September 6, 2018 at 00:20 #435
BROKEN PREY #16 In The Prey Series
Sometimes it pays to be lucky rather than smart. Well, actually I’m not sure what smart would have to do with it but. . .
I had finished the last but one of books on my nightstand and I started that one but just couldn’t get into it. So I went to my bookshelves and looked over several assuming that I had read them all. I kept coming back to Sandford and finally reached up and randomly selected Broken Prey. It turns out that I hadn’t read it! Therein is the luck.
I don’t remember when I first began reading the Prey series or what book I started with, I know it wasn’t the original, Rules of Prey. (Interesting fact; Dennis Rader, the BTK killer of Wichita, Kansas used Rules of Prey as a guide when he began killing.) I do know that I became an instant fan and nothing has changed in my fandom since.
Broken Prey is one of the best of the Prey series and I hesitate to say that for fear that it denigrates others in the series. Perish the thought! Sandford writes with an attention to detail and a bam, bam style that continues through his novels. You never get a chance to catch your breath until you put the book down. Nor do you want to. Each paragraph leads you into wanting more, and so you don’t put the book down until you fall asleep and it falls onto your face. (Why yes, I do read in bed, how did you know?)
Lucas Davenport, the protagonist of the Prey series, starts out as a Minneapolis cop, leaves the force for a bit and then rejoins it on a consultant basis, leaves it again and joins the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the law enforcement arm of Minnesota. There he is a big wig, a supervisor with a team of detectives and a couple who are more adept at enforcement than detecting.
In this novel Lucas is faced with a serial killer; one who tortures his victims before cutting their throats and Lucas knows he has to find and stop him before he kills again and again.
One of the things that I appreciate about Sandford’s writing is his attention to details large and small. He uses small details the way a cook will add a spice to enhance a dish; his details may have nothing to do with the story but they do enhance. One example from this book is when he pulls into a trailer park and a cat comes out from under one of the trailers and pauses with one paw raised (a very cat like pose if my cat is an example). It has absolutely nothing to do with the story and once it’s mentioned the cat disappears from any further involvement. But it has added that touch of spice, that flavor, a distant bird painted in a landscape, a making it whole and especially making it real. That’s John Sandford and one reason why I am a fan.
If you are squeamish, don’t read Sandford because his crime scenes are not for the faint of heart. If you prefer dull, stories in gray instead of vivid colors, pass him by. If the mundane is to your taste. . . well, leave him to those of use who enjoy a tale filled with wit, reality, action, familiar characters, because that’s what Sandford writes. And he’s damn good at it.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
July 26, 2019 at 18:22 #21337
TRAPPED (Iron Druid Series #5) by Kevin Herne
This is one of the most entertaining and informative series I’ve read in a long, long time. Kevin Hearne teaches us much about religions; Norse, Celtic, Roman, Greek, Native American and more.
That’s the informative part. Entertaining? Atticus is witty, has human emotions, has a dog that is, if anything, more witty than he is and has a beautiful, smart apprentice. He’s also lived over 2,000 years, consorts with werewolves, witches and vampires as well as various gods and demigods. What’s not to like?
Atticus is in trouble. 12 years ago he was involved in a battle, a situation he was manipulated into through his relationship with the vampire who ruled the Arizona area. Consequently he feels a debt to the Norse gods that they will exploit to the fullest. He also has various Roman and Greek gods unhappy with him, at least one to the point of wanting to tear Atticus limb from limb. Add in what may be the oldest vampire extant who has no problem hiring mercenary dwarfs to kill Atticus or Granuaile, his apprentice as well as the politics of the fae world and you have an idea why a Druid’s life is never lacking for drama.
Hearne writes the proverbial page turner. Action abounds, be it hunting with Oberon (that witty Irish Wolfhound), binding Granuaile to the earth, fighting against unseen archers intent on killing Atticus or any number of situations.
If you enjoy fantasy, if you enjoy learning, if you enjoy action then this series is for you. It certainly is for me.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastJuly 28, 2019 at 02:50 #21457
THE NEVER GAME (Colter Shaw #1) by Jeffery Deaver
Mr. Deaver has set himself up with a difficult task; to follow up this debut novel of a new series with as exciting, with a can’t put it down aura as this novel.
For those (few though you may be) who may follow my reviews you will note that I am quite reluctant to give that 5th star for any book by any author. I had no qualms about doing so with this novel.
