A MelanieM Review: Family Matters (Brandywine Investigations #4-5) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

With his career firmly established and his reputation as a successful PI growing, Hades should have the perfect life with his human lover, his faithful ferryman, his dogs and the parts of his family still speaking to him. But murder and chaos are never far away for death lords as his nephew Dionysus and his oldest friend Charon are drawn into the maelstrom.

Includes: Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4 Midwinter Dancing: Brandywine Investigations #4.5 Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5

With Angel Martinez’s fertile imagination, she has created a universe in which Lord Hades gets a divorce, gets kicked out of the underworld and starts a detective agency.  Of course, there’s so much more to it than that.  It involves so many gods and goddesses hanging out in the “real world” as well as on the Olympic plain, all doing their thing.  It’s fun, it’s a madhouse of murder and mystery and the author often turns well-known mythology on it’s head time after time.  Yes, it’s also absolutely marvelous great times.

I’ve taken the two stories that make up Family Matters separately.  They both take place in the Brandywine Investigations universe and have some of the same characters, in that Dio and Leander, along with Hades and Ti makes appearances in Pack Up the Moon.

Books, Bulls, & Bacchanals: Brandywine Investigations #4: Rating: 5 stars

Everyone assumes life’s one big party for Dionysus, but even the god of wine and orgies has problems. His anger management issues are out of control, and his siblings suggest a visit to the Eternal Library to find a cure. The library of the gods is a strange and confounding place, though, one that Dionysus has avoided for centuries, and his certainty that the library hates him is confirmed when a killer strikes during his visit.

Life as the only librarian is blissfully peaceful for Leander, giving him the security and quiet he so desperately needs. Considered a monster as a child, Leander’s memories of his imprisonment in the Labyrinth left deeply carved emotional scars. But when a young woman is murdered in his library, he needs to emerge from his self-imposed seclusion to help find the killer who might still stalk the hallways.

Forced to keep company with Dionysus, Leander swings between whether the unpredictable and charming little god will keep him safe or drive him to distraction before the killer is found.

I absolutely loved this story.  Here again the author takes two well known mythological figures Dionysus and the Minotaur and puts her own spin on their characters, personalities, and back histories.   Personally, I like her take on them  better.  Dio as he’s called is a slightly damaged, loving chaos god whose brain was scrambled by what you might call an acid trip.  He wants to be loved and accepted for who he is.  Hard when part of that includes orgiastic events that he needs to feed his life force.  For too many lovers, that’s been  breaking point along with a certain impossible to contain destructive anger.  One that explodes when he finds his human assistant dead in the Underworld Library.

Leander, head librarian at The Eternal Library, is the Minotaur.  However, here, instead of a fierce monster, he was an abused teenager, unjustly imprisoned by his family and betrayed by Theseus.  He’s a figure of utter shyness, poignancy, with a good measure of PTSD thrown in.  All in a huge minotaur’s body.  All he wants is his books, his garden, and to be left alone with his red panda assistants (so  fantastically  adorable).   But one murder, several robberies, and that’s quite impossible.

The authors characterizations, wonderful plot, sweet romance, and all the suspense make this a 5 star romp that both endearing and edge of your seat exciting.  Loved it.

Pack Up the Moon: Brandywine Investigations #5 Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Charon, Hades’ ferryman of the Dead across the River Styx, has watched Hades himself and several of Hades’ nephews all find love.  And quietly wished for love himself.  To pass in the normal world, he runs Stygian Funeral Home when he isn’t helping solve mysteries with Lord  Hades.  Then it happens, he has a run in with the raccoon demi god Azeban and his crow Kaukont and everything starts to go terribly wrong.  Or right after a very mixed up fashion even for a Chaos god.  With the world and all its souls hanging in the balance, can love and a ton of goddesses and Chaos gods save the day?

Chary, that wonderful Chaos god who has appeared in all the stories, now gets his own romance.  Long overdue and I’m so happy with the results.  No less than the utter end of the Death Lords and the World could be at stake here.  And the resolution and unlikeliest of heroes is also a Raccoon.  Well, a raccoon god and a crow.  There’s  the Martinez humor, a great deal of pathos in two characters who never thought they’d find love and do with each other, near death experiences, and a wonderful drum dance of goddesses and this story came very close to perfection.    Perhaps I wanted a little more comeuppance for the evil deeds done but maybe that ‘s not possible when you are talking about gods.

