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Friday, November 30, 2012

Darkness Hunts by Keri Arthur

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Terrance McArthur

Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review & interview.

Months ago, I wrote about Darkness Devours: “Darkness Devours has quite an appetite. It will gobble up your sleeptime until you finish it. Then you can wait until November and the next installment of Risa’s saga, Darkness Hunts. I’ll be waiting.”

The wait is over.

Darkness Hunts is the fourth Dark Angels novel by Keri Arthur, author of the paranormal Guardians series. Risa Jones is part werewolf, part Aedh (some angelic powers, but she doesn’t have wings…yet), and she’s looking for the keys to the gates of Heaven and Hell, which were made by her Aedh father, who no longer has them…and wants to rule Heaven, Hell, Earth, and the grey lands between them. There are many groups that want the keys for their own reasons, and they’re pushing and pulling Risa in all directions. The bad-tempered Raziq have put a tracking device in her body, a de-winged Aedh seems to be able to get Risa to have sex with him at will, a soul Reaper stirs passion when they touch but he keeps telling her that they can’t consummate their love…although they already have made passionate love, Dad wants her to reclaim the keys because he can no longer have a physical body, and a she-vamp Council leader has her own reasons for having Risa find the keys, although she keeps dragging her off the case to solve other mysteries.

The latest quandary is a faceless being on the astral planes, branding female vampires and bleeding them while they think it is just fun sex. Azriel, the reaper, can not enter the astral realm, but Risa gets some help from a vampire who has been observing her astrally on orders from Hunter of the Council.

Image source: Penguin

The creepy killer makes a great adversary, but the key-finding that is the purpose of the series doesn’t show a lot of progress. The largest chunk of action is Risa and Azriel getting close together and not doing anything about it because the Reaper says it will take away from his mission, cause him to lose his powers and turn human, or he’ll feel great…and he mustn’t do that. Werewolf, fans, vampire fans, angel fans, conspiracy fans, sorcery fans, and paranormal patrons—there’s something for all of you, and at the end, a teaser excerpt of Darkness Unmasked. Now, I have to wait until June 2013 for that one!

To enter to win a copy of Darkness Hunts, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Hunts”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 8, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Check out our review of Darkness Devours & interview with Keri here at KRL Lite!

Click here to purchase Darkness Hunts from Mysterious Galaxy & you will be helping support an indie bookstore & Kings River Life:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Man Who Saved Whooping Cranes

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Kathleen Kaska

After six years of research, a project near and dear to my heart finally came to fruition. The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story was released on September 16 by University Press of Florida. In the past few weeks, I’ve been giving presentations at libraries, Audubon chapters, nature centers, and bookstores. When people ask “why the whooping cranes and why Robert Porter Allen?’ my best answer is, “the book is my effort to make a difference in the world of wildlife conservation.” When I began my search, I realized that not many people, even birders, had heard of Robert Porter Allen. I felt his contribution and hard work was too important to be forgotten.

I first lay eyes on the whooping cranes in the early nineties at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast where the cranes spend the winter. These regal, majestic, birds stole my heart on that very first trip to the refuge. I was moved by the story of their recovery and by the ornithologist who spent nine years trying to save them from extinction. At the time, I was teaching science. After that first field trip, I returned to school and wrote an environment/ecology unit, using the whooping cranes as a focal point. I wanted my students to understand that anyone can contribute to a worthy cause and make a difference. It wasn’t long before they were hooked into the whoopers’ saga. I then published a couple of articles on this topic, and during my research I realized that the story was too big to cover in a 1,500-word article. I decided to turn the project into a book. Below is a synopsis of The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story. I recently learned that the book has been nominated for the George Perkins Marsh award for environmental history.

Image source: University Press

Hidden somewhere in northern Saskatchewan, possibly as far north as the Arctic Circle, less than thirty whooping cranes are nesting and raising their young for what may be the last time. The year is 1947, and the Canadian wilderness is changing at an alarming rate. Airplane travel is accelerating development of the wilderness. Soon every corner of virgin forest will be explored for ores, oil, timber, fish resources, and anything man finds useful. Unless the nesting site can be located and protected, all conservation efforts to save the whooping crane will fail.