Deaver introduces us to Colter Shaw, a man who has a past as a child of survivalists, an ability to track his quarry be it man or beast (and pray tell, the difference is at times indistinguishable) and a sense of duty, of right and wrong. He has a team of supporters who help him discover much about those he seeks or those that seek to stop him from completing his hunt.
I received this book from my aunt for my birthday, one of two, the other being One Good Deed by David Baldacci. It is one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received.
This book is suspenseful, filled with action from the very start, there are love interests and a very well done delving into Shaw’s past through flashbacks.
Shaw is a complicated man in some respects and quite believable. He’s no superhero who leaps tall buildings in a single bound and vanquishes all oppositions by his superior martial arts. He makes mistakes and at times pays for those mistakes both in his professional capacity and his personal life. He is certainly interesting.
If you are familiar with Deaver you will know his quality of writing is on a level with Sandford, Baldacci at his best, Bingham, Bolton and others who are on my quite subjective list of the best of the best. If you aren’t familiar with his works then this would be an excellent book to introduce yourself to him. I can’t imagine you would regret it.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng PendergastJuly 30, 2019 at 09:01 #21656
THE REGATTA MYSTERY AND OTHER STORIES by Agatha Christie
In a rare instance of a miss-sent book from my primary book source I received The Regatta Mystery instead of The Man In The Brown Suit. But then, an Agatha Christie mystery by any other name is a damn fine read.
This is a collection of nine stories, several of them with the great Hercule Poirot but also introducing a few characters that I was unfamiliar with.
This was a fairly quick read and, as I indicated, a good one.
Are you a Christie fan? Are you familiar with this book? If not, then find a source and catch up. It’s a smashing good read.August 1, 2019 at 01:57 #21791
REDEMPTION (Amos Decker #5) by David Baldacci
I have found that Baldacci is an up and down writer. By that I mean that he’s quite capable of writing a good story, a 4 star effort most usually, but then every so often his work is mediocre. This is one of those more mediocre ones.
How so you ask? (Well if you didn’t you should have.)
This story stretches the ability to suspend belief almost to the point of breaking. It’s filled with criminals and spies and broken people who are basically good; lots of action, lots of death to the point of too much. It has the wrongfully accused and incarcerated and it has Amos Decker showing even more angst than usual. Nothing wrong with angst in a story but there is something wrong with too much of it. It doesn’t help the plot and at times seems to be more of a crutch for that plot than anything else.
I certainly won’t let this stop me from future readings about Decker but I will keep a watchful eye out for Baldacci returning to a better form, a form he’s both quite capable of and has displayed in the past.August 1, 2019 at 20:31 #21866
NEON PREY (Lucas Davenport #29) by John Sandford
John Sandford is 75 and like the proverbial Timex watch he just keeps on ticking. As long as he keeps writing I’ll keep reading his works. This is #29 in the Prey series; I’ve read 11 of the Virgil Flowers books – #12 is to be released in October; I read and thoroughly enjoyed the Singular Menace young adult trilogy and I’ve read a few of the Kidd series, the stand alone The Night Watch and Saturn Run was a departure I would not have guessed being science fiction and an excellent story it was.
But I have a complaint. Neon Prey was as good as any of the Prey series I’ve read and I began it this morning and read it through the day. Now I have to wait probably a year before the next Prey book with Lucas Davenport. It’s unfair! Unfair I say.
Oh well, in every life some rain must fall.
Sandford writes stories that depict violence, intricate relationships whether it’s family, friends or even enemies. He writes with wit and a certain macabre humor. As an example he’s having dinner with Lettie, his daughter and is telling her how she’s going to be quite well off when he, Lucas, kicks the bucket. Her reaction? “And I didn’t bring my gun with me.”
As an aside, Lettie Davenport, his adopted daughter is a complex and interesting character and one that I wish could be included more in some of the stories.
It’s rare for me to give a book 5 stars. It has to be, in my quite subjective opinion, a very good story with an excellent plot, well written, interesting, complex without being so much so that it’s difficult to understand. This had all of those attributes.
I enjoy Lucas’s new partners and friends, Bob and Rae. While not quite as humorous as Bob and Ray, the great comedy team there is a very decent amount of humor in the relationship. But even so Bob and Rae can be quite lethal when it’s called for.
If you like cop shop stories and you haven’t read any of the Prey series you’ve missed out. I urge you to correct that for your reading pleasure.August 5, 2019 at 09:39 #22153
FLORIDA ROAD KILL by Tim Dorsey
There is enough knee slapping, laugh out loud humor to almost earn this novel a third star. . . almost. But not quite.
