Monday, January 23, 2017

The Empire's Corps by Christopher Nuttall

I've had this book on my radar for quite a while, listed on my wish list on Amazon, and when it dropped in price to the point where I felt I could take a risk on a new (to me) author, I bought the Kindle edition. I was not at all disappointed.

Christopher Nuttall tells a very entertaining tale of Captain Stark and his understrength band of Imperial Marines who are exiled for the crime of being too competent to the planet of Avalon, which is experiencing the results of the Terran Empire's decaying strength. They bring along the family of a dissident professor who has written a book that has been banned by the Imperial Senate, also now exiled to Avalon.

When they arrive they find that the well-intentioned but perhaps not very competent planetary governor is facing a triple threat from bandits in the countryside, radical insurgents called the Crackers, and treason within his own planetary Council. It is Stark and his company's job to defend his government from all adversaries, and it's not going to be easy.

A well-told, fast-paced tale, with plenty of sequels already written. What's not to like?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Split Second by Douglas E. Richards

A new author to me, prompted by a freebie on BookBub, I believe, Doug Richards tells a story about what could be the physics discovery of the century; a way to harness dark energy. Nathan Wexler is the brilliant mind behind the discovery, but very early in the course of the story he and his fiancee, Jenna, are kidnapped and when the kidnapping goes sour, he is murdered, leaving her to escape and try to find out why he was killed, and by whom.

She enlists the aid of  a former Army Ranger turned private investigator, to help her discover the criminals - there are two groups competing to steal Nathan's research - and get justice.

There's a pretty good section on the nature of time, from a scientific and philosophical standpoint; the sort of thing that many of us beat into the ground in late-night dorm room bull sessions, but perhaps more cogently and soberly laid out.

Unfortunately after a while, things bog down in the maneuvering between the two groups trying to capture Wexler's research and exploit it, and I didn't care enough about the characters at that point to find out what happened to them or their time machine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by John Ringo and Larry Correia

Either of these authors, on their own, can twist a pretty darned good yarn, but when Ringo gets the opportunity to write in Correia's world...look out! I have definitely noticed that the gratuitous sex for which Ringo was known in his Ghost series is only mentioned here, and never explicit, which may be a sop to Correia's morals and sensibilities, but it doesn't take much away from the story.

Chad "Iron Hand" has to leave Seattle suddenly, a few steps ahead of vengeful trailer park elves, and gets reassigned to MHI in the Big Easy, New Orleans. Monster hunting in New Orleans is an order of magnitude crazier than most other places in the country, which is a pretty good summation of the city in a number of ways, but the amount of "hoodoo" going on seems to bring out more, bigger, badder beasties.

From swarms of giant poisonous frogs to carnivorious crawdads, Chad and the MHI team really earn their PUFF bounties. Chad acquires a gentleman's gentleman, buys a home, and both gains and loses new friends over the course of the book, including a centuries-old vampire known simply as Jack, who seems to have a proprietary interest in the city, and may prove to be an uneasy ally against the recent invasion of zombie-come-latelies.

I'm not certain whether it will come to a climax in the next installment, but there's definitely the groundwork laid in this book for a confrontation with some deeper force or forces causing the monster outbreaks in New Orleans, where the combination of amateur and professional conjurers has made it far easier for the supernatural to gain entry.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stoke the Flames Higher by Peter Grant

I've been waiting for the fifth book in the Maxwell saga for quite a while now. Peter Grant had some health issues for a while that slowed its publication down, and then when I finally got it for my Kindle, I had a rather large TBR pile, but I finally got around to it the other day, and was very pleased with the story. Grant continues to refine his craft and delivers a very tight, gripping novel.

