M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Juggling Two Myseries for the Price of One

Tossing the mysery clues on the table and scrambling them is something Carol O'Connell does like few other mystery authors. Her books are dense with characters' backstory and plot twists. Not only that she manages to juggle two crime stories with other minor foibles in Blind Sight, she keep the pace fast and furious. 

The fewest foibles belong to her hard-boiled detective, Kathy Mallory. I'm always looking for a clue that Mallory feels human emotions. O'Connell teases, but never quite delivers in the later books in the series.

Blind Sight, the twelveth Mallory book, reads like a jigsaw puzzle. Scattered viewpoints, several in each chapter, reveal a tad of information about what's going on. By the end of the fourth or fifth chapter, Carol O'Connell builds a platform that gives the reader enough information to know a lot about New York City, main and secondary characters, plus the possible villians and their crimes--all without an info-dump. Quite an achievment when you consider how complex O'Connell's Mallory books are.

I like the way the puzzle pieces bounce around as O'Connell juggles her two interrealated mysteries, giving the reader a lot of mental exercise. They land here and there with little slight of hand until you can start making guesses about what is relevant and not, what pieces tie into each other. O'Connell doesn't deal in anything so obvious as a red herring.

Interested in reading a sample? Check out these links
Amazon      Barnes & Nobel      kobo       Google Play


Other Reading Adventures

I'm a chronic reader of the author interviews in the Sunday New York Times Book Review--even though the questions are mostly the same. The authors who don't have "nightstands" full of book always get a chuckle. Piles of books always seems more realistic. Surprisingly, seldom is a guilty pleasure mentioned. All the titles are impressive. Or, maybe, I gave up reading serious books for lent years ago.

Myself? I have two to-read piles over two feet high. [Yes, I still buy books.] The thought of a small night stand able to hold all the books of a chronic reader strikes me funny. 

There is one book bearing "nightstand" in our family. My old man uses the cedar chest he built in high school as his. My piles of books are neater, but his are scattered all over the space of four large nightstands. We won't talk about the piles in the spare bedroom, living room, the dining room, and the basement. [The cookbooks in the kitchen don't count.]


My Writing Rut

I've always had problem coming up with a comfortable genre for my Andor books. The Far Isles Half-Elven are simple in comparison.

So what are the Andor stories besides fantasy? What genre do they belong in?

"Weird" and "different" are a couple of descriptions reviewers have used. But Google Play just gave me some comparable authors-- Kim Harrison, P. C. Cast and Diana Rowlands. My publisher finally posted to Google Play, so now There Be Demons is available on the android platform. But I was surprised at the covers of similar books that Google put my book among.

You can read a sample of There Be Demons on
Amazon      Nook      kobo       Google Play      iBook

Have been floundering in the promo pool for There Be Demons, but it's getting to the point where it's going to have to sink or swim on its own. I've decided to do NaNoWriMo--the National Novel Writing Month--where novelist all over the world try to write a complete novel [50,000 words] in one month. Me? I'm not so ambitious. I plan to write one chapter problem a day. Hoping to have a semi-draft of the 3rd book in The Demon Wars to work with by the end of the month.

On another note. If you have time and are a member of GoodReads, you could tell them you want to read There Be Demons.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Do YA Attention Spans Need Explosions With Their Fantasy?

Finally, got Karina Sumner-Smith's Towers Fall from the family lending library. The fantasy book was slow in arriving, but I expected to savor it as soon as the night news was over. Instead, I found myself skimming the text in sort of a wave pattern. The book would absorb me, then when a narative meme was repeated two or more times in a row, my reading speed picked up again. The twists and turns and "hanging dooms" when Sumner-Smith switched characters kept me reading.

In short, I never quite abandoned the book for another but was left feeling unsatisfied. The book should have had me staying up past my bedtime as I rooted for the "down-and-outers" to best the snobby elite.

There's loads to like in this well-woven tale--two well- woven protagonists who keep on growing and struggling on their own, secondary characters who keep demonstrating new traits, plus non-stop action. Shai and Xhea are on a short timeline to save the Lower City, rushing from one organic crisis to another.

