Monday, December 23, 2013

Tripwire by Lee Child

Originally published in 1999 and reprinted 2010 and 2011

This is the first Lee Child book I have read and I found it interesting and most parts were exciting. The only thing I didn't like was the amount of filler--I'm not talking about back story or important parts needed to tell the story but things like what Jack is eating, drinking and how able bodied man get dressed. Half a page of print for a character who plays a bit part in the entire book, I feel is not important.

The story however is good. Very good. A lot of planning had to go into this for the parts of the puzzle to finally fit together. And what a puzzle it is. I can't really say much about the guts of the story without giving it away and my reviews contain no spoilers.

It's about an elderly couple keeping hope that their son (MIA in Vietnam) may still be alive and if he isn't why won't the government and army admit he is dead and put his name on the wall? The couple hire a private investigator to creep into the jungle and find him. Three months later they get a photo of their son as a POW. For the investigator to get him out it was going to cost another 40 thousand dollars. Money they don't have.

Both are elderly and under medical care. Every week they go to a medical facility for check ups or whatever and they meet a retired MP (military police) and show him the photos and what-not. He investigates and some bad people are alerted.  But he dies of natural causes before the bad guys can find out what he knows. But the MP has a daughter. Maybe he told her what he had uncovered.

This sets into place a story filled with twists and turns and a lot of travelling for Jack and Jodie.

The writing is good and clipped (except for filler). Overall, this is a good book and Lee Child is a writer with MANY titles out there already and the Reacher books are good mystery thrillers, if Tripwire is anything to go by.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nightshade by Stephen Leather

Stephen Leather writes: The fourth Jack Nightingale supernatural detective series was always going to be difficult to write, as it was always intended to be a trilogy! And anyone who has read the first three will understand that while the third book tied up all the loose ends, it did make moving forward very difficult. Anyway, I gave it my best shot and I do think it’s a terrific story, mixing the supernatural with the real world in two cases that keep Nightingale on his toes. I do think Nightingale would make a great TV series and have asked my agent to push it hard over the next few months. Off all the characters I’ve created I think Nightingale is best-suited for the silver screen. Fingers crossed! -- from his website

I hope this doesn't mean there will be an end to the Nightingale books. There are always mysteries around the corner. However in Nightshade, there is little in the way of demons and hell but the story is still a great thriller that I finished in a week.

A farmer, nice guy in every way, walks into a school and shoots a bunch of kids, but it is not random shooting, he was picking certain students and knew which classrooms they would be in. When the brother asks Jack Nightingale to investigate the reason behind the shooting, Jack runs headlong into a sordid affair that stretches far and wide. Meanwhile a girl dies at the hands of a rapist and wakes up with words from Jesus to all who would listen.

This is a typical well written Stephen Leather novel and as he says above this series would make a nice movie, still I wanna read his Nightingale books. Nightshade is a great thriller and it doesn't tie up all the loose ends, there's still Mrs Steadman and Proserpine's warning about her.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Off World by Robin Parrish

This an awesome read with four astronauts returning from a trip to Mars where strange things happened to the commander lost in a sandstorm. On the trip to Earth they lose communications withHoustion and the International Space Station. Things go from bad to worse once they arrive home to a planet devoid of people--or so they think.

 Off world (although containing two major plot holes and one paragraph of omnipresent text) is a well decent read. Everything is there for an action packed adventure.Off world (although containing two major plot holes and one paragraph of omnipresent text) is a well decent read. Everything is there for an action packed adventure.

Don't let the fact that is writer is a Christian writer, nowhere will you find references to God or whatever stewn in the pages as with other Christian Writers.

Damn fine book. I will be reading more from this writer.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein

This is my first Heinlein book, and by god is it a cracker! I couldn't stop reading and I was keen to see what 1970 thought 2000 would be. Shame we are not there yet. The story is about Dan Davis a genius and inventor who has, along with his friend, form a small company to sell his inventions all based on making life easier for the housewife (at first) then for engineers, draftsmen and more.