There's a very good scene that begins the book which sets up (or reminds us, anyway, if we've been away from the series too long) Steve's martial arts skills - he receives his fifth dan belt in Karate. So, we don't find it improbably later on in the story that he is able to overpower and disarm professional thugs. Steve's band of covert operatives get a new assignment ferrying a diplomatic party to a planet where a fanatical religious sect is fomenting a revolution, and is also exporting their brand of guerilla warfare to a neighboring planet, where one of Steve's best friends is posted with his space Marines, so Steve is hoping to be able to mix a bit of personal pleasure with business this trip.

Things turn out to be closer to catastrophe than anyone thought, and when things hit the fan, Steve has to rescue his diplomats from the rebels in the middle of a coup attempt, get off planet, and warn his friend about a devastating surprise attach which is on its way.

Still lots of upside to go in this series, though Grant has begun branching out into other genres, including Westerns, and has a couple of Fantasy proposals on the table for this year. I read a couple of rough draft excerpts - I think they're gonna be fun, too.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steven Hamilton

Hamilton definitely does a good anti-hero story. By all rights, Nick Mason isn't the kind of character most of us would empathize with, growing up rough and getting into a habit of crime with a small gang of petty thieves through his teen years. He tries to go straight when he marries the love of his life and has a daughter, but the lure of one last big score is too much for him to pass up, and when the job goes bad, a friend gets killed, and he lands in prison for twenty years, everything he wanted is now lost.

The story picks up after Nick has spend five years in jail, when a crime lord who is also behind bars picks Nick to be his outside man, and arranges for the evidence that convicted him to be tainted, so that he is released early, on the condition that Nick will do whatever the boss commands. The boss's business associates back home are getting out of line, and a group of corrupt cops are grabbing a piece of the action, so Nick's assignments involve killing people who are betraying the boss.

Like I said, not exactly the kind of hero I'd pick, but somehow Hamilton makes it work, and makes us root for Nick, perhaps in the slight hope that there is redemption somewhere to be found, and that he can eventually break the chains that bind him to the crime lord and finally go straight. A dark tale, but engrossing and well written.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Death and Judgement by Donna Leon

The story follow the case of a murdered lawyer, with impeccable credentials and a list of A-list clients, as Commissario Brunetti methodically works his way to a conclusion. We see a bit of fun development of Leon's minor characters, like the administrative assistant, Elettra, who seems to have a talent for moving an investigation along with her contacts in the Italian phone company, saving Brunetti the time and trouble of obtaining an un-obtainable warrant.

The trail leads into the seamy underside of the sex trade, where hordes of women from South America and Eastern bloc countries are lured to Italy with the promise of a great job, only to betrayed into prostitution and effectively white slavery once they arrive. Again, the official justice system in Brunetti's country doesn't deliver, but Brunetti finds the anwers he's looking for and the perpetrator meets an untimely end.

The theme of all of these stories seems to be about corruption and abuses by the rich and powerful, and it's all expressed with a particularly Venetian sense of fatalism.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ash by Jaymin Eve and Leah Stone

A slightly different take on the monsters. Vampires were created when bats with a virus bit humans, and are the usual stronger, faster, bloodsucking night dwellers. When they breed with human women, the male offspring are called Ash, with many of the same abilities as vampires, including the need to drink blood, but who are able to move around in daylight. An uneasy truce with the humans has been reached, and the Ash live in Hives located in major cities. The place of this story is Portland, Oregon.

Charlie is a college student who believes herself to be human, but one day she makes the terrifying transformation into a creature which is not supposed to exist, a female Ash. She is taken into the Hive and submitted to "the culling". There are too many Ash created each year, so they must earn their way into the existing vacancies in each hive by fighting each other to the death. With the help of the chief enforcer of the Portland hive, Ryder, and a powerful vampire sponsor, Charlie gets through the culling and is admitted into her new life.

But there are mysteries surrounding her origins and what abilities she might have, so she is drawn into conflicts with larger political implications.

