Amy Caudill’s Reviews : My Grave Ritual

My Grave Ritual by G.S. Denning
My Grave Ritual by

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Amy Caudill‘s review

Jan 15, 2019  ·  edit

This third installment of the author’s paranormal parody of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective features Warlock Holmes, a hapless, frequently helpless practitioner of dark arts who is riddled with demons that occasionally prove useful, but more often threaten the sanity of Dr. John Watson, who is not the sidekick, thank you very much, but the real brains behind the crime-solving duo.

This anthology of short stories is based off Conan Doyle’s originals, but in this version the separate cases tie closely together to reveal a larger plot that is hinted at throughout the book.  Nightmarish prophecies where living porcelain dolls reveal a ritual that portends someone’s death and the escape of the disembodied Moriarty, cast out of Holmes at the end of the last volume, spells impending doom if Holmes and Watson cannot solve the mysteries, capture the mastermind, and save the world in time.

All of Conan Doyle’s most notable characters are present, though some in altered form.  Scotland Yard Inspectors Lestrade and Greggson come to call, though their non-human natures, a vampire and troll respectively, offer complications that Conan Doyle never envisioned.  Mrs. Hudson is her mirror opposite in every way, and street urchin Wiggles, in this version a lycanthropic shape-shifter, also pop in to add to the mayhem.

“The Woman,” a.k.a Irene Adler, makes multiple appearances, but this time it is hopeless romantic Watson who is obsessed with her, to the point of his foretold and inevitable “death” at the end of this volume.  Time will tell if mortal Watson’s death “takes” or is somehow retracted by Holmes, especially as the next volume of the series, The Sign of the Nine, is due out in April of this year.

G. S. Denning does an admirable job of copying Conan Doyle’s style along with the language and mannerisms of 1890s London, while adding his own unique twists and turns to the genre. As a long-time fan of all things Holmesian as well as paranormal stories, I greatly enjoyed the two previous volumes in the author’s series, A Study in Brimstone and The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles, and look forward to the next two planned volumes. I give My Grave Ritual five stars, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a spoof of Sherlock Holmes, paranormal stories, or just a light-hearted take on detective fiction.

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It’s a New Year!

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Dear Readers,

Happy New Year!

Today I started my day by having a late breakfast with my family, and then started cleaning out some of the clutter acquired over the last year.  My thoughts automatically turned to all the things I would like to do this year: places I’ve never visited, goals I’ve never accomplished before, and though I don’t habitually make resolutions, I decided I do have some aspirations that will make this year the best yet.

It’s been a crazy few weeks at my house;  between holidays, visiting family, and starting a new job, I’ve had a pretty full plate, but today I can take my time to rest, and plan, and dream.

I want to treat 2019  like a clean slate.  I want to attempt to be the best version of myself that I can be, or at least a better version of myself.  I know I will falter along the way, and probably fail at some point, but right now I choose to look on this change of date with optimism, and embrace the possibilities.

I hope you choose to embrace this chance to start anew along with me, whether or not you set any resolutions for yourself.  Let’s make 2019 the year we accomplish our dreams, the time we become the people we have always wanted to be.

I wish you all joy, and peace, and love, and fulfillment for 2019!

Amy

My Christmas Wish for You

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I just wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt wishes for all of you out there this holiday season.

I wish you joy, and peace, and a special time spent surrounded by your loved ones.

I wish you health, and happiness, and that you have or find motivation to reach for the stars this next year.

I wish you all love, for yourself, and for those you call family and friends.

Most of all, I wish for you, dear readers, a Merry Christmas to you and yours and a very Happy New Year!

Amy

My Interview on A Dreamer’s Blog

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I was recently privileged to be interviewed by Jason Foss about the inspiration for my novel Virtual: Can you be sure what’s real? and my future work on his blog, A Dreamer’s Blog.

Thanks so much for his kind words, and for his insightful interviews with many other authors.  To check out the interview, click this link: ‘A Dreamer’s Blog’ by Jason E. Foss

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Amy

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Blood of the Earth

Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Blood of the Earth (Soulwood, #1) by

Faith Hunter (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review
Nell Ingram doesn’t think she’s special; actually she’s afraid that the strange “gifts” she has, if discovered by the God’s Cloud of Glory cult she escaped from as a child, would see her burned at the stake. So she lives alone, almost completely isolated save for her mystic connection to the forest that she barely understands. Being alone protects her; being alone is comfortable, but her quiet isolation is not meant to last. Forces meant to help and harm are both coming her way, and Nell will be forced to use her strange connection to the Earth to save lives.

