Books, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Urban Fantasy

Review: SNOW IN SUMMER by Laura Kemp

Description:

Front Cover

It’s been a year since Justine Cook defeated an immortal enemy that had hunted her family for generations. Settling into a peaceful life with her boyfriend in the small town of Lantern Creek, Michigan, she hopes to escape the events of the summer before. But the past won’t let go so easily.

When a woman named Amanda Bennett survives a fall from a cliff on Mackinac Island, it triggers a series of events that reawakens the past. Soon Justine and her brother Adam are pulled into a mystery that threatens to destroy the new life they have worked so hard to create. As people begin to die- people only Amanda Bennett can see- Justine must race against time to destroy a dark power she thought she had buried the summer before.

My Take:

SNOW IN SUMMER is Book 2 in the Yellow Wood Series and is scheduled for publication on 11.18.20. It is highly recommended that you read Book 1 in the series prior to reading Book 2 as many of the events from the first book have direct bearing on the characters and their many challenges in Book 2. Although the author does a good job of refreshing the reader’s memories where relevant, there is not a detailed summary of the previous work included. Having said that, the book stands alone fairly well as a compelling read with a solid plot and fast pace once the rationale for the extension of the previous story arc is established.

Justine and Dylan return from book one and the story is set in the summer following the events of Book 1 in the series. A new character, Amanda, is introduced early in the prologue, and her difficulties draw in the series’ returning characters. A portion of the story is set on picturesque Mackinac Island, a favorite vacation spot off the Lake Huron coast of northern Michigan, as Troy, Amanda’s lumberjack/horse trainer boyfriend has an apartment above the Calhoun stable near the Grand Hotel on the island. The strong romantic elements of the story present complicated triangles among the characters that challenge the stability of relationships, while the villain uses their human weaknesses to torment them and force a confrontation. Kemp does this extremely well while bending and twisting the paranormal elements of the backstory around the realism of the everyday struggles of the characters, like working their jobs, paying for school, and trying very hard to resist being drawn into the unsettled issues that remain from Book 1. The result is a mind-blowing, breathless, rollercoaster ride of life-threatening obstacles requiring tough choices and ingenuity to negotiate, while seeming plausible at an extraordinary level for a magical realism mash-up with a mystery/suspense/thriller.

Author Bio:

Laura signing books outside the Island Bookstore on Mackinac Island

Laura is a teacher who loves to write about her home state of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University where she studied under Stuart Dybek, and has had her short fiction and poetry published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Word Riot, Tonopalah Review, SaLit and SLAB: Sound and Literary Art Book. “The Pursuit of Happiness,” – a short story she wrote while at WMU, was chosen as a finalist in the Trial Balloon Fiction Contest.

When not writing, Laura enjoys musical theatre, hiking, swimming, reading and performing with her Celtic band- Si Bhaeg Si Mohr. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and children as well as her dog, two hamsters, two gerbils, ten chickens, two horses and eight (and counting) cats.


Connect with Laura: Sea Legs on Land, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Woody’s Book Tour.

Get Laura’s Books at Pandamoon Publishing and Amazon.

Amazon, Authors Life, Blog, Books, Fantasy, Mystery, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Urban Fantasy, Writing

Review: SUICIDE SOULS by Penni Jones

Description:

Front Cover

Death is not always final…

Naomi and Luke have only one thing in common: they both died by suicide. They can earn a second chance at life by efficiently guiding their loved ones through grieving their untimely deaths.

Naomi excels at making her friends and family mourn, but the Death Shadow stalks ever closer to Luke. The dark entity carries non-compliant souls straight to Oblivion where unspeakably terrifying torture and the final goodbye await.

The two are forced to work together to navigate the in-between world in which they’re stuck. The only certainty is that the rules are unclear and shifting, and things are not always as they seem.

The pair must prove they’re worthy of another shot at life before time runs out. Can Naomi and Luke get better at living now that they’re dead?

