Reading

FREE ON KINDLE: HUNTING THE PHOENIX (BOOK 4 OF THE HERBERT WEST SERIES)

Hunting the Phoenix is available for free via a special promotion until end of day Sunday,  June 17th.

This is the final book of the Herbert West Series.

AMAZON:   USA   UK   CA   AU

Journalist Alma Halsey chases the story of a lifetime to Providence, Rhode Island and finds more than she expected – an old lover, Charles Milburn, and an old adversary, renegade physician Herbert West, living under the name Francis Dexter. Fire throws her into proximity with them both, rekindling romance and completing a great transformation.

Middle-aged and cynical, journalist Alma Halsey looks back on the missed chances in her life with bitterness and regret. Revisiting her home town of Arkham, she comes into possession of a letter that changes everything. So what if it’s not addressed to her, but to her old flame, librarian Charles Milburn? Suddenly she’s chasing down a big story, and maybe she’ll reconnect with Charles as well.

Giving up her New York City life, Alma moves to Providence to track down another man from her past – one she’s assumed to be dead for more than 15 years – renegade physician Herbert West. It seems he’s living in Providence under the name Francis Dexter, and is once more engaged in nefarious doings. Once she’s gathered enough information, Alma plans to write an expose.

Things get complicated when Alma discovers that Charles Milburn is also in Providence, working for “Dr. Dexter,” and English neurosurgeon Edward Clapham-Lee is also looking for Herbert West. Everything goes wrong when the house she is living in catches fire. Seriously injured and far from home, Alma is forced to accept the hospitality of the man she has made her quarry. In Dexter’s house she finds healing, strangeness and unexpected friendships, and realizes her real quarry is herself.

The three celebrate their renewed friendship with a summer vacation on Cape Cod, until the appearance of Edward Clapham-Lee – a man as amoral and dangerous as Dexter’s former self – demands a return to Arkham for a final reckoning.

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open books, grass

Get Ready for Summer Reading

 

Anyone who doesn’t already have a tottering pile (actual or virtual) of books to be read may be looking for summertime reading recommendations. Here are some of my recent reads. Three of them are parts of series, any of which would provide worthwhile diversion for an entire summer (or winter, come to that). Genres represented are cozy mystery, science fiction, fantasy adventure, medical thriller, historical, and literary.

Two Needed KillingTwo Needed Killing is the sixth and latest book in the Needed Killing series by Bill Fitts.

Asked to help an old lady get her family home back from greedy developers, Crawford reluctantly agrees. Mrs. McGillicuddy is thrilled. “I can’t tell you how excited I was when Frank told me I’d get to meet a real detective. I just love murder mysteries.” When Ms. Mac convinces Crawford to pretend to solve a mystery, he finds himself caught up in the most perplexing case of his career.

I can heartily recommend the entire series. Set in a southern US college town and featuring a retired tech guy turned private eye, the books are leisurely and civilized excursions through murders that just had to be done, and just have to be solved. The stories are leavened with humour and flavoured with scenes of cooking and dining.

 

Man Who 4 thumbThe Man Who Found Birds Among the Stars, Part Four: Survivor by Lorinda J. Taylor

Capt. Nikalishin continues to struggle with loneliness, misunderstandings, and dissatisfaction in spite of his friends’ efforts to help him. He takes increasing refuge in alcohol. Meanwhile, the officials of the new interstellar program wait for him to prove himself still capable of commanding a starship. Will Robbin Nikalishin’s “core of character” save him. or is his life really at an end?

This book continues the fictional biography of 28th century spacefarer Capt. Robbin Nikalishin, focussing on a particularly dark period of his life. I have enjoyed the entire series immensely. It combines elements of science and human interest in a post-post-apocalyptic setting. After nearly destroying life on Earth, humans have learned some hard lessons and rebuilt civilization on principles intended to maintain world peace. This background provides opportunities for the reader to think about present day issues from a refreshingly different perspective.

 

Cliffington Book 1Cliffington. Book One, A Turn of the Tide by Stephen Wragge-Morley

Cliffington, on the remote north-eastern coast, looks like a rural idyll but is not immune to the events of the world. Distant wars bring distress and destruction. A story of trial and obsession, of love and hope, Cliffington reveals the strength and frailties of the people, and tests their community to the edge of failure. While always, close at hand, the sea rolls on relentless.

A deeply-felt, eloquently written novel featuring the interplay of several characters against a vividly depicted landscape. I was fascinated by the clever way the author fictionalizes historical events without naming them, so as to free himself from slavish adherence to facts. I do have some reservations about aspects of this book, which I’ve specified in my Goodreads review, but I recommend it to readers who appreciate literary fiction.

 

Marc Edwards MysteriesThe Marc Edwards Mystery Series Box Set by Don Gutteridge

In the 1830’s, British North America throbbed with rebellion. Factions in the Canadas wanted democratic reforms from British overlords. Bands of American gun runners south of the border wanted to annex the territory. In Upper and Lower Canada, English and French settlers were at odds. Enter dashing Marc Edwards, soldier, detective, and lawyer working to restore justice in the wild zone.