A quick and fun read.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

So, it seems to me that this series has very nearly run its course. How many ways can Stephanie destroy a car? Evanovich is starting to repeat herself, unless you think getting a car crushed by a fire truck is materially different from getting one crushed by a garbage truck. Stephanie's relationships never move forward, and there's really no personal growth to speak of. We've seen the characters do most of the same things over and over again, and the jokes are wearing a little thin. Stephanie hasn't learned how to be effective as a bounty hunter after twenty books, so I think it's time to stop expecting that it may happen at number 21. It's been fun while it lasted, but I think it's time to move on.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

This author came highly recommended by Orson Scott Card, so I picked up this "young adult" (I think the term has evolved a bit from my young adult reading days - lots of sex and violence which never would have flown in the sixties and seventies) novel, as well as another one by Hamilton geared towards adult audiences - I'll get to that one soon.

Hamilton sets up a situation where we are rapidly roped into caring about a completely amoral protagonist, Michael, who experienced a horrific trauma as a child which left him bereft of speech, and who has become an obedient slave to a criminal organization, which uses his lock picking and safe cracking abilities to further their ends.

First, we just have to know what sort of event could leave him an orphan in the care of his uncle, who runs a liquor store, and unable to speak of it. Second, we want to see how he's going to extract himself from a situation which is certain to lead eventually to either death or long term incarceration.

Hamilton strings out the bits and pieces of revelation for us like bread crumbs trailing through the dark forest, until the final chapter.

Not recommended reading for any young adults I know, but a good novel, none the less.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dressed for Death by Donna Leon

This one took forever for the person reading it (there's only one copy in the entire area's library system) to finish it and bring it back, so I could read it next. Having been to Venice and spending a little time in the surrounding region, it's very interesting to read about adventures and misadventures taking place there.

Commisario Brunetti isn't a flashy sort of detective; in fact, he reminds me a bit of Peter Falk's Colombo, whose persistence and dogged attention to detail eventually solve the crime, though in Italy's corrupted justice system the perpetrator may not be punished in exactly the way we'd expect here at home.

In this, the third in the series, Brunetti's family vacation is put on hold as he is called to the Mestre area of the mainland to investigate the beating death of a male transvestite prostitute behind a slaughterhouse. But in Leon's novels, things are seldom exactly as they seem, and nothing is as simple as an uncomplicated beating death of a gentleman of the evening.Brunetti's investigation leads him into the shadowy world of banking and of charitable foundations with shaky foundations, and leads from a crime of passion to one of calculation.

This is another good one from Leon.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wrapping it Up for Christmas

As I was so bad about getting reviews written, it's a little tough to say just how many books I've read by checking the posts here, so I have to rely on my Goodreads account, which says it was 83, quite a bit off my peak numbers, but apparently this may be the "new normal".

The awards:

Best new (to me) author - David B. Coe's Justin Fearsson series
Best Fantasy - Son of the Black Sword by Correia
Best Urban Fantasy - Monster Hunter: Grunge by Ringo and Correia
Best Science Fiction - Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen
Best Mystery - Commissioner Brunetti stories by Donna Leon (also a new author for me)
Best non-Fiction - Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer

Oddly, I seem to have slipped away from reading science fiction - there were only a few novels of that genre in my pile this year. I need to do better on that, but so many of the greats have passed on, leaving no serious contenders, and most of the new authors have gone political, instead of focusing on telling a good story.

My New Years' resolution will be to write reviews more consistently. As long as RL cooperates...

Happy 2017!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

More vignettes

Explosive Eighteen, by Evanovich, is actually one of the least explosive novels in the series, aside from Lula and Stephanie setting off a warehouse fire with a grenade launcher. Stephanie continues to date both Morelli and Ranger, with predictable fireworks on that front. She shows a bit more mettle here than in most stories, managing to fight off a stalker several times on her own. Another bit of mind candy for these cold winter evenings.