My Take:

You’ve got to love an author who is willing to take chances, challenging norms, and pushing beyond the conventions of a genre. Penni Jones has done that with each of her previous novels: ON THE BRICKS and KRICKET. Although her writing has elements of mystery, suspense, and thrillers, there is always a gritty kind of realism as well. We can readily identify with her characters because they remind us of someone we know, or perhaps ourselves. She is frank, honest, and unafraid to tell us things others might decide not to. And what she says tends to be what we would think if we were in the same circumstances. This lends an immediacy to the story that allows the reader to become immersed into the story and care about what happens to its characters. SUICIDE SOULS is no different in its style but deviates from its siblings in subject matter. It is about life, death, and an afterlife that clearly is not exactly what the characters might have been led to expect. There is depth here that is subtly presented as a fairly simple, straight-forward story becomes more involved and complicated as the telling progresses. And in this, death becomes more and more like life, just with more frustrating differences.

As Naomi and Luke introduce themselves, we not only learn how they offed themselves but, over the course of the telling, we learn more than just the why. We learn about their character flaws, their insecurities, and their self-images that have followed them beyond death. Even though their physical natures perished with their bodies their self-images have followed them beyond the grave. For example, Naomi is busty and, in her own eyes, that has defined her relationships with men. Luke is insure about nearly everything including his obsession with superficial primary gender characteristics. Luke’s eyes rarely stray from Naomi’s boobs, even though they are merely echoes of what they were in life. As the story evolves, each of them must reconcile their pasts with their current situations. In due course, they come to realize how thin and vapid they were in their own lives – and perhaps why these flaws contributed to why they ended their lives. Although their lives were complicated and not all the different from the situations that define many of our own lives and those of our friends, they decided to end it all, only to learn that the end is only the beginning of a more complicated mess.

In death, Naomi and Luke’s existences become convoluted, confusing and, on the whole, a lot worse. Jones envisions an arbitrary structure that permeates everything around her characters as they navigate a minefield of manipulation and selfish intentions set against them. Redemption is not guaranteed as the author presents the world with a wry eye for the absurd and ill-conceived that reminds me of the societal commentaries embedded in the stories of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Jones’ characters make do with their lots as they progress toward uncertain conclusions. What results is an often biting treatment of the human condition that attacks conventional aspirations, ambitions, hopes, and dreams with hellish potentials largely beyond the characters’ control. The taking of one’s life is not glorified. Far from it. Death here is not the escape from life that some assume but an inevitable consequence of a larger process. Nothing is given. Nothing can be taken for granted. Your situation may vary and is not intended to get better. The best anyone can do is paying a lot of attention to the decisions one makes. The result is an engaging story that becomes more compelling and even hilariously farcical at the conclusion.

Author Bio:

Penni Jones

Penni Jones is a writer, movie buff, concert t-shirt enthusiast, reluctant multi-tasker, grunge music listener, and blogger extraordinaire of Scapegoats and Sacred Cows
Penni started writing stories as soon as she learned how to hold a pencil. She is an avid reader whose favorites include Mark Haskell Smith, Ariel Gore, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, Gillian Flynn, Christopher Moore, and Kelly Braffet.

Penni is an Arkansas native with a nomadic spirit. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington. She has worked as a bartender, restaurant manager, bank teller, payroll specialist, event planner, and office manager. These days she focuses on writing. She currently resides in Michigan and probably has too many pets. She is currently the Membership Chair of Michigan Sisters in Crime. Follow her on Twitter at .

Pre-Order ebook of SUICIDE SOULS (launches on 2.10.21). Find info on her other books at Pandamoon Publishing.

Authors Life, Blog, Books, Fantasy, Mystery, New Releases, novel, Publishing

Review: CRESCENT CITY SIN by Nola Nash

Description:

Front Cover

In the Crescent City, darkness blurs the lines between sinners and saints.

