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Temper by Alex Hughes

I’m so excited to have a Mindspace Investigations story from Isabella Cherabino’s perspective!  Temper doesn’t disappoint.

alexhughes_temper_ebook_final-200x300Title:  Temper
Author:  Alex Hughes
SeriesMindspace Investigations Book 4.7
Publish Date:  December 16, 2015
Genre:  Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionIntroducing Temper, the first Mindspace Investigation novella from ex-Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino’s point of view…

Some Clients Test You More Than Others

Getting fired from the DeKalb County P.D. was hard, and starting up a private investigation firm has turned out to be even harder. The bills aren’t getting paid, and it doesn’t help that my partner the telepath keeps getting called away to work for the police department that dropped me like a bad habit. It makes me sad. And angry. A whole lot angry. But when a big-time steel mill mogul comes to Mindspace Investigations PI for help finding his blackmailer, I jump at the chance to get justice for someone again.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye. Shady union dealings. Ties to the mob. Questionable motives. Lies and half-truths. But we need the money, and I can’t afford to be picky about jobs right now. No matter how much I dislike the client.

My sensei used to tell me that picking a fight was a bad idea for anyone, but a particularly bad idea for me. I learned that the hard way as a cop. But sometimes you don’t get to pick your battles. I just hope this is a fight I can win without crossing too many lines.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

Alex Hughes is bringing me the world of reality.  In Fluid, she showed me how Adam reacts to a case that has less than a perfect “wrapped up with a bow” type ending.  In Temper, she shows me more about Isabella Charabino than I have ever deduced.

Isabella is faced with a world that she has to rebuild and taking a case that is less than desirable all the while being in great psychological pain.  I am ashamed to admit that I turned on her in the last review because she’s crabby and I think Adam has to be a saint to put up with her.  Well, in this book, I understand a lot more about what makes Isabella who she is.

She is crabby, but she’s hurting.  It’s a hurt that has been set on her like a band of hungry wild dogs.  She’s still devastated over her husband’s death and the life that could have been.  She laments over the white picket fence and 3.25 kids. (This is a futuristic book so the kid count increases with inflation.)  Her livelihood has been taken away – with extreme prejudice.  She is more than just out of sorts and I learned to be a little more forgiving when it comes to Isabella. Adam does make an appearance and I learned that Isabella does have feelings for Adam and that fact creates a guilt factor for her while she is trying to keep her husband’s memory alive.

badge4v4I thought this novella was perfect.  What needed to be said was written and the insight to one of the most difficult characters was given.  Alex is a magnificent word artist.  She creates characters that are whole and significant to the grand scheme of Mindspace Investigations.  I am waiting in anticipation for the next book. I hope Isabella can find happiness somewhere down the road.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

I think it’s pretty cool that Fluid and Temper are companion novellas; they take place at the same time.  Adam is on the job for the DeKalb police department while Cherabino is on an investigation for the firm.  They meet up a couple of times in the story, but each novella follows a different character.

Despite their separate investigations, their experiences mirror each other.  Both characters are dealing with an unsuccessful conclusion to their cases, one that challenges their ideas of justice and fairness.  Both characters are wanting to reach out to each other, but feel as if they cannot (due to events that took place in Book 4).  Both characters are realizing how much they liked the partnership they had originally.  Reading these two novellas made me feel as if there is something awesome coming in Book 5 that will really solidify their partnership, their relationship, and the new P.I. firm.

It is also cool to read a story from Cherabino’s perspective.  She is one messed-up gal, and until this novella, I didn’t realize just *how* messed up.  She is still coming to terms with with the death of her husband, which makes her feelings for Adam even more complicated, as if she was betraying her husband’s memory.  She has just lost the one thing that kept her together through that death — her job.  Her behavior after losing her job is not unlike that of an addict spinning out of control, which is another great parallel to Adam’s history.  Temper is an apt title for Cherabino’s perspective as anger is how her emotional turmoil manifests.

badge4v4Overall, I think Temper is a great addition to the series.  Temper and Fluid have just whetted my appetite even more for Book 5!

Our reviews in this series…

Other reviews…

This is a pretty new book, so check out Goodreads for reviews.