Crimson Death, most recent in the Anita Blake novels (though it took me a long time to get it from the hold list at the library, so for all I know there may be another one written by now), actually manages to get nearly halfway through its 700 pages before the first graphic sex scene, so that was refreshing. What was not refreshing was the relationship discussions that have now replaced bloody action sequences. Anita gets recruited to solve a vampire problem in Ireland, helping out her old friend, Edward, and there really isn't any violence to speak of until after they arrive there. I think the best part of the book is actually the last 100 pages. Anita's powers continue to grow, and I think she and Jean Claude are finally going to get very political. I can't recall if she's used the powers she gained back in Obsidian Butterfly before, but they came into play here, which was pretty cool, and she seems to be slowly learning to deal with what she gained from the Mother of All Darkness bit by bit. Also some new powers gained by her secondary triumvirate with Damian and Nathaniel. The boys are growing up at last.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Time flies

And another month goes by of crazy times.

Read the latest by Bujold, Penric's Mission, which is fun, but too short, and which introduces a love interest into Penric's saga.

More Stephanie Plum novels for light reading, always reliable for a chuckle or two.

Tried Murder in the Place of Anubis, by Linda S. Robinson , as recommended to me by a friend, but found it not all that interesting after all, I'm afraid.

Finished Magic Binds, by Ilona Andrews, which was very engrossing, and kept me up long past my bedtime. It got mixed reviews on Goodreads, but I found it to be one of the better ones in the Kate Daniels series.

Read A Curse on the Land, by Faith Hunter, sequel to Blood of the Earth. Interesting buildup to a rather disappointing finale. Will still read the next book in this series - Hunter's work does have its peaks and valleys.

Created to be God's Friend, by Henry T. Blackaby, was an interesting take on the life of the patriarch Abraham. Gives one hope that we can be used of God despite, or perhaps because of, our faults and failings. I had read his study, Experiencing God, some time ago and found it insightful, so was happy to pick this book up at a garage sale.

One of my finds during my travels had to be read simply because I'd never read anything by the legendary musician, and A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffet was reasonably amusing.

Enjoyed a new iteration of Toby Daye, in Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire. A bit of a locked room mystery, solved in only the way that Sir Daye can.

I think I got The Red Queen by Jeb Kinnison recommended to me at According to Hoyt. It may be Kinnison's first novel, and it's a pretty decent read. If he continues to improve his writing as the series moves along, it will be well worth the money. This is what I would consider a "near future" novel, set in a very plausible future when political correctness and progressive policies have gotten a touch out of control, especially on college campuses. A new take on time/dimensional travel, vaguely reminiscent of Tunnel in the Sky, by Heinlein.

That's all I can remember reading in the last several weeks, though there might be more.

Sorry for no in-depth reviewage.







Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie appears, after a brief hiatus in Eleven on Top, to have returned to her job as a bounty hunter, since all of her other career choices ended badly and briefly in that novel. She is still mostly in love with Morelli, but lusts after Ranger (as do Lula, Connie, and most other women who see him).

Things are busy at the bail bonds agency, and it's a bad time to lose Ranger's services for the more dangerous apprehensions, but he jumps on a plane on personal business in the opening pages, and isn't available to help Stephanie and Lula in their shenanigans.

It turns out that someone has kidnapped his daughter, and is trying to assume his identity, as well. When he decides he has to have Stephanie, too, since Ranger has "had" her, things begin to get dangerous, and she plays stalking goat in order to find and capture the impersonator.

In the middle of all of this plot, there are plenty of the usual frolics, with Grandma Mazur joining a band with Sally and Lula, and causing her usual scenes at funeral home viewings, even for the new owners of Stiva's.

Pretty good story; a quick read.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It's been almost a month since I last posted something. Job changes, a divorce in the family, a death in the family...been a crazy Fall.

