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Devil Days in Deadwood

Devil Days in Deadwood (Deadwood Humorous Mystery Book 11) by [Ann Charles, C.S. Kunkle]

Devil’s Days in Deadwood by Ann Charles is a fun supernatural thriller. The story delves into the life of Violet Lynn Parker a seemingly normal human being who works as a real estate agent but is involved in the supernatural as a ghost hunter. The protagonist is part of an agency that is tasked with defending Earth from the evils unseen by normal human beings. The compelling heroine of the story faces a formidable foe but she requires help from and engaging cast of characters in order to overcome the exact definition of evil incarnate. The story is set in the alluring town of Deadwood, a town plagued by mysterious happenings since time in memorial ranging from ghosts to haunted houses.

Ann Charles has invoked various stylistic devices that highlight her writing skill and made this novel stand out in the paranormal genre. Although this is book eleven in Ann Charles’s Deadwood Humorous Mystery series, I think new readers will be able to jump right in as I have. What I particularly liked about this novel, and Ann Charles’s view of the supernatural, is the satirical lens that it is all viewed through. It’s a stimulating blend of humor, mystery, and paranormal that all come together to make the reader alternate between gasps, laughter and furiously flipping pages. It reminded me of the writing style of Douglas Adams or A. Lee Martinez.

Violet is an exceptionally well defined character, someone we can relate to as a mother who works hard to provide for, and protect, her children. But in the same vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she’s a demon executioner who risks her life to defeat some truly vile, other worldly, beings. While I understood Violet’s motivations, and her emotions, I did want a little more backstory. The world created here is interesting and I wanted to explore it more, though I suppose I could by reading the other novels in the series.

I was excited about this novel from the very beginning, based on the short synopsis of the book. I was thoroughly entertained and may have found a new series to while away the time in quarantine. Fans of supernatural thrillers will find an exceptional piece of literature that offers a unique voice to this genre.

Pages: 393 | ASIN: B0884DJ4MP

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A Dark Underbelly of Deception

Roger Chiocchi Author Interview

Roger Chiocchi Author Interview

Time Framed follows two family members battling across generations to avoid the consequences of a family curse. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

In 2002 I published the novel Mean Spirits which introduced the Pennfield family curse. The story follows the curse from the Mayflower through several generations and then ends with the downfall of Prof. Christopher Pennfield, once a highly respected professor of Philosophy, but now shamed for causing the suicide of his research assistant, a student with whom he was having an affair (and was the contemporary agent of the curse). The Epilogue of the book, takes place in 2052 when another descendant of the Pennfield family, Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield, an industrialist-genius, is contemplating how he, himself, can avoid the curse. He figures that if he can change the past a bit, he can throw off the timing of the curse so that he avoids it in the 2050s. So, in effect, Time Framed begins where Mean Spirits left off (but don’t worry, you don’t have to read Mean Spirits before Time Framed; the back story is thoroughly covered!)

Your characters are compelling and well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating them?

Certainly, one of the main themes is about greed and privilege. On the surface, The Pennfields are a well-respected American family; however, their accomplishments have a dark underbelly of deception, cheating and cruelty. Some of the characters in the book, specifically Christopher, Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield and Izan Bonne-Saari, a world renowned financier who uses his control of world financial markets to reshape the world’s governmental order into a caste system heavily favoring the wealthy elite, represent humankind’s proclivity to ego-centrism and narcissism. In fact, Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield creates a holographic clone of himself, aptly named Narc, so he can have someone of equal intelligence to converse with. Despite these characters self-centered and greedy natures, Christopher Pennfield realizes he has done wrong is looking to redeem himself which, I think makes him an interesting character. Some of the other characters in the book, Shippy Pennfield, Ed Swann (ghost hunter), Julian Weisman (theoretical physicist) and Dr. Brenda Altieri (nun turned psychiatrist), Derek Fane and Robyn Viega represent the better aspects of humanity.

I thought you handled the use of time travel deftly in this book. Time travel usually comes with its own paradoxes. How did you avoid these in your book?

Yes, indeed, any story about time travel has to deal with what’s called the “grandfather paradox” — suppose you went back in time and killed your grandfather; then you would never exist in the future to be able to go back in time to commit that very act. The only resolution to that paradox is for the universe to split into two parallel universes, one where you exist in the present and the other where you do not. So, in effect, Time Framed becomes the story of two separate universes, one where a certain event happened and one where it didn’t and then how they finally resolve into one universe again. Interestingly, there is no physical time travel in Time Framed. It all centers around the Pennfields using their pre-existing psychic sensitivities to communicate psychically across time and influence the other time period, convincing someone in the past or future to perform an act which appears trivial to them in their time frame but one which causes a major disruption of history.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

It’s not nearly as daunting as writing a book about two parallel universes across space and time, but currently my daughter and I are working on a screenplay that explores the relationship between fame and true talent.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Time Framed by [Chiocchi, Roger]

Two periods of time clash with an alternative universe in Time Framed, a story that pits family members against each other across generations as they attempt to evade the dire consequences of a menacing family curse. Dating back to the Mayflower, the curse had its origin as family patriarch, Charles Pennfield, threatened a poor servant girl, causing her to leap to her death off the Cape Cod coast. Now, her unsettled spirit ebbs and flows, surfacing every sixty to eighty years to exact justice as she inhabits a living agent and forces them to crush the greatest ambitions of whatever unlucky Pennfield crosses her path. 