If you like this book…

…the rest of the Mindspace Investigation series.  Really, it’s awesome!

Fluid by Alex Hughes

How do you define “good” and “bad” when it comes to people?  Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. Who gets respect and who doesn’t, and for what? These are the big questions Adam faces in Fluid.

FluidTitleFluid
Author: Alex Hughes
SeriesMindspace Investigations Book 4.5 (novella)
Publish Date: October 27, 2015
Genre:  Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Source: From the author in exchange for an honest review

Publisher’s DescriptionGood Cop, Bad Cop.

A prominent journalist has been found dead, a journalist investigating police corruption. I’m supposed to be working in my new P. I. firm, but the money’s not enough so I’m back consulting for the police as a telepath. Turns out this case is a doozy—the journalist was an addict, even worse than I was before I cleaned up my act. But he saved some kids from a sweatshop years ago, and then there’s this corruption thing he’s looking into, which makes all the cops sweat.

The police’s Powers That Be would really, really like to have the journalist’s death be an accident—the physical evidence even points in that direction. In Mindspace, however, it’s clearly murder. With increasing pressure on myself and Detective Freeman to drop this case, I’ll have to fight my way through to find the killer. And worse? If it’s one of the cops who did the killing, I don’t know if they’ll get justice, or me get paid.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!)


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

I had a bit of a hard time coping with this novella. I had to take a step back and grasp the new dynamic of the relationship between Adam Ward and Isabella Cherabino.  It’s new.  The nice, neat pigeon holed roles the characters had is now changed.  It’s not like it used to be, with Cheribino an Adam busting the criminals.  The story has moved into fresh territory which will give the characters a lot more room to grow.

I admit I am an idealist. I like books that have the white hats win.  I like to see the bad guy get what’s coming to them. Alex Hughes yanked me out of my comfort zone and showed me that Fluid is exactly as it sounds.  “Fluid” describes justice as it ebbs and flows. We might not get justice as cleanly executed and wrapped up with a bow as we want, but hopefully, sooner or later, karma kicks in and justice will prevail. What else can we hope for? I know, I know.  Getting pretty deep, huh?  On to the review.

I LOVE this series.  The characters are so vivid and dimensional that I sometimes have problems with their attitudes.  Pretty awesome writing is what makes that happen.  In this story, we pick up one month after the last book. Cherabino is grumpy.badge4v4  Distant.  Cold.  Well, what else is new?  She can’t give Adam a break no matter what.  I want to tell her to move on already.  So, you lost your job. What of it?  It’s done.  Over with. Grab on to the opportunity to make a new life.  One of her own choosing.  One with her own rules.  Ah, well….it’s not to be.  This is not a story about Cherabino.  It’s about Adam…..and a little bit about the stigma addiction brings to the table. It’s also about Adam learning the painful lesson of  “Ya just can’t win ’em all.”  He is forced to admit that the “good” guys do come out on the short end of the stick once in awhile.  It’s about the deals that are struck by bad people because the champions can’t make the bad stick to them. The concept sucks, it really does.  Someone gets away with something because they make a deal to rat out somebody else.  Well, what do you do? Maybe in this case it will have to be enough.  Hopefully, some good will come out of a bad situation. Kind of like the quote, “When a door closes, a window opens.”   Alex has designed characters that are so deep and easy to relate to that I forget they are characters.

Seriously, if you are looking for a series, this one is an absolute MUST for your library.  I remember when bought the the first in the series to read, I was hesitant because to me it was a crap shoot.  Do I try a new author? I could go with something safe instead of new.  Do I spend the money on an unknown? I was having one of those ‘what the hell’ moments, so I took the chance.  I am so very glad I did.  Life for these characters is often not fair, they sometimes don’t win, but Alex made sure they pulled me in for the long haul.  I will always be a fan of Alex Hughes and the Mindspace Investigations. I can’t recommend it enough.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

I have so missed Adam, Cherabino, and all the characters in the Mindspace Investigations series! It seems like a long ten months since Vacant. Isn’t that always the way with series you love? 🙂

When we last left our beloved heroes (that’s a sign that spoilers are coming, btw), Adam and Cherabino were starting their own P.I. firm. Fluid shows us one of the early days of the firm, one where Adam and Cherabino are working separate cases.

