Title: Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Author: Mario Acevdeo
Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Mystery
Meet Felix Gomez, Iraqi-vet Vampire P.I. who has been called to Denver to investigate an outbreak of Nymphomania. It sounds silly because it is. But it’s equally adventurous and well written. It’s a slightly older title, but the series is still fresh with a current addition that came out in April (Rescue from Planet Pleasure).
At Dragon Con people would walk up to the WordFire Press booth and ask, “Do they come with pictures?” To which Acevedo would, without skipping a beat, reply, “No, only scratch and sniff.”
I laughed every time. It just didn’t stop being funny to me.
I think that’s how Felix Gomez will be as I continue to read the series. I’ve never been so amused as while reading Nymphos of Rocky Flats. It has all the excitement of the X-Files with the plot development silliness of Eureka. Just as I had settled into the pace of the book and thought, “Ok, I’m ready for all this to wrap itself up,” he’d toss something else at me and I’d giggle, “Maybe not…”
I enjoyed having a vampire story-line with a more realistic life story being dropped into an absurd universe (Iraqi War Vet meets Vampirism, Werevolvishness, and Aliens) – as opposed to the typical unrealistic life stories being dropped into a more familiar world (Two-hundred year old man falls in love with high school teen in the mundane school cafeteria; I’ll take aliens over high school again).
What I didn’t expect were the author’s deep thoughts on life to make subtle waves in some of his writing. Hints at politics and undertones on what might be Acevedo’s worldview were made but never formulated completely. Having met the man, I know he is intelligent, well-read, and has a lot of wisdom regarding the world. As much as I enjoy his humorous banter, in both real life and his books, I’m interested to hear or read what his deep thoughts on life are.
Aside from deep thoughts, this book is all guy all the time but one girls can enjoy too. It sells in mass market paperback form at the bookstore to middle-aged men like hotcakes all the time, but I plan to start pushing it toward more ladies. The trade paperbacks have a longer shelf life, but honestly, I think it’s just because of where they are located. I’m already mentally planning a place to feature them for Halloween as I type.
A previous reviewer referred to the Felix Gomez series as Dude-lit. “When Girls Go Wild… Call in the Undead” the tagline of the book says. If this doesn’t place it in that fabulous sub-genre of Dude-lit, I don’t know what would. The fact that the book is the first vampire novel ever to be declassified by the U.S. government is another tell-tale sign.
Ironically, scantily clad women in hooker boots is not sub-genre specific, merely a hint that it’s urban fiction as it’s something that women expect to see on their chick-lit as well. It is a consumer behavior impulse I will never quite understand – like how magazines for men and women alike feature half naked women on the fronts… And despite the book being classic dude-lit, I’m a chick and I loved it. Then again, as a character in Rocky Flats points out: “Earth women are surprisingly complicated…”
Side Note on Content & Ratings: I was pleasantly pleased that with all the hinting and perverted jokes, the book isn’t actually raunchy. The movie version would probably still be rated R for nudity, but there’s a reason the books are not classified as erotica, and for that I was grateful. If it had been, I’m not sure I could look the author in the eye again – and I really like him, he’s fun. There’s more porn in the Outlander series than in Rocky Flats.
Title: Deadly Dunes
Author: E. Michael Helms
Length: 220 pages
E. Michael Helms has done it again. He’s written a fun, spunky mystery involving Mac McClellan, and I find myself crushing on him much like the overly spirited cop, Dakota. Mac is the token ex-marine turned P.I., equal parts gentleman and appropriate amounts of perve. Cunning, but not too lucky.
I like that in this installment, Helms works in the fact that private investigators don’t have the luxury of only working one case at a time if they want to get paid. Mac has to take time away from the big case everyone is grumbling about to an unseemly one that will cut him a check. As per the norm with Mac McClellan books, it was easy to get into, a breeze to read, and satisfying to finish.
My only lament was due to my over excitement at the possibility of more archaeological tidbits. I love archaeology and was anticipating Mac going a little more Indiana Jones in this book than usual due to the nature of the big case. This is to no fault of Helms, who included what was appropriate for the story and the characters, merely a personal disappointment.
As usual, I look forward to the next Mac McClellan book. He’s a personal favorite of mine and made a great addition to my summer mystery binge reading.
Be sure to follow E. Michael Helms on twitter: https://twitter.com/EMichaelHelms
Cozy mysteries are where I go to find solace when I’m too tired for anything else… when my imagination is too exhausted to fly with dragons… my intellect burned out or otherwise occupied reading homeschool material to my daughter. Cozies are for bubble baths, for “I’m so tired, I can’t sleep” nights (thanks, Sarah). And right now, I’m hooked on a few new ones.
Manor House Mysteries
So far, I’ve read Grace Under Pressure and Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy. The series stars Museum Curator (and mansion manager) Grace as she sleuths around a small town, helping the local police solve the murders that keep happening at her new job. Naturally, there’s an unfortunate past relationship that didn’t go well, and a new budding one with the local landscaper to keep us involved in the character’s life as she manages to avoid looking like a serial killer – because in real life, how many people are tied to so many murders? The touch of tourist seasons, southern drawls, and Civil War reenactments remind me of home.
