Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tyrant's Throne

Tyrant's Throne (Greatcoats, #4)Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just as Falcio val Mond is about to fulfill his dead King's dream of crowning his daughter Aline, trouble rears its head again. The monstrous Trin has reportedly reappeared in the neighboring country of Avares with a horde of their warriors at her back. Falcio, Kest, and Brasti head North only to find even more trouble than they anticipated. Falcio finds himself torn between upholding the law and following the King's dream.

Tyrant's Throne is the worthy conclusion to the Greatcoats series. There is sorrow, humor, desperation, and slivers of hope scattered throughout the pages. My heart was absolutely breaking at certain points, but the camaraderie between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti helped carry the story through the low moments.

In many ways the Tyrant's Throne is a mystery. The synopsis doesn't give much away so I won't either, but Trin is only part of the iceberg of problems facing the Greatcoats. I can say that nearly every longstanding question that arose in the series is answered in this novel.

As always the greatest strength of the series was the characters and their relationships. The flawed hero Falcio, the incredibly loyal Kest, and the lovable jokester Brasti. While they've all grown and changed in the series their relationship has remained the same. The supporting characters have also helped make the Tyrant's Throne and the series a beautiful tapestry of characterization.

In the end the Tyrant's Throne was not what I expected yet it was an incredibly fitting ending to the tale of Falcio val Mond and his faithful friends Kest and Brasti.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Rise and fall of D.O.D.O. By: Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was very cool, Stephenson in my opinion is an acquired taste, either he floats your literary boat, or he sinks you like an 8 ball in the corner pocket. But, with the help of his partner in this book, Nicole Galland, this was easily the most fun I have had with one of his works, in well....forever.

It has the trademarks of a Stephenson book, tons of cool ideas, massive intakes of information, but there is a fun and playfulness and dare I say, craziness that makes The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. a blast,

go read it.

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Soleri By: Michael Johnston

SoleriSoleri by Michael Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Terrific fantasy that for ONCE is not a typical fantasy setting, many elements of Egyptian and Roman society bring a freshness to this tale that I greatly admire. Interesting world building and characters, it was like a story you had heard before, but every so often things changed and you were like "huh?"

That's a good thing..trust me. Things in the story do go the predictable route once or twice, but the freshness of the setting and the energy in Mr. Johnston's telling makes up for it.

Definite worth your time, check it out.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

A Hardy Beat Down

Tess of the D'UrbervillesTess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Damn it, Tess! Stand up for yourself! Ugh.... Is there anything more infuriating than seeing dudes get away with being two-faced assholes towards women and the women accepting it as a matter of course?

Certainly Thomas Hardy was writing of a time and place that not only condoned the privilege of condescending white male superiority, it perpetuated it by both sexes accepting it as the standard of the day. More like double standard of the day. What's good for the gander is NOT okay for the goose to even consider! Thank god, or whoever, I wasn't born a woman. I'd have been burned at the stake, stoned to death, etc., because there's no way I would've been able to silently bear the hypocrisy.

But hey, aside from that kerfuffle, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a damn fine novel! What prose! Has inner turmoil ever been so well described? Definitely not so detailed. Hardy has a hundred and one different ways to tell you about a character's personal conflict, and so he does. Yes, that can be wearying. It can also be quite satisfying. Just sit back and let the words wash over you. It's all quite impressive.

After a few hundred pages, however, a tiny bit of tedium might set in. Enough description is enough! I tried to put myself in the character's place and I've read up enough on Victorian values to understand the constraints, but still...I don't know what it is...maybe it felt like too much handwringing.

This deserves the five-star-because-it's-a-classic treatment, but I dropped it to four mainly for a lack of enjoyment on my part from start to finish. The book devolves into a literary scat film. I mean, has anyone been dumped on more than Tess? It got tiring after awhile. I get it, she's put-upon. The martyrdom dragged on and on, so that with a hundred or so pages to go I was already finished with this.

Still and all, it's a damn fine book! I'll be going back to Hardy again in the future. Probably the distant future though.


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Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Big Nowhere

The Big NowhereThe Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the midst of the Red Scare, a violated corpse with its eyes gouged out is found and young deputy detective Danny Upshaw catches the case. Meanwhile, Mal Considine is put in charge of rooting out communists in the UAES. Attached to his team are Dudley Smith, a veteran cop with a mean streak a mile wide, and Buzz Meeks, the dirtiest cop in town and the man whom his first wife had an affair with while he was fighting Germans in WWII...

Here we are, the second book in James Ellroy's multi-volume tale of wholesome family togetherness, the LA Quartet. Sarcasm aside, this was one brutal book.

It's hard to sum up a book with this kind of scope. In some ways, this book is the rise and fall of Danny Upshaw, the rise and fall of Mal Considine, and the redemption of Buzz Meeks, three very driven men. Upshaw will do anything to forget about his dark secret, burning the candle at both ends on two cases. Mal Considine needs a big win on the communist front to get custody of his son from his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Buzz Meeks tries to do the right thing despite a lifetime of doing the wrong ones.