Climbing to success, they hire a secretary but she has plans of her own and when Dan creates a robot (Friendly Frank, I think) she plots her devious plan.

Believing he has lost everything and no longer interested in the business (as he was fired--shares were unevenly stacked), he signs up for cryogenics, only in the book it is called Cold Sleep and Long Sleep.

Waking up in the future he is impressed with the new world, and in love with some of the designs and advances of engineering. This book is heavy on engineering.

Heinlein got a lot about the future wrong but who can blame him, no one can see the future and I remember in the late 80's thinking the future was going to be amazing (like Back to the Future) and I was looking forward to it until science turned from exploration to items to make life easier in the 90's.

This book is un-put-down-able. The writing is crisp, clear and the twists and time paradoxes are awesome. If you haven't read it yet, do so now.

4 stars


Project Mimic - (A Sci-Fi Action Thriller Novel) by John Black

I received this copy for a review.

The story line is very interesting, the sort of tale I love. Cryo-soldiers, near future, action packed. And action packed it is, almost from the get-go. But in saying that, I almost put the story down a few times but I promised a review so I kept at it. The main problem is the writing is bland, I felt nothing for any of the scenes or the characters. Every character seemed to lack emotion. The cryo-soldiers are different, they can't remember much, so we get to learn about them as they learn about themselves.

There were some scenes that took me out of the story, i.e. Broc denting a tank with his fists...Johnny Kyoto spreading his arms wide and the holo-girls. Plus they all seem to know how to use their new discovered powers instantly. However, this can be countered by the nanocells injected into them seconds spoilers.

There are a lot of twists in this book and that will keep you reading.

3 stars

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nightmare by Stephen Leather

This is a new kind of review:

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Yet again another massive book. Amy appears at the beginning for a very short time and then disappears for several hundred pages and Cronin takes us to our favorite heroes from the previous book. This tale is better than the first and is more bloodthirsty than the first as well.

In this book The Twelve have evolved and they have a vision for the future. The extinction of Man is no longer in the cards. And it is up to our heroes to vanquish them. Meanwhile Amy is undergoing a change of her own.

The ending sucks in this book. After 588 pages I felt kind of cheated. All in all, this is a good long tale and a world easy to get sucked into. Let's see what book three brings.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Resurrection Child by Lee Pletzers

Book trailer for Resurrection Child, eBook still on sale for 4 more days at only 0.99 from Dark Continents Publishing.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fallen Angel by John Ling

Fallen Angel by John Ling
Kia Kaha Press NZ
Kindle version

I got a copy of this thanks to the author, John Ling. This novella is a prequel and sidequel to his novel, The Blasphemer (which was excellent). This tale involves Kendra Shaw, recently returned from fighting in Baghdad and she is struggling to adjust to normal life. Feeling she has finally gotten kind of a grip on the situation she sees her ex-lover walking along the street. She left him 10 years ago to serve her country. She wants to run up to him but decides to let things be. Then she notices three black ops hovering nearby. Affiliation unknown. Intentions unknown. So she follows and the results are a rip roaring spin through Auckland, a lot of gunshots and a plot fit to today's world.

John Ling again succeeds in driving a thrilling tale at breakneck speed. One quibble (but not a biggie as it is only used twice) is the word "that" being used following Roger i.e. "Roger that." Having worked for airport security at the Airport and trained by an ex-army officer, he informed us 'newbies' to never use that after roger. "Copy that" is perfectly fine. 

Pick this up at Amazon, you won't be disappointed. Then get The Blasphemer (review here).

4 out of 5 stars

Alice in Deadland by Mainak Dhar

Alice in Deadland
Mainak Dhar
(self published?)
224 pages

I bought this on a whim, seeing that it was a #1 bestseller as a Kindle read and the title grabbed my attention, Alice in Deadland. I bought the paperback (reading on the phone can be quite tiresome sometimes).