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The Astral Surge

The Astral Surge by [Nirmal Ranganathan]

The Astral Surge follows the life of two main characters, Ron and Catherine. The book starts off by revealing our characters’ past. They meet after Catherine’s mom adopts Ron and they start an interesting life together. However, Ron starts revealing some dark tendencies that cause Catherine to wonder about her brother. As they grow older, they find their respective careers and take different yet similar paths that show their true selves. Eventually, it all culminates in some pivotal events which have big consequences – both good and bad – for our main characters and certain other people.
The book starts slow, and although the beginning confused me, it helped set the context for the later part of the story. The characters were intriguing and well developed. I liked the way they continued to develop as the story progressed. I enjoyed the characters being realistic. It helped in my easily empathizing with them.
Ron is a uniquely interesting character. The way the book documents his descent down the path he chose is both chilling and gripping. One example of this is the conversation he has with his soon-to-be-wife. She doesn’t notice it as much, but in this scene, you get a sense of his internal conflicts.
I also feel that the characters sometimes express an out-of-place carefree or happy attitude, which makes the book hard to read at certain points. However, the novel makes up for this with a plot that keeps you engaged. The author smoothly transitions between different points of view of each character. We can see this in the way the book shifts its focus on each of them in every chapter.
Catherine’s character is wonderfully developed too, showing her awareness of Ron’s issues and how she continues to watch over him.
Another character I felt contributed significantly to the story was the FBI agent Peter Fox. His helping nature and the chemistry he had with the other characters throughout the book added an extra dash of intrigue to the story. For example,  the way he goes about assisting Antony was something that I personally found surprising. It added a nice touch to the main plot.

Overall, the book has equal amounts of action and a story that is well balanced. It does a fantastic job of bringing together all its characters and tying their situations up in a satisfying way that is sure to appeal to any fan of paranormal fiction.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B07NY31HNK

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Time Framed

Time Framed by [Chiocchi, Roger]

Back in the 1600s, Charles Penfield drove a girl to her death. Since then, her soul roams the world seeking revenge through generations of the same family. She strikes every few decades to cause havoc. This had come to be known as the Pennfield curse.

Decades later in 2053, Jimmy Mashimnoto-Pennfield is well aware of the family curse and is looking for ways to get rid of it. He finds a solution in time travel, something that will not exactly get rid of the curse but will divert it from him. An alternate universe is created and Professor Pennfield catches wind of this. Jimmy’s intentions could make for a direr situation for Shippy so he has to be stopped. Now the Professor remains to fight Jimmy through the time-space continuum.

The characterization in this book is exceptional and sets up some remarkably vivid characters. Each character is bespoke and continues to develop as the story progresses adding layers that make the characters interesting and engaging. Understanding the characters is easy, being that this is a complex time travel sci-fi book, I appreciated this. Jimmy is quite obviously the villain, with his selfish motivations, his character is easy to dislike but still empathize with.

This book is long and complex, but it needs to be in order to dive completely into all the ramifications of meddling with the past. There is a lot going on in this book, time travel, curses, and multiple storylines. At times I got lost, but the author masterfully brings the story together in satisfying ways that kept me engaged. The moment of realization when events in the story comes together and makes sense, for me, was satisfying.

The way the professor and Jimmy try to outwit each other with intelligent and well thought out moves is an engaging experience. They’re each smart and cunning in their own ways and I was entranced watching them clash. This is the same feeling I get when I read Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series; intelligence used as a blade to attack and parry.

Time Framed is a suspenseful book with an absorbing story, an interesting villain, and a relatable underdog. Some parts of the book were hard to follow, but when you catch on, this book is simply addictive.

Pages: 748 | ASIN: B07DN3RNBC

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Case Two ~ The Kept – Trudy Hicks Ghost Hunter Traile

If anyone tells you hunting ghosts is less dangerous than chasing down real-life criminals, they’re wrong. Very, very wrong.

Case two takes us to a New Jersey Shore Inn. A beautiful, yet dead opera singer seems to be begging for help, but her pleas do nothing but terrorize the locals.

While trying to decipher the clues to her 1919 disappearance, uncovering hair-raising horrors, it becomes clear that Jason and I no longer see eye-to-eye.

Jason wants me to stop meddling with the supernatural. He wants me to stop risking my life by interacting with demons and spirits.

What he doesn’t understand is this is my life. These tortured souls need my help in order to move on. How do I walk away from that—from them?

But the better question is—how do I walk away from him?