This set of six novels combines fictitious murder mysteries with real historical events in a way that informs and entertains. An interest in the pre-Confederation history of Canada isn’t absolutely necessary to enjoy these books, but would add to the reading experience.

 

The Bone CurseThe Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin

Ben Oris, a pragmatic med student from Philadelphia, gets cut by an old bone while touring the Paris catacombs. His companion Laurette, a public health student from Haiti, senses danger and worries an evil curse now runs through him.

Ben scoffs at the idea—he simply has a wound that won’t heal—and back home he returns to his stressful clerkship at the hospital. But when people close to him succumb to a grisly illness and a dark priest pursues him, his skepticism wavers. Could a bone from an 18th-century skeleton with a frightening history really cause modern-day disease?

This medical thriller starts out fast and accelerates to breakneck. It’s definitely a page-turner, with twists and turns on every page. Set in hot and humid Philadelphia in July, it will have readers turning up the AC while following Benjamin Oris as he deals with an astonishing variety of threats that test his physical and mental stamina to the utmost.

 

PatchworkOf Patchwork Warriors (Volume One of The Precipice Dominions) by R. J. Llewellyn

I wrote a review of this book some time ago. The author has issued a corrected second edition since then. I recommend this fantasy to readers who relish action and adventure backed up with thoughtful world-building. The characters are distinct and memorable, some with colourful turns of phrase that may creep into the reader’s vocabulary.

 

 

My reviews and ratings of these books may be found on Goodreads.

If you run out of summer reading, don’t forget the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale. It lasts for the entire month of July and is a great opportunity to really swell that TBR pile at low or no cost!

 

 

 

Free on Kindle: The Treasure (Book 3 of the Herbert West Series)

Islands of the Gulf Volume 2, THE TREASURE is available for free via a special promotion until end of day Sunday, May 27th.

This is the only book of the series narrated by Herbert West himself.

AMAZON:   USA   UK   CA   AU

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To survive his mother’s disappearance, the capricious attentions of his father and the brutalities of his brothers, young Herbert makes himself into a juvenile strategist and warrior of vengeance.

Turning to science as a solace for emotional turmoil, Herbert studies medicine at Miskatonic University in Arkham. As both student and physician, he pursues forbidden experiments with single-minded determination, seeking to discover the secrets of life and death. The Great War presents West with a great opportunity, but in that maelstrom of violence he crosses the frontier of rationalism into the territory of the bizarre.

Fleeing the consequences of his misdeeds, West changes his name to Francis Dexter and becomes a country doctor on Bellefleur Island. His tumultuous relationship with the artist Julian Vernon brings both joy and despair. For the first time since his troubled childhood, he allows himself to become emotionally attached to another human being, but the idyll is eroded by depression, drugs and jealousy, and Dexter’s choices result in tragedy.

Saved and supported by Margaret Bellgarde, Dexter allows himself to be drawn into her family to recover from illness and sorrow. Until a day in July when his past confronts him and forces him to face the truth about his role as physician and healer.

 

The Herbert West Series Complete ebook cover image

On Sale This Week: The Herbert West Series Complete

The complete Herbert West Series is available at reduced prices from Wednesday, May 16th through Tuesday, May 22nd.

At Amazon.com only.

Includes all four novels of the Herbert West Series: The Friendship of Mortals, Islands of the Gulf Volumes 1 and 2, and Hunting the Phoenix.

Herbert West, a scientist obsessed with reversing death, is transformed into a physician of last resort.

From ancient Arkham to the agony of the Great War, from Acadie to the islands of the West Coast, a brilliant but amoral physician is subjected to travails and entanglements, to become a source of healing — and of peril.

Bonus: Chapter 1 of She Who Comes Forth, the sequel to the series.

A $7.99 value for as little as $1.99. Act sooner rather than later. Click here to purchase.

Seeking Immortality in Fact and Fiction

I just heard a really interesting piece on the science of brain preservation. Scientists are still working on it, with the intention that the information in frozen brains may be downloaded into… something, someday. You can read a synopsis or listen to the whole 20 minute article here.

Three thoughts I had while listening:

  • These guys are just like Herbert West!
  • Freshness is, indeed, important.
  • In the end, it’s a crapshoot.

To elaborate…

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Bringing people (or their brains) back from the dead is a stock element of science fiction. H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West is a quintessential mad scientist engaged with this effort. Like one of the present day real scientists on this quest for immortality, Herbert realizes you need a really fresh corpse to succeed. It seems it’s best to start the process before death occurs, meaning it might be necessary to kill the patient to save him.

The article examines this and other ethical and practical issues, concluding with the thought that even if the preservation and information retrieval techniques work (a really big if), by the time it’s possible to do all this, society will be totally different. The reactivated minds will find themselves in environments that may be alien and terrifying. And the uses to which the minds are put may be other than benign. Life after death for the awakened brains may be heaven, hell, or anything in between. Or it may never happen at all. Which is, when you think about it, pretty much where we are right now.

