Awakening: Bloodline Book One

Awakening: Bloodline Book One
ISBN: 9780997674811, Eula Rae Printing & Publishing, an e-book by Tiera Rice.

NOTE: Before beginning even the Prologue, it is best for the prospective reader to go to the end of the book where a glossary of presumed Rumanian terms. Such pre-perusal is not mandatory because much of the meaning usually may be deduced, but it may be helpful.

A Prologue introduces a pregnant woman who, while sitting relaxed in 1996 San Francisco sees and speaks to a familiar figure approaching: “I’ve been expecting you Pazitor”. The figure responds: “You understand why I am here, Vrajitoare,” which she acknowledges and he continues: “We have avoided the affairs of the Strigoi for many centuries, but I have foreseen what destruction awaits us should we fail in this task.” And “We must do everything necessary to prevent that from happening – the Order of the Dragon must not gain control or all will be lost.” He gives her a vile of liquid which she swallows and gradually can “feel the Essence searching within her womb, becoming one with her unborn daughter.” She smiles and states “It is done.”

Plot: The story itself then begins in Braila, Wallachia in 1480 where the specially gifted young budding vampire Antanasia is introduced along with companions, friends and abundant foes. From here the tale alternates between her in this environment and Nadia who we meet first as an 18-year-old in 2015 New York City. Then, gradually revealed are the details of the ‘Awakening’ of a long dormant blood line within someone who is to save the world from falling into the grip of the devastating group mentioned in the prologue. Details are involved and complicated so best left for the reader to discover as they gradually unfold.

Discussion/Conclusion: The book is well written. Also, characters and their activity contain all of the elements required to flesh out a tale of witchery, sorcery and mysticism with miraculous powers in abundance and magical potions, rings, necklaces, widely employed and of course, vampires apparently stemming from the infamous Dracula. The actual evolution of the protagonist ‘awakening’ is protractedly presented with activity described as happening in NYC perhaps a little ‘over the top’, but no doubt acceptable to aficionados. Scenes entailing blood baths and quite specifically detailed methods of torture are in abundance. These latter also might be a little overpowering for some, although their simple abundance can be sufficient to dull a sensitive reader’s reaction. The often inconsistent effectiveness of specific magical powers may be a bit surprising, but also acceptable no doubt to the devotee of the genre.

4* for writing and no doubt enjoyable for the devotee.

The Witches of Hemlock Grove

The Witches of Hemlock Grove, Boxset: Volumes 1 – 3 Monty’s Tale Press in e-book format by Kennedy Chase.

Introduction/characters: The stories center on activity of protagonist Grace Angelos, a widow now approaching middle-age who is a former local police officer still hired to consult on difficult cases. This incidentally, helps sustain the family bakery business. Her special deductive powers stem from her occult background along with hints acquired from her constant companions Noah, a chocolate Labrador, and a white cat Charity she has reason to believe embody elements of her deceased father and mother. The Angelos family, because of these reputedly occult powers, originally fled during the Salem Witch Hunt and eventually landed in the extremely picturesque New England coastal town of Hemlock Grove. Other recurring characters are: Detective Zackery Jackson, her former trainee with whom she still works well; her older sister Joy, an excellent baker but with a compulsive desire to prepare magic potions to ‘nudge’ fate in a desired direction – an activity that Grace constantly must guard against because of the disastrous results of a former action by her mother who was a very powerful maker of such potions; Joy’s husband Nathaniel, now the closely knit family’s ‘jack-of all-trades’; her even older sister Hope who has clairvoyant powers but mostly is reclusive after never really having recovered from losing her husband in the Vietnam war; Dario Donatalli, the suave, handsome owner of the local bookstore who the reader discovers in the first volume to be more than he appears; a host of other town and/or nearby residents of varying importance to one or more of the individual tales.

Plots: A Mystic Murder, the first volume, centers on a local bar owner, Greg Pelt being found dead in the Angelos family bakery’s oven. This could result in a disastrous situation. The family is committed to a large catering job which really is needed for their business survival. Since this is a small town where everyone knows everyone, food prepared in the same oven would NOT be well received. Thus, something must be done about getting the food baked and the perpetrator must be discovered and apprehended quickly. Unfortunately there are numerous suspects: the King brothers Callum, Abe and David, were constantly feuding with the Mannings; Greg recently had thrown family members out of his bar at the point of a shotgun; Michelle Deschamps had been romantically, but secretly involved with Greg as had been his barmaid Casey Foster and a young King family daughter; also Francisca, another local dweller with special talents who was involved with Abe. Mystical activity as expected, plays an important part in the ultimate resolution of the situation and the reader moves on to the next volume in the series.

