Tag Archives: #Paranormal

De Pierres, Marianne; Peacemaker 1 (2014)

The Peacemaker series begins with Peacemaker. Peacemaker also has a first installment of the webcomic edition on De Pierres website. De Pierres has called her Peacemaker stories cowpunk, meaning they are Australian Westerns (yes there is such a thing) with possible aliens/paranormal creatures, technologically enhanced humans and animals and an environmentally challenged country. Australia has gone from having its current 500 national parks to only one, Birrumen Park. There was still an outback while Virgin’s father was alive. He started a park lobby because he saw the direction real estate developers were dragging the country in. Now, Birrumen lies, as the last of its sort, in the heart of a supercity and is surrounded by a road, The Park Esplanada. Noise, people and buildings drench the outside of the park.

Peacemaker is told by Virgin. She is our main character.  She was pretty much raised in the park by her father. He taught her to not trust anyone, least of all those closest to her, and he passed on his love for the park to her. Virgin is passionate about keeping the Park out of the hands of real estate developers. As long as the tourists keep coming, the Park still has a chance.

… the company scientists deemed it too environmentally fragile to handle the impact of permanent residents. Tourists did enough damage.

And we had to have tourists.

The Park saved Australia’s tourism industry and tourists save the Park. My daughter just did her BA dissertation on eco-tourism. Many places depend on tourists to stay alive, but tourists bring their own set of problems that aren’t compatible with keeping a place “untouched”. Inhabitants make concessions like the Wild West theme of Birrumen. The future we see in Peacemaker is a likely one. Humans don’t have the intelligence to control our population growth or ecological foot-prints.

Benny, Virgin’s horse, and the Park both ground Virgin when the chaos of outside becomes too much. Both are filled with technology. Benny has been augmented with recording equipment, and endurance and cognitive enhancers. All of his augmentations send information back to Totes, the park tech, and then on to the company storage and processing centre. Birrumen has all sorts of measuring equipment to make sure the park is left as undisturbed as possible. An electromagnetic field above the park keeps unwanted people out and the view in.

No human is supposed to be in the park after dark. One evening Virgin forgets her phone inside and has to go back in.

Even though I’d been ranger here for a few years, I was suddenly a little nervous. The sand and rock and palms that I knew so well during the day had taken on an eerie quality.

The company didn’t like us “on board” (their expression for being in the park) after dark – something to do with insurance. I always pushed that directive to the limit because I like to see the sunset. …

As I bent to fumble with the pump, I felt my phone underfoot. Then another sound attracted my attention – muffled voices from the other side of the semicircle of palms that skirted the Interchange area.

Voices? Impossible! I was the last person out of the south-east sector every day. Park scanners and satellite imaging confirmed it, as well as my own visual sweep.

I picked up my phone and crept towards the sound, my boots silent on the sand. There were two of them, arguing, but I couldn’t get a handle on the thread. …

A strangled cry got me running toward them, hauling my pistol free from my holster. …

But the pair had fallen down onto the sand.

I flicked my phone light on and shone it at them. Only one person was there. Blood trickled from a small, deep wound on his neck.

Impossible! There were two! …

Weirdness arrives in the form of a crow. Virgin is attacked and wounded but manages to escape. On top of that, Virgin is late in picking up her new partner, Marshall Nate Sixpence. Then her imaginary friend from her childhood reappears, a large wedge-tailed eagle called Aquila. Virgin thinks she is going insane because she is the only one who sees her. Except she isn’t. Nate can also see imaginary friends. Hmmm. Maybe they aren’t as imaginary as Virgin thinks. Nathan calls them disincarnates.

Her life is turned on its head. She goes from routine to chaos, from safety to one life-threatening situation after the other. Some constants remain. What is going on? Virgin’s investigative journalist friend, Caro, helps Virgin many times. Her boss, Bull Hunt, Superintendent of Park Ecology, remains on her side even when the police go after her. He used to be friends with her father and has continued to take care of her.