For fictional treatments of this topic, you might want to read H.P. Lovecraft’s stories Herbert West, Reanimator or, for a different take, The Whisperer in Darkness.” Then there’s my novel, The Friendship of Mortals, which presents my expansion on Herbert West and his motives.

‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Wigran Hendrechan explains something of the forces at work

Here’s yet another Patchwork Warriors character. This fellow might be called a hacker.

heroicallybadwriter

 

Hello.

My name in Wigran Hendrechan and you’ll find something about me in ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’.

I’m not really one of the heroes nor at present, a truly central character, although to be fair if it wasn’t for me Trelli wouldn’t be the strong person she has become. I don’t mean to sound arrogant about that, but it is a fact of Cause and Effect in the book. When you read the narrative, you’ll find there is a great deal of interaction between The Stommigheid and folk and all sorts of things happen no one expects. (Actually, I don’t like the term Stommigheid, that’s too judgemental. The Ethereal is more apt because the whole business is very difficult to pin down in simple sentences)

I’ve been trying to explain all of this to Roger who makes our adventures known in your world. He’s quite sharp on the uptake on…

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Mr Silc wants to have a few words about ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’

Mr. Silc suggested I reblog this post, so I’m doing it. Besides, Of Patchwork Warriors is a good read! You get to meet Mr. Silc, his associates and all sorts of other colourful characters. Your vocabulary will expand too.

heroicallybadwriter

‘Ullo. Grenaww Silc’s the name. Elinid’s me home town. I do alright by her and she does alright by me, if you get my meaning, which most folks do, soon enough, and feel a lot better for knowing so.

Now this lad who does the writing. Well, be honest he’s a bit of walnut. Told him so, and give him his due, he accepts that and does his best.

To be fayre to him, he’s given Elinid a good spread, been writing about the old town for years, he has, in one those affectionate ways, which is nice. ‘Course he started out the wrong way, gave us Silcs a minor, what they call, reference role, just to build up this Ven Jek bloke. Oh yes, I shouldn’t get started on them Jeks, going on like they was all moral and just roguish when they were just a bunch of small-time…

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‘Ullo Everyone! It’s proper ‘Patchwork Warriors’ time!!

Here’s a word from Karlyn, one of the main characters in RJ Llewellyn’s lively and harrowing novel, Of Patchwork Warriors. She gives a pretty good impression of the book. I’ve read it and recommend it to those who appreciate tales of action and adventure with a bit of magic and some grit mixed in.

heroicallybadwriter

Hi Karlyn here!!

‘Lo everyone! I said I’d be back didn’t I?

For meself, speaking personally, I was pleased  wiv’ the way ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ went. There was a lot of running about, thumpin’ blokes wot deserved it, stabbing a few an’ I got to climb up as many trees as I wanted to AN’ talk to so many really interesting and clever bees and butterflys. AN’ a made a really best good friend Trelli, who understands me. And is kindly an’ sweet.

AND ‘course there was (hee-hee) Flaxi, whose proper name is Arketre but she’s got this lovely blonde hair! So my pet name for ‘er is Flaxi!….But I’m not supposed to say too much ‘bout us ‘cause Flaxi’s particular about HOW much you lot should know. She says ‘I don’ want to go a walkin’ about their bedrooms do I naw? So they can jus’ use their Good…

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Free on Kindle: The Journey (Book 2 of the Herbert West Series)

Islands of the Gulf Volume 1, THE JOURNEY is available for free via a special promotion until end of day Sunday, April 29th.

Here’s an opportunity for those who’ve read Book 1 of the series, The Friendship of Mortals, to find out what happens to Herbert West after his departure from Arkham.

AMAZON:   USA   UK   CA   AU 

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Once, he was Herbert West, superlative surgeon and revivifier of the dead. Now he’s lost his reputation, his country and his name. Rebuilding his life as a country doctor on Bellefleur Island, he struggles with doubts, emotional entanglements and terrible memories of the Great War. Above all, he must forge a new relationship with his old adversary – death – and negotiate with a new one – love.

 

 

I’m curious to see which of the existing reviews readers will agree with.

 

 

 

 

Carrie Rubin and Audrey Driscoll — Authors Who Deserve More

A delightful surprise to read this post on Mark’s blog, mentioning one of my books along with The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin, which looks really interesting.

KingMidget's Ramblings

Audrey Driscoll is a blogger/writer who has followed my blog for some time. I have always appreciated her likes and occasional comments, but I only recently returned the favor and started following her blog a few months ago.  It’s the kind of writer’s blog I appreciate. Most of the time you don’t even realize she has pursued publishing efforts because much of her blog is dedicated to her other pursuits.

A few weeks ago Berthold Gambrel posted a review of one of Audrey’s books, The Friendship of Mortals. Interestingly, Berthold learned of Audrey from my blog, likely because of a comment she left there that he then followed down the WordPress trail. His review inspired me to read The Friendship of Mortals. And I don’t know why. I’ve never read Lovecraft and haven’t the foggiest idea about his (her?) books and stories, although I’ve heard the name occasionally over…

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