This novel is a "spinoff" from the Jane Yellowrock books, and I think there's actually a novelette or short story out there somewhere that tells the tale of how Jane met Nell, the heroine of Blood of the Earth. Nell is an exile from her family and her cult-like church, living on a small farm in Tennessee, and she seems to have some earth-witch type of powers which tie her to her land, to the forest and to her herb and vegetable garden. She survives mostly by trading the fruits of her labor (literal and figurative) with locals at farmers' markets and selling at a cooperative's roadside stand. She does mostly without modern conveniences; there is no cell service in the Soulwood, and the way she was raised in God's Cloud of Glory Church makes her wary of being "on the grid".

To escape what would have surely been a disastrous marriage to one of the church leaders, she entered into a polygamous arrangement with John and Leah, who lived on their own land adjacent to the church compound, and when they both passed away, she inherited the land. The new generation of church leadership would like to get the land - and Nell - back, and as the novel begins they threaten to return her forcefully to the bosom of the church.

Enter Rick LaFleur and his PsyLed team to alter the dynamics of the situation. They are in pursuit of a group of kidnappers who may have ties to her old church, and they recruit her as a consultant to help them investigate whether the men have joined forces with her old antagonists.

A worthwhile read. There's already a sequel out, and I'm going to have to do some research to find the story that ties it all together.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Quote of the Indeterminate Time Period

From Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country,

"The secret of police success lay, Brunetti knew, not in brilliant deductions or the psychological manipulation of suspects but in the simple fact that human beings tended to assume that their own level of intelligence was the norm, the standard, and to work on that assumption. Hence the stupid were quickly caught, for their idea of what was cunning was so lamentably impoverished as to make them obvious prey."

Vignettes, Too

Still no time nor motivation to actually review anything in depth. I finished off five more of the Stephanie Plum mysteries, which are always good for a chuckle or three. Picked up a new series that a friend at work recommended, by Donna Leon, The Commissario Brunetti series which take place in Venice; really fun reading when you are at least somewhat familiar with the islands, lagunas and piazzas of La Serenissima.

Read Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer, which was not particularly surprising in its description of the global reach of the former first family's money grubbing influence peddling, but which got me to wondering whether this isn't just the tip of the iceberg, and if most global business operates in the same corrupt fashion, with the willing collusion of the world's political class. The magnitude of the dollars, rubles and francs involved is simply mind-boggling.

Picked up a trio of ebooks by a blogger whom I've been following for years, The Grey Man series by J.L. Curtis; Vignettes, Changes and Payback. Good adventure fiction, set in the U.S. Southwest. He published a fourth novel around Labor Day. It will be on my TBR pile soon.

A couple other books that I have partial reviews written for. I'll try to finish those off and get them up on one of my better days.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Yeah, I know

Life remains extremely busy, and though I am still reading steadily, I just don't have much time to think or talk about what I've read. The birth of a new grandson, a medical vacation, and too many other things occupying my time and mind. Maybe a few more vignettes up this weekend.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold

This novella, set in Bujold's world of the Five Gods, picks up the tale of Penric - all growed up, trained as a Learned now - a couple of years after the events of Penric's Demon. When a temple investigator named Oswyl shows up on the trail of a murderous shaman, the young scholarly fellow sets out to help justice be done, though perhaps not in the way that Oswyl intends.

Bujold seems to be trying to express a theme I've heard discussed in a few sermons regarding how the Gods get their work done in the mundane world - usually by sending their servants, willing or not, to go take care of things. When you whine about, "why does God allow this to go on? Why doesn't he do something?", the answer seems to be to get up off your tail and do your part, miracles may follow as required.

Not the best of her Five Gods stories, but amusing enough.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Vignettes Four

I can't seem to manage the attention span to write long reviews these days, so I'm just going to lump a few comments together about several recent reads and let it go at that. Life tasks me...it tasks me.

Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep is a recent addition to the series - I think she just released the latest on Tuesday - and I'm sorry to say that the whole thing has gone stale for me now. The plot, such of it as I was able to endure before closing the pages in sorrow, was far too predictable. Is Estep using too much foreshadowing, or have I simply seen it all before? I don't know, but I do know that I'm done following this series for now. Ms Estep is a really nice person and generally has been a readable author, and a good author, but I think she's just run out of new plot ideas for Gin Blanco, The Spider.

