Category Archives: Genre Fiction

A Party Girl and a Knight Walk into the Afterlife: Whereafter by Terri Bruce @_TerriBruce

cover image of WhereafterWhereafter by New England author Terri Bruce is a treat for paranormal fiction readers and lovers of afterlife mythologies.

The newest book in the Afterlife series, Whereafter follows Hereafter and Thereafter (Links go to my reviews) but because each book has its own set of journeys, you can jump into reading the books at any point.

I first connected with author Terri Bruce on Twitter and then got hooked on her series of paranormal fantasy books about smart-ass Irene Dunphy — a textbook case of arrested development at age 30 — and her adventures in the afterlife, first with a fellow seeker named Jonah, a 14-year-old loner, and then with a 19th-century American cowboy and a 12th-century Spanish knight.

For me, Irene’s banter and bravado are the best part of the books. On her extended journey — as her cockiness deepens into true bravery — Irene is gradually learning and growing, and she becomes more likeable as a person as the story moves forward. But her spirited streak remains as she continues to parry and thrust verbally (and physically, when necessary) with and alongside Andras, the knight she is traveling with on this portion of her journey through the realms of the afterlife.

Whereafter also picks up the story of Jonah, now age 17, who didn’t have a large role to play in Thereafter (Book #2,) and who was Irene’s best bantering match in Hereafter (Book #1.) Since then, in his continued quest to find and help Irene, Jonah has learned even more about the afterlife than he knew before — already an awful lot — but he has a lot to learn about living his own life. Cara, a new acquaintance his own age who does a bit of dabbling in the psychic realm herself, is determined to help him in both areas, despite her own lingering doubts about the wisdom of looking for Irene.

A genre-blending paranormal fantasy set mostly in mythical and fantastical worlds, Whereafter also has a New England flavor, as Irene and Jonah’s stomping grounds in life were/are Salem, Massachusetts (home of the witches) and Boston (home of Madame Majicka’s Shop of Mysteries.)

“‘I’m from New England. We don’t consider weather weird until it’s hailing, snowing, and lightning all at the same time.’

Andras’s eyes narrowed into a laser-hot glare; apparently this was no time for jokes. Irene sighed. ‘Look, it’s all strange and unnatural, okay? It’s been strange and unnatural from the beginning, before I even left the land of the living. I’m talking to a guy from 1195, for cryin’ out loud. Today, alone, I’ve been chased by ghost-eating shadows, found myself in the mythical land of Tartarus, and a disgruntled ex-slave attempted to put a curse on me. I’m sorry, where exactly in the grand scheme of things does a freak snowstorm fit on the weird-shit-o-meter?’ She patted his arm, half comforting, half dismissive. ‘Come on, buck up, will you? You’ve faced Hungry Ghosts and invading armies without so much as batting an eye. This is a million times easier.’

The furrow between Andras’s eyebrows deepened, but at the same time, one corner of his mouth lifted slightly. ‘Perhaps,’ he said softly, ‘we should visit my time. I would dearly love to see you face down an army of Moors. In all honesty, I am not sure which side I should pity.'”

— from Whereafter by Terri Bruce

Bruce, Terri
Mictlan Press
March 15, 2016
9780991303649 (soft.)
9780991303656 (ebook)

Disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book through NetGalley. This review is part of the Whereafter Blog Tour.

Read my interview with author Terri Bruce and enter the giveaway for two Amazon gift cards.

Visit the other tour stops for additional interviews and excerpts.

Terri Bruce Whereafter Button

Count Me In! Another Reluctant Romantic @doingdewey

Badge text reads Fall in Love With a New Genre February 2016Our library genre study group has been reading romance this year, and this week we’ll be talking about the appeal factors of paranormal romances.

I didn’t get to read as many recommended books in this subgenre of romance as I thought I would, so I’m joining Katie (aka “The Reluctant Romantic”) at Doing Dewey in reading more romance (specifically paranormal romance) this month, as it isn’t a genre I normally choose to read.

I’ve already become a lot more open-minded about it, through the readings and discussions our genre study group has been having, but there’s always room for improvement when trying to live up to librarian credos such as “Every reader, his book; every book, its reader” and “Never apologize for your reading tastes“.

Is This a Kissing Book?

Schedule and Discussion Topics

Feb 6 – Genre Speed Dating – What genre are you getting to know this month? Why do you want to give it a chance?

Feb 13 – It’s Complicated – Is there anything that keeps you from reading this genre more?

Feb 20 – Young Love – Have you read the genre you’re trying before? How was your first experience with that genre this month?

Feb 27 – Relationship Status – Where is your relationship with the genre you tried? Will you read more of this genre in the future?


Buried in the Backyard: Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

cover imageThree Graves Full by Jamie Mason, a first-time author from North Carolina, is an intriguing American suspense novel with a British feel. The dark humor and creepy ambiguity of Three Graves Full – making readers feel equal sympathy for both Jason Getty, the murderer who buried a body in his backyard, and Leah Tamblin, the crime victim whose fiance is missing and suspected dead, not to mention the police detectives assigned to the case – will be appreciated by fans of Ruth Rendell’s psychological suspense and Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels and other crime fiction where the line between good and bad, law enforcement and criminals, gets a little blurry.

Ironically, when the discovery Jason Getty has been dreading for seventeen months finally happens, it’s the discovery of a different body buried in the side yard, where the landscapers he hired to draw attention away from the back were digging, and which he had no idea was there when he bought the house almost two years before.

At first the focus of the story is on Jason Getty and Leah Tamblin, but then county police detectives Tim Bayard and Ford Watts are brought in to investigate and readers see the case from their perspective and even, at times, from the perspective of Ford’s beloved canine partner Tessa, a Labrador retriever who investigates crime scenes by nose. (Bayard and Watts banter back and forth entertainingly and have a strong partner relationship that develops over the course of the book. I could see this becoming the first book in a series.) The perspective shifts back and forth and we get flashes of the past, too, filling in the story, which takes enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing.

Here’s how the book opens:

There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard. Jason Getty had grown accustomed to the strangling night terrors, the randomly prickly palms, the bright, aching surges of adrenaline at the sight of Mrs. Truesdall’s dog trotting across the lawn with some unidentifiable thing clamped in its jaws. It had been seventeen months since he’d sweated over the narrow trench he’d carved at the back corner of his property; since he’d rolled the body out of the real world and into his dreams.
Strangely though, it wasn’t recalling the muffled crunch of bone that plagued him, nor the memory of the cleaning afterward, hours of it, all the while marveling that his heart could pound that hard for that long. No. It was that first shovelful of dark dirt spraying across the white sheet at the bottom of the grave that came to him every time he closed his eyes to sleep. Was it deep enough? He didn’t know – he wasn’t a gravedigger. Then again, in his mind he wasn’t a murderer either, but facts are facts.

While reading Three Graves Full on my Nook, I found myself highlighting pithy or ironic sentences every few pages, but the author’s wordy writing style might not appeal to readers looking for a straightforward murder mystery. And although there’s a decent amount of action and even an unusual chase scene, the story has more to do with  psychology than police procedure. I would recommend Three Graves Full to fans of literary suspense authors like Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith, Kate Atkinson, and Nigel McCrery.

Three Graves Full
Mason, Jamie
Simon and Schuster (Gallery Books)
February 12, 2013
320 pp.

Disclosure: I received an advance reading copy of Three Graves Full from the publisher through NetGalley.