Saturday, July 30, 2016

Exclusive Interview with Kirk Dougal!


Hey folks,

We have a nice little treat with Kirk Dougal, author of JACKED. Jacked is a Young Adult science-fiction novel from Ragnarok Publications. I've heard really good things about it and its author has decided to answer some of my questions about it. You can look up the novel for yourself on Amazon.com. 

He can repair technology just by touching it. That's a dangerous thing to be in a world after The Crash, an event that left millions dead or little more than empty, mindless shells. In the aftermath, a new regime hunts down technology and destroys machines with ruthless zeal, even executing fixers like Tar.

And Tar has caught their attention.

Now, he's running for his life, desperately searching for other fixers, avoiding the engineers responsible for The Crash, and hoping to save those whose minds have been lost. In his flight, Tar must grow up and come to realize his ability to manipulate tech is more than just "some neat trick."


Can a teenager, even a gifted one like Tar, hope to survive — much less be victorious — when an entire government is deadset against him?

Let's hear what the author has to say.

1. So, what can you tell us about Jacked?

Taro "Tar" Hutchins is a 15-year-old boy who just wants to go to school and hang around with his friends like everyone else. But he is hiding a terrible secret about himself that forces him to live in relative seclusion with his grandfather. Tar is a fixer, someone who can fix technology just by touching it and manipulating the machine with his mind. In the years after the crash of the World Wide Mind that killed millions of people and trapped millions more as shells, he needs to find a way to survive and come to grips with his ability while still learning to be an adult.

2. Would you consider Jacked to be cyberpunk? What does cyberpunk mean to you?

I do consider Jacked to have a cyberpunk feel with some key differences. As a genre, cyberpunk usually deals with characters who are outside of normal society, many times through their own choice, and battling against big government/business by using their technological skills. In many ways Tar does represent that outsider who is battling his enemies in a world turned upside down by technology. But in reality, the people who caused The Crash are really the typical cyberpunk protagonists, turning their own technology against the government and society. I thought it would be interesting to flip that dynamic and set Jacked 13 years after the cyberpunk revolution would have taken place.

4. Why make a YA science-fiction thriller?

I was working on an idea for a world and a character that revolved around their ability to manipulate technology but in a real sense, not in some kind of magical way. In this case I had decided to incorporate elements of near field technology and extrapolate other technologies to their next possible leap. So the internet became the World Wide Mind where people were able to connect continuously for access, wearable technology became embedded technology, and so on. But I was struggling to find the story until I was sitting and talking with my teenage son one day about his computer games and virtual reality and it suddenly hit me that the protagonist should be a teenager instead of an adult. That gave me a chance to play with themes of growing up in a world that had burned itself out on hate and the exclusion of people who did not hold the same beliefs. Once I made that change in the protagonist, the story flowed out.

5. What can you tell us about the protagonist?
 

Tar wants to be a normal teenager, however he is anything but normal. Part of his maturing process, just like it was for all of us, is realizing that everyone is different. We all need to come to grips with liking the differences in ourselves, the strengths and the weaknesses, and learning to accept other people at their core as well. His problem is just multiplied by the fact he has an ability that could begin the restoration of society or lead to his being killed by fanatics.

6. Could you tell us about the villains?

I could but... okay, just a little. Father Eli, Captain Ludler, and the Black Shirts saw the marriage of technology to humans as an abomination on religious grounds. But they are more complicated than just hating technology. Although they purposely caused The Crash that killed millions, they also organized food distribution after the collapse, found ways to bring older equipment back online for electricity and water in the cities. They cared for the the people who were still alive but devastated, the "zoms" who can no longer take care of themselves and are trapped in their own minds. The antagonists are on the dark end of gray but they are not just pure evil characters. Well, maybe Ludler.

7. Who are your influences?
 

I believe you can learn something from every author. Tom Clancy's plotting was incredible. He could take six different plot lines, let them expand throughout the first 500 pages of a book in a way that sometimes felt like there was no connection to the others, then slam them together in the last 100 pages so that it made perfect sense.

