writing Style: Ms. Miller’s writing style is fresh and clean with little if any distraction from the storyline.  The action flows as smooth as melted chocolate.  Mmmm.  And is just as sweet.  She draws the reader into a frenzied state of anticipation and then backs off (I would say just like a good lover, but that might offend someone.)  She knows how to bring her characters and scenes to life without exaggeration or graphic displays of affection.  Certainly, she is able to turn out a grand romance with style, mystery and adventure woven into the tapestry.

The dialog is realistic and believable and quite colorful according the coastal folks in the area.

Continuity: I did not notice any problems with time-lines other than the fact that it seemed we would never get to the nitty-gritty and that just keeps the reader interested.

Overall Rating: 5-

Overall, I gave the book good marks in everything from plot to grammar and spelling.  Widow’s Tale does justice to the romantic suspense genre and is well worth the reader’s time.  I would recommend it to everyone who likes romance stories tied into quaint settings, mysteries, thriller and just a bit of ghost suspense thrown in for a very pleasing experience.

Character Interview with Harriett Morgan

Harriett Morgan of Widow’s Tale talks about Maureen Miller and other things related to the novel in which she plays a supporting character.

Celia:  Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Harriet:  I wanted to catch the killer, but they said I was overweight…well, actually they weren’t that delicate.

Celia:  Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

Harriet:  God no!  The last time I tried to get into one of her dreams she had me battling a giant fly armed only with a mozzarella stick.

Celia:  What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Harriet:  Drink beer and catch up on gossip.  I do that while I’m being actively read as well.  I enjoy it.

Celia:  Are you currently in a relationship?

Harriet:  No. No.  There was one man for me and he passed on ten years ago.

Celia:  Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?

Harriet:  Romantic suspense.  That’s just fancy mumbo jumbo for ‘you get to have hanky panky while you run around saying, “Oh my God. Oh my God.”‘  Yeah, it fits.

Celia:  If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

Harriet:  I’d make Cooper Littlefield open up his wallet for once in his life and buy something at my tackle shop.  Cheap #$%@!

Celia:  Do you like the way the book ended?

Harriet:  Oh yeah.  I was there.  I liked it.

Celia:  Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?

Harriet:  I hear rumors she has me in one.

Celia:  Do you believe that you are suitably portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?

Harriet:  E-books flatter my figure.

Celia:  Did you have any input into the book cover design?

Harriet:  Yeah, I told her to hold the camera steady.

Celia:  If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?

Harriet:  The ability to eat without gaining weight.

Note from Celia:  Harriett was a good sport, though a bit gruff at times.  She has a good sense of humor and certainly has the ability to put a person at ease.  Not a bad person to have around in a pinch!  Thanks, Harriett!

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Twists & Turns – A “Red Adept Reviews” Collection

Featuring: Jessica Billings, Brendan Carroll, T.L. Haddix, Lynn O’dell, C.S. Marks, John Philpin, Patricia Sierra, Michael Sullivan and J.R. Tomlin

Storyline: Well, what can I say? This anthology was full of twists, turns and surprises of the finest kind. Each author took their turn around the campfire and delivered perfectly!

For brevity’s sake, I’m going to see if I can fit the summary of ALL of the stories into one mega-sentence.

Ready? Here goes!

*deep breath*

A God machine, a were-pug, a terrible day at work, a klepto grandmother, the quest for perfection and understanding, an obsession, some shameful secrets, a hungry dragon and a do-over all await you in this gargantuan collection of greatness!

Grammar/Spelling: I hardly noticed any errors. I like to think it is due in large part to the magnitude of talent contained within this collection and due to the laser-like precision of Red Adept’s editing skills.

Building God – Jessica Billings: I can absolutely see why this story won first place. It was wonderfully written with a spectacular twist. It was supremely suspenseful and had a great Twilight Zone feel. It kept me almost distracted as I tried to figure out what would cause the spike and then drop in the number of people in the world so I had to keep reading to find out!

Should Have Seen it Coming – Brendan Carroll: At first, I really didn’t like Kurt. He was a complete and utter jerk. But, as the story progressively gets scarier and the suspense builds up, I found myself actually worried about Kurt and wondering what really happened to his puggins (doggie) and, oh yeah, his beloved. And I totally didn’t see it coming!

Granny Theft Auto – T.L. Haddix: Oh man…this one was awesome! I could absolutely imagine a small town (my hometown even!) turning a blind eye to the old woman’s thievery and her poor son… He was trying to do the best with what he had. I will say that it seemed as if the ending was a bit over-explained. I don’t believe that it needed as much of a wrap up as was given.

Fired – Lynn O’dell: Utterly and completely perfectly written short story. It was the perfect combination of build up and story only to end with a sudden bang. This could have really happened to anyone. The ending brought about a giggling fit only matched by those you’d get during church when you’re trying your best to focus on the sermon and not all of the crazy inappropriate things that just randomly pop into your mind at the wrong time.

Unbroken Mirror – C.S. Marks: This was a beautifully written fantasy epic and I really would love to read the full story. It really sounds like a gorgeous and amazing world. It does seem a bit long-winded and heavy for a short story though. Maybe if some of the back story was pared down a bit?

42jorie – John Philpin: Another great short story with a wonderful balance of suspense and surprise. I really got into Peter’s frustration and annoyance with the smug Marjorie. Of course, sometimes, you have to be very careful about what information you share on the Interwebz. It could really lead to some major problems.

Leo’s Wife – Patricia Sierra: This short story was very well-written and I’m sure it’s happened to more people than would care to admit. Another inappropriate giggle escaped me while at work. (You guys are SO going to get me in trouble!) I did figure it out about 2 or 3 sentences from the end. But, I think that was the author’s intent. Sort of an “oh my God” moment and then disbelief that it actually happened.

Traditions – J.R. Tomlin: Some traditions are meant to be broken and changed… I could really feel the terror and then determination of the girl as she resolutely set out to take control of her own fate. I felt every step she took and was really racking my ol’ grey matter trying to figure out what the sacrifice was all about. Of course, in the end, the story did end up asking some pretty important moral and ethical questions. Sacrifice for the greater good by staying the same or buck tradition and, for better or worse, change the world around you?

Overall Rating: 5+

You guys did an amazing job on these short stories! I really felt like each of you nailed the surprise twist and ending. I hope that each of you continue to churn out more short stories. What can I say? I’m greedy! I would also like for Lynn to be able to create a second anthology of greatness. Soooooo…get to it, y’all!

On a side note: I think we should ALL encourage Ms. Lynn O’dell (Red Adept, herself!) to write more for our viewing pleasure! Thank you so much for sharing, Lynn!

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