When I was younger, I found the tales spun by Patricia McKillip to be fanciful and entertaining, and read all of her books I could get my hands on. I picked up Kingfisher after a bit of a wait on the  hold list at the library, and eagerly attacked it the other night. Other reviewers may have found this book to be breaking new fantasy ground, or a mystical blending of ancient and modern mythology, but I simply found it confusing, and never really bit on a "hook" to reel me in. I put it down after a few chapters and returned it to the library. Sigh.

Four to Score, by Janet Evanovich, was everything I expected it to be - fluffy entertainment with some lovable characters, inside jokes, and the usual cast of felons to apprehend, a job which Stephanie Plum seems to mess up more often than not, but eventually she unravels something unexpected. She and Morelli finally fall into bed together in this one, but their predictably prickliness keeps them from enjoying post-coital bliss, despite the Morelli matrons' matrimonial ambitions. Need something to while away a few lonely hours? This one will do it.

I've also been working my way through the Honor Harrington novels for the third or fourth time; I've lost track. You'll find my reviews of On Basilisk Station and The Honor of the Queen here, but I appear to have paused at that point until about the tenth book in the series, so perhaps I'll begin again with A Short, Victorious War some sweet day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Flashman by George McDonald Fraser

A long time ago, I owned a copy of Flashman, and of one of the sequels by Fraser, Royal Flash, which I am sure I must have loaned out to someone and was never returned - a fairly common fate for some of my favorites over the years -  and when I saw that the local library system has an extensive collection of the series, I decided it was time to re-read the ones I've seen before and enjoy the rest for the first time.


There was literary device often used in pulp fiction (and perhaps earlier) where the author would purport to have found a package of letters or memoirs, left in a secret hiding place, or in a dusty old crate at auction, or some equally odd place, which he had merely translated, re-telling a true story. Such is the case with The Flashman Papers, a collection of historical novels about a fictional rogue who lived through the late nineteenth century, and got caught up in most of its battles, usually landing in a pile of ordure, yet coming out smelling of roses, Harry Flashman.


When the tale begans, Flashman is kicked out his boarding school for drunkenness, and returns home to visit his father. His father secures him a place in a cavalry regiment, and in return Harry sleeps with his father's mistress - a portent of things to come. He is doing quite well ingratiating himself with the commander of the regiment when his affair with the French mistress of another officer lands him in a duel. While he survives the duel, he is caught by the political repercussions and sent off to exile in Scottland, where he seduces the daughter of the merchant with whom he is quartered, and ends up in a "shotgun" wedding. Shortly after that, his braggadocio at a party ends with him sent off to India as the aide-de-camp to a British general.


It's one of those out of the frying pan types of stories that I've always enjoyed, and Fraser makes it quite a compelling read, with an antihero you just love to hate.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

This seventh novel in the Laundry Files series takes another detour away from the story of Bob Howard, which seems to have stalled out in the midst of the breakup of his marriage, to pick up a fresh POV in Alex Schwartz, one of the PHANGs who was recruited after the scandal at the investment bank where he was working, in The Rhesus Chart.

Alex gets caught up in an incursion by beings from another plane, upon which humans have based their stories of elves. They're not exactly the singing elves of Middle Earth, and in fact their society is very warlike. They send a spy, one of the "princesses" ahead to gather information, and she assumes the form and identity of a theater arts major named Cassie, whom Alex falls head over heels for - despite figuring out fairly quickly that she's not exactly what she seems to be.

Filled with the usual Stross drolleries like,

"She racks her brain: but Cassie has no memory of ritual castration as a tool of management in this place, unless it's symbolized by the neck-wrappings man male uruk wear as part of their uniforms."