Having been brought back through the veil after her death, Zéolie wakes to find she’s being cared for by the mother superior. Secrets are slowly revealed as Mother Micheaux explains her connection to the past Zéolie’s father kept hidden all her life. Once her strength has returned, Zéolie tries to ease back into her home and life without Louis, but soon finds herself helping a young man who mistakenly shows up at her house looking for his long-lost mother. Feeling compassion for the young man who is far from his home in France, she and the Marchon girls attempt to help him locate his mother while making him feel welcome.

Julien, the young man, finds himself strangely drawn to Zéolie and slowly loses his heart to her, but his feelings aren’t returned when Zéolie makes a new discovery that changes her life once more. Jilted, Julien unleashes his grief in the form of magical power he didn’t know he had and finds comfort in the friendship of a local madame. Out of control and angry, he succumbs to the darkness inside of him and the taunting voice of a raging spirit hungry for revenge.

Can Zéolie and her magical menagerie pull Julien back from the edge of hell, or will the past take them all down? Walk down the gritty dark streets of 1830s New Orleans where the line between sinner and saint is as blurred as the line between life and death.

My Take:

As a follow up to the wild ride of CRESCENT CITY MOON, Nola Nash outdoes herself with the sequel, CRESCENT CITY SIN. I’m compelled to write spoiler alert here, but I will refrain from revealing any secrets. Having said that, if you haven’t yet started your journey into the freaky, surreal, spookiness that permeates The Crescent City Series, you need to punch your ticket now. Trust me, you need to start with CCM. However, you could easily read these two books out of sequence as each is solidly written and entertaining in its own right, though the second book would spoil some of the surprises of the first.

CCS begins shortly after the conclusion of CCM with a well-conceived, succinct first chapter that eerily links the two books, while reinforcing the underlying theme of the series, that the city of New Orleans is a world unto itself where natural laws are often subjectively applied. After all, voodoo is not only practiced but generally accepted as part of the subculture. So, it should be no surprise that witchcraft is practiced with often life-threatening consequences and the line between devout faith and magic is at best blurred or ignored altogether. The barrier of death can be transcended if you possess the method and means for the right reasons. Nash reminds us nothing in New Orleans stays buried for long.

Nash’s rare gift is weaving her descriptive settings and well-developed characters into the plot. Truly, the city she loves is a character in this story. It serves as a bridge between old and new, and an effective backdrop for the creepiest elements of this tale. The story ranks among the best I’ve ever read, both engaging and memorable. It becomes a fast read because of its pacing, which builds gradually to an adrenalin-pumping, gut-punching crescendo. And we’re left with a hint of yet another story to tell because, after all, nothing ever truly ends in the Crescent City.

CRESCENT CITY SIN releases worldwide on 10.28.20 from Pandamoon Publishing.

Author Bio:

Nola Nash

Originally from south Louisiana, Nola Nash now makes her home in Brentwood , Tennessee, with her three children. Growing up in Baton Rouge, she spent long hours onstage or backstage in the local community theaters, or writing stories that refused to leave her head any other way than to be put on paper. Her biggest inspiration was the city of New Orleans that gave her at an early age a love of the magic, mystery, and history. There are few better places for her to dream up stories than walking through the French Quarter or Garden District imagining what those places could tell.

When she isn’t writing, Nola is teaching middle school English, which means she gets to play with words all day while dodging hormones and drama. Except for the school plays and musicals, that is. Then, she’s the one creating the drama. If the weather is warm enough, she’s out on her balcony tending her garden and suburban wildlife that hang out there. If the weather isn’t great, she’s geeking out over BBC America. When she can, Nola sneaks a few minutes to meditate (only a few minutes because meditating can lead to naps and those make her discombobulated.) She also considers tacos and coffee major food groups.

Get CRESCENT CITY SIN and CRESCENT CITY MOON

Authors Life, Books, Editing, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Writing

Review: THE WRITER’S ZEN by Jessica Reino

Description:

Front Cover

Based on Jessica Reino’s widely viewed and successful monthly Twitter chat with writing novices and successful authors, The Writer’s Zen is a tool for writers to use during their own journeys from concept to publication and the many different ways to get there. It will help writers stress less during the creative process and find a writing routine that works best for them on their way to publication. Jessica uses her experience as an editor, author, and a senior literary agent to explain the paths that a writer can take to writing success.

