Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Vampire of Rome in paperback and reviews

We are now in that magical time of year between Thanksgiving (or my Birthday) and Christmas, when the world is full of possibilities and fun. I'm relaxing, just a bit, content as I enjoy the fruits of my labors, although it would be nice if I got a few more reviews.

Good News - The Vampire of Rome is now available as a paperback at Amazon go here to get some –The Vampire of Rome if you dare.

Amazon - The Vampire of Rome

While I’m in lollygag mode that means I get to read more than normal. So for this week I have reviews for you, nine of them -

The Starship's Mage Series
Glynn Stewart
Starship Mage

Amazon - Starship's Mage
Blurb - In a galaxy tied together by the magic of the elite Jump Magi, Damien Montgomery is a newly graduated member of their number.
With no family or connections to find a ship, he is forced to service on an interstellar freighter known to be hunted by pirates.
When he takes drastic action to save the Blue Jay from their pursuers, he sets in motion a sequence of events beyond his control – and attracts enemies on both sides of the law!

I really enjoyed this series, it reminded me of the best parts of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, and Nathan Lowell’s Trader's Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper Series.
Just like with advanced science in Science Fiction with the “problem” with magic is that it solves every crisis just in the nick of time. It allows for too much freedom of action, and not enough constraints. Not the problem here, magic has limits, cross them and one is spent, keep pushing and you’ll die. The best solutions involve thinking and being creative, which makes this a much better than average book.

Hand of Mars
(Book II)
Amazon - Hand of Mars
Blurb - Three years ago, as Ship’s Mage of the starship Blue Jay, Damien Montgomery was pursued to the edge of human space by both the agents and enemies of the Mage-King of Mars — before being brought in from the cold.
Now, trained in new skills by the Mage-King himself, Damien has been sent to the planet Ardennes alongside Alaura Stealey, Hand of the King. A rebel movement there has destroyed cities fighting a Governor seemingly lost to corruption.
But not all on Ardennes is as it seems. As allies becomes enemies and an entire world comes apart in chaos around him, Damien will find both his skills and integrity tested to the utter limit.

How does one do the right thing when any mistake and an entire planet goes up in flames? Damien is under juuuust a bit of pressure here, and his mentor is not around to guide him as was planned. Can’t say much else with-out spoilers, but this one is even more action packed than the previous one. Even so, thinking is what saves the day, not magic, near magic technology, or “I just happened to have that in case of a situation like this,” Batman utility belt.

Voice of Mars
(Book III)
Amazon - Voice of Mars

Blurb - When accusations of piracy and mass murder are laid against his homeworld, Damien Montgomery is sent to resolve the crisis.
As counter-accusations fly and an old flame re-enters his life, the newest Hand of the Mage-King of Mars finds himself in the midst of a bloody interstellar shadow war. With the death toll mounting, Damien must decide whether he should trust the world he came from – or the world that asked for his help.
The wrong choice will trigger a civil war that could shatter human civilization.
No pressure.

Before it was a planet ready to explode, now it two systems ready to go to war. And they have cause, each believes the other is committing acts of piracy, and has proof of their allegations.
Damien has an entire team helping him, this is not a “Lone Space Ranger,” kind of series where one man comes in recalibrates the Twinkie machine and everything works out, it’s realistic, without getting boring from being realistic.
Part military space opera, part space whodunit mystery, all enjoyable.

The series doesn't end here, and when I get some time I'll review Alien Arcana, which may be Glynn Stewart's best so far.
Next up 13th Century Mysteries!

The Stephen Attebrook Mysteries
Jason Vail

Amazon - The Wayward Apprentice
Blurb – Stephen Attebrook, a crippled knight facing poverty and ruin, seems condemned to a quiet life when he takes a position as deputy coroner in the small town of Ludlow.
But instead, he plunges into a web of murder and intrigue.
A death Attebrook rules an accidental drowning turns out to be a murder, and he must find the killer with little evidence pointing the way.
Then a commission to return a runaway apprentice pitches him into the midst of a conflict between a rebellious earl and King Henry III that is about to erupt into civil war.
Caught up in the twilight struggle among spies readying for war, Attebrook races to defend the apprentice against a charge of murder while dodging killers in the employ of one of the factions.
Thirteenth century England has never been brought more vividly to life than in the pages of The Wayward Apprentice.