In some ways, this book reads like The Black Dahlia 2.0. Ellroy has a few more balls in the air and more damaged men to put through the meat grinder. I knew the communist plot would dovetail with the death of Marty Goines and the others but I had no idea how.

As with the previous book, the characters make this a powerful read. Upshaw, Considine, and Meeks were all realistic and believable characters, much more nuanced than most crime fiction leads. Watching them go to their fates was like watching a car flying through a red light at an intersection, holding your breath and hoping nothing catastrophic happens. Meeks, who I dismissed as a disposable dirtbag at the beginning of the tale, wound up being my favorite character.

The communist plot didn't do a whole lot for me but the serial killer thread was balls to the wall. As the mystery rocketed toward the finish line, things got pretty tense and I thought about hiding out somewhere to finish it unbeknownst to my coworkers.

Ellroy's writing, the bleak offspring of Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson, makes 1950s Hollywood seem like a shit-smeared labyrinth built on lies and the bodies of the dead. Despair falls like rain and the case played demolition derby with the lives of everyone involved. By the end of the book, I felt like I spent a few days chained to a radiator and beaten with a pipe wrench.

While I feel spent after reading it, The Big Nowhere is one hell of great read, both as a thriller and as a work of literature. Five out of five stars.

After thought: In a parallel universe, I'm sure this is marketed as the inspiration behind season two of True Detective.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Every Breath You Take


Robert Winter
Dreamspinner Press
Reviewed by Nancy
4 out of 5 stars



Summary



When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.

But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.



My Review



Well written, and a whole lot of fun!

Zachary Hall left his oppressive home in Utah and took a job in Washington, DC, where he can thrive in his career and live life on his own terms. The only thing that’s missing in his life is that special someone.

At the Mata Hari, his first gay bar, he meets Thomas Scarborough, a gorgeous, self-confident man who appeals to Zachary. Despite their mutual attraction and connection, Thomas is very skittish about commitment, but wants to remain friends, while Zachary is looking for more than just great sex.

While Thomas’ feelings toward Zachary are strong, he is not forthcoming about the stress and trauma in his past caused by a very persistent stalker who is now dead. Frustrated, Zachary finds comfort in a new relationship with Sam Ryder, a man he meets on a business trip to New Orleans. Zachary and Sam have a lot in common, and while Zachary finds him attractive and appreciates that he wants to take things slowly, there is no real spark like there is with Thomas.

Meanwhile, gay men are getting brutally murdered in DC and someone has his eyes set on Thomas – and on Zachary.

The mystery is predictable. I knew who the villain was as soon as he was introduced. What I enjoyed most about this story is the blazing attraction between Thomas and Zachary, their sexual exploration and experimentation, the suspense and tension, and the insight into a very sick mind.

There is a wonderful cast of secondary characters. I especially loved Randy the bartender, a very close friend of Thomas, and Joe Mulholland, a former monk and teacher who wants to make the world a better place.

I could have used a little more bonding time between Zachary and Thomas to help convince me their love was real, but they had their hands full with working together, trying not to be the next victims of a vicious stalker. That’s probably more than enough to forge a bond.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

THEY THIRST BY ROBERT MCCAMMON

They ThirstThey Thirst by Robert McCammon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



”Death smiled---a boyish smile---through an old man’s eyes.

‘Welcome,’ he said.”

When you live in those Middle European countries like Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Serbia, you grow up hearing stories of monsters. The very air, the darkness, the looming mountains, and the shrieks... at the very heart of the night... that stirs people from a sound sleep with terror blooming in the midst of their waking nightmares, convinces even the most cynical of minds to believe that evil beings lurk in the shadows of their lives.

Andre Palatazin, a Los Angeles Detective, known in California by the more American name Andy, was born in Hungary. He would have grown up in Hungary except one night his father returned as one of those things he had went hunting for…

A VAMPIRE.

”Papa had said, ‘Watch my shadow.’”

Andy and his mother, fortunately, escaped to the city of Angels. They are far, far away from those nefarious creatures that turn a man’s spine to ice and a woman’s heart to glass. Palatazin is searching for a killer nicknamed by the press The Roach because he liked to stuff cockroaches in the mouths of his victims.

Palatazin is frustrated because his leads are just a handful of frayed, broken strings, and The Roach continues to thrive. Los Angeles is a city of victims. ”Most of the girls, hopeful starlets from every state in the country, were very pretty; perhaps they’d modeled once or twice or done bit parts or even starred in a skin flick or two, but now for a variety of reasons their luck had just turned bad. They were the throwaways, the tissues some agent, director, or disco smooth-talker had sneezed into and then tossed out with the trash. All of them potential victims.”

For The ROACH.