Anyone who desires to become a successful author must read this book.

My Take:

Whether you have ever dreamed of being a professional author or are already on your way, THE WRITER’S ZEN is designed to help you explore alternatives to make the most of every opportunity. Best of all, it’s told in a friendly, conversive way offering advice based on the author’s wealth of experience as an author, editor and senior literary agent. Reino presents the various aspects of becoming successful regardless of the author’s background, prior writing experience, or prior knowledge of the publishing industry. She also exposes the changing nature and challenges of the digital age to old paradigms, including self-publishing and using social media in book marketing. As the title indicates, there is a Zen-like balance to be struck and a would-be author’s quest that goes well beyond the hard work and self discipline of harnessing basic composition skills in telling a story or expository, subject-based non-fiction writing.

There is something for everyone, and I highly recommend this book for anyone who aspires to write, whether it is a story, a text book, or the next great novel.

Author Bio:

Jessica Reino is a literary agent and multi-genre author. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, developing new stories, and helping other writers achieve their goals. She is a member of the The Editorial Freelancers Association, The Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
 
To learn more about Jessica, please visit her author website and be sure to connect with her on Twitter @JNRlitauthor where she hosts #thewriterszen monthly chat. Get THE WRITER’S ZEN at Amazon or Pandamoon Publishing.

Books, Fantasy, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Technology, Urban Fantasy

Review: PHAROS by Rachel Sharp

Description:

Front Cover

Jack and Rosie tried to return to their normal hacker lives after encountering the metal fae, but now people are disappearing. Their next-door neighbor Zelda, a psychobilly actress with a screaming habit, is on the receiving end of a home invasion by a living cloud that was likely meant for them. They’re not sure what they’re dealing with…and Rosie may have been infected by the same black dust as the missing locals.

She feels it drawing her out to sea, where the others disappeared. She knows better than to go, but when they exhaust their other options, Rosie follows the only lead she has; chasing the impulse she’s felt since encountering the black dust. It leads her to the Graves, an old lighthouse, where a Kindwraith has taken up residence. Instead of trying to kill Rosie, it heals her.

But if the Kindwraith is a helpful faerie…what’s eating people?

My Take:

PHAROS picks up about a year after the events in PHAETHON, Book one of the series. Note: PHAROS stands alone well without prior knowledge of the series. Sharp does an excellent job dealing with the backstory without it seeming forced. Jack and Rosie’s life is dramatically altered from what it was before book one, but it has settled into a new normal as they coexist with not only the knowledge of the existence of the fae around them but also cohabiting with Lassie, a brownie introduced in book one. Here, Zelda, a new, quirky neighbor is introduced and she rapidly becomes an integral part of the story.

Character development is Sharp’s forte, spending the correct amount of attention to the relationships exposed through dialog and interactions. She expertly weaves the plot elements around the characters as she explores the new challenges before them. But it is her way of telling the story that makes this book a must-read. It feels real despite the far-fetched premise and surreal situations; she invites the reader to suspend disbelief, almost immediately immersing them in a fantasy world where magical realism is not only the norm even if most people don’t realize the truth, but also an elemental part of the interworkings of its nature. The resulting foundation defines the interactions of fae with humans and exposes how dangerous or beneficial it can be depending on dispositions and circumstances.

I thoroughly enjoyed PHAROS and already look forward to the next installment, which I understand is currently under development.

Author Bio:

After a decade of touring the country, Rachel Sharp now lives in Vermont with several plants and her questionable sense of humor.

At time of writing, she is working on entirely too many projects. The previous statement will be true regardless of time of reading.

She also lives with chronic illness, plays ukulele, and tries to save the planet. Learn more about Rachel Sharp and her writing at her website. Get her books at Amazon and Pandamoon Publishing.