Library Lighthouse Mysteries
I’m now in my third installment (Reading Up a Storm) of the Library Lighthouse Mysteries by Eva Gates, which began with By Book or By Crook. This series features a lighthouse that has been renovated into a library. Book Nerds and Jane Austen references abound while the newest librarian and the library cat stumble across – yep, you guessed it – one murder after another. Again, no one would dare think the Nancy Drew wanna-be is indeed a serial killer with no many murders suddenly happening right under her nose, and of course, she’s the heroine with a terrible romantic past and TWO attractive men vying for her attention. Brain candy indeed. Each book in this series have occurred within weeks of the one previously and all during summer tourist months near the beach. Southern drawls, check. Meddling mothers, check. (Booked for Trouble) Food stuffs and baking references, check. Also, weird guy who pretends to be British… this character confuses me, but I got used to him.
Next up, a Miranda James series that begins with a title called Bless Her Dead Little Heart. Seriously, how can I pass that up?
Author: Deborah Diesen
Illustrator: Dan Hanna
Kiddo and I fell in love with The Pout-Pout Fish about three years ago when we discovered The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark. We had a slight aversion to the possibility of “baby talk” in the writing, but were won over by the fun poetry and the fabulous underwater illustrations. (Read my original post here.)
In addition to our joint love of underwater children’s stories, Kiddo has taken on a serious love for Christmas that can be countered only by my mother’s. These two, I’m not kidding, have enough Christmas spirit for the entire nation. All of America could abandon the idea of Christmas altogether and my kid and her grandmother would still have us all covered. (I’m a little more ba hum bug, but you know – yin and yang and all that.)
So you can imagine our excitement when the publisher sent us a copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish.
“The Pout-Put Fish is like SANTA!” the kiddo exclaimed, seeing his very merry Santa hat atop his very un-merry face. We’re not Santa promoters in our house – in the modern day sense that has become tradition, but rather in the currently untraditional traditional sense where we talk about the history of the original Santa stories and how the legend of a good man became a magical myth. Yet, with all our reading and exploration of wonderful tales and things that promote vivid imaginations, we’ve fallen in love with stories like the Rise of the Guardians by William Joyce and so on…
Come the holidays, we have another household tradition. We like the concept of four gifts (or gift categories that promote specific, well-thought out gifts in moderation): What You’ll Wear, What You’ll Read, What You Want, and What You Need. So as a parent of such a household, I especially love the line, “And his gifts had meaning/ Plus a bit of bling-zing/ And his each and every friend loved/ Their just-right thing.” No meaningless haphazard gift giving for the Pout-Pout Fish! (Thank you, for that, Deborah Diesen, it truly does mean so much to us.)
“Can we read it again tomorrow?” Kiddo asked when we were through.
Author: S. Smith
Genre: Middle Grade/ Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
Length: 200 pages
Many moons ago, it seems like forever now, S. Smith sent me a copy of Seed Savers, the first of her young adult series set in an America where growing your own food has become illegal. Children were being taught about seeds and produce gardens in whispers; collecting, saving, and planting seeds a prison-worthy offense.
The story couldn’t have come at a better time for me. It was the summer of 2012, I had a small daughter at home, my husband was out of work, and I had just started spending more time and care actively growing more of our groceries. On top of that, I was beginning to learn how to forage and was focusing my daughter’s future education on as much regarding sustainability and self-sufficiency as possible. I wanted taking care of ourselves to come as naturally as literature does for me. I wanted finding edible grapes in the forest to be as simple as knowing that 2+2 = 4. Then Seed Savers happened and it felt like the stars had begun to align.
Several books later (Seed Savers, Heirloom, and Lily), we finally have the fourth installment of S. Smith’s world. The girls, Lily and Clare, have done a lot of growing up. Siblings Dante and Clare have received a lot more education during their stay in Canada. Rose is being indoctrinated… bad guys are getting closer and closer to turning everything upside down as rebels have begun starting riots in the street. Soon, all four kids find themselves in Portland, Oregon, where Seed Savers headquarters has been stationed under a forested park in the city for years.
More and more, the series is resembling the fast paced action political drama of the Divergent series – without the killing, and with the added fun of things like Dandelion syrup being discussed.
Although I was sent an advanced reader’s copy of Keeper, I still made a point to pre-order a final copy for my kindle. The book is a keeper in every format, and it’s just worth it to be as supportive as possible of this story, help it get told. I’m looking forward to the day Smith gets a movie or mini-series deal. Better yet, the homeschool mom in me votes for it to be a Netflix original.
Title: CATastrophic Connections
Author: Joyce Ann Brown
Genre: Cozy Mystery
First of all, I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Second, however, I chose it out of a long list of options from a ton of authors because 1. I’m a sucker for cozy mysteries 2. I’m a sucker for cozy mysteries that feature pets 3. I’m a sucker.