Yet I skimmed, even though I like to savor moments from the character's worlds. More important. I cried. The characters were so well drawn the usually reluctant tears flowed at the dilemma the Xhea and Shai had to face at the end.

I don't need explosions to keep my interest, but I wonder about teens. Towers Fall has been on the market since 2015 with under 20 reviews. This truely inventive book deserves better.

Try a sample of Towers Fall on:

Amazon      Barnes & Noble       kobo


Other Reading Adventures

Thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Tamora Pierce's Terrier about Beka Cooper's first case as an apprentice Guard in a "medieval" type port. Didn't get bored once and read way beyond my bedtime. Had forgotten about the insult of "fishpuppy". Beka's shyness makes normal events painful for her, a trait she must overcome if she's to survive as a guard.  -- A great read if you aren't familiar with her books. Terrier is the first book in a trilogy.


My Writing Rut

Have been feeling quilty about not writing. There Be Demons has been chewing through my time. Even the social media time I enjoy got bitten. Have managed some nice reviews. But not many sales. But then, the promo is just getting started, and I'm a total unknown. At least, my publisher got the ebook up on Google Play as well as Amazon and kobo.

My conscience is getting soothed by thinking I'm going to to do NaNoWriMo this year--that great sprint in November when writers try to draft a book in one month. Hah. 

Book? A possible third book in The Demon Wars Trilogy...if it gets written. As slow as I write, it may be five years from now before all the pieces are put in place and polished. Did have one new idea. Vetis comes back to woo Grylerrque, his long lost lust, fo the ending fight.

At least, he'll be doing more than checking up on Abraxas. As soon as I had the idea, the possibilities began tumbling through my mind.

Feel a little sad to be leaving Trapper in the middle of his story.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Groan. Do Cozy Mysteries Really Need a Pun?

Almost gagged when looking at the new arrivals in the mystery section awhile back, but I bought Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry anyway. Kinda liked the main character when I bought the first book in the series of five books and still do. Still, I object to having to read all the bad puns as I searched for authors I wanted to read.

[Don't get me wrong. I love cozy mysteries, especially ones that happen in a small interacting communities like English villages. It's the puns that gag me.]

Lee Barrent is one of those magical types whose magic is iffy at best. Makes for a good mystery protagonist. There's just enough psi ability for the book to be both an urban fantasy and a cozy mystery.

The setting of Grave Errors is a cliche, -- Salem, Massachusetts. But Dia de los Muertos  makes an appearance--something I haven't seen an American book do very often.

The plot centers on a closed suicide case that comes back to life as a murder investigation-- when Barrett's TV production class sets up a public service campaign to extend the town's Halloween festival by adding the Mexican holiday. Garrett's cop boyfriend isn't happy when the closed case comes back to bite him, but he's learned to pay attention to Barrett's sporatic visions. This book gives the reader a nice romp with well rounded characters, lots of red herrings, and an interesting cat. It all adds up to a fun read.

Check the listings for Grave Errors at these stores\


My Writing Rut

Haven't written anything worth talking about. Just doing promo stuff. I think getting a book published turns your brain to mush. Even my traditionally published friends look at their Amazon stats at least two, three times a day. The good news is that I've sold a few copies of There Be Demons, even breaking through the 100,000 ranking...but not for long.

If you read this far, you deserve a reward. Night for the Gargoyles, the short story that inspired There Be Demons, is free on the links below. [I don't know if the Amazon link is free in foreign countries, but I fairly sure kobo is.]

Treat Yourself for Halloween:

Amazon       Barnes & Noble      kobo        Apple Books/iTunes

The best group of reviews are on Amazon.
Oh, I guess you can find me among the books at GoodReads . You can find reviews there too. I have several demon-focused short stories listed for free.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Throwing the Genres in a Mixer -- Mystery and What?

Energized isn't a witchie cozy, but Mary Behre took a little bit of mystery, a lot of suspense, a serial killer, romance, and the preternatural to construct her urban fantasy. You might say that most books in the genre do that. Maybe because writers and readers got bored with books with only one note. But the book didn't bore me with predictability even if it had a hunky former marine as the love interest. Yeah, she does the usual urban fantasy bit. Threw the ideas in the mixer.