Amazon, Authors Life, Blog, Books, Mystery, novel, Publishing

Review: FUR by Ward Parker

Description:

BRING OUT THE ANIMAL IN YOU

FUR Front Cover

Teens lighting firecrackers at front doors, ringing doorbells, and running away. What could go wrong? When one of them is shot and killed by a homeowner, it looks like the shooter will get off under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But wouldn’t you know it, the shooter ends up bludgeoned to death with a golf club.

The dead teen’s adoptive father, Jimmy, is arrested for the murder. He’s an old friend of Zeke Adams, former sleazy tabloid journalist and landlord to a menagerie of weird tenants. Zeke promises to save his friend by finding the real murderer. He discovers the dead shooter’s profession involved opposition research on politicians. And that includes scandalous video footage of a U.S. Congressman. If the video goes public, it could throw the upcoming election.

Zeke has to navigate the worlds of kinky furries, animal-rights militants, anti-government militias, horny dolphins, a wayward alligator, and a conspiracy-buff assassin who has Zeke in his sights. Can Zeke stay alive long enough to clear his friend? Find out in this dark, deadly, and diverting Florida-noir thriller. If you enjoy Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, and Janet Evanovich, you’ll go wild over Fur.


My Take:
Although I usually recommend you read previous books in a series, it isn’t necessary to enjoy FUR, the new installment in the Zeke Adams Series. In fact, during a recent video interview on the Pandaverse Book Club, Ward explained that the foundation of the storyline for FUR predates the writing PARIAH, the first book in the series. So, technically much of the plot for FUR came first.

Once more, Zeke Adams is drawn into a convoluted puzzle disguised as a seemingly simple whodunit. While his intentions are mostly pure – are talking about a reformed tabloid sleaze monger – he tries to help Jimmy, a high school friend and current husband of an old flame, who is wrongly accused of murdering an unpopular neighbor who has accidentally killed his adopted son. But, as was the case in the series’ first book, things in Zeke’s world are not always what they seem, and certainly never easy.

The more Zeke pulls on the threads to unravel entangled mess, seeking the find the true culprits, the more the knot tightens around him, endangering not only his life but also his other friends, his unique assembly of weird tenants, and his latest lady friend. Springing his wrongly accused friend from jail requires Zeke to dive tail-first into a strange world of the Furry subculture as the twists and turns expose corruption at the highest levels of state and national politics. While he battles for his own survival against extremists bent on pushing their own agendas and a whacked out murderer skilled in the many ways of eliminating “problems” like Zeke, reluctant prosecutors, hesitant police, and misdirected federal agents, keep telling him to stay out of their investigation. Zeke must enlist the aid of his collection of weird tenants as he navigates a procession of absurd circumstances that likely could only happen in coastal Florida.

If you’re looking for something guaranteed to give you lots of laughs – and who doesn’t need that in these times? – FUR by Ward Parker is a top pick. You can find it at Pandamoon Publishing’s website and on Amazon.

Author Bio:

Ward Park is a Florida native and author of the Freaky Florida series, a romp through the Sunshine State with witches, vampires, werewolves, dragons, and other bizarre, mythical creatures such as #FloridaMan. He also pens the Zeke Adams series of noir mysteries and The Teratologist series of historical paranormal suspense. He lives in Florida (of course) with his wife, cats, and a demon who prefers to remain anonymous. Learn more at his website.

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Review: THE AMSTERDAM DECEPTION by Tony Ollivier

Description:
A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN AMSTERDAM TURNS INTO A DEADLY GAME OF DECEPTION

To find the missing device, Reynolds forces David to undergo a procedure to “host” the last thirty seconds of the spy’s memories. The procedure goes awry, however, and the spy’s memories, skills, and abilities download into David and break him free from Reynolds’ clinic. Dazed and disoriented, David stumbles out into the Amsterdam night and into a world he has only ever encountered in spy novels.