Adam’s case involves the death of a journalist who has been exposing corruption among the police. Problem is, the journalist is an alcoholic whose death appears to be the result of his drinking. Adam knows he was murdered, but has a hard time getting anyone to care too much about the death of an “alcoholic.”

Being an addict himself, that leads Adam to wonder — does being an addict negate all the good you try to do? Can you be an addict and still be seen as a good person. Does being something good, like a cop, negate the bad things you do? And what if doing something bad ultimately leads to good? Where do you draw the line between good and bad when most people are a little of both?

badge4v4As thought-provoking as this story is, Adam and Cherabino don’t have much “screen” time together. That made me sad. BUT… rumor has it there may be a companion novella that describes what Cherabino is doing during the time Fluid is taking place. So I’ll be looking forward to that, as well as Book 5 when it comes out next year.

If you like this book, try…

…the rest of the Mindspace Investigation series.  Really, it’s awesome!

Clean by Alex Hughes

Sci-fi, urban fantasy, police procedural, mystery, suspense… Clean has elements of them all.  We’ve loved this book since we first read it, and we’re looking forward to more in the series.

cleanTitleClean
Author:  Alex Hughes
Series: Mindspace Investigations 01
Publish Date:  September 4, 2012
Genre:  Science Fiction
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, Spoilers!)


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

I love Mindspace Investigations.  Once I start a book in this series, I might as well forget doing anything else.

I know the protagonist is not a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of guy.  He’s had it easy.  Strong telepath as well as precognitionist. Then he gets dumped in an experiment that goes wrong.  Um, hello? Obviously, the protagonist couldn’t see the writing on the wall with that one.  Really?  “Here, smart guy, take this highly addicting substance and see what it does.”  Duh?  And then he wonders why The Guild drops him like a hot potato when things go wrong.  Sheesh.

I’ve liked this series from the get go.  The writing is amazing and really strikes a chord with what I know about addiction and ruination of life.  It is so on the spot, it gives the author huge kudos for the research she has done.

The investigator in the story needs the protagonist because he can see into Mindspace.  He can get a bead on the killer and through good old fashioned detective work, they figure out – together- whodunit.

badge4v4I know I’m not giving much for spoilers, but I was warned by the Author (she’s a mean one – just kidding, Alex) and Ivana (who you all know I’m particularly wary of *waving to Ivana*) that I should not reveal anything because this book is a ride from page 1 to the end.  There isn’t a cliffhanger – just an ongoing story arc.  I absolutely love this series.  When Book 5 comes out, I’m so all over it, you won’t see me for at least a day.  I cannot wait!!!

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

In preparing for this review, I skimmed some of the other reviews on Goodreads.  I was surprised to see that the reviews for this book are all over the board – from “I couldn’t finish it” to “OMG this is amazing!”  I really enjoyed Clean the first time I read it, and I’ve read it several times since.  I would have to really nitpick to find something about the book I didn’t like.

In the not-too-distant future, technology has gone horribly wrong, and its use is limited.  Some of the population is gifted with telepathic powers, and these people stepped up to save the world.  Now they are feared, but powerful and useful.  The rich history and background of the world in Clean is perfect for my style of reading.  The reader never learns everything about the past, but little bits are revealed throughout the story.

The way Hughes writes about telepathy from the telepath’s point of view is pretty neat as well.  It’s fascinating to see a peek into someone brain, to see what they might be thinking or feeling.  Watching the protagonist interview suspects, interpret their thoughts, and manipulate them into thinking what he needs to know is both captivating and scary.

One thing I really appreciated about Clean is how the protagonist views his partner.  Cherabino is a tough detective with a haunted past, which causes her to appear pretty bitchy at times. Despite that, the protagonist never loses faith in her, never gets tired of her or fed up with her attitude.  He can see into her mind, knows what’s causing her outward behavior, and yet sees her for who she really is.  I think we all crave that kind of acceptance in our lives.