Stephen King's characterizations where even his protagonists have warts, Frank Herbert and Robert Jordan's world building, Dashiell Hammett's dissection of a scene and dialogue, Arthur C. Clarke's imagination, just the absolute joy of storytelling and fun by Clive Cussler - so many influences. But in the end, if I could put a tenth of the magic in my books as Neil Gaiman does in his, I would count myself successful.

8. Do you have a favorite character in the book after the hero?

I find Toby fascinating. You understand why Tar takes on the danger and goes on his journey. But his best friend Toby is right there with him, Sam to Tar's Frodo. The bond of friendship that leads someone to take those kinds of risks is an irresistible pull and forces you to like them.

9. How's your experience with Ragnarok Publications been so far?

I can't say enough good things about Ragnarok. My debut novel (horror) was originally published by Angelic Knight Press and had only been on the shelves for a few months when Ragnarok bought the company. I was one of only two authors that were offered continuation contracts and that worked so well that I also took Jacked to them. Their artwork is outstanding and their production values are top of the line.

10. Will there be any sequels to Jacked or is this a stand-alone?

Jacked is the first book in a trilogy. The second book is plotted and the third sketched out at this point.

11. What can we expect from you next?

I am getting ready to send the sequel to my horror novel, Dreams of Ivory and Gold, to beta readers so I hope to have that publishing in early 2017.

12. Anything you'd like to add to your would-be readers?

I hope that anyone who reads Jacked has as much fun reading it as I had creating it. In the end, telling a good story is more important than anything else.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON cover


STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON is already set up for release this October and we're making good progress. Here's the cover for my comedic value novel which chronicles
the adventures of Peter Stone. I really like it and heartily recommend the artist (James at www.goonwrite.com).

PETER STONE is a poor black vampire who is wondering where his nightclub, mansion, and sports car is. Instead, he is working a minimum wage job during the night shift as being a vampire isn't all that impressive in a world where they've come out to mortals.

Exiled from the rich and powerful undead in New Detroit, he is forced to go back when someone dumps a newly-transformed vampire in the bathroom of his gas station's store. This gets him fangs-deep in a plot of vampire hunters, supernatural revolutionaries, and a millennium-old French knight determined to wipe out the supernatural.

Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to get out of the coffin.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Interview with C.T. Phipps by my fans!

Hey folks,


I posted on my Facebook page a request from my fans to give me their questions. It's been a year since my writing debut and I wanted to see what people thought. They gave me some amazing questions and I've answered them all here to the best of my ability.

Writing

How do you write so much?

Simple answer. I don't. I actually got started writing in 2010 but it took two years to get my first books done and ready for submission. They were picked up by Permuted Press for a year of non-publishing before we decided to part ways. Then it took another year for Amber Cove and Ragnarok Publications to publish The Rules of Supervillainy and Esoterrorism. I've been writing that whole time. Authordom is not for the faint at heart. It's also why you shouldn't quit your day job.

Supervillainy Saga

What was the deciding factor to make Gary Jewish?


Gary is a singularity of comic book influences. The decision to make Gary Jewish seemed natural with Siegal and Schuster as well as Jack Kirby all being brought in. It felt right for his character and gradually helped shape who he was. It also felt more appropriate than just making him another WASP protagonist.

There are many characters who are of the LGBT community on both sides of the Hero/Villain line. There seems to be a greater percentage that are in the real world. What prompted the push?


I don't actually think it's all that different from reality with the LGBT characters being Mandy (bi), Cindy (bi), Adonis (bi), The Human Tank (trans), The Bronze Medalist (g), and the Black Witch (lesbian). This is in comparison to all of the dozens of other straight characters spread throughout the book like Diabloman, Ultragod, Ultragoddess, Guinevere, Tom Terror, and so on.

I did make a conscious effort to avoid making everyone lily white and cis straight as is typical, though. I figured my universe should be representative of reality and if there's more gay or bisexual characters in my world than normal then it's a balance against all the other fiction where they're nonexistent.

In an endless series like the Villainy Saga, where do you decide to end one book and begin another rather than just one huge novel?