I enjoyed the humor and I enjoyed the Florida history lessons but overall I found the book to be simplistic in it’s violence and plot. I’m not sure if I made it half way through before I kept thinking to myself “Will this book never end?” And then it didn’t. To understand that you’d have to READ THE BOOK and I will leave that up to you to do so or not.
This book felt like a Carl Hiaasen wannabe book but fell short of that lofty goal. It had the humor of a Dave Barry novel in parts but felt short in the believability.
Read this if you must but don’t say I didn’t warn you.August 10, 2019 at 11:04 #22456
WHITE WITCH, BLACK CURSE (The Hallows #7) by Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan is a good person, a white witch with loyal friends and business partners Ivy Tamwood, a living vampire, and Jenks the pixy who can be a wonderful friend, a good business partner and an annoying pain in the butt at times. But Rachel has a propensity for getting into trouble with humans, demons, inderlanders of all kinds, and in this novel, a banshee or two.
Kim Harrison has created an alternate world where many humans were killed by a genetic mutation in tomatoes; a fruit no longer dangerous but shunned by most humans still. The Hallows is a suburb of Cincinnati and is filled with characters as mentioned above and more. This is the world that Ms. Morgan lives and works in.
If you are familiar with this series then you would expect a well written, witty at times, story filled with great plots. You would not be disappointed and I will not go into any detail as to this plot. If you are not familiar with the series and you enjoy fantasy, a kick ass woman (well more than one actually), characters you can care about, worry about, cry with, laugh with, then start with book #1, Dead Witch Walking and sit back for an enjoyable read.
I will discuss one beautiful scene. Rachel is in the hospital after a bad encounter with a banshee that came close to taking her life and indeed did damage her aura. She is determined to leave the hospital though her doctor is determined that she won’t, and being in that alternate world, Rachel doesn’t have the right to walk out – laws are different in this world. So she is attempting to escape and in so doing she passes through the children’s ward where she spent a lot of her childhood as a patient. She meets several children and even in her escape attempt she pauses to spend time with them, some she knows that have a small amount of time left and some she thinks may survive.
It is beautifully written and brought me to tears. I think anyone with compassion and empathy will feel the same reading it. Well done Ms. Harrison; well done indeed.August 13, 2019 at 13:12 #22634
THE NIGHT CHARTER (Camaro Espinoza #1) by Sam Hawken
Remember the old TV and radio series Dragnet? I know, I’m asking you to date yourself.
(One of my asides; Sirius Radio has a radio classics channel that I used to listen to when driving through the Nevada desert and Dragnet was one of my favorite shows that was played.)
There were two iterations of this series and then a syndicated release of some of the original episodes called Badge 714, Sgt. Joe Friday’s badge number which was displayed at the start of the show if memory serves me (and it doesn’t always serve me well). And before the TV shows there was the radio series.
Joe was always played by Jack Webb in the TV and radio series and the earlier Dragnet films (not to be confused with the parody film starring Dan Aykroid and Tom Hanks. (Hanks was NOT nominated for an Oscar nor should he have been. This was not an Oscar worthy film in the least.)
The premise of the series was to show the LAPD at work, how they solved cases based only on the facts. Joe Friday’s “Just the facts, ma’am.” became a cliche or trope if you will. The dialogue was delivered flat and any emotion was conveyed in a very subtle way.
But wait! This is a review about a book, not an old TV series!
Aha! But there is a very real connection, at least in what passes for my mind.
I used the term ‘flat’ when I told how the dialogue was delivered in Dragnet and it worked for that series because it was unique. It was on the small screen and in black and white but still, though subtle, there was emotion.
So too, this book, The Night Charter, was delivered flat but without the benefit of facial expressions and body language we are required to evoke what emotions we can from that flat prose. It worked for TV and radio, it did so much less in this book.
Much of what transpires is based on stereotypes with a heroine out of all proportion to the rest of the characters. We see Ms. Espinoza as that fairly unemotional heroine while much of the rest of the cast members are caricatures of Cuban communists from the Island and Cuban ex pats with a hatred of all things Castroite. And then there’s the really bad guy who leads a small criminal enterprise gang but actually is pretty inept, though he’s able to outwit the Miami PD.