The Canadian Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined the National Audubon Society in a three-way stewardship to locate their nesting site. The first two searches in the summers of 1945 and 46 have failed. The number of cranes migrating to their winter home in Austwell, Texas continues to plummet. John Baker, president of Audubon, grows desperate. He calls in his most tenacious ornithologist, Robert Porter Allen, who has just returned from serving his country in World War II.

This is the true story of the whooping crane’s survival and the man who brought them back from the brink of extinction, a feat that changed the course of history and led to the passage of the Endangered Species Act. Robert Porter Allen marched across American firing up the country with never-before-seen enthusiasm for an environmental cause. Before televisions began to appear in American homes, before the Internet provided global information in mere seconds, Allen and his Audubon team triggered a media blitz equal to that of a decade before when Seabiscuit mania had America enthralled with a racehorse.

The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story is timely and will capture the hearts of anyone who appreciates wildlife conservation and enjoys a true adventure story. Robert Porter Allen’s story is best described as Indiana Jones meets John James Audubon.

Kathleen has written several articles for Kings River Life.

Kathleen Kaska is the author the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book. All three have just been reissued in by LL-Publications. Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. Her first two mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her third Sydney Lockhart mystery will be out soon. Learn more on her website.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Have A Secret by Cheryl Bradshaw

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Sandra Murphy

Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review.

No one enjoys a high school reunion but Sloane Monroe’s is a real downer as classmates start falling like dominoes. First, on the riverboat cruise, man overboard! Was it an accidental death? It seems so until the second body is found. And then the third. Someone is mightily provoked and it all seems to stem from a night from twenty years ago.

The plot on this book is fairly complicated to keep all the players straight and their motives and alibis—be sure to pay attention. Sloane is able to find out a lot of information, especially with the help of her boyfriend whose job is not exactly spelled out and that’s just as well for all concerned.

Image source: Pixie Publishing

Rosiland Ward runs the town and her son is the first to die. Why isn’t she more upset and involved in finding out just what happened? She’s protecting someone and that might be her oldest granddaughter, at the cost of her daughter-in-law and everyone else.

Stretch the believability factor and sit back and enjoy the ride for this book. You remember all the drama from high school and the angst it caused. Some people just can’t forgive and forget.

All in all, the book reminds us, youthful indiscretion will come back to haunt you—and just maybe…kill you.

Also by Cheryl Bradshaw, Black Diamond Death and Sinnerman.

To enter to win a copy of I Have A Secret, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Secret”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 24, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Died With A Bow by Grace Carroll

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Cynthia Chow

Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review & interview.

"Rita was selfish and self-centered. She couldn't cook to save her life, but she was a wonderful salesman. Clothes were her passion, and she was devoted to her job. Until it was taken away from her. Though accused of a heinous crime, two in fact, Rita wouldn't hurt a fly. She was kind and generous to a fault. Rita had many friends, among them her well-dressed customers, three good-looking men and a self-proclaimed vampire."

That imaginary self-written epitaph excellently sums up the life of Rita Jewel, a recent transplant from Ohio and new resident of the fashionable San Francisco. By the end of the previous novel of this debut series, Shoe Done It, life was definitely on an upswing for Rita Jewel. Not only was she was working in her dream job at Dolce, a trendy clothing boutique in San Francisco, but she also had three very attractive men vying for her attention. Unfortunately, the police detective, the ER doctor, and the former Olympic gymnast have all recently gone AWOL and a new salesgirl at Dolce is racking up commissions in the front of the store while Rita is relegated to sorting through boxes of accessories. Even the opportunity to attend a ritzy fundraiser becomes a downer when the beautiful new salesgirl and rich socialite Vienna Fairchild arrives in a beautiful gown and outbids everyone for a date with the ultimate bachelor Doctor Jonathon Rhodes, who just happened to be Rita's Dr. Jonathan. Oddly enough though, before leaving the event Vienna gives Rita her winning ticket before rushing out with the exclamation that her boyfriend would not approve.