On his first international tour with the National Ballet of Canada, dancer David Knight is abducted from Amsterdam’s Red Light district and dragged to a clinic owned by Richard Reynolds, a billionaire with a serious problem. A prototype for a device that could save Reynolds’ company has gone missing and the only one who knew its whereabouts, a Cold War spy, is dead.

As the hunt begins, Reynolds needs David alive, but a rich televangelist wants him dead. Another man’s memories become David’s only protection in a battle between religious greed and corporate profits.


My Take:
This one has a little bit of everything going on. A young ballet dancer is out for a night of exploration with his friend who wanted to go to the red-light district of Amsterdam. And, you guessed it, he and his friend are in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are kidnapped which results in our main characters being dragged into a complicated, international mess involving a corrupt evangelical church and a Silicon Valley billionaire with lots of aging, leftover spies from The Cold War.

There are some features paying homage to the usual spy thriller themes, as you would expect. But there are some innovations, which at times, brings this one a bit closer to something out of a James Bond novel. For example: cutting-edge, sy-fy high-tech for implanting the memories from a dead man into another person and a VR video game on steroids that everyone seems to be after getting their hands on for one or another reasons. The result is exciting, page-turning reading from start to finish with several surprises along the way, just to keep you on your toes.

I’m ecstatic that this is the beginning of a series. The main character has a fascinating life, though he believed his life was rather mundane before the experiences in this story. This is a must-read for spy-thriller and mystery fans, but even if you don’t follow the genre there is plenty of action to hold your attention.

Tony Ollivier

Author’s Bio:

Tony Ollivier has stacked hay bails, picked tobacco, pinstriped cars and bartended his way through Canada before settling in Vancouver. Moving into technology early on, he’s worked for Apple, IBM and Microsoft. He now writes thriller novels while doing most of the cooking for his full-time family. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife, son and daughter. Visit his website, publisher’s website, and Amazon for more.



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Review for SINAI UNHINGED by Joanna Evans

Sinai Unhinged Front Cover

From the Book Description:
Lethal mistakes during a secret experiment drive scientists insane and plunge their therapist into a frightening search for the truth—and a dangerous fight for her life.

As the cries of a volatile patient in the psychiatric ward of Sinai General haunt therapist Alexandra Kraig, she realizes something terrifying has happened at the Complex. Mistakes have occurred there, mistakes that have changed him.

When Alex’s closest friend, also a scientist at the Complex, develops deeply disturbing behavior, she becomes determined to uncover the truth about the particle physics experiment hidden deep within the Complex walls, a project her missing father warned against many years before.

With her friend on the brink of madness, Alex resurrects her father’s research, infiltrates the Complex and races to halt the experiment’s destructive force. A dark element has another plan, hijacking the system, intensifying an already looming catastrophe, and propelling the Complex toward implosion. With time running out, Alex joins forces with the very scientists that created this monstrous experiment. Battling the enemy and the machine, Alex faces a ticking clock as she struggles to find the answer buried somewhere in her father’s secrets; an answer she desperately needs if she is to save her own life, and the lives of thousands more.

My take:
As I read this intriguing story, I never knew what to expect next. On the face of it, the foundation seems absurd, but that is the real strength of the author’s genius. As the story grows, expanding to reveal a cast with diverse backgrounds and interests, the premise of interconnection that underlies the universe becomes all the more plausible.

Researchers blinded by their ambitions to unlock the mysteries of the universe begin to unlock a secret dating back to the first moments of creation exposing themselves to unknown dangers. The author does a fantastic job tying the characters, their friendships and their occupations to the major conflict while exposing the elements of good and evil within their natures as well as their internal battles to maintain balance and protect what each holds dear. The result is an intense drama that evolves from page to page leaving the reader in doubt to the outcome.

I found the ending surprising but also satisfying. Also, there is enough room for a sequel, which I would certainly read. I look forward to more captivating stories from this debut author.