I generally try to do a resemblance to actual comic books. I try to divide the books into two-parters with the first book setting up the plot and the second book finishing it. Each book containing micro-plots which play into the larger plot. While some might argue it would work better as a single large volume, I feel these work better for a comic book feel. Also, it helps get them out quicker.

The dead don't just stay dead in this world. Just like the comic books.  Is this going to be a recurring theme?


Actually, I'm going to genuinely keep the dead dead in these books because, unlike Marvel or DC, I have total control in my book. Certainly, Gary is going to try to break the rules as much as possible but actual resurrections are always going to be rare. It's also going to have lasting consequences for the world as the deaths of heroes and villains results in dramatic changes to the status quo of the universe. Is the end of the Age of Heroes and Villains or the the start of a new one?

As an example, Arthur Warren a.k.a Cloak is never going to come back as the Nightwalker. While I routinely brought back the supervillains Gary killed in The Rules of Supervillainy and The Games of Supervillainy, that was for humorous effect and they're dead-dead now. Likewise, Falconcrest City is going to be permanently affected by the zombie apocalypse which happened there. So, death isn't an absolute in my books but it's not a revolving door either.

Once you've saved all of creation, what's next to top that?


I don't think you actually need to always go up and at em in terms of comic book plots. I think you can mix them up as much as you want. Superman saving the world is fine but so is Superman saving Lois Lane or a bunch of guys threatened by gangsters (with Kryptonite I presume). I generally think of Supernatural as my go-to-example. The Winchester Brothers defeated Satan in Season 5.

They didn't need to keep fighting equally powerful evils in subsequent seasons as personal enemies would do just as well. It's not like a hero is going to be less motivated to save one person over a hundred.

When Death appears to have affected a powerful character, it appears they may not stay that way. Why isn't Death more jealous of her charges?
 

The Supervillainyverse's Death is a cosmic inevitability. She knows she's eventually going to get everyone even if there's sometimes reversals. It is, however, Gary's "official job" (when he's not robbing banks) to eliminate the undead as well as help souls cross over. Raising Mandy from the dead as a vampire seriously screws with his power level for example and damages his connection to his "kaiju-toasting" fire powers.

Gary has his work cut out for him, making the entire Society of Superheroes submissive enough to hear the truth and killing POTUS.


The Society of Superheroes' opinion of Gary is less than glowing after the death of a certain character. As far as they're concerned, he's just another criminal and none of them are particularly interested in defending his Batman/Catwoman (in reverse) relationship with Gabrielle. Ultragod knew Gary was fundamentally harmless, for some definitions of the word, but most of the others only see his body count. It doesn't help that the Shadow Seven, the team Gary most often works with, is primarily composed of ex-supervillains itself. As for the POTUS, he's not the real President. There's a clause in the Constitution against time-traveling Nazis from the future.

Diabloman appears to be loyal to Gary, but he also seems to be doing many things in the background. Should Gary be more attentive to him?

Diabloman was in a very bad place in The Rules of Supervillainy which Gary helped him out of. Gary also successfully saved the world (so he could conquer it for himself) and made billions from the events of The Games of Supervillainy. As a result, Diabloman is back in the game and has even had some of the black magic damage done to his body repaired.

In a very real way, Diabloman would be comfortable going back to being an A-list supervillain destroying lives and taking names. However, he's come to view Gary as a kid brother substitute for his dead sister Spellbinder and is determined not to torch that relationship.

The thing is, Diabloman is pretty much a Satanic Deathstroke meets Bane and that's not really a good combination to ignore the dangers of. But yeah, as far as I'm concerned, Diabloman is back to attending Legion of Doom meetings off-camera.

Esoterrorism

What are the fast rules for the world of the Red Room? 


The Red Room universe is a combination of action movie spy universe and urban fantasy universe. As such, you could probably say it's best thought of as what you'd get with the Dresden Files merged with the Illuminati/Men in Black/X-Files and James Bond. Magic is a functional tool in this world and the House has used it to become the movers and shakers behind the scenes of a hostile violent supernatural world.