It's no secret I read more mysteries than out and out fantasy. I read even less romance. The characters felt fresh to me. How many electricians are the heroes in urban fantasy? I know of one series with a carpenter mystery protagonist. Behre manages to round out all the important characters until they escape their clinches. One exception. The perp who was surprising mostly because she didn't give the character much of a spotlight. Still, the mystery held up quite well.

Best of all, Mary Behre gives you an example of how you can take a cliched genre book and make it totally fresh. The book didn't bore me with predictability even if a former hunky marine was the love interest. In fact I might expend a little effort and find the other two books [about the protagonist's long lost sisters] -- used, of course. You can read the sample of Energized to find out what you think on

Amazon          Barnes & Noble


Other Reading Notes

Sometimes The New York Times Book Reviews yields little nuggets I hoard. Sharyn McCrumb has a new book out--The Unquiet Grave. Now I'm sitting here waiting. I find it hard to read hardbacks with my achy thumbs, so I'll hope the mass paperback will eventually appear. Sigh. I love the way she's been mixing historical fact and mystery lately.

Picked up another useless piece of information from the NYT Book Reviews. Who do you think are the four best sellers authors of all time? Shakespeare obviously since he had a few years to out-publish the competition. Danielle Steele is the fourth best selling writer. Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland are the other two. Do you think romance writers get no respect?


My Writing Rut

So comfortable to be back writing again. Still in Andor, but a much earlier time in its history--when the country was on its way to recovery after the "Disasters". I'm working trying to get Trapper out of the hills into a town. 

But I don't think you can call the stories dystopian. People have already learned to survive and are building larger communities and a central government again. Trial by Lies was the novella I was working on when I decided to drag There Be Demons out of the computer and publish it. The story has its own genre cliche--YA coming of age mixed with magic.

Not that its important, but I got a chuckle out of my one 2* review. The reviewer didn't like it. The beginning and ending grabbed her as well as some of the middle. The rest was just boring everyday stuff. Actually, that was one of the things I was trying to do...convey the "hurry up and wait" aspect of desperate fights, how Britt juggles her every day life with fighting demons.

Monday, October 2, 2017

When Good Things Go Bad

Be careful what you wish for,
 bad things always come attached, especially in fantasy.

Yeah, I know that's not how the saying goes, but that's what usually happens in the second book of a trilogy. Karina Sumner-Smith's Defiant polishes that premise mirror bright. Her narrative gets a little bogged down in detail at times. But that's fine with me--if there's plot moving information. I grew up in a slower moving age. Problem is style rather than info dump.

In the opening of the second book of the Towers Trilogy, Xhea's strange dark magic has disappeared while she recovers from her leg shattering injuries in Radiant. Edren,  the tower that rescued her, is basking in the magical power radiated by the ghost Shai. This set up soon launches into the discovery of a planned attack on the lower city tower by enemies unknown. 

The plot is off to the races with who planned to attack Edren and why. Xhea learning to control her magic after the attackers capture her. Edren leaders chasing after the wrong towers in preemptive attacks. The most alarming problem of the book? How Xhea and Shai cope when the bond between them is severed.

A rousing good tale from an Canadian author who doesn't get the credit or reviews she deserves. At least this hermit doesn't see much buzz about it online. You can look at the free sample on


My Writing Rut

I've read all sorts of writer blogs complaining about marketing their books. Now I'm living it. 

More like, I'm scratching at the cosmos in search of reviews myself. *funny, growly faces*

There Be Demons blog tours are just getting off the ground. My fate will be known by the end of the month. Do wonder how the reviews will fall since I made the conscious decision to develop the routine daily lives the Gargoyle Gang had to break out of to learn how to fight the demons. May have made the wrong decision since most teens have been conditioned by movie explosions.

You can read the sample of There Be Demons on Amazon or read the short story prequel -- Night for the Gargoyles -- for free.

As for the writing bit, I've gone back to the novella I was writing before I decided to publish There Be Demons -- Trial by Lies.

Makes me wonder why an old lady is writing YA.