Much is mentioned about CSI going over crime scenes but little of their results. There is one scene, however; where a homicide detective is able to trace Espinoza’s cell phone but seems surprised that this can be done, and Espinoza herself seems blissfully unaware that she should stop using her cell lest she be tracked. It’s almost silly how this is the subject of a small portion of the book yet nothing results from the trace nor is such a trace mentioned again though Espinoza continues to use that same cell phone. I found it ludicrous to imagine that a smart heroine and a dedicated, experienced detective was largely unaware of this technology, and this is not an old book; published only 3½ years ago.
Espinoza is in Florida because she was involved in a situation in NYC where she killed 5 people. We know nothing of that situation; it’s only referred to rather obliquely in the story and if this is explained in any future books of the series I’m going to miss it because I have no desire to read any more of the series.
The blurb for this book sounded exciting and the ratings of other readers were for the most part laudatory. I guess I’ve read far too many very good crime authors – Sandford, Deaver, Pearson and many more – that I demand more from an author than a simple, by the numbers, no emotion story. I didn’t get that in this book.August 15, 2019 at 16:59 #22669
MARATHON (Jonathan Stride #8) by Brian Freeman
This book gets 5 stars less for it’s writing (probably 4 stars) but rather for the content, the plot.
It was not an easy book to read but it is very topical. It deals with prejudice, hate, violence instigated by hate speech. As I said, it’s very topical.
It would be easy to say that this book blames Islamophobia as the main antagonistic theme but this would be less true when someone thinks about the overall theme.
We have a woman who expresses her hate toward all things Islam. Her speech is protected by the 1st Amendment and because of her hate speech, her use of Twitter to spread that hate, people die; innocent people die.
But in reading the book there is a valid note that certain members of Islam are indeed radical terrorists and instigate such thinking. This shouldn’t be forgotten but it doesn’t excuse the radical Islamophobia in the book and in our world today. Both are factors that must be taken seriously.
I am a fan of Brian Freeman. I consider him a good author of crime novels, not quite on the level of Sandford and this was a very decent book, yet it certainly was disturbing in its theme. It caused me anguish and tears as I read it.
I’m sure that some would take issue with the idea that Islamophobic hate speech should be blamed, but we only have to look at very recent events to see how hate speech, especially as disseminated through Twitter can cause our nation (and others) to mourn.
Patrick Wood Crusius took an assault type weapon and killed 22 people and wounded 24 more in El Paso, TX. Mr. Crusius had written a manifesto filled with anti Hispanic rhetoric, some of it obviously copied virtually word for word from comments made by Fox News personalities and even President Trump. Words can have consequences and hateful words can have fatal consequences.
There is ample evidence of radical Muslims causing death and destruction throughout the world, on both sides of the Atlantic. However; using these acts to label all Muslims as demons would be, and is as stupid as saying all white people from Alabama are racists.
I have known a few Muslims, not nearly as many Christians as I’ve known or are related to. I am an agnostic but respect those who believe in a higher power until they demand that I believe as they do. I’ve never met a Muslim who didn’t give me that respect to believe – or not – as I do and that’s true of most Christians as well; though hardly all.
Read this book because it’s a good story, but also read it as an object lesson as to how we as a nation can be at fault and can be a source of unification. It’s a good book for either reason, but if you don’t agree with me, that’s OK. I have no inclination to demand that you do or to think you’re stupid for not agreeing with me.August 20, 2019 at 16:05 #22867
WHITE RIVER BURNING (Dave Gurney #6) by John Verdon
I don’t like Madeleine, Dave’s wife. She is manipulative, passive aggressive and sometimes just aggressive without the passivity. I’ve known people like her and while I might have respected things about them I didn’t like them. And I don’t like Madeleine.
Dave seems happy with her and that’s OK. If it works for him, then good.
I was hard pressed to add the 4th star to this book. I’ve read all of the series in a row and this one was the least of the 6. So many things seemed a parody of reality; RAM-TV, the bigotry displayed by so many while part of our reality was over the top. I find that the RAM-TV portral was similar to certain networks with an agenda (Fox News will not be named because you will easily realize it’s Fox or you will be offended, very few middle of the road there) it was just too, too much. The same with the hateful rhetoric expressed by many of the characters, some minor, some barely in passing, others more pronounced. I think that most people will express that level of ignorance behind the anonymity of the internet, and be keyboard kommandos but few will let that shine in the light of day. Oh yes, some would. We see stories virtually every day where some bigot or other will confront a person of color and tell them to go back from whence they came (often that locale is right here in the U.S.) but still they are rare. Thank god!