Unlike what the conspiracy nuts would say, though, the House functions like any other bureaucracy with lots of incompetence as well as underpaid civil servants. The House basically does its best to intimidate or kill the supernatural threats of the world so they don't "come out of the coffin" like in Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse but this is an ongoing job for them. Plenty of monsters resent this and strike back at the House or humanity in general. Worse, the House is corrupt with its upper tier members using their position to enrich themselves and their families.

I loved the main villain. Can his legacy continue through the series?
 

In a very real way, the Wazir won when he arranged for Derek to start his war against the House's corruption. Karl Bjornson's goal was to destroy the House and eventually lead to the revelation of the supernatural to the public. This is a goal which Derek is not opposed to and he hates the House every bit as much as the Wazir, just is also protective of the people involved. In a very real way, the enemy has moved from the terrorists to the corruption in the government.

The accent of Shannon changing, hints of something, but what?

It's a statement that Shannon isn't who Derek thinks she is and much of her personality is a construction. Shannon appears to him as a redheaded Irish woman meant to appeal to Derek's preference for them. This is because she's trying to seduce him. Only when they're closer and the barriers have begun to fall does Shannon reveal she's actually Scottish with dark hair as well as hint everything she's told him is a lie. Really, Shannon has been living so many lies and false identities, even she doesn't know the truth anymore.

Now that Derek is in a position of power, how is he going to have any adventures?


In Eldritch Ops. we find Derek has been ice-skating uphill the entire time he's been in the Committee. He hates what the job is turning him into and jumps on a chance to personally oversee an investigation he should have no business getting anywhere near. This mission will lead to events spiraling out of control for the House and dramatic world-changing events in the final volume of the series, Operation: Otherworld.

Agent G

So what is Agent G: Infiltrator all about?

Agent G is a science fiction espionage series starring the titular character. G is a assassin working for the Society which is an organization that contracts for the government, corporations, and other groups as long as they can pay their exorbitant fees. The Letters are twenty-six agents who have had their lives taken away from them by memory-erasure and cybernetic enhancement.

Rather than being remorseful about his actions as his past is used to blackmail him into compliance, he's all too comfortable with the decadent murderous life provided him. This all changes when he's sent undercover with the murderous Carnivale where he faces just what his life might be like if freed from the Society's control. Oh and he finds out just who he was before the Society made him into the world's most dangerous killer.

What's its genre?

Agent G is a present-day cyberpunk series. It's sort of the reverse of your typical urban fantasy series with all sorts of monstrous critters underneath the world. Instead, the world is full of science fiction technology, conspiracies, and weird organizations. The ManTM is doing his best to keep the Little GuyTM in his grip and the best part is they don't even suspect just how much they're under his thumb.

Straight Outta Fangton

Can you tell me the flavor of your Straight Outta Fangton book? Horror comedy, um horror, mystery, comedy?


Fangton is a horror-comedy in the same vein (hehe) as The Rules of Supervillainy. The world is entirely serious and a homage to Dracula, Underworld, Anite Blake (pre-porn), Blade, True Blood (or Sookie Stackhouse), and even a little Twilight. However, the characters are overthetop in the same way Gary and company are.

In the case of Peter Stone, he's a poor black vampire wondering why he's working minimum wage despite ultimate power in a world where other vampires live like celebrities, including his also black sire. Peter gets his chance to make his mark and its sadly against an angsty vampire hunting vampire who has wiped out large portions of his race. This may not have been a very good idea.

Wraith Knight 


Tell us about Wraith Knight again. Every time I hear it, it makes me think of Ready Player One or the Play to Live series.  Those are 2 of my other favorites. Do you have any plans on writing a Virtual Reality series?

Wraith Knight is one of my non-comedy series and a straight dark(ish) fantasy novel. It's premise is deconstructive, though, as it's basically from the perspective of a Ringwraith. Jacob Riverson was once a legendary hero before he fell in battle and got raised as a general of the King Below. Centuries later, the Dark Lord is destroyed and he regains his free will in a world where the former good guys have run the world into the ground as well as lost the peace. He ends up teaming up with a woman, Regina Whitetremor, who hasn't quite grasped the solution isn't overthrow the ex-heroes as the new villains.

