The Fox, the Dog, and the King (Cassie Tam Files #2) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #LBGT #thriller

New Hopeland City may have been built to be the centerpiece of the technological age, but some remnants of the old world still linger. The tools of the trade have changed, but the corruption remains the same, even in the criminal underworld …

When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City, even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some dark paths.

Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole, let alone how far down it goes. 

I read the first book in this series earlier this year, and immediately became a fan of Cassie Tam.  She’s a confident, successful woman in her PI business, but when it comes to romantic relationships – that’s where she’s challenged.

In this book, Cassie is struggling to find her footing with new girlfriend, Lori, and  balance their relationship with her workload.  She’s still charmingly awkward, and while she may not say exactly the right things, she honestly means well.  With encouragement from Lori, she’s also learning to be friends with her ex-girlfriend.

Upon realizing Cassie’s new case involves dog fighting, as an animal lover, I was a bit leery of how much detail would be given and wondered if I might have to skip some pages.  No worries – the fighting happens ‘off-screen’, and my heart was spared.

While the first book in this series focuses more on the fascinating tech and world-building, I felt like I got to know Cassie better in this new novel, and her snark is still one of my favorite qualities.  Action, mystery, twists, and a touch of romance make The Fox the Dog, and the King another intriguing addition to this light sci-fi series.  I wouldn’t saying reading the books in order is a necessity, but it would help with understanding more about the world-building and Cassie’s backstory.

I received a digital copy of this book from the author.

#BadMoonRising: The Fox, the Dog, and the King by Matt Doyle #LGBT #crimethriller #noir

I’ll be at a book event all day and into the evening, so I probably won’t be able to get to comments until tomorrow – happy Friday!

If you haven’t read this author’s Cassie Tam series, I’m strongly recommending you correct that.  Cassie is an intelligent, snarky, and confident protagonist, yet charmingly awkward when dealing with an attractive women.  I also quite like this author’s approach in dealing with werewolves.  Welcome Matt Doyle!

Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, or zombies – which would you least want to meet in a dark alley?

Zombies. Of all of them, they’re the least conversational. Vampires and ghosts? Plenty of opportunity for discussion there. Post-transformation werewolf? Okay, so talking to them is probably out, but tummy rubs and a game of fetch is in. Zombies though? All you can really do is shrug and slowly walk away.

Creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Back when I worked in an office, there was a lot of talk about the place being haunted. I actually ended up writing a massive article on it for the work magazine, because some of the staff that had been there since it opened had a bunch of stories about the building. It was actually one incident that sparked my interest though.

We were open late to take in some last minute paperwork from customers, and three of us had volunteered to work the door. We were taking it in turns to transport deliveries up to the storage room, and in this instance, it was my turn.

So, I loaded this trolley up with a couple of boxes, got into the lift, and headed up to the top floor. About halfway down the hallway, I realized that my shoelace was undone, and squat down to tie it. While I’m doing that, I heard what sounded like footsteps come up from behind me. The weird thing was, I’d shut the door and I definitely didn’t hear it open again, so I figured that someone was just in the break area on the left and had come out of there. I looked back, the footsteps stopped, and there was no one there. When I got up, the light started flashing in the doorway to the storage room too.

Now, I waited for a moment, and didn’t start moving again until I’d checked in the break area and the light had stopped flashing. Realising there was no one there, I just kinda shrugged it off and (quickly) moved the boxes into the designated area. When I passed back up the hallways though, I noticed a really cold spot on the wall towards the end of the storage room.

Later, when I started researching for the article, I found out that the building was built on the grounds of an old theatre. The story was that an actor locked himself in during a seasonal break in performances and hung himself. The rafters where they found him were supposed to be around where the top floor of the office was, potentially in the area that we had the storage room.

If you were paid to spend the night in a haunted house, would you do it?

It would depend on the house. I’m a believer in ghosts, demons etc., and I’ve been in a few haunted places before. The thing is, some of it can be explained relatively easily – I actually touch on that a little in the third Cassie Tam book – but there are always things that can’t easily be explained away. I’m fairly confident that I would be safe in most places, but I’d definitely want to know what had been happening first. And how much I was getting paid, of course.