1262, England, a Medieval Noir tale, a window into a world Centuries ago amid the crime and intrigue in rural 13th Century England. Get ready to cringe, this is not the sanitized "ye olde Medieval Kingdom" from film, or a Medieval romance novel, or the mess that is a Ren Fest, this is a very uncivilized, by modern standards, where 'good' people are brutalized and mistreated. Laws are harsh, justice is swift, but very, very blind. French is the language of Nobility. A much closer version of what it was like than you get from other sources, and it’s not pretty, or fair.  Stephen Attebrook, is near a broken man, widowed, nearly a cripple, and damn near starving from lack of money. Drawn into the dark secrets, and Political struggles about to ravage England, which overlaps the personal dramas, lovers spats and petty jealousies of his neighbors. Attebrook is a man of many skills. He will need them all to survive the hornets’ nest he has stirred up. I really enjoyed this novel and series.

Baynard’s List
(Book II)

Amazon - Baynard's List

Blurb - October 1262 should have been a quiet month, that melancholy time following the death of summer dedicated to the chores of readying Ludlow for the onset of winter and the hard months ahead.
But the game of spies is afoot. A valuable list identifying the secret supporters of both King Henry and his rival for power Simon de Montfort has disappeared following the murder of Henry’s master spy in the west of England. Whoever possesses that list obtains a significant advantage in the open war that is soon to break out between them.
Stephen Attebrook, the part-time deputy coroner for northern Herefordshire, has been forced to find this list by his former master, the grasping and ambitious crown justice Ademar de Valence — projecting Attebrook into a cesspit of murder, intrigue and betrayal.
Attebrook faces his greatest challenge as a discoverer of secrets as he races to obtain the list before a rival gets it first, while the life of someone close to him hangs on the outcome.
Step through this time portal to13th century England and relive the sights, sounds and sensations of a lost world as they have never been depicted before.

Baynard's List, like The Wayward Apprentice is another Medieval Mystery, but intelligent and accurate. People are dirty, brutal, violent, and always looking to survive the day. So vivid, it shows that you can be historically accurate, and still have a great story.

Vail has produced a cast of fascinating characters, from the sarcastic, legless Harry the Beggar to his protagonist Stephen Attebrook, a crippled knight, is still scraping by on his meager salary as a deputy coroner.  Starvation is barely kept at bay, let alone being able to care for his horses (yes plural) and certainly not enough for the household required to be a gentleman. Good news, while he doesn’t have much money he does have lots of people who want to kill him. Oh and his son has been kidnapped, really kept in “protective custody” until he does this one “small” task. The characters come across as real people, not central casting stereotypes, toss in some great fight scenes with a good mystery and plot and I enjoyed myself.
A Dreadful Penance
(Book III)
Amazon - A Dreadful Penance
Blurb - November 1262 is an unlikely season for war. But war nonetheless is coming to the March, the wild borderland between England and Wales. Not the war that most fear between the supporters of the King and the rebellious barons uniting around Simon de Montfort, but with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Welsh warlord who styles himself Prince of Wales and who has united the fractious tribes of his land against the English.
The English are uncertain, however, where and when the blow will fall. So, Sir Geoffrey Randall, coroner of Herefordshire, dispatches his deputy, the impoverished knight Stephen Attebrook, to the border town of Clun to make contact with a spy in order to learn Llywelyn’s plans.
At the same time, Randall directs Attebrook to investigate the murder of a monk found dead in his bed at the Augustine priory of St. George at Clun.
The assignment casts Attebrook into the middle of a desperate feud between the priory and the lord of Clun and reveals a forbidden love that can only result in suffering and death.