Alice is interesting and the story pays slight homage to the original. It is a zombie book and interesting as hell. Alice is a 15 year old girl with blond hair in India. She lives in the deadland where those that want to live free and away from Zeus (the military trying to take control of India with masterminds in China and other 1% wealthy of the world) and survive on their own. 

The story starts off at a quick pace and using the woes of international incidents these days makes a plausible reason for the end of days and the escape from infected cities. There is a new unexpected twist with zombies and a zombie queen (a woman infected but only partly turned).

Alice is tough throughout the book but when she becomes the leader of 2000 people she starts having doubts, but she pulls through. The change of a tough 15 year old girls into the fighting machine she becomes is staged step by step though hardcore action. There were parts where I turned the pages so fast, I'm surprised the book didn't catch fire.

4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Midnight by Stephen Leather

Stephen Leather
473 Pages Paperback edition
Published by Hodder

Stephen Leather hooked me with Nightfall, the first of the Nightingale supernatural thrillers. And book 2: The Search for his sister did not disappoint. We faced a known demon from Hell, there were many references to Nightfall (so read that book first) and we discovered a baby eating Satanist and two new kick-arse demons. Awesome.

In this book Nightingale must make a deal with a demon called Proserpine where each question answered she will send one killer after him. He gets the answer for three questions. We don't know what these questions are until much later. After finding his sister and tricking two high ranking demons and two serial killers, the third killer almost gets him. But there's a twist (of course).

I am confused by Jenny's character in this book. In the first it is hinted that they'd get together and she seems like a decent enough assistant and there's a lot of comedy between them, but she comes across often pissed off in this book, especially with Nightingale's sister (considering who she is) and when we reach the conclusion she bitching about the deal that was brokered.

One complaint I have for this book is the dinner party and shooting the next day. I understand why it was added as it casts a weary eye on a few characters, but still, were so many pages needed or were they filler? I did like Nightingale's talk with God.

4 out of 5 stars

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Dreaming Field by Ron Savage

The Dreaming Field
(c)2013 Ron Savage
Published by DarkFuse
319 pages
Review based on paperback version.

This is my first venture into DarkFuse books and I discovered Ron Savages' The Dreaming Field, a very interesting tale of good and evil. Two boys from very different backgrounds are given gifts from different angels. The tale spans about 30 years, as one child rises in government and the other as an artist. At times, the angels appear to the boys as they grow up, bar one that loses track of time and the child grows up alone and near crazy. his parents try to help but his gift is like a curse.

It was a fast read of a book that seems to take on a lot more than it's size can handle and in doing so makes the ending kind of abrupt and hard to follow. There are some well executed ideas in this book, and you won't be asking for a refund. However a longer book would have built up the lives of the main charters a tad more fully, naturally extended the ending.

This is a horror novel but more along the lines of soft horror, tho there are a few scenes of (my words): "Neat-oh", and for the price, you get your money's worth.Be warned, the story does jump around a lot and i got lost a couple of times at the beginning, then you adjust to the jumping and the characters flesh out a lot more.

3 out of 5

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nightfall by Stephen Leather

Nightfall by Stephen Leather
Hodder and Stoughton
Uncorrcted Proof copy
369 pages

I got this book working at a bookstore in Wellington. It was supplied from a publisher looking to intrigue book sellers to order many copies (I guess). I never got around to reading it until last week (3 years after it was handed to me to read and review lol). Stephen Leather has 3 more books in this series available now. For me, this is good news. 

Let me explain: Nightfall was a good book. It is also a horror novel. It involves demons, devils, Satanists and an ex police negotiator. Jack Nightingale is hearing people tell him he is going to hell. Then he discovers he was adopted at birth and has a sister somewhere and that both of their souls were sold before they were born.

It is an excellent read. The story moved along at a good pace and we have characters we expect to encounter in such a novel. How awesome is that? Very.

I ripped through this book in a week (I'm a slow reader) and other fans to supernatural novels will find everything they expect and more. Nightfall is the first in a series. The second book is Midnight and a third and fourth are available. I have ordered Midnight.