In some ways Virgin is a loner. She certainly thinks of herself as one, but tends to gather friends because of the way she treats people. Blunt but tries to protect the weak. Some of those friends are interesting cases. Totes, the park tech, is one such. Even though he bugs her apartment, Virgin keeps him on because she believes he is on her side. Chef Dabrowski feeds her and is as much of a surrogate parent as she will let him. She is the kind of person who does not want to be a burden to the people loves, yet does her best to help the very same people. Her personality appeals to my Asperger.

This is my favorite De Pierres series thus far. Her writing is compelling and the story asks interesting questions, is fun, full of action, full of interesting characters and has a great female lead. Plus it’s in Australian English. So, a definite yes from me.


Reviews:


Winner Aurealis Award– Best Science Fiction Novel, 2014


Peacemaker can be found at:

Buy at Amazon.com

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Buy from The Book Depository

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Black, Levy; Red Right Hand (2016)

Black, Levy; Red Right Hand; New York, Tor Books, 2016

Some authors write horror too well for my own good. In the case of Mr. Black, this happened before the end of chapter 6. I could not go on. Not since beginning to read Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill have I been this frightened. The time before that was when I was 15 and tried to read Dracula. So, no very often.

It wasn’t the demon dogs who did it for me. They were just gross and gross can be fun, or at least interesting. But good old Elder God, Nyarlathotep, did me in.

Too bad, really, as Mr. Black’s writing was excellent. But, alas, so is my imagination.


The Red Right Hand was given to me to review by Tor Books

Shelton, Connie: Sweet Masterpiece (Samantha Sweet I) (2010)

Samantha (Sam) Sweet‘s  dream is to open her own pastry shop. In the meantime, she has to work for the USDA cleaning out abandoned properties where the owners have defaulted their loans. Both mysteries in Sweet Masterpiece have to do with her USDA job.

Cake-baking weaves in and out of sleuthing. Sam is no exception from the rule of amateur sleuths. Amateur sleuths always solve the mystery. Either they announce their success or they lead the police by the hand until the police cannot but figure out the answer. Sweet Masterpiece is of the second category. Shelton has added in a little romance. Her beau is Deputy Beau Cardwell, the detective in charge of both sites.

Violence, swearing and sexual content are practically non-existent. You would have to work hard to be offended by any of it.

In Taos, New Mexico, Bertha Martinez dies after Sam has broken into her home. But not until Bertha manages to convince Sam to keep a worn wooden box safe, claiming that Sam is its new secret-keeper. Turns out, this box has strange powers to share. Powers that at first freak Sam out. Witchy stuff is suspected.

House number two does not have anything paranormal about it. A man’s body is discovered buried on the property. Turns out the body belongs to an artist who had disappeared from the art-world some years ago. Mystery number two is, of course, the one that Sam helps the police solve. Along the way, she is lectured by her deputy that forcing your evidence to fit your theory is a bad idea.

Sweet Masterpiece is a mystery of the light-hearted kind. I had fun reading it.

Recommended.


Reviews:


Sweet Masterpiece is available free of charge on Smashwords

Estep, Jennifer: Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin I) (2010)

Jennifer Estep‘s Ashland, Tennessee, is like many corrupt cities/towns/countries. “Ashland might have a working police force and government, but the city was really run by one woman. Mab Monroe.” Monroe is your typical mobster. She has a respectable front powered by charity, fund-raising and activities appearing to give back to the community. Behind that façade, bribes and intimidation are favorite tools but she does not hesitate to stoop to kidnappings and murder if necessary. If you happen to be a law-abiding police officer, district attorney or judge, you are doomed one way or another.