This first book in a new series by author Faith Hunter revisits a world where “paranormals” live and work side by side with ordinary humans, and both groups are touched by good and evil. When Homeland Security’s special division for dealing with paranormal crimes, PsyLED, saves her life, Nell Ingram is forced out of her self-imposed isolation to assist in a case involving the kidnapping of multiple young girls, and work with a group of individuals whose gifts are just as unique as her own.

Nell’s insider knowledge of the God’s Cloud of Glory church, which is suspected to be involved in the kidnappings, makes her a valuable asset. In order to save the lives of the innocent girls, one of whom is her own sister, Nell will have to face her past, and push her strange powers in ways she’s never before imagined.

I picked up this book as a choice from my local book club, and I really wanted to like it simply because of the location; the setting is mainly in East Tennessee, in and around Knoxville, an area that is near and dear to my heart. While the descriptions of the region and are spot on, I had more difficultly with the plot.

The story seemingly meandered along for the first half of the book, before the pacing finally picked up somewhere along the last third of the text. Granted, some of this was necessary world-building, but it seemed to me to be a bit excessive in mass. Still, by the end I was fully invested in the action, and cheered Nell and her team on as they reached a very satisfying ending, and epilogue.

I offer this story three and a half stars, and would recommend that readers interested in paranormal and urban fantasy stories check out this series as well as other works by Faith Hunter.

Movie Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet

The hubby and I actually went out to see a movie last week, instead of waiting till it came to us via Netflix or Redbox, and were charmed with the film we chose.  For those who grew up during the era games like Pac-Man were the latest craze, visiting Litwak’s arcade is like a trip down memory lane.

While technological changes from old-fashioned video games to the burgeoning Internet plays a role in the movie, this sequel to Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, focuses less on that and more in the character development of its principles, nice “Bad Guy” Ralph, and his bestie Princess Vanellope, a race car driver from the overly sweet “Candy Crush.”

When an accident damages Vanellope’s vintage console, Ralph and Vanellope undertake a trip through a new addition to the arcade, a network connection, in order to locate a replacement steering wheel from E-bay. What they find in this new world will alternately amaze and horrify Ralph, while Vanellope soon finds herself longing to stay.

While Ralph is perfectly happy with the way things are and doesn’t want to change anything about his life or his friendship with Vanellope, she is struggling with the monotony of her unchanging environment in the arcade.  Ralph wants to make Vanellope happy, and goes to great lengths to help her fulfill her dreams, and then nearly destroys them, along with the entire Internet, when his own insecurities and possessive behavior come into play.

This version of Vanellope is still adorable; but is experiencing angst that comes from the struggle to come into her own.  She is bored with the current track options of her own game, and quickly becomes enamored when introduced to “Slaughter Race,” a game for more “mature” audiences, and especially its own leading lady, a female racer named Shank.  She regards Ralph as her best friend, but is learning that it’s okay to grow and try things on her own.

They will have to learn to be honest with each other, and accept that it’s okay to want different things, in order to save their friendship and stop the virus destroying the Internet.

One of the highlights for me was the scene where Vanellope accidentally finds her way into the dressing room of the “other” Disney princesses, who then assist in saving the day, or rather the “hero” in distress, Ralph!

This is movie is rated PG, though the climax with the attacking “Ralph” virus may be scary for some younger viewers, and is in theaters now.

Have Yourself a Christmas from the Heart

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This holiday season holds the meaning we give it, so make it a good one! Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

There’s no denying this time of year can be hectic-between family plans, social obligations, baking, shopping, and necessary seasonal activities like shoveling the driveway-it can be hard to prioritize, much less breathe!  With so much hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to find a moment to contemplate what the season really means, or what we would like to share with our loved ones.

I don’t have a magic formula to tell you how to organize everything so that you have time left over for mundane things like sleep, but perhaps, we can manage to rearrange the busyness into something more meaningful this year.

Give of Yourself to Others.

Not everyone has the means, or the desire, to spend on elaborate gifts for family and friends, or donate large amounts to worthy charities at this time of year.  That does mean we cannot give gifts from our hearts, or assist those in need.  Enlist your family to help make homemade treats for friends and neighbors, pull out your knitting needles, or make a batch of homemade soaps to share.  Gifting someone with something special made by hand can be more meaningful than the fanciest of presents you could purchase.

There are plenty of organizations that need volunteers to help stock food pantries, collect warm clothing and toys for needy children, or spend time caring for abandoned pets.  If you aren’t sure where you (and your family) could volunteer, check with your local church, or go online to places like the Salvation Army website or the Kids in Need Foundation to find out what’s most needed that you can shop for or collect in donations.

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The time you can spend with your family is more important than any present they may recieve.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Create Holiday Traditions.