It was partially inspired by my thoughts the orcs were every bit Sauron's slaves and victims as everyone else and either the heroes would try to commit genocide against them or have to learn to live with them in peace.  Just about everyone who has read it basically says it does read like the classic Warcraft 3 plotline, only Thrall is Arthas. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult. :) I was also inspired by Rhianna Pratchett's Overlord games.

Is Wraith Knight a stand-alone or the first in a series?

Three novels. WRAITH KNIGHT, WRAITH LORD, and WRAITH KING.

With the upcoming series being released in November, what is the status of the other installment?

WRAITH LORD is finished and with Ragnarok Publications and WRAITH KING is still in manuscript form. Current plans are to release them roughly the same time every year so it'll be 2019 when the series is finished.

Purchase The Rules of Supervillainy
Purchase The Games of Supervillainy
Purchase The Secrets of Supervillainy
Purchase Esoterrorism
Pre-Order Wraith Knight

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress 1#) review


    Halfway to the Grave is the first novel of the Night Huntress series, which is basically my substitute for the Anita Blake books after they became porn. They're also a substitute for the Sookie Stackhouse novels which had a perfectly fine ending which they completely trashed for the finale they went with.

    Either way, I love the Night Huntress novels and actually think they're one of the few urban fantasy series I've red which didn't fumble the ball before the end. Are they the best fiction I've read? No. They're not quite as enjoyable to me as the Dresden Files nor do they have the ridiculously over-the-top humor of the Queen Betsy books. Despite this, I'm going to say it's an entertaining sexy series everyone should check out.

    What's the premise? Catherine "Cat" Crawfield is the world's only living dhampir and Crispin "Bones" Russell is a 200-year-old Cockney British vampire who is a professional assassin of the undead. After Cat tries to kill Bones, he semi-forcibly recruits her to be his assistant in hunting the worst of their kind. There's a romance which is a central feature of the books but it doesn't sacrifice the plot either.

    Part of what makes the romance interesting to is the leads have great chemistry. Bones is a lewd, crude, and sarcastic vampire who makes none of the usual pretensions to suavery so many others do. Cat, by contrast, is capable of being sweet or ruthless as events demand. A lot of paranormal fiction leads lack well-rounded three-dimensional personalities but Cat has multiple sides that all get shown off.

    I particularly liked the pair's first meeting and the general absurdity of it all. Catherine tries to seduce Bones in order to get him alone so she can stake him while the latter believes (erroneously) she's a honey trap sent by one of his enemies. They play off of each other well even as Catherine, who thinks all vampires are evil at this point, keeps waiting for him to act horrifically while he's incredulous a nineteen-year-old girl with no combat training has killed almost a dozen vampires before trying it against him.

    I like the set up for both their future relationships both personal and professional. It's one of the few romances in paranormal fiction which doesn't require one partner to be utterly dominate to the other. The pair are playful, they fight, and butt heads with neither side overwhelming the other. Speaking as a married man, it's one of the few books which gets the dynamic right in my opinion. At least the kind of relationships I'm familiar with.

    Part of what I liked about this book is they really get into the nitty gritty of what TV tropes.org calls "Van Helsing Hate Crimes." Vampires are dangerous predators but thinking creatures, meaning it's a coin toss whether they're evil or not. Cat has been trained her entire life to hate vampires by her mother so it's interesting to watch her long-held prejudices deconstructed before her eyes.

    Hate being something designed to make people feel better about themselves by giving them someone to blame is a concept I can get behind and helps elevate the book beyond pure entertainment. Some people dislike using vampires as metaphors for minorities and I get that but I don't mind it as long as people remember to point out the undead are dangerous in ways RL groups aren't.

    The supporting cast is very strong with Catherine's traumatized not-actually-that-old mother being one of the highlights. I also liked meeting Ian and the rest of Bones' crew from his Australian days. It's rare I think a vampire's history is as interesting as his present but it's very much the case here. I'd enjoy a Bones prequel novel a great deal if Jeaniene Frost ever decides to show events from our jovial undead love interest's perspective.