If you like deals with a devil and a man trying to find answers and only encounters the recently dead, then you will like this book. The ending was predictable and that's alright, because the rest of the novel was great.  

4 out of 5 stars from me.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin
895 pages (including a glimpse at The Twelve)
Ballantine Books

This is a massive novel (book 1 of 3) about vampires and a special little girl. I had heard people complain that this book was like reading two completely different books. And it can be seen like that unless you realise there is a jump of 100 years and the author is spending a long time building the new world -- showing us what life has become.

I feel the first part is the best of the book. The characters are well developed and interesting. I especially like the way Cronin uses italics in-place of standard speech / quote marks. The first part introduces us to a young woman, Jeanette, working in a diner. She meets a flashy guy who is  out-of-state and spins her a line and gets her into bed. Then he disappears and the woman becomes pregnant. She gives birth to Amy. A few years later, the man returns. He is different and seems to have lost everything. He talks Jeanette into taking him in. They live together for a short time before he starts talking with his hands. Jeanette is a strong woman who gets rid of him and after awhile with no money she needs to get moving to a new place and find a job.

This is where the book really takes off.

Basically this is a story of a girl infected with a virus that ages her very slowly (like a vampire) and gives her a special connection to the coming hordes of blood suckers.

In the second part of the book, we meet the group of people who will journey with Amy (now aged into a teenager) across the country to a place where the virus was created. Along the way, they will suffer loss, embrace love, learn to drive and battle not just Virals (vamps) but other groups of humans formed into communities.

This is a good book with a lot of unneeded filler (in my opinion) but it is also a book that needs your attention and constant reading. I'm not a fast reader but I got through this book in 3 weeks and I enjoyed it. I want to read The Twelve but I will wait for a mass market paperback as it is the prefect size for commuting on busy trains and buses.

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 18, 2013

The 10 o'clock People by Stephen King

The 10 o'clock People by Stephen King
Audio Book

This was my first audio book. I had read the short story in one of King's collections (I forget which one). This audio book was sold as a stand alone awhile back when I was considering audio books but not really using them. You know, you buy something for later use but never actually get around to using it and it just sits on the Hard Drive. We've all been there. But with jogging becoming a major role in my life, I decided to download the MP3 file onto my walkman and have a listen while pounding the cold, dark streets.

The 10 o'clock people is an amazing tale of the Bat People (aliens) taking over the world. Only a few people can see through their disguises of human appearances. These people are folks who tried to stop smoking but went back to the habit and now the chemical imbalance as altered their perception field and they see the Bat Man (not the one with the cape and billions of dollars).

There is a group of resistance fighters learning as much as they can and taking out a few along the way, until a deal is reached for a truce. None of the resistance fighters are interested but the truce was a lie and the Bat Men charge into the meeting and all hell breaks lose.

The reader was over-acting the script but after awhile I got used to it and got lost in the story. I listened to this novella over two jogging sessions and was so immersed on the second day that I missed my turn point and ended up a little lost in a new area wahahaha. But that is the power of this story. The Bat Man makes me think of Lovecraft horrors (not Cthulhu of course) but others. Possibilities.

I think some books are better in audio format.

4 stars

UR by Stephen King

UR by Stephen King
Audiobook, Unabridged Audio CD
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (February 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442303093
ISBN-13: 978-1442303096

Recently I have gotten into audio books as I enjoy jogging. And jogging with an audio book is amazing, if it is a good tale you are listening to you can lose yourself and end up in unknown territories lol.

UR (pronounced err) is a story of a new, unknown Kindle feature which has alternative realities where writers produced many more books than in this reality. It also has a news function, local news only, and this is a glimpse into the future. A dangerous thing.

This tale is somewhere in the novelette area (like a very long short story) and is told well by the reader. But the story is boring. King takes too long to get to the meat of the tale and then it just kind of ends and the ending is kind of blah...