Long after the presents have all been opened and their excitement has faded away, your children will remember the special moments you’ve shared with them over this season.  Let the kids help decorate the tree, or give them one of their own and help them make paperchains and other homemade decorations.  Take the time to read them the classic “Twas Night Before Christmas,” or watch a classic Christmas movie together. Let them help you make a special platter of cookies and milk for Santa, and don’t forget the carrots for the reindeer.

I remember one year when I was a young child my parents arranged for a neighbor to stand by our back door and shake jingle bells while we were in the dining room on Christmas Eve.  My brother, sister and I were told that the tinkling came from Santa’s sleigh as he flew by.  Of course, when we were led back into the living room afterwards, we found that we had been visited by “Santa” while we were distracted.  I don’t remember any of the gifts we received that year, or if my younger brother and sister even remember the event, but the magic in that moment of possibilities, stayed with me long after I knew the “truth” about Santa Claus.

What holiday traditions do your family share?  I would love to hear from you!

Remember the Meaning of the Season.

While it can be very difficult at times to not let ourselves be caught up in the chaos that surrounds this time of year, I hope you find some time to breathe, and to enjoy the true meaning of this season. Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, or whatever traditions you celebrate, all have deeper meanings than the gifts, the shopping, the traffic, and the music that started as early as the day after Halloween on some radio stations.  This is the season of light, of hope, of love, of joy, and sharing of ourselves with others.  I hope you are able to leave the rest behind, and take some time for your loved ones, and yourself, to spend together and truly celebrate.

From my family to all of yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Wicked Deeds

Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham
Wicked Deeds (Krewe of Hunters, #23) by

Heather Graham (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review
A romantic getaway for a just-married couple, an historic Baltimore restaurant, and a murder makes for a typical beginning for this 23rd installment of the author’s Krewe of Hunters series. The series focuses on a team of FBI agents, all whom possess to some degree abilities to see, hear, and interact with the dead, and use these special “gifts” to unravel murders that local police and other agencies cannot solve.

What sets this novel apart from the rest of the series is the strange dreams, followed by waking encounters, with the ghost of a most famous historic personage, Edgar Alan Poe himself. Poe is a regular visitor to the Black Bird restaurant, which is dedicated to his life and work, and is the home of The Blackbird Society, a Poe fan group. When the restaurant becomes the scene of the murder of another, modern famous author, Poe volunteers to assist agent Griffin and historian and future-agent Vickie with the case.

As the members of The Blackbird Society insist on “helping”, Griffin and Vickie cope with multiple séances, more murders and disappearances, and a trip to a house that could have come straight out of a Poe short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” As they unravel the clues to the modern murders, Vickie finds strange links between the modern cases and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Poe’s own death, which the ghostly author cannot consciously recall.

I thought this novel was by far one of the most engaging books by author Heather Graham I have read in some time. The premise of the story, while in lines with the successful series, contained more originality and twists and turns than some of the prior books in the series. Her protagonists are always likeable, but it is rare that the multiple secondary characters and antagonists, such as socialite and would-be seer Liz Harcourt, are portrayed with such depth of development. The characterization of Poe himself was equal parts comic-relief and intrigue that makes the reader ponder the various theories concerning his mysterious demise.

The only issue I had with Wicked Deeds is in the final chapter, which seemed overly drawn out and forced in length. While it was nice to see the characters have some closure, this particular scene seemed a little superfluous, especially after the level of excitement that preceded it. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book, and give it five stars, with recommendations for any reader who enjoys paranormal/urban fantasy/murder mystery/romantic stories.

Pre-Christmas Sale

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Hello busy readers and pre-Black Friday shoppers!

Have you ever wished you could step outside of reality for a little while, take a breath and simply will yourself somewhere  that is more peaceful, or more exciting, somewhere where you can be anything you can imagine, or experience an adventure you’d never dare to dream in real life?

The main character in my book Virtual: can you be sure what’s real?, Amanda, has the chance to do exactly that, through a marvelous trip into Virtual Reality.  Join Amanda and her teammates and opponents, especially the sexy Rex Cade, as they experience excitement, adventure, betrayal, and untold dangers as they uncover a plot to take control of this new world.

 

I’ll be running a promotion for seven days starting this Wednesday, November 21st, on my book Virtual: Can you be sure what’s real?

This e-book makes a great stocking stuffer, or a quick read when you get a chance to relax!  Just follow the links here:

Check out these wonderful reviews on my work:

From Graciela Sholander: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RNVO43UWX78KU/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B076DJNHT6

From Robert Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RPYU1Z3D57U4I/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B076DJNHT6

Have a great holiday, and make sure to take some time for yourself!