But now enough of a social rant and on to the book.
Oh wait,that was a large part of what the book was about! Oh well. I do find it odd that I’ve now read 2 books in a row that dealt with bigotry. It wasn’t a planned thing.
The reason for the 4th star was the intrigue, the double dealing. I did guess the eventual culprit long before the ending, or I should say I had a strong suspicion. The ins and outs of the investigation were quite interesting and I enjoyed that a lot.
There was one part where Dave is going to meet a woman who has some information for him. Nothing untoward came from that meeting though not for lack of trying on the woman’s part, but I wondered at the lack of protection (I don’t mean condoms!) that Dave took knowing that this woman was, to say the least, a seducer. I would have wanted my phone to have been recording everything, or better yet, to have taken a trusted friend or even Madeleine with me.
Another part that bothered me was when Jack, who is Dave’s trusty sidekick for lack of a better term, had a scoped AK-47. I wondered why he chose that weapon and why scoped? The AK is a very efficient weapon for putting rounds out of the barrel but it’s hardly what one would call an accurate weapon. In fact, Jack uses it to shoot the gun out of the hand of our culprit at one point and Dave chides him jokingly for pulling a cowboy stunt by shooting the gun out of the hand. Jack’s reply was he was aiming for the head. Now that I can believe.
This book was up and down. It had several things I didn’t like but overall was still interesting and, as mentioned, intriguing. I won’t hesitate to read #7 in the series.August 24, 2019 at 12:16 #23290
HUNTED (The Iron Druid Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne
If there is a reason for giving this less than 5 stars it lies in the overwhelming amount of characters involved, good, bad and indifferent in the story which make it less than easy to follow at times. Oh what the hell. . . it still deserves that 5th star.
I find myself becoming more engrossed with this series as I’ve finished the 6th book (and a novella that I’ll review shortly). If I were to describe my favorite genres it would be a long list but before Harry Potter I’m not sure that I would have added fantasy to that list. Now I can’t deny it. Hearne, Harrison, Rowling, Zelazny, Kristoff would make such a list of fantasy authors that I’ve learned to enjoy and, yes, though it sounds overly gushy, to love.
Atticus, Granuaile (now a full Druid) and Oberon are racing across Europe in a quest to find safety from Olympian huntresses Diana and Artemis who, with able help from fellow Olympian gods and goddesses are hot on their trail.
But our intrepid heroes are not without allies including. . . you might want to sit down for this. . . Odin! Who’d a thought?
Be prepared to meet old and new gods and goddesses along with a few new monsters. Come to think of it, a couple of old monsters also.
As noted, lots of characters and action from the word go. Hearne has done it again.
You’re not into fantasy? OK, no reason why you should be other than it’s interesting and regarding this series, is educational. That adds to the overall quality for me but to each their own. But you might want to sample this just for fun. You might fine it a lot of fun at that.August 24, 2019 at 12:35 #23292
TWO RAVENS AND ONE CROW (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4.5) by Kevin Hearne
I was going to put a prior year’s date for this review because it’s a novella, a short one at that, and therefore not a full book to add to my reading challenge, but I’m going to go well over my challenge numbers so I don’t see that it matters.
But enough of housekeeping notes.
The Morrigan makes an appearance during Granuaile’s training and Atticus’ dealing with temptation. (To know what that temptation is READ THE BOOK.) (It’s been a while since I’ve used that phrase. Welcome back.)
She (the Morrigan, not Granuaile) that Atticus is to accompany her for as long as 2 weeks and Granuaile, along with Oberon will be on their own.
Mischief and danger abound along with intrigue.
Huh? How can you have all of that in such a short novella? Well trust me, Hearne pulls it off.
Question; living in the desert or running across Europe or doing whatever they do, how dirty do Atticus’ and Granuaile’s bare feet become? It’s never mentioned nor will many think it’s important.
This was a bonus included at the back of Hunted, which I’ve just finished and reviewed. It’s not necessary to the series but it’s interesting and it does go toward explaining an alliance mentioned in that book.
Important or not, it’s interesting and enjoyable; a good read.August 25, 2019 at 22:31 #23376
BLOOD IS THE SKY (Alex McKnight #5) by Steve Hamilton
Alex is one of the most human characters I’ve come across in mystery literature. Yes, I know some scholars would cringe at using mystery and literature in the same sentence but to those snobs I say, A pox upon your snobbishness!
