Friday, June 12, 2015

A review of Hard Day's Knight

A review of  

Hard Day's Knight

by John G. Hartness

Hard Day’s Knight is a catchy title for a catchy book.

Set in Charlotte, NC, a place the author knows well from what I can gather from the great descriptions and knowledge of the city’s streets. A pair of vampires, Jimmy Black and Greg Knight own and operate the Black Knight Detective Agency. Both are young in appearance since they were ‘turned’ in their younger days, but they’ve got some years on them. That doesn’t, however stop the pair form acting their age. Mischievous, goofy and constantly popping off with pop culture references, they go about the business of solving crimes, albeit Greg prefers doing so while dressed up as a would-be vampiric superhero.

Honestly, when this part first came up, I couldn’t help but picture Jack Black, dressed up in the Adam West-era Batman suit while dangling from a bat-rope.

Their client, worried that he’d be cursed by a local witch, hires them for protection, but the case takes them in an unsuspected direction. Local children, a lot of them are going missing. Witches, demons, and a ticked-off lady cop are no match for our boys, though.

Hard Day’s Knight is the first book in the Black Knight Chronicles by John G. Hartness. While vampires have been all the rage over the past several years, this story takes a different look and a unique approach to the vampire lore.

Hartness’s writing is well above par, his story telling is excellent, and his characters are just a blast to watching in action. The story is tight and leaves off with plenty of room for future volumes.

Highly recommended.

Monday, June 8, 2015



by D.B. Jackson

At first, I thought Thieftaker would be a tale of just another paranormal detective, told in a noir style and set in some cliché setting, geared to catch the attention of the would-be reader. There seems to be a lot of those around these days. What Thieftaker turned out to be was an incredibly well-written novel that grabbed me immediately.

The story starts off in Boston in 1765. The city is reeling from the turbulent events as growing talk of revolution is whispered in the shadow-laden corners. But our hero, Ethan Kaille isn’t interested in any of that nonsense. He is a thieftaker, a detective of sorts who uses spells and conjuring as a means of helping him solve cases. He has a strict personal policy to work on cases of stolen property, while steering clear of most everything else, especially anything having to do with homicides. That is, until he is hired to locate a stolen necklace, wore by a young woman who’d been recently murdered. The trinket had been around her neck at the time of the killing, and her father wants the item found and returned. Of course, both he and her father are aware that finding the necklace may reveal the murderer. None the less, Kallie accepts and takes the case. Conspiracies abound as city leaders, potential rebels and Kallie’s thieftaker competition are mixed into the case.

There are a number of factors that endear this book to me.

First off, the writing is superb. The story-telling is slowly paced but in a good way, giving the reader time to absorb everything going on in this richly detail world that the author has created.

Second, the historical aspects are a big hit with me. The fictional tale weaves in various Revolutionary War heroes and founding fathers, as wells as some actual events from the time period to make the world feel as close as possible to being there. The descriptions of Boston, the various neighborhoods and other locations throughout the city also add the to historical nature of the setting and help the reader to feel the cobblestones under his or her feet.

Thirdly, the characters are well defined, showing us not only the good but the flaws as well. Even the villains are presented in such a three dimensional manner that you can empathize with their reasoning for doing what they do, instead of being the typical dastardly, hand-bar mustache wearing cartoons badguys which appear in far too many books of this genre. Kallie, himself is a deeply flawed man, with a lot of backstory that this first book only touches on. We’re given a wonderful character while knowing there is far more is to come from his dark past in future tales.

Finally, Kallie’s lack of political interest. With a story set in the pre-war era, the story touches on the growing struggle for independence. This could easily have gone in the wrong way with our hero using his talents to help the rebels and spur on the Revolution. Instead, Kallie has little interest in the looming war, the rebel cause, or politics in general. He is a man dedicated to his work, regardless of the historical events happening around him. Personally, I really loved that he just did his job while the reader is watching not just him but the seeds of the Revolutionary War being sown.

D.B. Jackson, aka David B. Coe has done a bang-up job on this one and I look forward to reading the rest in this series. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Adventures of Anastasia Hawke: The Celeste Affair

The Adventures of Anastasia Hawke: The Celeste Affair

Celeste is an airship like no other, completely automated, incredibly powerful, and hell-bent on the destruction of Washington D.C. and the end of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

Anastasia Hawke, an agent for the newly formed Secret Service, and her young daughter are caught up in the chase to stop it. Enlisting the aid of the captain of the British Air Navy’s Flagship, they race across the Atlantic in a desperate attempt to prevent it from completing its function and prolonging the American Civil War.

