Authors Showcase: Mysterious Worlds

The Book: Tracking Shadows

The Author: Regan Black

The Story: When your past becomes your future you’ll find yourself Tracking Shadows:

In Chicago, Slick Micky is the king of smuggling. Known to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere, he specializes in caffeine and sugar and works in the anonymity of shadows. But recently an old enemy is tired of waiting for Micky’s empire to crumble and has called in the best assassin in the business to take him out.

Trina Durham is an assassin with a sterling reputation, thanks to her unique ability to induce deadly hallucinations. When Slick Micky killed her best friend, she left Chicago – forever. She’s back now, unable to resist the perfect opportunity for vengeance. But no one warned her Slick Micky might as well be a shadow. Or that shedding light on the man and his secrets would put both her heart and reputation at risk.

Review by Debora/The Bookish Dame: First, let me say that I wasn’t able to put down Tracking Shadows once I started reading it. It is a book that immediately interested me because I had to get my head around the film noir atmosphere with the tinge of the science fiction and paranormal additions. What a fantastic combination! I loved it from the first paragraph.

Regan Black has the mind and hand of a Mickey Spillane on steroids. I couldn’t stop reading her sassy lines from characters that grabbed me like a steel wrench. Her anti-heroine, Trina, is the alpha woman we dream of being…smart, beautiful and strong in a man’s world, but sensitive, and carrying around that emptiness that the love of life can only fill. She’s scarred by the loss of her childhood sweetheart, the only person who made her feel safe from a family who mistreated and beat her down emotionally. As and adult, she finds the physical and intellectual outlet for her emptiness and her psychic gifts by becoming an A+ assassin bent on revenge for those who killed Joel, that childhood friend.

Joel has become Slick Mickey, the biggest gangster smuggler in Chicago, with a staff of “mules” who distribute contriband to those who pay for it in secret. The title of Slick Mickey is coveted by gangster rivals, and assassins are recruited to knock Mickey out of his seat of power. With technologies and gifts of his own culled from the 2096 futuristic discoveries, Slick Mickey is able to maintain a fortress of security, and a family loyal to his secure and family-like ways. There appears to be a soft center at the heart of this mobster boss who only deals in sugar, coffee and cigarettes, and not drugs and dangerous contraband unlawful to the futuristic government.

It is through the impact of Trina and Slick Mickey’s ill-fated reunion that we experience the tension of love and hate on the characters. They are wonderfully and richly developed. Each of them are characters who seem alive and emotive people; they kept me in mind of a younger Russell Crowe, and a Scarlet Johansen couple. Tough and tender…

The technological components of this book are subtle and don’t overtake the story which was refreshing for one who isn’t quite capable of understanding all the nuances of that sort of thing. There was just enough to keep a novice interested, maybe a little more than that, but not enough to make one set aside the book in frustration.

Ms Black has written quite a few books in the 2096 timeframe, which is of great interest to me now that she’s gotten me started! I’m going to be looking for her books and reading them in sequence. I like her writing style.

Regan Black has a certain edgy quality to her writing. She writes like an old “beat” reporter in a way. It’s just awesome to read. If you’re a fan of old 1940’s detective novels, or if you like film noir…The Postman Always Rings Twice or The Black Dahlia, I believe you’ll like Tracking Shadows. It’s not that the book is so much like those I mention above in full…it’s just that flavor kick that’s so unusual, I predict you’ll want to come back for more.

The Book: Awakening the Fire

The Author: Ally Shields

The Story: Arianna Calin has sworn to keep the peace in Riverdale. Most of the Otherworlders prefer to haunt the Olde Town district—partying at vampire strip clubs, dining in elegant supper clubs, and inhabiting the cliffside caverns along the Mississippi. Being a cop is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it, and Ari’s got her gun, a good sharp knife, and a few handy charms against things that go bump in the streets. She’s also a fire witch—a pedigree that comes in handy, since her partner’s only human.

But when a virtual reality drug hits the streets, people (and non-people) start to die, and an elusive pack of werewolves threatens the status quo. Ari and Ryan are drawn into a web of murder and evil that will lead sworn enemies to a confrontation, and while the city simmers around them, only Ari can prevent an all-out supernatural war.

Review by Catherine Cavendish: In Riverdale, two communities live parallel lives – the world of humans and the Otherworld of vampires, witches, elves, nymphs and werecreatures. Ari is a Guardian. She is also a witch – but there is nothing twitchy-nosed about her. Ari is a special kind of law enforcer and when a horrific series of murders threatens all-out war in the Otherworld, she is the one that must lead the hunt, no matter what the cost…

Ally Shields is a real find. She makes the implausible possible and creates a rollicking good story with strong characters, depth and atmosphere. Fantasy at its best and kept me turning the pages so that I read it all in one sitting as I couldn’t put it down. This is the first of a series and I can’t wait for the second part. Highly recommended.

Review by Kirstin L. Pullioff: I just had the honor of reading Ally Shield’s Awakening the Fire, and it lived up to its name. It awakened all my senses and left me waiting for more. This story is an amazing piece of art, weaving the characters, relationships, plots, backstories and drama into a masterpiece.

Ally has a wonderful way with words, describing her characters with such depth and ease, that you truly feel like you are there in the story. The connection and pull between the characters is palatable. From the different dynamics between the vampires, witches, werewolves and humans, to the forbidden desire between the characters, a wide range of feelings is explored. This is a story that draws you in, invests your feelings in their relationships and outcomes, and does not disappoint in the twists and turns.

Her fantasy world is clearly defined, and imaginable. The boundaries between the mystical and the human are concrete, and the cohesion of the two worlds very natural. This is a place you know, a town set up in a manner you are familiar with. The clubs, the park, the town, all places that you can relate to and imagine being in.

The premise of the story is original, and suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Completely hooked from page one, I am eagerly awaiting the next in this series. Overall, the highest rating I can give it. Fantastic book.

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  • I love strong-woman novels! These sound great. Thanks, Caleb!

    • All women are strong. Men have just tried to keep it a secret.

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