Alex has faults and he has strong points. He makes mistakes, some of them quite costly. But he also does some very good things, even to the point where Mrs. LaBlanc adopts him as her son. Oh, it’s all unofficial of course but then what makes an adoption a true adoption is the heart, not a bunch of writing on a piece of paper with all of its here to fores and known by these presences and other such legal gobbledygook.
And Alex has a friend. More than one actually but in this story we’re more concerned with Vinnie, who before the book is over becomes Alex’s brother because the aforementioned Mrs. LaBlanc is Vinnies mom. Maybe not all of the cousins agree but then they weren’t asked. To know what all that’s about you should READ THE BOOK!
Vinnie has another brother, younger, by the name of Tom. Tom has sort of gone off the rails at times and thus there’s a lot of things he can’t. . . make that shouldn’t, do. Like leave the country for the wilds of Canada to act as a hunting guide.
And then Tom doesn’t come back when he’s supposed to and it turns out that neither do the men he was supposed to guide.
So what’s a brother supposed to do, especially if he aided and abetted that little cross border jaunt? Well he has to go find the lost brother and of course he takes his friend and soon to be brother with him.
That’s when the shit hits the fan and damn if that fan isn’t on high. More, that shit is 10 pounds stuffed into a 5 pound sack. Messy!
As usual Mr. Hamilton has given us a well written, believable adventure in this piece of mystery literature. (I wrote that just to rub the snobs noses in it. Ha!) Like so many books I enjoy the environment, meaning the land, the denizens and the weather all play a part in the story. You can feel the icy coldness of the lake water; you can feel the slickness of the road with fresh snow, you can even hear the windshield wipers going back and forth even if Hamilton doesn’t write about them. Hey; we’ve all been in cars in inclement weather and we know about those windshield wipers like a metronome going left and right, left and right, left and right keeping the windshield clear.
If you’ve never been to Paradise and you like mystery literature (Ha again you snobbish snobs!) then go visit Paradise Michigan in the UP. It will be a good visit.September 18, 2019 at 08:02 #24555
THE PASSAGE (The Passage #1 of 3) by Justin Cronin
I don’t remember the last time it took me this long to read a book for pleasure. This book was long, 775 pages, and each page was full. Additionally; the prose was intense and I found myself going back over some things I read to better understand the new paragraph/page/chapter I was then reading.
I became aware of this trilogy, of which this is the first book, when Fox adapted it for a TV series. Long before I finished the book I wondered how they would be able to do it justice on the small screen. (Yes, we still refer to TV as the small screen compared to movies shown on the ‘Big Screen’ of theaters, this in spite of many homes having 60″ plus sized televisions. . . but that’s one of those asides I’m infamous for.) Turns out, apparently, that they couldn’t effect that adaptation and the show was canceled after 2 months. This would take a production company like that of Game of Thrones on a premium network to do it any kind of justice if this first book is any example. (Are you listening David Benioff and D. B. Weiss?)
But enough of that; what about this book and the story it tells you ask? (Well, maybe SOMEONE is asking.)
The story follows Amy Bellafonte as well as a group of colonists who have taken refuge in what used to be Southern California. We follow Amy from when she was born to her apparent physical presence as a young teen though in fact she’s around 100 years old.
It seems that the U.S. government (always up to play the villain in so many zombie/vampire/monster stories) in the guise of the U.S. Army’s scientific group who have isolated a rather deadly virus.
The government in reality has, so far isolated some viruses and have kept them safe (though as we speak it seems that there was an explosion in a lab in Russia that housed the small pox virus, the results of that explosion we don’t yet know nor may we expect Vlad to tell us anytime soon). But for the sake of the story this time the Army isn’t so lucky, nor are the soldiers and civilians who were guarding and working at this facility. The individuals infected with the virus escape and an apocalyptic event is unleashed on the world.
So Amy too is infected, but her reaction is different. How so? READ THE BOOK! (Ha! I got that in there.) And how does she become involved with the colonists, specifically the 7 who begin a trek from the colony to Colorado, the site of the failed Army facility? See above, that part that says READ THE BOOK!
Cronin has done a great job of mixing new and old (Dracula lore) together. If this book has a fault it is a bit anticlimactic in those last few pages, but I still gave this one of my rare 5 stars. It may have only been a 4.75 star worthy but who’s going to quibble over .25 of a star? Certainly not me.