"She doesn't have any lectures to attend until four and the weather's nice: she might as well go to college and raid the theatrical wardrobe for something fancy to wear to the end of the world."

Alex, who is definitely not warrior-class, turns out to have more up his sleeve than most people thought. The "elves" pretty much use brute force spellcasting, which uses a lot of their own energy and mana stolen from the environment, but Alex is a programmer (hmm...I need to re-read the Wizardry series by Cook) and when he sets a DO LOOP to work on gathering spellcasting power, it's a wonderful thing.

This one really gets back to some of the things I used to love in the series. Hopefully we'll continue see more of the same goodness from Stross.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Monster Hunter: Grunge by John Ringo

Oh my word! Ringo does Monster Hunters! What fun! I can't hardly think of a better person to write in Correia's universe...well, maybe Drake or Weber.

Chad is a hard core Marine, who joined the Corps to irritate his liberal, hippie parents, but who really became an excellent warrior along the way. When he is killed in the Beirut barracks bombing, he is given a choice by a guy named Peter - go back to Earth to do the Big Guy's works, or take the easy way out and pass on to his final reward (as the song says, probably guarding the streets of Heaven). Of course, it woulda been a really short story if he had taken the easy way, now, wouldn't it?

After his medical retirement from the Marine Corps, he spies a sign for a tent revival, and decides to check it out. When the revival is interrupted by a resurrection - of a whole bunch of zombies - Chad destroys all the Zulus and gets "read in" to the truth about monsters, and gets offered employment with Shackleford's MHI.

After Parris Island, Chad never wants to work in a hot, humid area again, so he opts to take a job in Seattle, and settles in hunting down zombies, wights, liches, vampires, werewolves, ogres... and anything else that makes a habit of taking human victims.

There's a really funny scene in here where Ringo exploits the idea of the blue screen of death, when daemons are climbing out of the monitors in the sub-basement at "Microtel".

Not nearly as many graphic sex scenes as we're used to with Ringo, and Correia must have done some fairly extensive editing. He mentions in the forward that he had to tell JR, "hey, my kids read this stuff!" All of the raunchy stuff takes place offstage, in the dark, as the moon passes behind a cloud.

The whole books is written as if Chad is putting together an instruction manual for noob monster hunters. He gives advice on different monster species that one should befriend, in order to have confidential informants; like Harry Dresden pays the pixies for information with pizza, Chad pays the gnolls (who dwell in the sewers) with rotten, smelly fish - which they love, and the sasquatch get Hersheys kisses.

Good fun, and there's a sequel coming!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich

Uncle Mo is a candy store owner in Trenton, beloved by the children of the "burg" and his neighbors, and Stephanie catches a lot of flak over her quest to bring him in to face the charges of carrying an unregistered weapon.


There's a pretty funny bit of interaction between Stephanie and her second grade teacher, who lives next to Mo's store. Stephanie is still terrified of the woman, twenty years later.


Morelli is working a parallel case involving a lot of drug dealers turning up missing, and eventually the tangled and humorous web that Evanovich weaves brings Stephanie to the realization that Mo has gotten caught up with a bunch of vigilantes.


As always, she can't leave things alone, and has to suffer a series of mishaps before the case is solved.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich


Just another light and amusing read by Evanovitch wherein Stephanie is assigned to locate and return Morelli's cousin, Kenny Mancuso, to jail, so he can stand trial for shooting a friend in the leg. He and  friends turn out to be involved in a conspiracy to steal and sell military weapons from a local base.




In what appears to be a side issue, Stephanie is hired by the director of a local funeral home to track down some missing coffins.



We begin to get to know Grandma Mazur a bit better, and follow along with her main social opportunity, attending funerals. Grandma seems to have a fixation on viewings, and gets a bit peeved when the funeral is "closed coffin".


At the conclusion of the tale - semi spoiler- Stephanie and Grandma manage to burn down the funeral parlor, which leaves Stephanie with a lasting reputation in "the burg".