In this case, I’m totally ok with being a sucker. I’ll admit there’s a tad more “psycho cat” than I enjoy – but I’m not a big cat lover and the few cat mysteries I’ve read involved the cat being a swanky background character, not a constant topic of discussion. Die hard cat lovers, though, would probably love this book. (I’m a dog person. *Gasp*) I imagine that Lilian Jackson Braun fans will be the best fit for this series, but I haven’t actually read her books yet. (I tend to lean toward the Cleo Coyles of the genre.)
The mystery is fun an upbeat, which fits the bill for a cozy; and a lot of the action is driven by dialogue.
What won me over, in the end, were the quotes at the beginning of every chapter. I’m a sucker for that as well and love jotting down references for me to find and read later. Better than that, I love already knowing the reference and nodding my head along with the witticisms and wisdom of Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the rest of them.
Brown has an easy breezy writing style, appropriate for a summertime cozy. I’d recommend this series for a road trip or plane ride, something to dive into to pass the time that won’t take too much energy or focus to read while things are going on around you. If your attention strays just the slightest bit, you have a friendly nudge back into the story: “Must I remind you? We are essentially in the middle of a detective mystery.” I tend to enjoy a little meta-fiction every now and then. Also, there are many short chapters, rather than fewer long ones, which I find makes for better vacation reading because it’s easy to find appropriate stopping points at a moment’s notice.
I already downloaded the second book in the series to my kindle and look forward to spending some time with Joyce Ann Brown’s characters again.
Title: Deadly Ruse
Author: E. Michael Helms
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Genre: Mystery/ Suspense
Length: 237 pages
Retired marine, private eye, sexy girls, whiskey, drugs, diamonds, casinos, the good ol’ South… what more could you ask for in a genre crime novel?
I enjoyed my second adventure with Mac McClennan. Despite the self-depricating B-movie references to its own plot points, closing a Mac McClennan book always leaves me wanting more Mac.
Of course, Mac has women fawning over him and his older gentleman charm. His girlfriend can take care of herself, but still finds it in herself to swoon into a faint in the opening chapters. Our heroes tote guns, our villains are scum. It’s all around good, fast-paced fun set in the sun, with just the right amount of danger.
I look forward to Mac’s next adventure, since he’s on the verge of being an official P.I. now…
The Glorian Legacy Series by A.L. Raine is about to begin.
Not long before it’s in print for you to read and enjoy! For now, here’s the cover!
Cover art by Gershom Wetzel of Aoristos.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I picked them both up at various times, years ago when I first got hung up on cozy mysteries. It wasn’t until I was moving that I put reading all my paperbacks on my TBR priority list so I can purge them. Only prime keepers are going to the new house once it is built. While unpacking paperbacks in my temporary abode I discovered this little coincidence and my very silly self immediately thought in rhyme. Naturally, I had to read them right away. (Or as right away as one can when one reads books for part of my living.)
I shall preface by saying: both were appropriately cute. Meredith, however, has a writing style that puts her a cut above the rest in the genre and I can’t wait to read more of her series.
I read through her book in nearly one sitting. Despite it being the third in the series, I didn’t feel like I had missed a beat, though I felt like I should surely go back and read the others as soon as possible.
The Cat in the Stacks series is fun, but I’ll probably just happen across them as I happen across them, rather than purposefully seek them out. Although, I did appreciate that I had indeed selected the first of that series. It is always nice to begin at, well, the beginning.
Both books were set in the south, which naturally made them fun for me. Meredith’s is actually set in Texas, however, and James’ is set in Mississippi with only a few references to Houston. I absolutely adored Meredith’s Ryan character and found him incredibly endearing, where James won me over by introducing me to a breed of cat I’d never heard of – a Maine Coon.
I will always choose books that lend themselves to wanting to read more books. Books on books are my favorites. Novels set in literary settings, a close second. Libraries, bookstores, reading groups, these are the places that keep my heart at rest – even if we have to kill someone off to maintain a plot line and a reason for being there in the first place. So whether it is sooner or later, I’ll return to both of these writers eventually.
End note: I like this Miranda James cover better…
Author: E. Michael Helms
Length: 207 pages
I always have fun reading an E. Michael Helms novel – but this latest one was by far the most fast paced. MacArthur McClellan is clever, well-trained, and his personality is as snugly as a bear. I enjoyed tromping through crime scenes and fishing sites with him and his side kick Just Kate Bell.
Although I’m pro-legalization of marijuana and found myself rolling my eyes at some of the locals when they discovered someone “they thought they knew” smoke marijuana or ate a marijuana brownie, the story was filled with all sorts of memorable characters and crazies.
The bookstore I work out of most often is near an international airport. I find myself selling flight reads more often than not. I highly recommend this for a quick domestic flight. I also think it would behoove the airport bookstores to carry it in stacks.
I also really liked the character of Bocephus Pickron, especially his first name. I can’t discuss my thoughts on him further without giving away too many spoilers. I’m looking forward to seeing what investigations Mac will stumble into next and wonder how many of these weekend mysteries Helms has in his back pocket. I think he could write Mac mysteries for years… I’d read them.