But tensions rise between Anastasia and the Ship’s captain, Lucius Bishop as their personal lives collide. She is left to decide on the course of her and her daughter’s future while the future of America teeters in the balance. 

The Celeste Affair was originally published in an abbreviated form in Dark Oak Press's pirate anthology,  'A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder'. But now it is available in its full form. The story centers around Anastasia Hawke, mother of the Hawke Girls ( Jasmine and Thyme) from 'The Lightning Bolts of Zeus'

The Celeste Affair is the first in a series of shorts featuring Anastasia. 

My time with Deacon Chalk: 3 book reviews

My time with Deacon Chalk

A review of the first three books in the 

Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series.

Blood and Bullets,  Blood and Silver,  Blood and Magick

Deacon Chalk is an A-hole.  There, I said it. And having said it, he’s the type of alpha male, tough as nails, egotistical jerk that you really want to read about. Given the number of paranormal hunter books with touchy-feely tough guys, Deacon Chalk is a breath of fresh air.

A little background. Deacon Chalk was an ordinary guy, whose family was killed by a monster. Instead of drinking Earl Gray tea and complaining, he learned to shoot, kick ass, and hunt the monster down. But he didn’t stop there. Instead, he uses his talents to keep the creatures of the night at bay.

Some transparency here. I know the author. I met James R. Tuck a few years ago at a convention and we chat occasionally when we’re working the same cons. While I enjoy this type of book, I was reluctant at first to read it. I like Tuck and worried that I’d be disappointed. What a mistake. While the character of Chalk is a great one, it’s the strength of Tuck’s writing that truly makes this series pop.

Now, down to business…

While I’ve only read the first three books, there are more out ( a couple of novellas ) and currently are on my list of ‘Must Reads’.

Book one, ‘Blood and Bullets’ introduces us to Chalk and his supporting cast. As you read, you’ll notice that Chalk loves to storm about, bellowing out that he is the only one who can do this job and he works alone. Yet, he rarely goes into battle without his posse in tow.

‘Blood and Bullets’ starts off with a bit of a double-cross and escalates from there into a nonstop blood-spilling, vampire staking, monster hunting adventure… complete with a werespider. As someone who suffers from arachnophobia, let me take this opportunity to thank Mr. Tuck for all the werespider-induced nightmares. (I will hunt you down, but only after the Deacon Chalk series is complete.)

The first book is a great introduction to the world and fleshes out the characters in superb detail. Despite Chalk’s best efforts to be a dick, the reader can’t help but like this testosterone-fueled vampire killing, behemoth.

The second book, ‘Blood and Silver’ (I’m seeing a pattern in his book titles), delves into Chalk’s world a little deeper, especially into the area of the were-creatures. It picks up after the last book and does a great job of giving the reader a sprinkling of flashbacks to remind us of what had happened in the first book, without beating us over the head with an info-dump. While the second book is certainly entertaining and full of blood, gore, and over-the-top violence, it loses the reader somewhat. For me, it wasn’t the were-creatures themselves, but the many types of weres. WereRabbits, WereDeer, WereLions and so on and so forth, culminating into a big bad weremonster (which I’ll not mention here so as not to spoil the surprise.). The number of different were-species kept pulling me out of the story, so I could shake my head before jumping back in to it. Now, I’m not saying it’s bad, but of the three, this is the weakest.

Book three, ‘Blood and Magick’ (Yes, there is a pattern emerging with these titles.) is, in my opinion, the strongest of the lot. The story flows well, the supporting characters all have their moments and Chalk is in top form. It is darker, grittier, and has great pacing. New characters are dropped in to Chalk’s world and instead of being distractions, they perfect complement the existing supporting cast and move the story along.

In the story, Chalk, who only wants to have some much needed vacation time with his woman, finds himself protecting a trio of werepups from a band of witches bent on using them for ‘evil’ purposes. Added to the mix is a government agency who watch and combat the ‘creatures of the night’, but are they allies or enemies?

I’ll be honest here… while I feel this is the best book of the first three, there was one event near the end that almost made me put the book down. I’ll simply say here that Chalk is a dick, but this act really took the cake. Still, I had to finish the book because, dick or not, the story is just too good not to finish.

Like I said earlier, the occult/paranormal hunter genre is a bit overdone but what makes this series different is the writing. Tuck’s world building, excellent storytelling, and ability to weave the words in the perfect order are truly outstanding.

I highly recommend these books and look forward to reading more of Deacon Chalk.