If you love mythology, Angel Martinez and her wild takes on everything from murder mysteries to every known god pantheon there is, this is the universe and stories for you.  Grab them all up while you are at it.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art: Rebeckah Murray.  I like this cover.  Clearly different from the norm.  That Leander and Dio on the front.  I liked it.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 502 pages
Published February 28th 2018 by Mischief Corner Books
ASINB079QZG71P
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Brandywine Investigations #4-5

Please note: Books, Bulls & Bacchanals has been re-edited with a few story adjustments for this edition.

A MelanieM Review: All The World’s An Undead Stage (Offbeat Crimes #6) by Angel Martinez

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Old actors never die shouldn’t be literally true.

Carrington Loveless III, skim-blood vampire and senior officer of Philly’s paranormal police department, has long suspected that someone’s targeting his squad. The increasingly bizarre and dangerous entities invading their city can’t be a coincidence. So when a walking corpse spouting Oscar Wilde attacks one of his officers, Carrington’s determined to uncover the evil mind behind it all.

As a rare books librarian, Erasmus Graham thought he understood some of the stranger things in life. Sharing a life with Carrington’s shown him he didn’t know the half of it. They’ve survived attack books and deadly dust bunnies together and got through mostly unscathed.

Now his world and his vampire’s appear ready to collide again. Books are missing from the rare books’ collection—old tomes of magic containing dangerous summonings and necromancy. He’s certain whoever’s been stalking the Seventy-Seventh is composing their end game.

It’s going to take a consolidated effort from paranormal police, librarians, and some not-quite-authorized civilians to head off the impending catastrophe.

As I said before, I’m sort of running out of superlatives here.  Angel Martinez and this series, Offbeat Crimes, has given us wildly imaginative and perfectly wonderful in every way characters, over the top creatures like ginormous pills bugs from space and lethal flying verse spitting books, an overall arc and villain to literally die for.  Of course, some of the main characters here are already dead, including Carr, aka  Det. Carrington Loveless III, a vampire who has a real distaste for blood and lives off a “blood lite” version that he still finds barely edible.  Oh and he’s in love with a rare books librarian Erasmus Graham.  What a couple, a great one among quite a few memorable ones with this series.

In All The World’s An Undead Stage (Offbeat Crimes #6) Angel Martinez brings this  particular arc to an end, although I’m hoping with all my heart not the series.  A evil mage has been targeting the Seventy-Seventh Precinct and we are soon to find out who and why.

And it involves  zombie actors spouting verse coming to kill them.  Nods.  Of course it does.  Makes perfect sense.  In an Angel Martinez world.

And that’s just the opening act as they say.

Because there are layers and layers to these stories.  It’s never just about the villain and his nefarious plans for…well…whatever.  It’s also about relationships, romantic ones, working dynamics, interspecies communication, even something beyond that here as the Precinct is made up of all types of intelligent beings even if we aren’t quite sure of their origin.  All The World’s An Undead Stage is about the beings inside of it, working together to survive, go forward, and yes, thrive while loving each other and keeping the world safe.

That’s a tall order when you are facing evil of this magnitude.

And I’ve come to care deeply about everyone, every character here due to the author’s superb characterizations and writing skills.  How else do you explain me sobbing away here:

Carrington took a quick glance back at Hunter and LJ.  They held each other tight–strange orphans abandoned on the darkest possible of nights. LJ lifted a sleeve in a wave and Carrington returned it with a salute.  They were, without a doubt, the bravest jackets he had ever met.

We are talking about animated clothing here.  Two jackets…a couple, (LJ a leather jacket and Hunter, a pea coat) who have become two of the characters I’m fondest of.  At that imagery?  I’m bawling like a baby.  Especially if you knew the rest of the context.  The author has over the course of this series given these jackets life and personality.  Oh, yes, love and a relationship. You forget you are crying over flying bits of linen and leather but recognize them as beings that levitate and love each other, that have pride in being part of the Seventy-Seventh Precinct and show fear of loss.

Extrapolate that depth of characterization to the cast of beings, the humans with quirky “talents”, the wolf cursed to be a human, the vampire who can’t stand blood, the firestarters, the shakers and quakers, all the couples and the ‘animals’ who make up the Seventy-Seventh.  They are all here in amazing detail and dimension, alive, vivid and believable.