Plot: A Cryptic Case. During the official reception celebrating the town’s founding in March 16, 1916 the mayor is murdered and Dario’s extremely rare book is stolen in a highly unusual manner. After interviewing Stephania the lady of Thornwood Manor and other residents, Grace and Zack strongly suspect a young couple that were noisily demonstrating during the event and the Mayor’s ex-wife who drunkenly performed a ranting denunciation of the mayor. Then a visit to the unpleasant seller of potion ingredients, Louis Merlowe who ‘under persuasion’ is able to identify the ingredients that produce a powerful spell for disguise and also to identify to whom he had sold them. This leads to still another suspect and the tale ultimately ends in spectacular fashion as Grace, with important help from Noah and Charity finally must fight through strong black magic spells to solve both crimes.

Plot: A Tangled Teaser finds Grace and Dario on holiday staying as guests of Anthony Cava, an artist friend of Dario’s who is the new resident of a home in the expensive Ocean View enclave. After settling in, talk centers on a report of smuggling of Viking antique jewelry that according to rumor, had been discovered at a sunken ship in the cove. A murder of the local diving instructor suddenly occurs, gradually is tied together with the Viking artefacts and a smuggling ring involving some of the cove’s residents as well as newcomers. Ultimately another interesting conclusion is provided.

Discussion: These three enjoyable murder mysteries are solved by usual routine methods with associated assists from individuals versed in various aspects of witchcraft. The plots are interesting, well-executed and move well. The second tale depends largely upon the occult while the first and third are more balanced. The characters would benefit from a little more ‘body’ but overall are acceptable.

4* Enjoyable murder mysteries with a little aid from witchcraft.

 

Something Witchy This Way Comes

Something Witchy This Way Comes, (previously published as Murder Spell) is a mystery in The Victorian Witch Chronicles in e-book form by Fiola Tempest.

Plot: The tale opens with Tellehandra Quin McMurry, preferably called Viola, revealing that life on her landed gentry father’s estate in Galway County, Ireland had been a happy one with her sisters and mother whom her father referred to “as wild as the land”. Suddenly and for reasons unknown to her, they suddenly disappeared and shortly thereafter her father passed away leaving her a 15-year-old orphan. She was left as the sole heir to her father’s sizeable estate and according to the law of the period her money would be transferred to her husband upon marriage unless she did not marry until the age of 25, when the inheritance could be hers. Her uncle, suspected of being a heavy gambler as well as perpetrator of other nefarious schemes, is appointed her legal guardian. The story progresses revolving around facts she discovers from a presumed lost letter and other slowly evolving evidence about the evilness of her guardian and of his son Thomas with whom the two attempt to force her into marriage. Simultaneously, evidence gradually reveals evidence that she may have some attachment to witchery and that this fact also may offer some explanation for her mother and sisters inexplicable disappeared. Mounting suspense is generated while Viola attempts to escape a deadly fate planned by her dastardly uncle and his son as she receives some help from an unusual source and also discovers the manner in which unsolved murders had been committed and by whom.

Discussion: This is a short story taking place in the late nineteenth century and manages to convey quite well a sense of the mores of the time as well as providing a feeling of ‘being in the era’. It moves well and should be thoroughly enjoyed by readers who take pleasure in fanciful tales of this period.

4* 5* For readers enjoying fanciful mystery tales with a touch of the occult.

 

Alien Abduction

Alien Abduction ISBN: 9780984026593, Laurel Canyon Press, an e-book by Irving Belateche.

Plot: Eddie is a middle-aged investigative reporter who obstinately hangs onto his job even when his salary repeatedly is reduced and his wife Jenny implores him to recognize the deteriorating publishing picture. Ultimately fired, he is faced with a suddenly desperate situation. He has little savings. Worse, he is no longer covered by health insurance. Jenny, who had been a TV producer and recently, at Eddie’s insistence, had turned down an offered job that would have provided some tie-over income, now, was discovered to have cancer requiring extensive and expensive therapy even to provide a possible 2-year survival. Another problem, their son Jake will not listen and change from his desired college selection to another that provides heavy scholarship aid and angrily calls Eddie a ‘loser’. His daughter Hannah, is a little kinder, but continues in her rebellious teenager role. Unable to find a job, he resorts to tutoring to provide at least some income. One of his students is Mason, son of Ben Kingsley, who Eddie surreptitiously discovers is a wealthy man but with an income from a vague employment source that Eddie believes would be helpful to him as well. Desperate, he forces Ben to take him to meet his employer. This turns out to be Abel, a cyclopoid alien. The cyclops is not pleased, does not require two employees, and so liquidates Ben and Eddie now is to replace him as the abductor of attractive young women. He must render them unconscious, transport them to Abel’s residence, wait for 20-30 minutes and return them to the place from which they were abducted. He is sorry to be in this position, but cannot decline or he will suffer the same fate as Ben. Compensation fortunately is in cash, minimally one hundred thousand dollars or more per abduction. The story progresses with his activities and those of Abel, Jenny and the rest and ultimately concludes on a difficult to believe level of satisfaction for Eddie and his family.