He changes his Modus Operandi. Wanna-be starlets keep disappearing, but their corpses are not being found. The stress of trying to catch this serial killer, who is scaring the bejesus out of people, is starting to catch up with Palatazin.

Little does he know that the weeks he has spent trying to catch The Roach will be looked back on with something akin to fondness. The Roach is a monster, but he is a monster we can wrap our heads around. He is about to be eclipsed...by a plague of monsters.

Palatazin’s nightmares from Hungary have finally caught up with him.

”A hand and arm, as bone-white as marble and veined with blue, slithered out….”

What the hell is that?

”He pulled the sheet free from their faces...[They were] entwined together. Their faces were as white as carved stone, but what made Silvera almost cry out with terror was the fact that he could see their eyes through the thin, almost clear membranes of their closed eyelids. The eyes seemed to be staring right at him; they filled him with cold dread. He forced himself to reach down and feel the chests for heartbeats.

Their hearts weren’t beating. He felt for a pulse, found nothing.”


I’ve read a reasonable number of vampire books, and there are some good ones. I tend to like the ones that depict vampires the way they would be if they existed, feral, ferocious animals. The debonair, handsome, charming vampire that makes some women’s hearts go pitter patter and makes some men want to upchuck all over the plush leather seats of Stephenie Meyer’s Mercedes Benz is not the type of anemic monster you are going to find in this book.

These monsters...well…They Thirst.

Palatazin doesn’t have to be convinced that the “mythical” creatures from the nightmares of writers is real. He knows they are real, but convincing everyone else before it is too late is like asking for people to believe in the Easter Bunny. A man could be locked up with The Ghostbusters faster than he can say,...but really I’m not crazy. Unfortunately, it isn’t like Andy can laugh maniacally from his prison cell window as humanity is eviscerated and replaced by an army of fanged goons. Palatazin, for the people he loves and even humanity at large, has to find a way to to stop Prince Conrad Vulkan and his plan to subjugate the human race.

Meanwhile he can’t afford to lose his mind.

Fortunately,

he won’t be alone.

”There are four who would destroy you. They approach even now, as you lie dreaming of glory. Four pieces---one is a knight, another is a bishop, a third is a rook, and the fourth is a pawn.”

Can they beat the gathering storm that threatens to turn daylight into perpetual night?

This book was published in 1981 and is a perfect example of those epic, somewhat bloated, horror books that are actually hefty enough to bash in the skull of a vampire, or swat the fanny of a recalcitrant werewolf, or put a large hole in the ectoplasm of an annoying ghost. I, for one, enjoyed the ride that Robert McCammon took me on. This was a bit of 1980s nostalgia that actually made me shudder more than once...those entwined, cocooned, hibernating beasts are still haunting my daymares and nightmares. *teeth chattering shiver of impending doom*

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Inhuman, Volume 1: Genesis

Inhuman, Volume 1: GenesisInhuman, Volume 1: Genesis by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Black Bolt while battling Thanos set off a terrigen bomb. When the bomb went off a terrigen mist cloud spread across the world effecting any person with the Inhuman gene it comes in contact with. Attilan has fallen, Black Bolt is assumed dead, and Medusa is picking up the pieces while ruling the Inhumans.

So I'm on an Inhuman mission to see where Marvel takes them now that they've been chosen as the MCU's alternative to mutants (since they sold off the rights to use mutants in TV and movies and aren't likely to get them back). Inhuman Genesis was a pretty good volume and it's easy to see why they make a viable replacement for mutants.

Inhuman Genesis seems to realize one of the biggest issues with Inhumans is that there characters aren't that great overall. So thanks to the terrigen mist cloud they can create as many different Inhumans as they want. Some look basically the same as ever...
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...and some look terrifyingly brutal...
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Inhuman Genesis shows the possibilities for Inhumans are endless and I for one am excited to see what they do next.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by: Carol Burnett

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the SandboxIn Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Carol Burnett show was one of my first introduction's to comedy on television. It is to this day, a masterclass in how to do solid entertainment and this book telling the behind the scenes was a pure joy to read. Her love for show business and the sheer passion she put into her work inspires me.


I am a sucker for books like this, I always want to know what happens under the hood so to speak, if you are a child of these times, or if you want to enjoy some wonderful tv, read this book and watch the show where you can find it.

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The Kill Society (Sandman Slim #9) By: Richard Kadrey

The Kill Society (Sandman Slim, #9)The Kill Society by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I make no bones about being an unabashed fan of this series, it in my opinion is urban fantasy done as it should be, in its best possible form.

The Kill Society starts in a bit of jam after the WTF ending of the last book. But Stark as usual meets all problems as he usually does, with a smart remark and a knife or two to the neck. The action does not fail to impress as usual and it seems that the action pieces in the stories are getting bigger and bigger, maybe to go all out in the next installment.

My only problem with this book is that the storytelling in my opinion seems to be losing a bit of steam, whether or not that is on purpose or not, I don't know...however..its still a ton of fun and kicks major ass.



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