Carrington and Erasmus are at the top of this story as they focus on their relationship while adding up clues, hunting missing books, and dealing with Carrington’s mother.  All the various story threads flow easily together, weaving in and out, like some weird, wonderful supernatural tapestry.  I arrived at the end far too quickly, a little shaken, counting all the characters to make sure everyone arrived safely (still not sure I counted right).  And now I’m squinting at some of those lines of the authors.

Hmmm.

I mean, it’s quite all right for 42 to be the answer to life, the universe and everything.  But really, “Someone feed the gouramis!”  Damn pesky fish.  More books, Ms Martinez, more books are definitely needed because as we all know carp are never to be trusted!

Read it…it will make sense..I promise you.  But if you are new to the series, don’t start here.  Read them all in order.  It’s such a pleasure watching the men, women, beings of the Seventy-Seventh learn to come together from a shaky beginning to the solid unit they are here that depends and yes, feels deep affection for each other (more for the couples).  For me this is a must read series.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art: Posh Gosh.  I like the covers and the way it brands the series.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 by Pride Publishing
Original TitleAll the World’s an Undead Stage
ISBN139781786516602
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Offbeat Crimes – Add it to your Goodreads now:

A Lila Audiobook Review: Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists by Angel Martinez and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A poltergeist haunts Taro, dogging his international travels. It washes glasses, puts dishes away, and even dusts. At least he hopes it’s a cleaning-obsessed poltergeist and not his own anxieties burbling over into neat freak fits he doesn’t remember. When his property manager suggests he call paranormal expert, Jack Montrose, Taro’s skeptical but desperate enough to try even a ghost hunter.

Jack’s arrival crushes Taro’s hopes of a dashing Van Helsing-style hero. Instead of an invincible hunter, he gets Ichabod Crane. As the paranormal puzzles multiply and Jack begins to suggest the entity might not be a ghostly one, Taro adds a budding friendship with Jack to his pile of anxieties. It’s a race to see whether Taro’s poltergeist or his relationship with the obviously-not-ace Jack will reach maximum strangeness first.

Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists never pulled me in. Taro’s self-reprieves take too much of the initial part of the story for me to feel compelled by his story. The initial meeting with his family and the subsequential travels were rushed and almost identical. I understand the author was trying to set the plot of the story, but I kept waiting for something interesting to happen.

The trips were almost like a list of places he visited were the same “magical cleaning” happening. He was always tired and lonely but the minimal interactions with others and his internal dialogue didn’t make me want to know more about his situation or his past.

Getting to know Jack was hard too; especially from Taro’s perspective. Perhaps a little more information was needed to sympathize with him and their relationship. Their main conversation about their differences was a bit awkward and it was hard to believe in them and their future.

Overall, it is a nice story, with the author’s natural fun and quirky writing. It just not great.

I didn’t enjoy Michael Pauley’s narration. Yes, the voices were distinct but it was more of a performance than a narration. It was hard to get into the story without feeling as if the whole thing was being forced. It had an unnatural quality that made me want to take breaks when listening to the story.

The cover by L.C. Chase is a cute representation of the story’s main plot and it has a ghostly feel that fits well.

Sales Links:  Mischief | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Michael Pauley
Length: 4 hours 2 minutes
Published: November 15, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Mischief Corner Books
ASIN: B077GDKWBC
Edition Language: English

A Caryn Review: Safety Protocols for Human Holidays by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommended as the cutest, funniest bit of holiday fluff I’ve read in a long time!

This sci-fi story is set on an interspecies ship traveling in the distant universe.  For the most part, there is only one of any individual species on the ship.  There is only one human, Jen, and the captain is concerned that she is broken, because she is not “behaving within previously observed species parameters”.  The captain is concerned about the safety and well-being of everyone on the crew, and so he assigns Security Officer Raskli, a Growlan, to investigate the change, to see if she can identify the problem, and fix it.  Why was Raskli chosen for this task?  Because the ship’s doctor said “you are both members of lactating placental species”.  Ha!

Raskli’s investigation into humans, and Jen in particular, is laugh out loud funny.  One of her first observations:

[Humans] ate everything.  It was a wonder than any other life on the planet had survived.