This is an excellent read but I caution you, do not start this book unless you think you will have time to devote to it. It requires time and attention and it’s worth all of that.October 5, 2019 at 04:31 #25104
FLIGHT OR FRIGHT Edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent
King is my favorite author with some very close seconds; among those seconds, his son, Joe Hill is as high as any of them. So here we have a treat; a book of short stories by masters like Canon Doyle, Ray Bradbury and yes, the father and son, Stephen King and Joe Hill.
If you have to fly and you are less than confident in your fate when you board an airplane you may not want to read this book. It is a collection of stories that may make your skin crawl as you walk down narrow aisles to find your equally narrow seat in a less than clean airliner cabin with what passes for service from flight attendants who just may make your flight worse, or, as we read on an all too frequent basis, kick you off of the airplane all together.
Let me say that in spite of those horror stories we read about how today’s passengers may be treated, the majority of flight attendants are professional and do a largely thankless job with efficiency and a smile.
But now back to the horror stories penned by authors of fiction rather than journalists. (Note; I don’t include most journalists of main stream media as fiction writers no matter what the Great Deceiver currently in the Oval Office may say about fake journalism.) End of political rant.
The stories run the chronological gamut from the early days of aviation to the later day airliners of today and then even further with one story from ancient China in the shadow of The Great Wall.
There are ghost stories and stories of monsters and stories of the unexplained. Most are stories that have taken place in the past with one story, possibly the best (or worst depending on your point of view) horror tales of this book; Joe Hill’s Released. It is a prophecy that I pray never comes to pass but one of the things that makes it so horrific is that we can see that it may be the most realistic of all of the stories. But then that’s Mr. Hill’s forte; writing tales that we can see happening.
Stephen may be my favorite author but in this collection Hill’s story is the best, beating out his father and other great story tellers.
I’ve slowed down my reading the past several weeks and while I know why in the book previous to this I’m not sure why this one took so long for me to finish. But finish I did and like any book with King’s name on it, this was well worth the reading.
It’s October, the month of Halloween and ghost stories, horror stories and the like. This is such an appropriate book for this month.October 12, 2019 at 00:25 #25256
SHATTERED (The Iron Druid Chronicles #7) by Kevin Hearne
This is my 65th book, the final book of my Reading Challenge, though I have to admit that there were 2 or 3 DNFs in that lot. However; I feel that I will more than make up for those 3 before the end of the year.
I am also coming to the end of the Iron Druid Chronicles and that is not a happy note. I have enjoyed this series which are consistently well written and provide me with so much information/education about myths and gods that in many instances I never knew existed and even when I did, much of my information was sorely lacking in accuracy. Mr Hearne was a former high school English teacher, a work history he shares with some guy called Stephen King.
I have one complaint about this book and that it’s told in the 1st person by 3 different characters. This wasn’t hard to follow necessarily, just that it lacked a bit of continuity. Still, the story was well told and Mr. Hearne continued his superb storytelling and instruction.
This story has the new character of Owen Kennedy, formerly Atticus’ Archdruid, his teacher. Owen was older then Atticus by some years but having been placed in a time suspension situation he has missed out on a couple thousand years and now finds himself the student rather than the teacher. That’s a situation that neither Atticus nor Owen are that comfortable with but they muddle through.
We also have Granuaile, Atticus’ former apprentice and now a full Druid off on a quest of her own with Lakshi, a witch that formerly had shared space in Granuaile’s mind.
We follow the three who are together at one point then apart at various points, then together again.
This story is filled with intrigue, new gods, goddesses and demons and some characters who have been involved previously but now have a much larger, and violent role.
Fantasy, deduction of crimes, history, and we learn the origin of the Yeti and sort of, Bigfoot. . . not the same species. (Don’t tell the characters on Hunting Bigfoot because comics have to have a job, right?) This has something for everyone. Oh, and yes, there are some Japanese characters that brought back memories of the trilogy , The Lotus Wars.
There is so much in these stories that just about any bibliophile can find something to appreciate. If you haven’t discovered this series then you may well be doing yourself a disservice.October 16, 2019 at 20:23 #25469
ICE RUN (Alex McKnight #6) by Steve Hamilton
While I wouldn’t call the Alex McKnight series light reading, compared to a some of what I read recently it’s certainly lighter.
I’ve followed Alex from when we first learned about his history as a former cop with a bullet lodged permanently next to his heart and a man who can’t leave well enough alone to his becoming a brother to his Ojibwa friend, Vinnie when they became involved in a murder with multiple victims in the woods of Canada.