Discussion: !SPOILER ALERT! Most regrettably and apologetically this is one of the few books since some of the early offerings of POD publishing that does not seem to provide this reader with much in the way of material for positive comment. However, although the characters are thin, the author does depict Eddie and his family quite well as being illustrative of today’s often described family life.                   The protagonist is obstinate and does not present too prominent mental acuity; the son exhibits similar tendencies and the entire family is functionally at odds. The plot is acceptable but would benefit from reshaping and the action is slow moving and somewhat repetitive in movement about the city. The author further has been able to generate a certain amount of suspense at times which, regrettably for the most part fails to follow through. The ‘all’s well that ends well’ finale leaves this reader speechless.

2* For the author’s effort with this reviewer’s sincere regrets.

No More Magic Wands

No More Magic Wands

Dec 16, 2016John H. ManholdAll Reviews, Business, Non Fiction, Political, Reference, Self-Help, Social Issues

No More Magic Wands ISBN: 9781533538923, an e-book by George Finney.

The book begins with a statement heard almost ad nauseam: “Security is everyone’s job.” This follows with another truism: “That’s what we say as security professionals. But we don’t always act like we believe it. It really does take everyone working in concert to make an organization truly secure. Why, then, do we do so little to enable those outside the cybersecurity field to do their part of the universal security job?” The author continues to enumerate the perfunctory band aids usually provided and then provides a summary statement: “If security is everyone’s job, everyone needs the right tools to actually do the job. Not some of the tools. Not a little of the information. All of it.” He then proceeds to provide the reader with all of the tools AND information required to establish a secure cyber site.

Discussion: First, the material is presented by a man whose credits would appear to make him eminently qualified to furnish information to secure a cyber network. Second, he has set forth chapters that describe in detail the necessities to obtain/maintain cybersecurity, chapter summaries, important takeaway points, open-ended questions and a final summation of the presentation. Third, and perhaps most importantly for presentation of a subject most people just ‘wish would go away’, he has used quite adroitly simple stories in a parable like manner as a lead into each point or series of points he wished to establish for each chapter. AND he has managed to do so in a quite inoffensively effective manner.

Conclusion: The author has delivered/emphasized the importance of a significant number of tools/activities and their interaction for the proper function of a cybersecurity system. This is especially well-worthwhile and a most timely contribution, not only for those intimately involved, but provides a better understanding for the populace of the extent of the problems existing in the international hacking about which the media so endlessly is bombarding today’s population.

5* Cybersecurity, its problems and solutions, cleverly presented.

Expendable

EXPENDABLE
A Matti James Mystery in e-book by M. A. R. Unger.

Plot/Characters: Matti James is a special reconstruction artist attached to the Coroner’s Office in the town of Henderson and intimately friendly with Jack Wagner. He, a coroner’s assistant, must investigate a possible death at a strange fire pit of sorts that has been seen from the upper trail in the wild canyon region. He asks her to accompany him and also requests that she bring her dog that has particular assets. It is a difficult hike but she is accomplished in the sport and agrees. They discover a skull with a RR spike driven through the jaws that is suspended on a pole in the middle of a particularly unusually arranged fire pit. They retrieve the skull, turn it in and discover they must be examined for radioactivity because of the RR spike. From this point a complicated plot evolves as an attempt is made to inflict radioactive suffering upon a huge mass of individuals to make the world aware of the perils of nuclear power. Involved is much of the Las Vegas area, persons associated with the Chernobyl disaster, the Piute Indian Tribe, FBI, members of a Wicca coven, now retired members of the Mafia, Matti’s Inbetweener (Ghost-type) buddie Abby, her Foothills Canyons Detective Agency companions, the U. S. President briefly and a number of individuals of, and/or with, indeterminate association(s).

Discussion: This is a pleasantly written, heavily convoluted mystery about a protagonist whose adventures assumedly are well-known from former volumes. The story moves well and although not providing answers to several questions, presents an interesting tale that, except for activity of a couple of strange ‘Inbetweeners’, for the most part, delicately tip-toes around and within the bounds of credibility.

4* Interesting and involved mystery story enjoyably written.