When she thought she had sufficient background, Raskli decided that she should become “friends” – a somewhat unusual concept to ritualistic Growlans – with Jen, and looking for a friendship ritual, followed the interspecies manual instructions for “dating”:

The initiator of the date will sometimes bring a small offering to the domicile of the acceptor.  Angiosperm blooms or boxes of sugar-and-cocoa-bean globs appear to be traditional for one-on-one dates, while offerings of substantial, meal-oriented food or fermented drink are more common for group dates.

This was the most adorable little meet-cute you can imagine.  Raskli’s heart was in the right place despite her awkwardness, so Jen accepted her friending request and the two proceeded to get to know and like each other despite the huge cultural differences.  Since the story is told from Raskli’s point of view, we get the outsiders perspective of humans and their quirks, and the author did a fabulous job of making fun of all the crazy things we do.

When Raskli was able to identify that the holiday season was exacerbating Jen’s feelings of homesickness and loneliness, she decided to put on a ship-wide celebration, and started researching.  In addition to our Western standards like Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, she also found references to solstice, yule, saturnalia, rohatsu, and others, and decided to just use them all.  In addition to the “traditional large sacrificial plant” that was “large, possibly radially symmetric, sloping limbs with many sharp spikes.  Looks fierce”, there were “shining spheres” and “glitter snakes”.  I was having so much fun reading how the decorations that have become so commonplace to us might be described by an alien who has never seen anything like them before!

The romance between Raskli and Jen was perfectly sweet.  No other word to describe it!  The story was just the right length, the various alien crew members all existed in almost perfect harmony, and at the end of the story I just couldn’t stop smiling.  I’m going to keep this around to re-read when I need a little happiness!  Brava, Angel Martinez!

Cover art by Freddy MacKay was exactly how I pictured Jen, sitting in front of a window that looked to be straight out of Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  Very appropriate!

Sales Links: Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First
Expected publication: December 9th 2017 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Jackalopes & Woofen-Poofs (Offbeat Crimes #5) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Hoax animals and a consulting vampire on the prowl—Jason never thought having a cop boyfriend would be this hard.

All Animal Control Officer Jason Shen ever wanted was a quiet life of rescuing lost kittens and helping animals in need. Having a paranormal cop boyfriend guarantees an end to the quiet part. What at first seems a random encounter with jackalopes in the park might be more than chance and when State Paranormal sends a handsome, charming vampire to consult with the Seventy-Seventh, he finds his relationship with Alex on shaky ground.

Officer Alex Wolf hoped his humaning skills were improving but now he can’t unravel the strange politics at State Paranormal or why Jason’s family seems to hate him. There’s no time to puzzle things out either. Bizarre animals are loose in the city, Jason’s acting strange, and is the vampire captain from State flirting with him? Wolf’s going to have to keep his head in the game if he’s going to have any chance of putting the pieces together and keeping the city safe from the strange critters terrorizing its streets.

You know I’m running out of adjectives here.  I’m going to have to start to resort to the sort of thing like making up words to go along with the made up animals like the Jackalope here and the Woofen-Poofs, among others.  Angel Martinez’s minds a fantabulous place.  Scary, mind-blowing definitely but one I always want to visit with.  Here we return to that hard-working Precinct the 77th and its Paranormal Unit.  Animals are popping up all over and attacking people, animals that don’t exist in nature…like jackalopes.  There’s only one squad to do the investigating.  And since one of their own was on the scene of the first attack, that should help..right?

Officer Wolf is one of many great characters here.  An actual wolf cursed to be human, he’s dealing with his boyfriend’s unfriendly family, a new case he doesn’t understand, and a new vampire supervisor who’s confusing him. Jason Shen isn’t happy with any of those elements either.  The author is juggling one of the weirdest supernatural romances around (believably so), making us understand a wolf trying to understand human while being a wolf, and continuing an overall series arc that keeps getting more series all the time while maintaining its humorous elements.  And blowing our mind with her creativity while doing it.

Nothing like loving falling down the rabbit’s hole.

Once more the characters are outstanding, here we are dealing with an established couple having “normal” couple issues but with a supernatural twist, along with a case that has implications far beyond just the ones it seems to present.  Angel Martinez never does things simply narratively speaking. Jackalopes & Woofen-Poofs (Offbeat Crimes #5) and all the other stories in this series showcase that on a high worbly way! So there!