In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Prince Hamlet says to his mother Queen Gertrude:

“Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty—”

Into such a bed of corruption, Estep places Spider (Gin Snow), assassin, main character and story-teller. Gin is known as Gin Blanco, part-time cook and waitress at the Pork Pit. She regularly takes classes at Ashland Community College – the eternal student. Pork Pit is owned by Fletcher (foster-father, ex-assassin and handler/go-between). Gin loves and trusts both Fletcher and Finnegan/Finn (foster-brother and bankier). As Spider’s Bite unfolds, we discover how Gin came to be in Fletcher’s household.

We first meet Spider in Ashland Asylum. She is there to kill one of the therapists. As an introduction, this assignment serves to introduce us to Gin, her profession, the types of inhabitants in Ashland and what kinds of magic exist. Ashland is a place of magic, vampires, giants, dwarves and humans. Gin is human and a stone- and ice-elemental. The other two main forms of magic are fire- and air-magic. Most elementals have the use of one magic. If they have two, one of them is normally a minor one. Ashland’s magic is not without its dangers, addiction being one of them. Insanity another. Fletcher and Finn are humans and without magic. Early on in the story, Gin takes on an assignment that has devastating effects on her relationship with Fletcher and Finn and has the potential of bringing her within reach of Mab.

Her assignment certainly brings her within reach of Detective Donovan Caine. Caine is one of the few honest public service-people in Ashland. Of course, he and Gin are bound to clash and end in the inevitable should/should not have sex situation. Fortunately, Estep chooses to portray Gin as the instigator and Caine as the doubting, shameful one. It would be strange if they had the usual roles in paranormal literature due to Caine being the upright police officer that he is. Happily, this romance bit did not take up too much of the story. Most of their interaction was through their investigation.

Finn, Gin’s foster-brother, is something worse than an assassin (as Gin puts it). He is a bankier and Gin’s go-to person in Spider’s Bite. It would be a safe bet to say that Finn and Gin are best friends. Their friendship is vital to the success of the investigation. When Caine becomes involved he and Finn go through the usual (is it like this all over the world?) who’s-the-manlier-man procedure. Thankfully, again, Estep does not force us to endure yet another threesome (god, I hate those). No mushy stuff and no threesome. What is the world coming to?

I had fun reading Spider’s Bite. There was plenty of action. Some violence and sex. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Translations:


Spider’s Bite is available at Amazon

Johnson, Jean: Hardship (Theirs Not to Reason Why IV) (2014)

I wonder if true precognitives exist? There are certainly plenty of frauds out there, who in spite of generally being wrong have their followers. Ia lives in a world where paranormal powers of varying degrees is a fairly normal matter. Paranormal powers seem to be part of most of the species in Jean Johnson’s Theirs Not to Reason Why. When it comes to precognition Ia is strong enough be called “The Prophet of a Thousand Years”. Her predictions thus far have never missed their mark. What she has seen of the future frightens her because she wants life in the universe to survive.

Fighting for the survival of others or fighting to fulfill the political goals of others seems to be a soldier’s lot. This is a way of thinking that is foreign to me. I tend to think that humans need extinction. While some political systems seem saner than others, the politicians within those systems can get too caught up in games. Some of these so-called games cost young men and women their lives as soldiers fighting for what may or may not be healthy for people.

Ia’s precognition has saved the lives of many of the soldiers and non-combatants on her side. Fewer people have died than might have. If I were an officer, that would certainly be my main goal – to keep as many as possible alive while still managing to do the job that needs to be done. Losing that ability for a while – the long-term precognition – blinds Ia in a way that losing her left eye does not. Her team are so used to having solid information that they too are strongly affected by her loss. But needing to live without being able to depend on her foresight teaches Ia more about the quality of needing to lead through trust. I would find that one of the most difficult parts of being a leader, needing to trust my subordinates to do the job properly. But I imagine leaders learn a lot about themselves through such a process.

In the world of Theirs is Not to Reason Why there are quite a few political players. Not all of them are human. Some of these players are the Feyori. Ia is half Feyori and half human. In Hellfire Ia had her first manifestation as Feyori (she describes them as energy-based beings manifesting themselves as something like large soap-bubbles). That soap-bubble image is very much in my mind right now when I think about Ia’s meeting with the other Feyori in Hardship.