The protagonist does get a little whiny – he’s lost a lot and feels very put upon by the indignities of his new status.  However, he’s an amateur whiner compared to Thomas Covenant, who is my gold standard for fictional whiny protagonists.  Heck, compared to most regular people I work with, he’s a model for stoic acceptance. 🙂

badge4v4Overall, like I said, I’d have to really nitpick to find something about this novel I didn’t like.  I really love the characters and the world and hope we get to see more of them both in the future.

Links…

Read our review of the short story prequel, Rabbit Trick.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

I’d suggest you try the Connor Grey series by Mark del Franco, the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch, or the Remy Chandler series by Thomas Sneigoski.

How to Drive Yourself Crazy as a Writer by Alex Hughes

This funny little book accomplishes with humor and satire what logic can’t – helping writers get over their doldrums and objections and start being productive.

How To Drive YourselfTitleHow to Drive Yourself Crazy as a Writer: A Modest Proposal for Wordsmiths
Author:  Alex Hughes
Publish Date:  July 28, 2015
Genre:  Non-Fiction, Humor
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Lately I’ve been noticing a distressing excess of sanity in the creative and writing worlds. Why, new writers have even begun to challenge the Great Assertion that one must be poor and miserable to be any good! This Assertion, as you know, is the bedrock to creating meaningful Art.

Fear not. You are not at the mercy of the forces of Sanity and Productivity. For those distressed by the relentless forward drive of Efficiency, this book will provide a refreshing antidote.

Before you know it, through my simple and practical Assertions, you too will adopt the maddening and complex process that is True Writing, and embrace creative insanity as comfortably as a bat in a belfry!

How to Drive Yourself Crazy as a Writer is the satirical how-to writing book you never knew you needed, chock-full of practical advice and easy steps to fill your creative life with trauma, missteps and angst.

Take another look at the life of a writer, and immerse yourself in the hysterical chaos of the life of a miserable, starving-in-a-garret author… or, perhaps, laugh your way to the other side of writer’s block.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

“How can one possibly be accomplishing Great Art if one is not overwhelmed by ennui and horror of life?”

Do you know a writer –or a wanna-be writer – who has trouble getting past their emotional doldrums to actually produce work?  Then here is the perfect gift for them!  Spur them past self-pity, past writer’s block, past ennui with exaggeration, reverse psychology, and humor.

Written from the perspective that artists must, by nature, but sensitive and emo for true ART to be accomplished, this satirical self-help book describes now NOT to be a writer, especially a successful writer.

badge3v4I particularly liked the exercises at the end of each chapter.  If the exercises are actually done, they will give the reader a How-To and How-Not-To blueprint for being a writer.

Non-writers or artists might not get the humor of this book, but those creative types certainly will.  When they are stymied and fussing and wallowing in self-pity, throw them a laugh-line by getting them this book.  They’ll be writing again in no time.

Rabbit Trick by Alex Hughes

Rabbit Trick 2Welcome to Saturday Shorts where we feature short stories and novellas.

The Mindspace Investigation series is a great mix of science fiction, urban fantasy, and noir mystery.  This prequel novella will give you a taste for the characters, the setting, and the clever writing.  I’m sure after reading “Rabbit Trick”, you’ll want to pick up the whole series!

Title: “Rabbit Trick
Author: Alex Hughes
Series: Mindspace Investigations 0.5
Publish Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: When the cops call me in the middle of the night, I know it’s bad. One of their own is dead, strangled in her car by a professional killer, and it’s up to me, telepath consultant extraordinaire, to pull the rabbit out of my hat and solve the case. Only this time I’m not so sure I can.

Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino is breathing down my neck. The dead cop’s partner is too. And now, the worst–there was a five-year-old kid in the car, a kid no one can find.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novella (in other words, SPOILERS!!)


Invested_Ivana_50What do you think it would be like being a telepath, Nell?  Both good and bad, I imagine.  Whose mind would you most like to be able to hear and why?

Nervous_Nellie_50Hmmmm…… My spouse, I think.  I can never tell what he’s thinking.  Mad, sad – whatever.  It looks all the same to me.  I don’t think being a telepath would be fun at all.  I think feeling the thoughts of emotional pain would be horrible. Also, you would be able to see the thoughts of the people who had done bad things.  It would be hard to sustain self-confidence too, I think.  What do you think it’d be like?