I’m addicted.  I admit it.  But these definitely aren’t stand alone stories.  You need to go to the first stories and start building your foundation knowledge of the beings/people/couples and overall series arc.  Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on a book once you’ve started.

Cover art by Posh Gosh works for the story elements.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786516367
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Offbeat Crimes #5
setting Pennsylvania (United States)

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Shax’s War (Brimstone #3 by Angel Martinez and Vance Bastian (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The boys desperately need a vacation. With the not-quite-ill-gotten gains from the Frog incident, Shax takes the Brimstone’s crew to the exclusive resort planet, Opal, for some much needed rest and relaxation. The resort has everything a demon prince and his crew could want, but an incident on the Trauma Ball court sends Ness stalking off in anger and sends events swiftly spiraling out of control.

Shax will need every bit of his cunning and his legendary luck to save his Ness as he’s drawn into a web of criminal experiments and…pink hedgehogs?

I’ve been  following the unusual crew of the Brimstone since the first story, Potato Surprise, and have seen each tale bring more layers to each character, more additions to the Brimstone crew, and each novel becoming increasingly complex and potentially heartbreaking.  Shax’s War really is the pinnacle of the series to date.  Martinez takes a moment of downtime for the crew and escalates it into a flight of sheer terror and heartbreak as well as a ship of horrors for one.

When I read it in 2014 when it was first released (this series and author are must reads for me) this story put me through the wringer.  Angel Martinez can create characters like Shax, his fallen angel lover Ness, Verin, cowboy Corny,  the ship’s IA Ivana Cockatoo, and among the new additions Leopold.  Every single one able to grab at your heart, letting you connect deeply to their lives and situations.  And what situations and adventures they manage to get themselves into.  But nothing like what occurs here within Shax’s War.

Some of the scenes are not for the squeamish. Beings treated as organ donors while alive will do that.

Luckily a rescue will put an end to that horror.  But it’s there, so be warned.  This is a white knuckle ride all the way, fear and love for these characters will be driving you through listening to the audiobook in one clip, much as I did the story. Vance Bastian again does an outstanding job with this variety of characters from the gruff Verin to the improbable pink hedgehog Leopold and everyone inbetween.  He brings Shax to life with the fear and desperation ringing in his lines as he searches for his love, the horror of the ship and the pain as the demon begins to crack up under it all.  Such an amazing story and Vance Bastian brought  out new elements I hadn’t noticed before when I read it, highlighting new aspects of the story by his narration making me appreciate it all over again.

If you’re new to this series, start at the beginning and see how the Brimstone got it crew.  You can get it all in a collection.  Then you can look forward to new stories as they arrive.  I hope the author is not done with the crew yet and there are more galactic adventures to come.  I can hardly wait for both the books and the audio versions!  I highly recommend them both.

Cover art is a little jarring.  I really don’t think that’s Leopold.

Sales LInks:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Audible.com Release Date: June 29, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B073DGQ7DG

A MelanieM Review: Feral Dust Bunnies (Offbeat Crimes #4) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

An orphaned kitten may be the only witness to romance and the impossible.

Officer Alex Wolf responds to a lot of ‘paranormal’ calls that aren’t. Exotic pet birds aren’t monsters and unusual dog breeds aren’t aliens. It’s a good thing he likes the animal control officers, but he both yearns for and dreads those calls where he runs into ACO Jason Shen. Jason’s scent is so delicious that Wolf has a difficult time humaning around him.

Animal control calls take a disturbing turn, though, when Wolf and his lizard-man partner, Krisk, discover the impossibly mummified bodies of rats and an unfortunate mother cat. The rescue of the cat’s sole surviving kitten not only gives Wolf more time with Jason, which is both perplexing and wonderful, but also leads to dangerous discoveries. Something inconceivable stalks the city and its officers of the law. Wolf has to figure out what it is before it can attack and drain the life from the people and the kitten he loves.

I should know by now that the cuter the title the scarier the story with this series and Angel Martinez.  I mean we started at Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters which laid down the universe and characters (book 1) and with each story after, the author has been ramping it up!  The monsters have been scarier, the romances more heartwarming, the couples and their various backgrounds far more fascinating and absorbing than it might appear on the surface…it just keeps getting better and better.  Next came giant pills bugs in space (The Pill Bugs of Time (Offbeat Crimes, #2).   Trust me, that’s something that doesn’t bear thinking about too closely.  Great story though.  Followed by two of my favorites, animated clothing in love (Hunter Green Pea Coat (Offbeat Crimes, #2.5) and the truly remarkable, almost unimaginable verse spitting flying books and a vampire with blood issues (Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes, #3).