Maybe book form is better for this tale. It was a good idea and King posed a few good possibilities but I felt (while jogging up a hill) that he spent too much time exploring these areas.

2 stars

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Snuff Syndicate by Keith Gouveia

The Snuff Syndicate by Keith Gouveia
Beating Windward Press LLC
Paperback 193 pages
Copyright 2012

The back of this book tells us that it is about serial killers and an online forum they use to tell their tales. Sounds awesome, right? But it doesn't come across the way it is billed.

Keith Gouveia has had a brilliant idea (I had a similar thought last year regarding Cthulhu tales). He has written the base of a novella, the spine and ribcage. And he has 8 authors write stories to add arms, legs, and meat. And every single story bar one, are awesome, and I like how Keith uses characters mentioned in the stories as his base tale progresses.

All tales are about serial killers.
All involve murder, gory and unabashed. 
All the tales are linked by Keith Gouveia's story.

I enjoyed the tales but as with every collection (linked or not) there are a few that stand out:
Hackwork, Tipping the odds, Snuffingly Yours, and NSFW kicked major butt.

Keith Gouveia has put together a great collection with a solid base story, that is, in itself, a more than decent addition to the rest.

You won't be disappointed shelling out a few dollars on this.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meat by Joseph D'Lacey

Meat by Joseph D'Lacey
Bloody Books UK
Paperback: 343 pages

I've read Joseph before and enjoyed his novella (I think it was Kill Crew--don't quote me on that); it was an exciting and tense read, it is reviewed here on this site somewhere.

Meat is the story of a town called Abyrne where meat is the answer to everything. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, everyone eats meat. The innards of the cattle gives power to the city. There are two major powers in the city: Parsons of Welfare (religious group) they have a lot of power and then there is: Magnus who controls the meat. Throw in, John Collins, the leader of a group of vegetarians, and a man nicknamed Ice Pick and a milker who falls in love/lust for one of his cows and you have the ingredients of an explosive novel.

That failed. Sorry. I think D'Lacey tried to put too much into the story, I got lost and there seems to be an awful lot of padding (more than character building), things were not all that clear (cattle don't have palms to my knowledge and I thought perhaps the cattle were actually humans, but that didn't seem to be the case. Things happened for reasons that were not fully explained and just kind of happen out of the blue (build up here would have been nice, especially one part of the storyline). It is a slow moving story that builds up as characters are introduced and the plot moves along.

This book didn't resonate with me. Maybe the message behind the story did not interest me.
From Amazon about the author: Winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, D'Lacey is best known for his shocking eco-horror novel MEAT. The book has been widely translated and prompted Stephen King to say "Joseph D'Lacey rocks!".

And judging by the reviews on Amazon, I obviously didn't get it.
I simply wasn't for me.


Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ritual by Adam Nevill

The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Pan Horror Books
Copyright 2011
Paperback version 418 pages.

This is my first time reading Adam Nevill. I heard about Apartment 16 awhile back but never got around to ordering a copy. I decided it was time to get a copy when I stumbled onto the Ritual. The story is about four old college friends who meet up once a year for a holiday. This year they decide to go camping. 
The book opens with the four friends on top of some rocks. One has banged up his knee quite well and the other is overweight and unfit for such a trip. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, Hutch and Luke know they have to get proactive and make a decision regarding Dom's knee and Phil's inability to keep up the pace, and Hutch (the leader) decides to take a short cut through a forest. 
Worst decision ever. 
The forest is very old--very, very old. And something is alive in that forest...and it's hungry.

Nevill has written a great tale with characters that jump off the page. I know someone like, Dom, Phil and Hutch. I don't know anyone like Luke but I could connect with him, more than the others. And there's a reason for that.

There were parts of the book that I felt were filler and Luke's anger seemed to come from nowhere, even with his explanation later. There was no hint or leaning toward it, no building frustration and annoyance. So I was a little taken aback by that.

However in saying that it was a great tale that moved at a decent pace, and kept me reading. And isn't that what all writer's want: readers glued to the page.