Image source: Penguin

Unfortunately, that ticket and Rita's envy of Vienna serve Rita up as a primary suspect when she discovers Vienna's body on the floor at Dolce. Now, of course, is when the previously elusive Detective Jack Wall makes his reappearance and he's just as interested in arresting Rita as he is in dating her. Infuriated and determined to prove the Detective wrong, Rita begins to unravel the secrets in Vienna's life, which include a twin sister, a crazy uncle, a greedy stepmother, a jealous roommate, and a missing necklace. In between meddling in the investigation Rita now once again juggles dates between her three suitors, one of whom unfortunately has an aunt who claims to be a Romanian vampire.

While Rita believes that she has the skills and intelligence to outwit the police, the author with a tongue-in-cheek makes Rita a very unreliable narrator and has no illusions about her protagonist’s incompetence as a detective. Rita's knowledge of fashion and designers, on the other hand, proves to be extensive and her contemplation over what to wear on dates or to a funeral consumes as much of her thought processes as the murder. The funeral for the victim is as much an opportunity to interrogate suspects as it is a chance to look appropriately stylish. Rita drops fashion brand names at the drop of a hat, and readers should be prepared for more deliberation over accessories than occurs on an episode of Project Runway. While Rita believes fashion can remedy all of the world problems, the novel itself never takes itself too seriously and lets the reader in on the joke that the only way that Rita can solve the mystery will be for her to literally stumble over the solution.

To enter to win a copy of Died With A Bow , simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Bow”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 17, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Click here to purchase Died With A Bow from Mysterious Galaxy & you will be helping support an indie bookstore & Kings River Life:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Foreseeable Future

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Sunny Frazier

More of Sunny's articles on writing & short stories can be found on KRL.

Since I’ve taken on the rewarding task of acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press, people often ask me, “What do you think is the future of publishing?”

I suppose I could look into my crystal ball if I had one handy, or I could get my alter ego Christy Bristol to draw up an astrology chart (what sign would books come under? Probably Libra). But, the fact of the matter is that this industry is in so much flux that there’s no telling where any of us will be in a decade.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning, but not with the Gutenberg Press. Publishing was once the realm of small outfits manned by people with a love and respect for books. Money was not a primary motive. They had wealthy backers and the publishing houses were passed down from one generation to the next.

In the 1920s, referred to as the Golden Age of Publishing, people were getting better education via public schools and books were not just for the wealthy anymore. But, then came the Great Depression and books were again a luxury item. How to get more people to buy more books? Henry Ford’s idea of mass production took hold. An industry of love for the written word was now an industry of love for the almighty buck.

Sunny Frazier

Publishing houses became corporations. The democracy of publishing now was more like a monopoly. Because publishers answered to corporate boards and stockholders, they began pushing out smaller presses.

Two more influences came on the scene. From Britain we inherited the idea of the literary agent. This miffed publishers because agents demanded higher royalties in order to make their own salary. Aggressiveness became part of the battle for publishing contracts. Then there were chain bookstores, not just accepting what booksellers had to sell but actually dictating what they should publish. Because big bookstores controlled sales, Big Publishing danced to their tune. The game was fixed against small publishers and independent bookstores. They never stood a chance.

My personal history started in the late 1990s. I was finishing my first book, excited about the possibility of publishing. The crash came when I went to a conference and heard that of the Big Six publishing houses, five had been sold overseas. Not to China or Japan, but to Germany, England and France. The only American-owned house was Simon & Schuster.

The new owners took mystery imprints and combined them to make one line, keeping the big names and discarding the rest. I watched as many mid-list authors writing terrific series were suddenly left without contracts. I don’t know how other genres weathered the storm, but mystery took a hit. Some authors tried their hand at creating their own publishing houses, even bookstores like Poison Pen stepped up to the plate. Perseverance Press salvaged many careers. PublishAmerica, I Universe and others came on the scene, for better or for worse. Print on Demand technology was developed. Amazon debuted. Kindles and I Pad’s changed how we read.

What do I see in the future? Authors in control of their own futures. Small bookstores making a comeback as large outfits go under. Smaller houses, which now publish 78% of books on the market, getting the respect they deserve. Writers looking for publishers who still love the written word. And readers learning to discover good books on their own, not through the manipulation of the marketplace. That’s a future I’m willing to invest in.

Sunny Frazier worked with an undercover narcotics team in Fresno County for 17 years before turning her energies to writing the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries. Based in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the novels are inspired by real cases and 35 years of casting horoscopes. Sunny is also acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press.