    Halfway to the Grave isn't perfect. Bones' British-isms come off as more ridiculous than authentic, Cat comes off as a little too painfully naive, and there's places the book drags a bit but I still enjoyed it immensely. I recommend it for people who want an old-fashioned Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style adventure, complete with its very own Angel or Spike. Well, maybe Buffy the Vampire Slayer for adults as the books do contain sex scenes.

9/10

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig review


    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was a success both commercially as well as artistically. It didn't exactly elevate the medium but it was an intelligent thought provoking science-fiction series with a lot to say about both technology as well as society. Given it starred a bisexual cyborg swimsuit and trench coat wearing ninja, that's pretty impressive.

    However, the bane of all successful thought-provoking science fiction is the sequel. It can't ruin good science fiction but it tends to occupy headspace which would otherwise be full of pure joy. We can't think of The Matrix without The Matrix Revolutions, for example, and I'm visibly annoyed every time I remember The Lost Boys sequels exist.

S9 loses some of its invincibility this time around.
    GITS:SAC:2G is a season of television with very big shoes to fill. It needs to not only stand on its own but serve as a follow-up to what was generally regarded as amazing television. So, does it manage to live up to its predecessor. Yes, but there's a caveat that while I find the central plot superior to the original and more coherent, I also note there's some serious flaws with the climax of the season being a repeat of the original.

    The premise of 2nd Gig is Japan dealing with a refugee crisis from World War 3. They've let in large numbers of what I believe are meant to be Chinese and Koreans but have informally ghettoized them in a single island off the mainland. This is an unfortunately prescient piece of science fiction even as there will always be refugees and they'll almost certainly always be treated like garbage by the state they're living in.

Gouda is right. He does have a memorable face.
    The refugee crisis hits a breaking point when the Individual Eleven start appearing around society and attacking both refugees as well as those who are against them. Allegedly basing their actions on Japan's suicidal poet Yukio Mishima and his troublesome legacy, the Individual Eleven seem to have sprung up from nowhere simultaneously and are engaged in a guerilla war with no real goal or end in sight. Made during the height of the War on Terror, 2nd Gig subtly handles the frustrations of law enforcement dealing with an invisible enemy which doesn't require traditional organization to cause a breakdown in society.

    2nd Gig is always at its best when it's dealing with more human stories than the technology which makes them science-fiction. The best stories of this season are an adaptation of Taxi Driver minus the shoot-out at the end, a story of love turned into obsession, and a trial where the defense is more interested in indicting the officer than the circumstances of the case. The episodes are more tied to the main plot this time around than in the original Stand Alone Complex, though, and build up steadily to the end.
Kuze is a bit of a Gary Stu but as he's the antagonist, that's okay.
    Unlike the previous season which didn't really have a villain per se and rejected the concept with the Laughing Man (who was just a social activist turned meme), 2nd Gig has two primary antagonists. The first is Gouda, a deformed civil servant who is just shy of a Bond villain for quiet menace, and Kuze who is a cybernetic paragon equal to the Major.

    I have to say this is another area where 2nd Gig shines because both of these individuals feel like they could pose legitimate threats to Section Nine. Gouda is perhaps a little too over-the-top in his evil but the fact he is behaving in such a way out of a desire for fame is part of his backstory.


The Individual 11 - Terrorists Without a Cause.
    Unfortunately, as mentioned, events start resembling the exact same ones in the previous season with the government turning against Section Nine and them being slowly dismantled by a superior force. We also get more anti-American sentiment regarding the American Empire's attempts to take over Japan.

    This is alright, if the authors feel that way it's their prerogative, but Kuze's backstory has a great deal of similarity to certain World War 2 Imperial Japanese apologia which sours the pot a little. I could be misreading what's being said but the fact I was able to see it does make me suspicious. There's also the fact the show never really comes down and gives a strong opinion on the refugee issue, being vaguely for them when I think it might have been better to go full acceptance.

    In conclusion, 2nd Gig is an extremely intelligent and well-written season of cyberpunk sci-fi. However, it's not quite as enjoyable in some respects as the original season. It actually improves in many ways but the flaws are much deeper. Still, I recommend this to anyone who loves science-fiction and not just anime.