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Hoodie Black

HOODIE BLACK: Some doors should never be opened by [Caspar, C. S.]

Detective Alex Hunter stumbles into darkness after a drunk driver careens into his wife and daughter, killing them instantly. Off the force, two years pass and he lands in private investigations and the edge of the underworld. When Arthur Garland offers him just the kind of job he can’t turn down, all hell breaks loose. Not only is Garland’s past unsettling, he is also the owner of a new property Alex is buying on Crystal Creek. He’d been turned on to the sale by a mysterious figure so now with every nerve firing and red flags flying, the wiry detective has a mystery to solve – one that he is already in too deep. Discovering how this all started with a detective not unlike himself over a century ago does little to soothe his soul. Then, and now, the answer to the mystery of Crystal Creek may lay with a phantom man wearing an old black hood.

CS Caspar’s novel, Hoodie Black, starts out with a tone not unlike an autobiography told in first person. The supernatural, however, has already come knocking within the first page. Deft descriptions of street trash mingle with demons from the start, I was taken with this dark view of the world. With a distinctive noire flair, the tale unfurls smooth as a red carpet making it easy to stroll on in to this tale and take a seat.

Harkening back to the best Twilight Zone or Creepshow stories, there are ghastly legacies, surreal paintings, tales regaled and of course much of that creeping darkness to be found. And not to say that lightly, Hoodie Black starts out with so many of the genres fairest delights like this so it easily hooks any fan of mystery and horror. On top of all the modern notes this story hits, there is an ancient foundation like something from the Brothers Grimm or older fables, the storytelling quickly becomes deeply layered, making any reader curious how it is all going to converge and when. Truly one of the more remarkable tricks is creating tension simply with that idea – how will this converge and when – CS Caspar has accomplished this tension in the first fifth of the novel.

For some, the tiptoe between a hard-boiled thriller and fairy tale or religious elements may be off putting. The tone may take a little to get used to once the book is at full speed since we are so accustomed to being in one state or genre instead of three at once. For those that enjoy genre-bending dark fiction, Hoodie Black is a very fun read. Culminating in battles between the very ideas of good and evil we are taken between first person narration and a more comfortable third-person point of view. The landscapes and surreal time-bending lend themselves to being wrenched from one mode of storytelling to the other and this should keep the most finicky of readers rapt with attention.

Pages: 219 | ASIN: B07M74MVB9

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Case One ~ The Deceit – Trailer

My job? I hunt ghosts. Not to prove they exist—because I already know they do—but to figure out why they’re still here.

My first big case leads me to a mansion on the Chicago Gold Coast, the previous home of a wealthy socialite who lived there until she accidentally fell to her death in 1927.

I’ve never been this determined—and excited—to solve a case like this one before. Pity I’m forced to work alongside a man whose sole purpose is to debunk paranormal activity. But the worst part? He’s gorgeous, and the more we work together, the more I realize I might be falling for him.

Together we’re delving deeper and deeper into the spiritual world. But the more secrets we uncover, the more pissed off these ghosts become; and that’s when I start to realize…we might be in way over our heads.

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The Endowment of Isaac Frey

The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson

The Endowment of Isaac Frey

The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson is a historical fiction story about a haunted old house in Coventry, England, and the family who occupies the house. The book starts in 1920 with John Weir and his friend, Albert Parry hunting for a legendary priest hole tunnel exit on the grounds of John’s family home, The Old House, a residence filled with tragedy and ghosts. The story spans several decades as the friends grow older and World War II separates them for a time, then brings them back together. Before going off to war to join Albert, John marries Annie Goodwin, a local girl who has returned to Coventry after escaping from an abusive man in London. The first part of the story follows John Weir as a boy and then a man (and later on, his wife, Annie), the current occupants of The Old House. Isaac Frey is introduced into the story after the halfway point. An American G.I. stationed at the base nearby, Captain Isaac Frey begins a relationship with Annie while John is away fighting in the war. But The Old House brings madness to the Weir family… and murder when John learns that he didn’t father Annie’s twins. After the murder of his wife, her children, and her lover, John Weir assumes Isaac Frey’s identity.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The vivid descriptions of supernatural events pulled me into the story. The house isn’t just the setting–it’s like another character, albeit creepy and suspenseful. The element of mystery surrounding the house kept me interested in the story all the way through till the end.

I didn’t like the character of Annie Goodwin. She suffered a lot of adversity, but her reaction to it was anger and taking her feelings out on others. I didn’t find her to be a likable character. She seemed to wallow in her misfortune, instead of finding a way to raise above it. Her affair with Isaac leads to her tragic end.

There were some minor issues with typos. And the point of view shifts between characters from one paragraph to the next were a bit distracting. Sometimes the shifts happened in the middle of a paragraph, which made it difficult to keep track of whose head I was supposed to be in. Some of the time jumps were a bit jarring, when something unexpected happened, but then suddenly it was years later without the author showing the previous moment in time playing out. Otherwise, a very entertaining novel.

The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson

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