Then Feral Dust Bunnies showed up. Be still my heart!  If I was one of those people who used emojis in their reviews, I’d be throwing them everywhere. Hearts and stuff. Why?  Because I loved this story.  First of all.  That title!  Hooked!  I always knew those suckers were alive!  Next up.  The characters.  Wolf and his  lizard partner Krisk were always mentioned in the other stories as being good if strange and uncommunicative officers of the 77th Precinct, the one that handles the offbeat and downright weird crimes.  Feral Dust Bunnies gives us the real insight into their partnership and Wolf’s background, and such a sad one it is.  He’s an actual wolf, cursed as a pup and turned into a human.  The full story is actually poignant as is his continuing attempts to navigate the human world through a wolf mind.  Martinez does an amazing job of making Wolf such a believable being.  We’re in his head and heart as he tries to work through the simplest of things as a grocery list which can still confound him yet have the great skill set to solve the most difficult of crimes.  He’s given an amazing foster mother to help him work through daily life tasks and be his support as well as a great friend and partner in Krisk whose story we’ve yet to hear.

In one awful event, two amazing things happen for him and the readers.  Wolf finds an orphaned kitten and he calls on the services of ACO Jason Chen, who makes Wolf want to lick him.  I tell you, these two characters (and yes Audacity the kitten is a full blown character) are almost beyond description they are that good!  Wolf’s  interaction with them, I want to say Audacity, but you really can’t leave Jason out of any of it, is intimate, tender, believable and will leave you with a hurt face, because you’re smiling too much over each scene.

Of course, Wolf is never alone.  His ‘pack’ is the other officers at the 77th Precinct and they figure largely in this story too.  Martinez treats them with all the love and care you would expect.  They may not get a lot of time on the page but when they show up, it’s as the fully fleshed out characters we know and love.  And sometimes laugh at or with.

In Feral Dust Bunnies, a villain we’ve only been getting hints about further solidifies here.  The plot thickens as a famous detective says and becomes even more frightening for everyone involved.   There’s another story with Wolf coming out  ~ Jackalopes & Woofen-Poofs (Offbeat Crimes, #5).  I’m on that like hotcakes!    Where do we go from there?  I have no idea. Quite frankly the author’s mind is a wild, imaginative and scary place.  I haven’t a clue where she’s taking us but I can’t wait to hop on board.  I may need my blankie and a kitten.  Plus a broom.

New to this series?  Start at the beginning and meet all the detectives at the 77th Precinct.  Watch them find love while solving some of the wildest cases you will ever read about.  The writing is excellent, the pace as fast as rollercoaster and the imagination of one Angel Martinez?  Out of this world!

Cover art by Posh Gosh is nice and I have to admit how do you do Feral Dust Bunnies?

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 115 pages
Published June 20th 2017 by Pride Publishing
Original TitleFeral Dust Bunnies
ISBN139781786515933
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Offbeat Crimes #4

Series:

A MelanieM Review: Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Words damage more than just feelings as Carrington hunts feral books menacing the city.

When a ferocious book attacks Carrington at his own birthday party, he believes it’s an isolated incident. But similar books soon pop up all over town, menacing innocent people with harsh bits of poetry and blank verse that deliver damaging physical blows. It’s a frustrating case with too many variables and not enough answers, and the stakes go up with each attack.

With the help of his misfit squad mates at the 77th and the public library’s Rare Books Department, the missing pieces decrease but not Carrington’s vexations. His commanding officer rakes him over the coals at the beginning of every shift. His police partner has lost patience with what she sees as his delusional relationship choices and his inability to pick the right man in a vast field of two. City Hall demands that the books be stopped immediately. It’s enough to put a nutritionally challenged vampire off his skim blood.

The book rattled violently on the table in an imitation of a step dance and printed words leaped out of the pages at frightening speed. Just before they slammed into Carrington’s head, the flying words shrieked at him.
“You starveling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle!”
He had time for a split second of horror before the words rammed into him with the force of several fists.