During that adventure Alex met Natalie Reynaud so the ground was laid for Ice Run.
For the first time in a very long time Alex is in love, even though the “L” word isn’t mentioned. But nothing runs smoothly in Alex’s life and that’s certainly true of Natalie and her family history.
Hamilton gives us a character that’s flawed by with enough perseverance to overcome those flaws. If he’s your friend he will walk with you through hell and do his best to help you find the way home. His character is believable as are the other recurring characters.
Normally a story such as the McKnight series are would be a 3 star tale at best, but Hamilton does such a believable job using the most fantastic circumstances that it elevates it to that 4th star for me.
I love the area of the U.P. whether it’s winter or summer and Hamilton uses it well as another character of the stories.
This is a good mystery series with intrigue, action and characters that you can relate to.October 22, 2019 at 15:06 #25748
HARDCORE TWENTY-FOUR (Stephanie Plum #24) by Janet Evanovich
3 Stars (Barely)
I have read enough “deep” books recently that I decided I wanted something light. The Stephanie Plum series are certainly that but this one seemed a bit lighter than most of the previous ones I’ve read, which are all the ones prior to this one. It was a struggle to give the last star to this book but ultimately I did because this did what I wanted; it gave me something to read that required little thought. Now I’m ready for a bit more of what I’ve read earlier this year.
Regarding no thought; this book seemed to be written that way; formulistic, little that hasn’t been included in her previous Plum books and nothing seemed inspired. If you are a Stephanie Plum fan you may come away disappointed with this one. Or not. You’d have to read the book to find out.October 30, 2019 at 09:37 #26058
STAKED (The Iron Druid Chronicles #8) by Kevin Hearne
Coming to the end of a series is bittersweet and I have but one more book to go in the Iron Druid Chronicles, Scourged. I don’t want to say goodbye but at the same time I want to see that end result.
Atticus (though he goes by many names this is the name he used when I first me him in Hounded) has been attacked by Theophilus, the oldest vampire and the leader who has all but wiped out Druids. Unfortunately for him he missed one and now Atticus isn’t alone. He has Granuaile, his former apprentice and now a full Druid as well as Atticus’ lover, and his archdruid, Owen, the man who trained Atticus. But then Theophilus is hardly alone. He has a host of undead allies as well as various mercenaries.
We say goodbye to old friends and allies who had no business dying, but then, that’s war. Innocents die and at times the evil ones live. And the question now is, who among those innocents and those evil ones will live and who will die? You have to read the book to find out, and it’s well worth the read.
One more to go. How sad, but then, how glad I am that I’ve had the workings of Mr. Hearne’s imagination to take me to worlds I never knew existed.
Thank you to Atticus, Granuaile, Owen and so many others for sharing your lives with me, the pleasures, the fears, the battles. And thank you Kevin for creating the path to the worlds you’ve shown.November 5, 2019 at 11:14 #26522
THE MAN IN THE CROOKED HAT by Harry Dolan
Harry Dolan has to be the best author of crime and mysteries you’ve never heard of. Well, until I came across one of his books, possibly through The Mystery Guild. I’m not sure which one I read first but it was good; very, very good, and then I read the next two, and now this, The Man In The Crooked Hat.
Dolan didn’t miss a beat with this book and in fact of the four I’ve now read this may be the best. Just excellent.
Jack Pellum is the son of a federal judge, an ex detective, a currently licensed private detective and a man with a singular purpose in life; to find the man in the crooked hat who Jack thinks murdered his wife and to not go to dinner with his mother and father. (Read the book to understand the reference.)
Along the way he is instrumental in solving a few other homicides but remains frustrated at solving the one closest to him. But he thinks he’s getting close, and so too, does the man in the crooked hat. . . thinks Jack is getting close that is.
Twists and turns galore but with a plot that is easy to follow. Friends, companions, lovers, people that want to do harm to Jack fill this novel but not so many that you can’t keep track.
If, like me, you haven’t come across Harry Dolan and his works (until I got lucky) then follow the signs to your nearest bookstore, brick and mortar or virtual; it doesn’t matter. Get this book and, if you agree with my assessment of Dolan, buy the previous 3 works and then wait for The Good Killer coming out in February. Any mystery lover should feel well rewarded once they read anything by Dolan. He’s that good. Well; that’s my opinion and that opinion is worth everything you’re paying for it.
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