What’s your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It basically comes down to writing when I can. If that means working on a roadmap for a title, then I’ll be trying to get as much down on paper as possible ready for working on the actual book. When it comes to writing the books, I’ll usually try to write at least one scene in a sitting, sometimes more if things are flowing well. I can’t write in silence though, so I tend to put some music on I the background.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Oh, it really depends what I have in the pipeline. If I’m not working on a book, I still have to write for my website, so not writing at all is rare. Outside that though … I try to complete at least one cosplay project a year. My last one was earlier this year, which was of Tangle the Lemur from IDW’s new Sonic the Hedgehog comics. The comic actually published a picture of it, which was cool. I’m planning to try experimenting with an LED display inside a mask too, so that’ll be fun. I watch a lot of anime when I can too, sometimes off my own back, sometimes because I’ve been sent review discs from distributors, so I’m rarely short of Japanese animation to enjoy. Oh, and I game too. Retro gaming is a constant, with Sonic still holding a special place in my heart. We recently upgraded our PC too though, so I’ve finally started playing Overwatch. That’s been a blast!

What are you working on now?

Quite a bit, actually. LV-48, the third book in my sci-fi/mystery series The Cassie Tam Files is currently going through editing with NineStar Press, so there’s that. I’m also working on the first draft of the fourth book in the series which, all being well, should be the penultimate title in the story arc. Outside that, I’m putting the finishing touches on Mott, the fourth and final book in my sci-fi/game lit series The Spark Form Chronicles. The key with that one is to make it as tight as possible, then get the collected edition put together as an accompaniment. I’m also be working on some rewrites for Teller Tales, which is a four-part YA horror series. I got the rights back for the original novel in September and want to rework the series. It was one of those things where the original publisher just turned out not to be the right home for the work, so once the work is done, I’ll be shipping that around a little.

Title: The Fox, The Dog, and The King (The Cassie Tam Files #2)
Author: Matt Doyle
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 23 July 2018
Genre: Sci-Fi, Crime Noir, Lesbian
Length: 58,000 approximately
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40719106-the-fox-the-dog-and-the-king

When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City, even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some dark paths.

Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole, let alone how far down it goes.