Invested_Ivana_50I think there would be some distinct advantages.  I might finally discover if my boss really hates me or is just clueless.  I’d know for sure what my dogs want when they stare at me.  But, even if you learn how to shield a lot, I think it would be a very hard way to live.  It would drive me to be more of a hermit than I already am, I think.

Nervous_Nellie_50So true. I really like the whole premise behind Mindspace Investigations.  I think the author does a fabulous job of describing the world in which this story takes place.  Her characters are really strong too, don’t you think?

Invested_Ivana_50The characters feel very real to me.  The protagonist can get a little whiny, and his partner can get a little bitchy.  But I think both of those attitudes come from the pain in their pasts and their struggles to get beyond that and become who they really want to be.  We’ve all experienced being caught up in the pain and frustration of our own pasts.

Nervous_Nellie_50I think you are right.  “He”, since we don’t have a name for the protagonist, is whiny.  I think he was pretty special in his day.  Level 8 telepath.  Precognition.  The whole works.  I can see why people would be uncomfortable around him.  Maybe he’s whiny because he’s somewhat entitled?

Invested_Ivana_50I imagine so.  You know how it is when some big hot-shot doesn’t get their way.  They act worse than a two-year old child!  To go from being a hot shot to being less than nothing in most peoples’ eyes can’t be easy.

Nervous_Nellie_50Nope.  Not easy at all.  Rabbit Trick was a quick read, I thought.  I think it’d be a good stand alone if a person would want a taste of Mindspace Investigations before committing to Clean, Payoff and Sharp. I feel that the author does a good job of filling in so a person wouldn’t be lost if they chose to read out of order.

Invested_Ivana_50Yep, I agree.  Hey, I just thought of another advantage of being a telepath!

Nervous_Nellie_50Oh, geez…. What now? 😉

Invested_Ivana_50We could each read different books, and then telepathically we could “download” that experience to the other person.  We’d go through our TBR pile in half the time!

Nervous_Nellie_50Ahh!!! Always looking for the positive!!


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

I love this series. I loved this series before this series was cool. Just sayin’. 🙂 The first book Alex wrote pulled me in so fiercely that I couldn’t reemerge for at least a couple of hours after I finished. This story is a novella, so if you just want a taste, this is the one. I will warn you that it will leave you craving more of Mindspace Investigations.

badge4v4When I pick up a series, I usually have a guess to how the book will read. My guess for this series was wrong. I figured, new author (at the time) – cheesy investigator working with the police, yeah, been there done that. Um….no. This protagonist is not cheesy and this world is written in such a way that I SWEAR I’m living in the future. Our guy — we don’t know his name — is a telepath and an addict, because once addicted a person is never cured. He has cravings for his drug and over uses cigarettes as a distraction. The protagnoist got the raw deal in his life, but now that he’s working for the police department, he can use his powers for good. I had to plead for Ivana to read this series. “Please! It’s sooo good!”  She blew me off until she was ready and now she’s mad that I didn’t tell her sooner. Sheesh!  So, a piece of advice: do not wait! Try this quick read. I SWEAR it’s worth your time and money.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

I’m thoroughly invested in the Mindspace Investigations series. “Rabbit Trick” is a great introduction to the series because it tells you everything you need to know – that the protagonist is a telepath with a drug addiction who is three years clean and works for the Atlanta police. That he has more than a work-appropriate attachment to his grumpy partner, Detective Isabella Cherabino. That his value as an interviewer and investigator comes from both his natural curiosity and what he can “see” and sense with his telepathy. And that he feels his position in the department, and maybe in the world, is tenuous at best.

badge4v4This novella also includes two of Hughes’s short-SHORT stories, unrelated to the Mindspace series. Hughes really excels at fascinating shorts, so be sure to check them out.

The Mindspace Investigation series is one of my top favorites, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Other reviews:

If you like this book…

Then definitely go on reading the Mindspace Investigation series. As of right now, there are five novels and two novellas, so there’s plenty here to keep you busy. If you need more convincing, we’ll be reviewing the first novel in the series, Clean, very soon!