The Interspecies Poker Tournament by Claire Buss

Chief Thief-Catcher Ned Spinks, along with his rag-tag band of mostly-supernatural fellow Thief-Catchers, have been tasked by the fey community with catching the most dangerous thief of all: a stealer of life.

The murderer has been targeting communities of supernatural creatures one by one, from the brownies to the dryads to the mer folk, and each victim has been killed in the most insulting way possible for their race. The murdered gingerbread man was dunked in milk. The naiad (water nymph) was left on dry land. And the deceased brownie, a race that’s fond of cake and notoriously intolerant of vegetables, was left in a salad bowl. Curiously, the only thing the survivors can seem to agree on is the existence of a suspicious mustache.

Continue reading “Review: The Interspecies Poker Tournament”

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble.
Part I
Part II
Part III

“Is he gone?” Ava asked, her voice barely audible above the falling rain and the rush and splash of the tide.

Danny scanned the network of docks and the rainy gray ocean beyond as he lifted the last crab pot onto the pier. He nodded.

Neither of them mentioned what had just happened as they finished unloading the skiff, but the image of the Village Public Safety Officer pulling his weapon and pointing it at her remained frozen in Ava’s mind. All because she’d been hungry and picked the wrong moment to pull a meal bar out of her pocket.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part IV: Ava”

Cover of Dead Inside by Barry J Hutchison

In Dead Inside, deceased detective Dan Deadman’s life takes a darker turn. And that’s saying a lot for a series that started out with Dan hunting a child-snatching serial killer.

The action opens with a car chase and doesn’t slow down much thereafter as Dan, Olly, and Artur investigate stolen children, straying spouses, a series of grizzly ritual murders, and a visitor from the Malwhere more nightmarishly powerful than any they’ve faced before.

It’s also dark– very dark. Although it’s hard to name a favorite chapter of a book this good, mine would probably be when Dan and Ollie find themselves in the Malwhere. Ollie runs into her ‘father,’ the hideously evil entity that kidnapped her as a small child. And Dan… Dan relives his own death.

Continue reading “Review: Dead Inside”

Lightning has a strange smell. For me, it’s a combination of burned ozone and chlorine, as if I’ve been transported back to some crowded gym pool in my distant past. There is screaming, raucous and unintelligible, but after a moment I realize it’s just the gulls shrieking in alarm.

“–shelter!” Lynx is yelling. “Move! We need to head for shelter!” She bangs the nose of my kayak with her paddle for emphasis, then turns toward the hill that rises along the northwest side of Summit Lake.

The water is steaming. Thunder heads pelt us with fat, icy raindrops as lightning flashes overhead. I grit my teeth and count while paddling for all I’m worth. One thousand and one, one thousand and– The crash comes before I’ve finished the second beat.

Continue reading “A Meeting With Nature”

Cover of Lost Dogs: Last Fight of the Old Hound by Nils Odlund

Lost Dogs is a different kind of fantasy series. Last Fight of the Old Hound follows Roy von Waldenberger, a prize fighter and therianthrope, and much of the story’s conflict is internal. His inner wolf makes him stronger, faster, tougher– but it also fights for control of his mind in times of duress.

The author’s world building and character development are top notch, and I found Roy’s internal conflict incredibly easy to relate to. I love seeing fantasy used as a way to approach real life conflicts, and the author does a superb job of this. The inner wolf is a terrific metaphor, with its instinct-driven approach to life, boundless strength, and absolute unwillingness to compromise.

This is the story of one man’s struggle to reconcile what’s right by his conscience with what’s right for his loved ones and his future. A prize fighter on the cusp of retirement, he has been given a choice between retaining his reputation as an honest man, and ‘falling’ to a new fighter in exchange for the ability to leave with a healthy retirement bonus and his good standing in the business world intact.

This story is more of an afternoon read than a week-long one, but there’s enough world building, conflict, and action packed into Last Fight of the Old Hound for the reader to feel like they got their money’s worth. A gripping and evocative short read, I highly recommend it!

Lost Dogs: Last Fight of the Old Hound is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble. New to this series? Check out Part I here  and Part II here.

Meet Kedric introduces a new character to the narrative, law enforcement officer Scott Kedric. In Alaska, law enforcement aren’t always the good guys– and Officer Kedric is no exception.

Warning: this episode contains imagery that may be disturbing for veterans and those who have experienced violence at the hands of law enforcement.