Excerpt

The Fox, The Dog, and The King
Matt Doyle © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“I’m sorry, but did you want to get changed before we speak? We’d be happy to leave the room while you get ready. It must be hard work performing in both the TS gear and a kimono thick enough to house projectors without them moving out of line with each other, even if they are the smaller, lightweight models.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Kitsune sighs. “There’s a wireless motion detection system in each hand too,” they add, waving two metallic, clawed paws. “You’ll note that my tails are missing. They don’t yet make multi-tailed suits, you see, and the number is important within the folklore, so we had to find other solutions. The projector tucked under the obi sash keeps the back open nicely, and it allows movement, both in animation and in the actual device, but it’s a bit stronger than the main ones.”
“Meaning that it’s heavier,” I reply.
“Indeed. The way the system works is identical to the tail guidance in regular suits though.”
I frown and Lori clarifies, “Regular Tech Shift gear uses two small wireless touchpads to control tails, one for the bottom half, and one for the top half. They’re embedded in the hand rest of Ink’s front legs. For hybrid-style gear, they usually sit inside the thumb of each hand. It’s the same concept in each one, but animal-style gear allows for bigger movements, while hybrid gear measures micro movements.”
“Which would be rather fiddly, given the level of movement that I require. These are built into the paw pads and are set to register larger movements so that the tails can move in time with the different dance routines and my more flamboyant gestures,” Kitsune explains, demonstrating one of the hand flourishes from the show. They pause then and chuckle. “Ah, but I’m rambling. I am afraid that changing is, contractually speaking, impossible. Will my appearance be a problem?”
“No, I’m used to Tech Shifters…”
Lori laughs and cuts in with, “You are so not used to us yet.”
I laugh quietly, despite myself. The miserable old loner that still lives in my head says I should be angry about that; I’m working after all. But the part of me that was enjoying the evening is far more prominent and reminds me that this was supposed to be Lori’s evening too. I can allow her a small jab or two on that basis. “My early experiences with Tech Shifters were not positive,” I say, addressing Kitsune. “I’m getting better, though. What do you mean by ‘contractually speaking,’ if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Not at all. It is essentially as it sounds. The Kitsune brand is a joint venture between myself and Kevin, and there is a lot of paperwork involved dealing with how the whole thing is to be played out in every mundane situation that you could imagine. What it means is that I can boss Kevin about and make him my dogsbody as much as is required, but at the same time, I must respect his rather brilliant marketing strategies. Part of that means that the mystery of the Kitsune’s true identity is to be protected at all times. As such, I do not meet with anyone without my professional face on. It seems a little strange, I know, but he was previously a historian of certain old-world sporting brands by trade and thought that applying a degree of what he called kayfabe would help give the whole thing a new edge. I can’t say that he was wrong.”
“So, are you Kitsune when you’re around family too?” Lori asks. “Or partners?”
“Oh, I have no time for partners, not with my touring schedule. With family, I can be myself, though Kevin did insist upon them signing a gagging order to prevent them from revealing my identity to anyone who hadn’t signed a similar contract. You should have seen my mother’s face when he brought that up. I honestly thought that the rolling pin she was holding was going to be put to nefarious use. Outside Kevin, even my oldest friends do not know who resides beneath the mask.”
“That must be hard to maintain,” I say.
“Oh yes, I have cover stories and everything. It’s somewhat akin to witness protection if television is to be believed. As far as most know, I am simply a touring stagehand for the great performing fox spirit.”
I nod. “Kitsune, as pleasant as this is, I assume there was a reason that you wanted to see me?”
“Oh yes, of course. I saw the news coverage of your recent success with that Gary Locke character,” they say, and Lori flinches slightly. “As far as local detectives go, there are plenty of them about, but you are certainly the most well regarded. I have actually been in town for a week now, and I am due to remain here for a further two. I am afraid that, over that initial period, I was subject to a crime of the nature I am led to believe the police do not take overly seriously.”
“The police wouldn’t be happy about not knowing your identity, regardless of the crime. If it’s one that they won’t usually touch, that doesn’t leave many possibilities. What are we talking about?”
“It is rather lonely on the road,” they sigh wistfully. “A few months ago, we stopped in Toledo, and I was awoken from a post-performance nap by a clattering outside the tour bus. I wandered out, expecting to find a fan or two hunting autographs, and instead found this charming little thing skulking around the bins. I named him Fish.”
Kitsune produces a phone from their kimono, loads up a photo, and passes it over. It shows a snow white American Shepherd dog sitting on one of the tour bus seats and giving the camera a suspicious look. It’s too big to be a puppy, but certainly not big enough to be fully grown.
“You named your dog Fish?”
“It seems strange, doesn’t it?” Kitsune laughs. “There’s a reason, though.” They take the phone back and enlarge the picture, revealing that the dog’s tail is about half the length it should be. It was easy to miss at normal size because the single colouring made it seem like it was tucked under its legs.
“When I was young, my parents had some rosetail betta fish. One of them was pure white, and it had a habit of nibbling through its tail fin. When we took Fish to the vet, they said that the tail damage, judging by the angle of the marks, was likely self-inflicted. I couldn’t remember what my parents called the fish, so I just stuck with Fish.”
I nod. “And I assume that Fish is now missing?”
“I am afraid so. It happened yesterday, during the early hours. I was woken by a loud bang and found that Fish was gone, and the tour bus door was open.”
“Could Fish have run away?”
“It would have been difficult for him to open the door, but not impossible. I don’t think that he would have run, though. We were lifelines for each other, you see. He kept me company during the day, and when he had nightmares, I comforted him. If he was spooked, he would usually run and hide near my bed. I heard something else too, a van door being slammed shut maybe? And then an engine.”
“So you’re thinking that he was stolen.”
“Honestly? I don’t know. Do you think that you could take the case? How much would it cost?”

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07FP3HDNN

NineStar Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/the-fox-the-dog-and-the-king/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/879886

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-fox-the-dog-and-the-king-matt-doyle/1129117524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-fox-the-dog-and-the-king

Apple Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-fox-the-dog-and-the-king/id1414001205

Author Bio

Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, running his pop culture website, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.

Social Media Links

#BadMoonRising: Demon’s Blood by Shari Sakurai #horror #LGBT

Happy Hump Day!  Shari Sakurai isn’t quite sure if she worked with a ghost or a human at a previous job, and feels a cat is a must-have for writers.  Sounds like she’s my kind of people.  Welcome Shari!

You’re in a horror movie. Are you the final person, the first to die, the comic relief, the skeptic, the smart one, or the killer?

I have pretty good survival instincts so I’ll say I’d be the final person. I do also have a wicked sense of humour so I would provide some comic relief too!

Creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

I used to work in an old Georgian building which had a basement that went under the entire city and used to be part of the city’s jail. When I was working there it was used to store documents and files. Once I had to go down there to put some files away and there was an old man down there doing some filing. He said he used to work here and that he came back on a voluntary basis to help out. We chatted for a few minutes and then I went back upstairs. As I went by reception I told the receptionists about him. They looked a bit alarmed and said that he had been dead for years! To this day I don’t know whether they were messing with me or whether I actually spoke to a ghost!