The dialogues between Stephen and Gilbert, their verbal sparring where each one gives as good as he gets is one of the things that makes this book so good and separate it from the others. Rather than a ‘Look, a dead body. Jinkies, there’s a mystery to solve,’ there is character development, observations by the characters on why things are the way they are, help the reader to understand that even though everyone speaks English, life was very, very different in the 13th century.
Attebrook has learned to avoid repeating his mistakes, not a not a two-dimensional stereotype, he’s a compelling protagonist but doubts linger, he still feels out of his depth. And Attebrook really, really wants a job or something the elevate him up from the near poverty he lives in. If he survives the Welsh.
There are several other editions in this series, and so far I've not read a bad one. I'll get around to reviewing those as well as time permits.
Next up Urban Magic of a disappointing sort

The Thrice Cursed Mage Series
J. A. Cipriano
Amazon - Cursed
Blurb - My name is Mac Brennan and that's the only thing I can remember about myself. Not why I woke up in a dumpster. Not why my right arm is as black as pitch and covered in glowing red tattoos, and certainly not why a vicious death cult is after me.
Actually, that last part isn't true. I know why the death cult is after me. It's because I saved that damned girl from them. I didn't know who she was at the time, but I'd have done it anyway. I just don't like it when girls get beat up, call me old fashioned.
Still, I can tell she's hiding something behind those devilish eyes, and if I want to find out what it is, I'll have to help her.

A decent pulpy book filled with fast, gory action. And that is part of the charm and weakness; it’s pulpy. Not much character or story development. We don't know Mac Brennan in Chapter One or when you hit ‘The End.’
Like Mack Bolan inhabiting the world of Harry Dresden, Mac Brennan is an overwhelmed hero with a heart of gold. Magically protective overcoat. Magic is convenient and remembered just in time, however, Mac Brennan never suffers, no moments of introspection, never questions his purpose or impulses.
If you want magical pulp this is the perfect book for you.


(Book II)
Amazon - Marked

Blurb - My name is Mac Brennan. I have no memory, and I'm a werewolf-hunting, hellfire-flinging version of Faust himself.
Pierce Ambrose. That was the name of the man I'd been sent to kill. The man I'd failed to kill. I have one day left to make good on my contract before the thugs holding my sister and her son start sending me pieces of them.
Pierce Ambrose. A man with a secret I didn't uncover until it was too late to turn back, too late to give up on trying to kill him.
Now, if I want to see my sister and nephew again, I have to try one last time.

Marked is the second book and it's better than Cursed, the previous story. Mac Brennan is back, this time with a bit of a purpose and direction. I’d say he even has agency, except he sold his soul to a demon, so I don’t think this will end well for him. There are the usual pulpy one liners, lots of action, and a damsel in distress (kinda).
The worldbuilding is pretty good for a short book, and the character development was much better this time around. Each character has clear motivations and goals, and the secondary ones feel as real and complex. It was nice to delve deeper into Mac's past and learn more about him and why he’s in the mess he’s in.
Burned(Book III)
Amazon - Burned

Blurb - My name is Mac Brennan, and I'm getting pretty sick of demons. For one, they're jerks. For two, they're ugly. For three, see points one and two.
I should have known making a deal with a devil would end with me getting double-crossed, but what can I say, I'm an idiot who wanted his family back.
That demon may have put an army between me and my family, but if I've learned anything these last few days, it's that you can kill anything if you shoot it enough times.
And I've got a whole lot of bullets.

This time we’re smack dab back in pulp-land. Book time I don’t think a week has gone by from number two too number three, and Mac is back at it again. Action is continuous, character development is via being bounced off of hard objects and one liners. Worse he’s losing almost continuously to every other character in the book. If Pee-Wee Herman showed up, I think it would take two limp-wristed slaps and Mac would be down for the count. As far as moving the overall story arc, I didn’t see it. It wasn’t “BAD” it just wasn’t very good. I think I’m done with Mac Brennan for the time being.
You want dark, you need your tales gritty? May I suggest a FREE sample to start you off?
Goth Witch of Philly

Junior Inquisitor Book One  
Now on sale for 99 cents!

Soulless Monk Book Two  
 Smashwords - https://goo.gl/NXw3Gr
Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/5lCyaX

The Witch’s Lair Book Three 
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 Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/mJtTf8
The Vampire of Rome Book Four





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