Village Public Safety Officer Scott Kedric hated the rain, which made it especially ironic that he was perpetually posted where the weather did little else.

The sedate drizzles of summer had given way to August and September’s storms, and the trailing edge of some big tropical number was hammering the Alaskan coast for all it was worth. Icy rain pelted his face with the ferocity of thrown gravel and trickled in cold rivulets down his collar. Kedric gritted his teeth as he eased the state-issued watercraft around the docks, hunting for a tell-tale flash of bright blue.

A delegation of Resource Management officials had arrived on a private flight that morning, and already one of the city slickers was missing. He’d wandered away from the group’s minder as the delegation toured the waterfront tourist shops.

A former banker from Oregon, Randall Johnson brought investment savvy and a hint of greenie tree-hugger sensibilities to the State’s Board of Resource Management. It was common knowledge that he wasn’t well-liked by the pro-Conlin crowd, and there were plenty of off-duty miners out despite the rain. Resource Management wasn’t particularly well liked by the Alaska Native population, either, so it was anybody’s guess who’d nabbed the guy.

Unfortunately it fell to VPSO Kedric to find the man, or whatever was left of him. Kedric swore under his breath and fervently wished that someone could have offed the greenie in decent weather. Preferably in a village that wasn’t in his jurisdiction.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part III: Meet Kedric”

Blade Runner movie poster

Blade Runner bears about as much resemblance to the book that inspired it as a box of chicken nuggets does to a live chicken, but in this case that’s probably a good thing. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  was a singularly strange story, puzzling on many levels. (If you’re interested, you can check out my review of Electric Sheep here.)

Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner (aka, police bounty hunter) who’s been forced back into service to hunt down a group of escaped Nexus 6 androids, now referred to as replicants.

The plot and world-building of Electric Sheep has been pared down significantly in some aspects and completely rewritten in others. No mention is made of the massive nuclear war that made most of Earth uninhabitable, although the off-world colonies remain. Replicants, produced to provide slave labor on the colonies, periodically escape and make their way back to Earth.

Continue reading “Review: Blade Runner”

I don’t check my blog’s spam filter very often, so there was a lot of material in there when I peeked into the bin of gibbering nonsense the other day. Whoever said spam bots are utterly useless was not entirely correct– they’re occasionally good for a laugh.

An old post from February of last year, Tackling More Questionable Writing Advice, has been bizarrely and inexplicably popular with the bots. Over the last month they’ve left hundreds of comments on it. (If anyone has any idea why, I’d be happy to hear your theories. What’s the point of spamming a post that’s over a year old?)

Today I’m going to respond to some of the most hilarious, ridiculous, insulting and asinine comments, so that you too can have a laugh at spammers’ expense. (Content warning for blistering comebacks, random humor, and occasional profanity.) 

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

When the body of an influential visitor washes up on a remote Alaskan beach, Danny, Ava, and Cam find themselves in a storm of trouble. New to this series? Check out Part I here.

The surf roared against the narrow beach, and an icy rain pelted their faces as the trio stared at each other over the body of the dead visitor in the bright blue parka. Ava was the first to speak.

“I think he must be from out of state. They’re the only ones who wear parkas in August.”

“I recognize this guy,” Danny said. “I saw him getting off the plane that came in this morning. He’s one of the Resource Management guys who came to meet with the ‘Ammas. They were all bundled up like they expected a snow storm.”

“Good riddance,” Cam spat.

“This is bad,” Ava said, chewing her lip. “Think they’re looking for him yet?”

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm Part II: A Clue”

Congratulations! You survived another week.

Your joy at finally reaching the point where you can get a full night’s sleep is tempered by the realization that the weeks are going by faster and faster, and you’re not getting anywhere. You’re just getting a little more tired and a little farther behind each time. It’s like Tetris: your reward for completing each level is to do it over, but faster and more challenging.

You succeeded at becoming your department’s auditor! How would you like to also teach company-wide classes on a subject of great legal importance to the company’s continued operation? You’ll need to jump from thinking like an auditor to thinking like an instructor. You’re also going to need to write your own curriculum, because it turns out that we don’t really have one. And yes, we expect you to accomplish all that while continuing to perform your current duties.

Wow, you did a really good job on those classes! The training department is highly impressed. How’d you like to do all of the above while training a revolving group of new hires?

Continue reading “Don’t Blink: A Flash Fiction”