If you were paid to spend the night in a haunted house, would you do it?

Absolutely! In fact I’d probably do it for free! I love being scared and staying in a haunted house would be an amazingly terrifying experience!

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Laptop, music, an endless supply of Dr Pepper and a cat. Why a cat? They make great muses and writing companions. My cat Tash often sleeps on my laptop case and when I need a break she’s always wanting to be petted or play with one of her toys!

What’s your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It varies depending on what I am working on. I try to write something every day even if it is just a paragraph, but much of my writing schedule focuses on the weekends when I have more free time. At the moment the schedule is quite light. I’ve got my current work in progress and a little side project I’m working on. In a few months’ time I expect it to be heavier again as I’m also going to be starting the next novel in my Perfect World series.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the sequel to my vampire novel Demon’s Blood. Determined to save his lover from the demon Kurai’s possession, Thane returns to Japan and begins his search for Takata Koji; Taku’s sire and the only vampire who has the knowledge to save him.

Immortal blood is precious and Kokawa Taku’s makes him especially unique.

After vampire hunters force them to flee Tokyo, Taku and his lover, Thane, try to make a new life for themselves in England. But three months later Thane is still tormented by nightmares of the fire that almost cost them their lives. This leads to carelessness and the discovery of one of his victims.

When faced with threats from all sides Taku tries his best to protect them although his actions are met with disapproval and anger from Thane. Unknown to his lover, Taku is also struggling to keep hidden the truth of what really happened three months ago.

However, it is only a matter of time before Taku’s past and bloodline catches up with him.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I11W9FE

Author Bio

Shari Sakurai is a British author of paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy novels that almost always feature a LGBT protagonist and/or antagonist. She has always loved to write and it is her escape from the sometimes stressful modern life!

Aside from writing, Shari enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to (loud!) music, going to rock concerts and learning more about other societies and cultures. Japanese culture is of particular interest to her and she often incorporates Japanese themes and influences into her work.

Shari loves a challenge and has taken part and won the National Novel Writing Month ten times!

Website: http://www.sharisakurai.com

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharisakurai

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharisakurai/

 

Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1) by Tara Sim #bookreview #steampunk #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time. 

I think I’m a steampunk fan – I’ve read several steampunk books and enjoyed all of them, and I adored the Victorian London setting in this novel.

The whole premise of clocks controlling time tantalized me, and I connected with Danny almost immediately.  I know clocks and cogs aren’t for everyone, but the fact that Danny could ‘feel’ time and diagnose a clock’s problem fascinated me.  His relationship with Colton was very sweet, although a bit on the ‘insta-love’ side, but I chose to overlook that.

Timekeeper had been in my TBR for a while, and when the theme for one of my book clubs was an LGBT novel, I immediately thought of this one.  A perfect selection, and one I’d recommend.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. – Goodreads.com

I remember wanting to read this book when it was released, but just never got around to it.  Because of last month’s book club category, reading a book recommended by another member, I read it.  And soooo wish I’d gotten to it sooner.

Can I say how much I love it?  Simon’s voice is what hooked me.  Humorous, self-deprecating, snarky, and a die-hard Harry Potter fan.  He’s impossible not to adore – I just wanted to hug him.  From his loyal friends to his supportive family, it’s like they rose from the pages as fully living, breathing, secondary characters.

I’m not a huge romance fan, but romance isn’t the only focus of this novel.  Yes, things may have wrapped up a little too neatly at the end, and it wasn’t difficult to figure out the identity of Blue, but none of that detracted from me thoroughly enjoying this book.  Can’t give it a high enough recommendation.  5+ stars.

Addict (The Cassie Tam Files #1) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #scifi #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right. – Goodreads.com

If this book doesn’t make you a fan of Cassie Tam, you must be one of the few who can resist her.  Intelligent, snarky, confident – and charmingly awkward when dealing with an attractive woman.

The world-building is wildly imaginative and high-tech, boasting vivid imagery.  Cassie is presented with a murder case almost immediately, and the author serves up several suspects, each with plausible motives.  I honestly didn’t know ‘who dun it’ until the big reveal, and soon after was unexpectedly thrown by a plot twist at the end.

I’m excited Cassie will return in subsequent books, and if you’re a fan of sci-fi/mystery/suspense blends, I recommend checking out this series.