                                                  from Skim Blood and Savage Verse (Offbeat Crimes #3) by Angel Martinez

Yes, feral books are rampaging about the city slinging deadly poetry at people’s heads!  Angel Martinez, you might as well drop the mike and leave the building! This is why I love to read, to come across passages and indeed an entire story full of such paragraphs and plot threads so imaginative and lively that I burst into giggles still at the very thought of them.  And that’s just one element here.

Yes its poor Carrington, that vampire who needs to exist on skim blood with the worst taste in men who is the focus here (well one of them at any rate).  His feral book attack launches an investigation and soon his squad realizes there have been attacks all over the city.  The librarian in the Rare Books Department at the Public Library is just the sort to set him, well not straight, but on the path to HEA, if Carrington can get past his own proclivities for picking up the most shallow, mean-spirited men around.  That’s a terrific storyline going on while in pursuit of the rampaging feral books (I can never get enough of those). The author gets us into Carr’s head and heart here.  While we are often frustrated with him, its also easy to understand why Carr is why he is.

But there’s another romance here.  One I rate just  as highly.  LJ, also known as Leather Jacket. Yes, an animated object of clothing who’s a member of the squad (loosely) gets a lover. I won’t go into the details because they are too wonderful and should be explored within the story itself.  This romance turned out to be so adorable, so charming and mysterious (and on-going probably into the next story) that I was just as equally invested in them as well as in Carrington and Erasmus, the librarian.   I will, however, mention that for those who  like a quick romance, that doesn’t happen.  Carr has plenty of issues and those have to be dealt with first.   But we get a closer look at Carr’s family, his partner Amanda (who I also adore) and other respective members of 77th Precinct.

There’s a dangling bit of mystery left here at the end, a rather large bit that I hope leads into the next story.  The 77th Precinct and all its members are downright addictive! You never know what wildly scary case will come their way with love tromping along too.  Or maybe being propelled by fairies or blasted by fire.  Probably not.  All too mundane.  Which is why I cannot wait for the next book in the series to arrive.  Pill bugs from space and now deadly poetry spitting flying feral books!  What will Angel Martinez come up with next?  I’ve got the popcorn and am patiently waiting to find out.

Cover art by Posh Gosh is very pretty and includes that flying book.

Sales Links

Pride Publishing | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 137 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786515520
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Offbeat Crimes 

A Caryn Review: Wild Rose, Silent Snow by Angel Martinez

Standard

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

wild-rose-silent-snowYay, another retold fairy tale from one of my favorite authors!  It was great to review Boots a few weeks ago, so I was looking forward to this one, and I have to say, I liked it even better.  I hope Ms. Martinez writes more adapted fairy tales (please!)

This book is a retelling of the Grimm brother’s Snow White and Rose Red.  Nothing like the Disney version of Snow White, thank goodness!  This time I googled the original story before I read this version, and once again I really enjoyed how she was able to take the best elements of the original, twist them around and flesh them out, and place them into a contemporary setting.  One of my favorite parts of this story was how she was able to place the forest – that place of magic and mystery so prevalent in Grimm’s fairy tales – in a place where it just fit.  This time, in rural Minnesota in the dead of winter.

Rowan Hadley is the main protagonist of the story.  He lives with his twin brother Snowden in their deceased parent’s house on an isolated island in a large lake.  Rowan and Snowden are barely scraping by, after their parents died and their inheritance got tied up in probate and lawsuits.  Both men are disabled in some way – Snowden has very limited speech but Rowan’s disability is not revealed until a good ways into the book – that makes them unable to pursue regular jobs, so they subsist on hunting, fishing, and working odd jobs during the summer.  Winter for them is much like it must have been to the original Snow White and Rose Red – a time of dark, and cold, and danger, and privation.  The brothers are very close, dependent upon each other, but they stick together out of love more than need.

When a bear appears on the island, the brothers are only mildly concerned, expecting it to wander away.  Then Rowan runs right into the bear, and immediately notices that this is not an average bear, especially when it follows him home.  Eventually the bear is in their house, and Rowan finds himself attached to him not just like human and pet, but in a way that feels different, but strangely right.  When the bear does not show up as usual one night, Rowan goes out looking for him but instead finds a gorgeous bear of a man naked in the snow.  And Rowan brings him home as well.  And thus begins their journey – Rowan, Snowden, and the bear – to discover and break the curse and rescue not only this bear, but another man who got caught up in the curse (because after all, Snowden needs to have a man to fall in love with too!)