About the Author:
Growing up in Michigan, Joanna was an avid reader at a young age. Her wild imagination led her sixth grade teacher to encourage her to become a writer. Instead, she aspired to be like Dr. Joyce Brothers. Upon completing her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan, she moved to North Carolina and led a successful career as a psychotherapist for adults and children, with specific expertise in trauma treatment. But, her love for books and writing never left her.

Joanna Evans

Inspired by Stephen Hawking’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, Gary Zukav’s THE DANCING WU LI MASTERS, and any ancient spiritual or religious text she could find, she became fascinated with particle physics, the purpose of life and the need for a story that illustrated how intertwined we all really are. Eventually, her craving for an action-adventure set inside a place like CERN led to the creation of Sinai Unhinged.

Additionally, because where there is darkness, there must also be light, her romantic holiday screenplay, A CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS, has been optioned by Citizen Skull Productions.

In her spare time, she and her husband can be found traveling up and down the southeast coast in any season, even the hot and steamy summer. More information can be found at her website.

Book Links: AmazonPandamoon Publishing

Books, funny, humor, New Releases, novel, Publishing

Review of Matt Coleman’s A ROCKY DIVORCE

Simply brilliant and seriously funny!

Matt Coleman’s Raquel “Rocky” Champagnolle is a magnificent creation – not only a protagonist but also a highly effective anti-heroine with a sharp tongue and a rare gift of being able to judge people (fairly accurately) at first glance. Often she is surprised when she first hears someone’s name, but that does not deter her from calling them by the name she prefers, the name their parents probably should have given them. The thing with names, though, is something Coleman uses with great effect throughout the story. It offsets Rocky’s otherwise uncanny perception. She is a natural problem solver, a born detective even if she is somewhat reluctant to take on the complicated mystery underlying this story. In fact, the only reason she dives into the convoluted mess is that the town’s richest old lady calls her fat.

Rocky is a likable friend, the sort you love hanging out with even if you now you’ll probably regret some, if not a lot, of what she eggs you on to do. At one point, Coleman discusses the gravity some people have, drawing other people so close that they have no other option but to settle into orbit. Rocky is just such a star. Following her as she meanders through this absurd corner of a farcical universe is an adventure that will compel you to turn the page expectantly, wondering what snark will next erupt.

Having just finished Matt Coleman’s latest novel and regretting that there isn’t another chapter left to read, I’m glad there will be more Rocky stories forthcoming. And who knows? Maybe at some point, she might team up with Ellis or The Drew from Juggling Kittens. I mean – they do live in the same general area.

I am grateful for the privilege of receiving an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest appraisal. I have to tell you, each one of Coleman’s now three novels is strikingly different. And yet, they bear similarities beyond sharing an author. Each rests comfortably within the Grit Lit subgenre of mysteries. Each hosts a cast of memorable, quirky but relatable characters whose lives manage to spiral around at the fringes of sanity, skirting legality at times, while they try really hard to do what they feel is necessary whether anyone else feels it’s right or not. Reading one of Coleman’s books is an event I look forward to because of his amazing sense of irony and unwavering wit. I guarantee you’ll love this book every time you read it.

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#BookReview: The Shape of the Atmosphere by Jessica Dainty

The Write Review

EA4A4561-B4BC-456B-BF1D-A09890CEDE5B
Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: November 2016

Summary:

Gertie MacLarsen believes she was given ugliness at birth. Growing up in an estranged home, the only times she feels beautiful are the nights her father comes in to show her the stars. The day of her 16th birthday, the same day that Sputnik traverses the sky, Gertie’s life is irrevocably changed. After a family

tragedy, her elusive and alcoholic mother sends her to Willow Estate, a private mental institution, where she is thrown into a world of harsh therapies, dangerous hospital politics, and, surprisingly, a sense of family.

Within the walls of Willow Estate Sanatorium, Gertie finds awfulness and grace, terror and family. From hydro and shock therapy, to first love, to rape and suicide, the only thing Gertie is sure of from day to day is that growing up is not a choice and that forgiveness and acceptance are…

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