9/10

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Undead and Unpopular review


    Undead and Unpopular continues the wonderful adventures of Betsy, Queen of the Vampires. I absolutely this series and won't deny it's been a strong influence on my own writing. The nonstop jokes and oddball characters make it one of the best deconstructions of vampire literature ever made. Well, maybe not, but it's certainly damned funny. Sinclair, Marc, Jessica, Tina, Betsy, Garrett, and Antonia are all wonderful characters. It's rare I like every single member of the cast but that's certainly the case in the Undead series.

    Undead and Unpopular is different from the previous entries of the series, with the exception of Undead and Unwed, in that it actually has a plot. It's not much of a plot and Mary Janice Davidson still parodies the concept by having a zombie in the attic which Betsy ignores for virtually the entirety of the book. Even so, there's stuff going on here! Actual stuff! Morally ambiguous situations! Trying to get her biography removed from publication before it reveals the existence of vampires! Sinclair being a jerk about telepathy.

    Apparently, one of Queen Betsy's strongest supporters wants the head of Alonzo, a visiting vampire from Europe. Decades ago, Alonzo turned her into a vampire and unleashed her onto the populace like an animal. This is problematic because if you start persecuting vampires for making other vampires, or even general evil, you're going to rapidly run out of supporters. Queen Betsy really needs to put out a blanket general amnesty or something similar.

    It's a new situation for Betsy to have to deal with the ambiguities of good versus evil. Alonzo is certainly evil but he's also a person willing to put that aside in the name of vampiric stability. He's also charming and genuinely doesn't see what the problem is with turning someone into a vampire. In that respect he's no different than Sinclair. From Sophia Trudeau's perspective, though, he murdered her and made her responsible for who knows how many deaths until she gained control over her thirst.

    Betsy is also trying other things to improve her vampiric unlife like giving up blood. The fact she actually thinks this is possible is hilarious as well as sad. It reminds me of the similar goal of Nick Knight in Forever Knight, who often looked silly trying it. Watching the normally unflappable Betsy slowly descend into hunger-induced witchiness is hilarious. I actually laughed out loud when she started thinking of her human friends as pieces of literal meat like a cartoon coyote. Betsy, sorry, but some needs need to be filled.

    There's some terrible and shocking twists in the book which bring real drama to events. One of Betsy's friends reveals a terrible secret about their health while the ending to the Alonzo plot was genuinely shocking. I also love the unvarnished reaction of the in-universe Undead and Unwed author to the discovery Betsy wiped his mind. This is some of Mary Janice Davidson's best writing and I applaud her for what she came up with.

    People looking for a serious book will be disappointed but if you're picking up the fifth book in a series which is as laugh-a-minute as this then perhaps you shouldn't be surprised it's more quirky than horrific. Betsy is the least threatening vampire since the Count von Count and proudly so.

    In conclusion, this is a majorly fun book and my second favorite in the series so far. For the crime of not telling me about this series earlier, my wife shall hereafter be forever known as Toni. It makes sense in context.

10/10

SECRETS OF SUPERVILLAINY's audiobook is out today!


Hey folks,

Fabulous news! THE SECRETS OF SUPERVILLAINY, third volume of the Supervillainy Saga, is out on audiobook today!

Merciless, the Supervillain without Mercy (TM), is back with even bigger problems! How far will he go to fix his wife's current state of being a soulless vampire? Can he ignore his growing feelings for Cindy, despite their difference over the new Star Wars movie? Can he survive the wrath of the president of the United States (whom he accidentally stole billions from)?

While he ponders those personal issues, Death has a new mission for him. The greatest hero on Earth has killed, and she isn't pleased. Death wants the murder solved and the perpetrator given the kind of justice only the Avatar of Death can dish out. Unfortunately for Gary, that's only the tip of the psychotic iceberg. 


Jeffrey Kafer did an amazing job on the audiobook here and I think it's some of his best narration yet. I think fans of the book series will love this one as much as the previous two as it is the first part of a two book adventure which will have Gary facing his toughest challenge yet!

Available for purchase here