The way the author brought magic into our world was more subtle, and therefore easier to accept, than the way she did it in Boots.  There was even a little bit of Beauty and the Beast here, with Cade being cursed into a bear due to his out of control temper, and although becoming a better man wasn’t the way to break the curse, he wouldn’t have been able to do so without earning and accepting the trust and assistance of Rowan and Snowden.  Cade was the character than changed and grew, while Rowan and Snowden remained the staunchly good and decent human beings that inspire those around them to be better people.  I was able to fall in love with all of them, and that’s what made me enjoy the book so much.  There was just the right amount of danger and conflict to make it exciting, but I just wanted to jump in there hug all three of these men!

Now I just need to read more of these, and Ms. Martinez does them so well!  I hope she has more in the works, and if so, I’ll be first in line to read them…

Cover art is by Posh Gosh, and once again is perfect for the story.

Sales Links

Pride Publishing

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Book Details:

ebook
Published November 29th 2016 (first published November 18th 2012)
ISBN139781786515001
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review: Boots by Angel Martinez

Standard

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

bootsOK, I have to admit it.  I love retold fairy tales!  I love how an author can take a recognizable skeleton plot and add, change, twist, and fold it into something entirely new.  I discovered them when my kids were in elementary school (East by Edith Pattou is one of my all time favorites), and have been reading them ever since.  And I was so happy to find that they are a fairly popular sub-genre of M/M romance (Brute by Kim Fielding is my favorite here!)

The other fun thing about retold fairy tales is when an author will weave in elements of other myths, other folklore from other cultures, and combine them with a fantasy world, or, like in this one, with the contemporary world.  Ms. Martinez combined the European “Puss in Boots” with the Japanese Kasha, or cat demon, but then she created her own background for why he was in present-day small town Pennsylvania.  And when a book sends me to Wikipedia to look up the references and find out where and how the author departed from canon mythology, I call that successful!

The book starts when the unfavored third son, Willem, inherits only $300 and the family cat when his father dies.  Although he thinks this was just his father’s last jab at him, he’s going to make the best of what he has, and after all, he’s always liked Puss.  He’s been laid off from his job, lost his apartment when his boyfriend cheated, and is essentially homeless but doesn’t want to impose upon either of his brothers, even though winter is setting in (this was the only part of the story that bothered me – if Willem is such a good and reasonable guy, why does he let something like pride drive him to the streets?)  He is shocked when Puss starts talking to him, but is so low that he’s willing to believe in magic if it finds him a warm place to sleep.  The cat informs him that “Puss” is a terrible name, insists that Willem call him Kasha, and sets out to help him get back on his feet.  Kasha is a demon who has been exiled to the human world, and is moved from one master to another in order to help them find what they want and need.  When one mission is accomplished he moves on to the next in an endless circle of servitude, so he’s learned to take what joy he can from that life, but he’s been burned enough times by cruel masters to be guarded about his purpose and abilities.

Willem is different, though.  Despite his past mistakes, he is a good and generous man who doesn’t accept or want Kasha as a servant/slave and still feels that it is his responsibility to take care of Kasha.  Kasha can also manifest as a man (with some cat parts that makes the sex both funny and kinda kinky) who is conveniently gay and Willem is just his type.

The rest of the story is the classic sacrifice and redemption that makes any good fairy tale work.  I enjoyed it, but was never able to really get behind either who these characters were before they met, or what it was about their connection that made them worthier of blessing in the end.  There was a little punishment kink introduced that was both gratuitous and unconvincing.  Kasha’s personality was a little more fleshed out in terms of what made him into a somewhat jaded and suspicious man in the beginning, but I just wasn’t convinced of the love between the men, and certainly not that it was responsible for either of them making the grand gestures that a fairy tale requires.

I really like this author though, and I’m going to be reviewing another of her fairy tales in this blog here soon, and I’ll be hoping for a little more!

Cover art by Posh Gosh is perfect for the book (except that Kasha had green eyes, not yellow!)

Sales Links

Pride Publishing

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Book Details:

ebook
Published November 8th 2016 by Pride Publishing (first published April 16th 2011)
ISBN139781786514967
Edition LanguageEnglish