Hardship was a great addition to the serial about Ia. So many of the authors that I read are captivating writers who give me loads of action and imagination. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Hardship available at Amazon US


My review of:

  1. A Soldier’s Duty
  2. An Officer’s Duty
  3. Hellfire

Aftermath of war (PTSD)

President of US apologises in 2012

Pettersson, Vicky: The Scent of Shadows (The Sign of the Zodiac I) (2007)

Superheroes and comic books in novel format are challenging for me to read. Needing to suspend logic altogether places me well outside my comfort zone. Every once in a while I choose to expose myself to the genre. The Scent of Shadows is one such novel.

Joanna Archer is born in the sign of the Archer. The Archer ends up being her secret identity, one that her enemies cannot pierce. Her metamorphosis into The Archer also brings about another metamorphosis, caused by the death of her sister and Joanne’s surprising survival.

She now discovers a world where healing happens at extraordinary tempos, and where death is difficult to achieve, the latter being a bonus for yourself but a minus when your enemies are just as difficult to kill.

I found the characters in Master Comics fascinating. Strangely enough, Master Comics is where Joanna finds her answers as to who and what she is. Not from her so-called allies, the Agents of Light. But then it might be difficult to trust someone who represents both our sides with information that could make them stronger. In fact, I think I liked the people frequenting Master Comics more than the rest of the characters of Scent of Shadows.

Ms. Pettersson’s writing is what drew me in. That and some really fun action scenes. One of those is gory, but does represent a need for vengeance that some (if not most) of us probably feel at one time or another.


Reviews:


The Scent of Shadows available on Scribd

Williams, Alayna: Rogue Oracle (Delphic Oracle II) (2011)

If humanity was at stake, what price would I be willing to pay? Is the human race worth saving? Is the life of “the many” worth the life of “the one”? What if I could see into the future and had to ask myself these questions? What then?

My personal belief is that politicians are, like the rest of us, inherently selfish. They do what is best for themselves and their tribe (party/family). If they wish for reelection, they pay the necessary price (no matter the cost to others). Lining their pockets as a bonus is part of the political game they play. Disasters, like Chernobyl, and their aftermath become some of the long-term effects of the choices of politicians and the people who wish to avoid their wrath.

Rogue Oracle plays with the idea of what a long-term consequence of the Chernobyl disaster might have been once fantasy/science fiction is applied to the subject. While unlikely to the extreme, this look at a highly unusual form of cannibalism was intensely satisfying to me as a reader. Alayna Williams made me care for the supposed villain of the story. As more and more of his past was revealed, I understood his reasons and found myself sympathizing with his cause and perhaps even his methods.

I like the idea of there being people out there who are nuts enough to sacrifice themselves for a cause. Tara and Harry fit that bill. I’m not sure the world really needs people like that. Perhaps it would even be better off without them. But they do make for fun characters in a story.

Driven by their need to save humanity from itself, both they and the Daughters of Delphi take whatever steps they deem necessary. The really funny part is that Tara is exactly the same kind of person she despises the Pythia for being. The Pythia makes choices on behalf of others without consulting them about it. So did Tara. The Pythia takes whatever actions she deems necessary to get her job done. So did Tara. This is the part of real life that I find hilarious or maybe sad. We so often hate in others parts of ourselves (myself included). Perhaps that is because our potential frightens us. Both our potential for wonderful deeds and our potential for horrifying actions.

The Steves were a great addition.

Rogue Oracle was an action-filled and fun mystery. It was a little gory but mainly gooey in its deadly parts. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Rogue Oracle available on Amazon US and Scribd


Adams, Rod (1996), The Accident at Chernobyl: What Caused the Explosion?; Atomic Insights

Chernobyl Children International: Facts and Figures

The Daughters of Delphi

Wikipedia: