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Category Archives: Reviews

Here you will find either book or movie reviews.

Strangeways by Robert J Brunner

I have to admit that when I received the request to do an honest review of the book Strangeways by Robert J Brunner, I looked the book up. I found out first that Brunner was a police 911 dispatcher. This was intriguing as it could add some realism to the book. As I further checked into the book I found it dealt with a prison, an FBI agent, death and an ancient god. Alright I would say I was hooked at this point, but that would not be truthful as I after I started reading the book I did get hooked.

Strangeways opens with a prologue that in itself is a bit of an enigma. The book introduces to a period in the early 1900s in which we find a man, Charles Hobart, in a small town staying in a boarding house. The Hobart is first seen as another potential traveling salesman of the period, a Bible salesman. It isn’t till an evening dinner with the residents of the boarding house things finally come out. The reason is in the town, well he wants to buy himself some property.  The property will be used not for a home, but for a prison.

The reader now “time jumps” to more of a current period in time. We find a prison guard out for rounds of a darken prison just at lights out. The guard will stop to talk to an inmate and take another one out of his cell and down to the showers, the inmate stinks. The guard will soon become first in some mysterious deaths that will begin to plague the prison. As the klaxon rang members of a response team come rushing into the shower area where the guard is screaming. Officer Peter Coyle’s incident report will be found not long after the death has transpired and will help setup what is to come.

It’s not long after that we find special agent Tom Griffin of the FBI on his way to the prison as he will be sticking his nose into what is happening at Strangeways Prison.  He was called by an old colleague who is now the prison’s warden. Griffin will not even make it inside the prison before a strange event will meet him.  He gets out of his car to see a large wolf eyeing him down like could be dinner. Things move on from this point and Griffin will keep his open mind. He may be expecting many different possibilities that may have been the cause of the prison guard’s death. The problem is, Griffin will not want to believe what is actually going on. He is a logical man, what is happening around him, regardless of the signs is something he is not prepared for.

Strangeways will take the reader in to the world of the prison, named the same as the book. As you read you will find that the prison is on Native American land. The area has been known for strange phenomenon and in truth may be the reasoning for the name of the prison. However, what transpires within the walls of the prison is far more than any would expect. The big change in this book is that it is not related to Native Americans but instead a Norse God.  This God has become popular within the pages of comic books, and super hero movies. His name is Odin, The All Father, and many will be shocked by the portrayal of the character. I for one was at first, but I then did some research on Odin and will just point out he is the God of not just of wisdom and poetry, but that of WAR and DEATH.

Author Robert J. Brunner puts together a book that will leave many readers struggling to put it down after they start reading the book. His characters are well developed from those of the prisoners within the prison to those on the side of Law and Order. There are characters you will find yourself miss reading and others that will be evident by their actions. The scenes within the book are well painted through his word play and are properly descriptive without going to intense during the violence. I found the book to be well worth my time to read and provide this review.

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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Obsidian Tears by Doug Lamoreux & Daniel D. Lamoreux

Yellowstone National Park is United States staple that attracts thousands, if not more, visitors each and every year. People enjoy not just the beauty of the Old Faithful Geyser but also the natural beauty that abounds the park itself. The one thing that many visitors, and maybe even some staff, do not know is the large history behind the land the park is located on.  The history includes that of the Native American’s and obsidian made artifacts have been found in the park. Why do I bring this up? I mention the obsidian as it is part of the title of the book, Obsidian Tears. The book is written by brothers Daniel and Doug Lamoreux and that deep black, glassy rock will play its part in this book.

Obsidian Tears will introduce the reader to Chief Forest Ranger Glenn Merrill who many readers may have met in the first book in this series, Apparition Lake. As in that book the reader will find Ranger Merril dealing with some alarming events around Yellowstone. The problem is these events are not just the threat from environmentalists, or campers’ causing mayhem, but something is brewing under the ground. There are earth tremors that bring signs that maybe the long dormant volcano under their feet is becoming active. There of course are the unexplained deaths that claim not just animals, but that of tourists and a ranger.

I wish to add that the book opening is quite interesting as well as it sets up some great foreshadowing of what may come. The Lamoreux brothers do a great job taking the reader back to a different time as we find the young Arapaho medicine man, Nakos, on a vision quest. The events that take place during this question and what will follow a few hundred years later will become clearer as you follow the story.

The thing is all the mystery around the park will eventually become tied to a mysterious box that is found within the park. I will not go into much detail on how, or where it is found, but just say they did have to look under something to find it. The item in that box will get things moving very fast within the pages of the book. These events will lead Ranger Merrill to search out his Shoshone friend, Johnny Two Ravens.  Along with Johnny, Merrill will also end up realizing he will need the help of a young professor of Seismology, one Dr. Betty Chmielewski or Lew for short.

The book is well written as the brothers certainly know how to work together and develop their characters. Along with the characters it does appear they have done a lot of research on Yellowstone and the history around the National Park. The book does have some violent acts, but for the most part we read more about the aftermath then get to read about the full details. I for one love this type of storytelling when it comes to violence as it engages the brain even more. The best thing about the additional engagement of the brain is it brings you more and more into the story you are reading.

Obsidian Tears is a very well written book and truly fits as book 2 in the Apparition Lake series. The reader gets to catch up on what has happened in the life of those characters they may have enjoyed from the first book. You also get a sense of what is going on within a park of Yellowstone’s size from the daily patrols that take place to dealing with some of the visitors. This is what makes not just the drama of the main story so special but you get a sense of the happenings at the park, which draws you in even more. A truly enjoyable read and I’m sure like many others, I hope for more.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2018 in Reviews

 

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The Witch of Delray by Karen Dybis

I’ll admit when I first saw the title, The Witch of Delay, I conjured up in my mind a story about your typical witch. The kind of witch story that I evoked in my mind involved potions, curses, and even hexes. The interesting thing is, The Witch of Delray, will take the reader into the story of Rose Veres who some saw as a witch.

I realize that opening paragraph may grip the attention of people as you ask yourself, where is Delray? Is she really a witch?

The answer to the first question is that Delray is an old part of Detroit, Michigan. The Delray area in the early 20th century saw many Hungarian immigrants call the area home. This background is shared with in the pages of the book by author, Karen Dybis. She does a great job explaining how things where in Detroit during the period of the book, mentioning everything from the Great Depression, to corruption, crime, and race riot in the 1940s.

As for Rose Veres, you must realize the period of the story. This was a period when many old fears followed immigrants from their native lands. It is where neighborhood stories could lead others to fear a woman’s piercing glare as an evil hex. It of course did not help Rose that she had a husband die, mysteriously and even some of her borders also die.  You see, Rose and her husband Gabor, took in borders and after his death she continued to take them in. It was just Rose and her children in the house along with their borders, and it wasn’t till one of them died.

The Witch of Delray will delve deeply into the reported murder of Stephen Mak. He was one of the borders, and like so many during the depression, had trouble finding work. He would help with some chores around the Veres’ house and it was on one of these occasions he met with a horrific end. He either was pushed, or fell, off a ladder while working on a window in the home. The following police investigation would lead to the multiple events within this book.

Author Karen Dybis does her homework in writing this true crime story. She had to obviously do a lot of research digging into archives and stories from the events. Dybis looks not into the primary characters from Rose Verse, son Bill, but into those who prosecuted her. Dybis looks into the history around the events, the characters and the eventual outcome.  Readers will be introduced to Detective John Whitman, Reporter Vera Brown, Prosecutor Duncan C. McCrea and female attorney Alean Rose Brisley Clutts. The book will span over a few decades and will give readers a larger picture on the “witch” of Delray.

What I really enjoyed about this book is something one will not see on the countless of real crime TV shows out there. We get beyond the story of the murder but that of parties involved. We get a chance to see how those involved either met with fame, or failure. The thing book really does is show us everything has consequences and sometimes they have far reaching impacts.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Seven for the Slab by Doug Lamoreux

There where comic books, radio programs and television shows that would give their audience short scary stories. These would often wrap up quickly and would allow the presenter to do an anthology of sorts as they could have several stories within the same production. These of course helped give birth to the numerous anthologies that can be found out there.  We can also get a sense of this style from the 20007 Horror film “Trick ‘r Treat”.

Author Doug Lamoreux takes this idea and does two better than the before mentioned film as he places seven stories within the pages of his novella. This novella is aptly titled, “Seven for the Slab”.  I’m sure many who see the title will draw the conclusion that the slab must be in reference to a funeral home. I will say that assumption would be very correct, but do not go thinking these stories take place in one.  In the contrary a funeral home does have some of the main story thread but it’s not all the reader will get out of the pages of the novella.

Seven for the Slab starts out with the one thing so many of dislike, and that is being awoken by a ringing telephone. If you ask me that in itself is a nightmare as you never know why someone is calling you so late and if you are about to get heartbreaking news. This phone call is one that brings good news for one Herb Flay, it would mean he had his job back and that the Fengriffen Funeral Home and Crematorium needed his services. It was a call he had been waiting on for what seemed like a month and with some odd glee he went out into the thunderstorm ready to do his job.

This is the setup to the novella as Flay heads out in the night to meet his boss at a home of not one but two deceased individuals, a brother and a sister. The scene is a small neighboring town and as Flay heads out to the scene we are introduced to a group of characters from firemen, EMTS, local police and a home owner.

The rain along with what is found at the home of the deceased brother and sister are what send many of the first responders to a home owner’s garage. The place becomes the official staging area for those involved to wait out the rain and their potential next assignment if something comes up. This is a welcoming option for those who had been in the home, as the bodies, well it’s amazing what can happen after a period of time. I’m leaving the details for the story itself as for some it could be slightly disturbing, but sadly it is part of life.

I’ve provided a bit of the background on why there are so many within this garage as this is where a push from one of those individuals will get the stories moving. One must realize that when you have so many first responders together they may have stories to share with each other. In this instance it is just that, they are all challenged to share a story that will fit their current settings. It is a chance for each of them to out-do the other as they tell their stores.

I could go into each story but as this is a novella I do not want to take away a readers opportunity to really enjoy them. I just will say that with each one they get a bit more thought provoking and there is a bit of everything involved. The reader will find aliens, ghosts, zombie like creatures, and the worse of all humanity. I say this as what man can do to their fellow man can be just as gruesome as the creatures that we see in our dreams.

Seven for the Slab shows off the creative mind of author Doug Lamoreux as his characters tell their stories. They are well crafted stories that will have you wondering not just about the character writing the stories but that of the author who wrote the novella. I must say that you can tell he was a fan of those old series like Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt. The thing is we hear some great stories from the first responders but the back ground story is just as traumatic. I’ll close by saying that it is amazing what some will do to keep a job.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Reviews

 

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Kindred Intentions by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

A book is something that we pick up to read and if we are lucky will light our imagination. If we are even more fortunate it, that same book will get us hooked. The reader will not want to put it down as they are afraid to miss a moment of what is unfolding in the story that is being told by those words on the page. It is not every day that a reader will come across a book like that, and it’s even more rare to have an author continually turn out books with such storylines we cannot help but want to read it cover to cover in one sitting. Author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli really hooked me with her Red Desert set of books, about life on Mars, but has done it again with her book, Kindred Intentions.

Kindred Intentions takes the reader into a police investigation of murders that are happening at the law firm of, Goldberg & Associates. We are quickly introduced to agent Amelia Jennings who has the job of finding out who is committing those murders.  However, things never seem to go as planned and before we know it people are out to get Amelia and she has to find out who is behind this all.

The reader will also find out as Amelia runs she will have one Mike Connor along for the ride. The issue is can she trust Mike and is he who he says, well I’m sure I could say but that is giving things away.

In the previous point I mentioned, “along for the ride”, and that’s what this book is. Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli has so many twists and turns within the pages of the book you may feel highs and lows as if riding a roller coaster.  The book has spots of humor that had me laugh out loud, and get a strange look from those nearby as I read. On the other side there are points that are dark as one must recall they are after a murderer.

The story is well developed, well told and if one tried to create a murder board as seen on TV shows, the intersections and paths would be confusing to follow, at first. This is the great hidden piece of the book the way you think you may have finally figured things out only to turn a page, and realize you were wrong. It can be upsetting for sure but it also makes you dive further into the story as you tell yourself you’ll figure out who it is.

I’ll add that this was one of the complaints about Agatha Christie’s books on how she would hide things from readers that only her detectives picked up on. It did frustrate some during her time, but it’s not the case within the pages of Kindred Intentions. Instead all you need to figure things out are here but life its complex.

Now, I will add that as I read this I would have to tell myself that what I thought could be misspellings are not ones at all. The books setting is in London, England, and thus the British English is utilized in the book and to me just added more realism. I would not expect a British character to be using American terminology, and as a reminder English is not author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli first language. It however does not matter what language you may read this in as the story in itself is what will capture your attention and suck you into the pages, be that they are digital or real. Kindred Intentions is just one well written book with plot lines that are developed masterfully and a story more twisted at times than a pretzel, but well worth the read.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2017 in Reviews

 

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Danny the Dragon Learns to Floss by Ty Mall

Children’s books are one of those areas in a book store, be it online, or in a store, that is full of titles.  It’s difficult to look through so many options, as many have cute titles, celebrity authors and unique art work to draw a potential reader in at the hopes of being purchased.  It is why it is important to understand the child’s interests when it comes to a main character of a book. This brings me to the book by author Ty Mall with some great illustrations by Alex Bjelica titled, Danny the Dragon Learns to Floss.

I am sure some of you are going why a dragon would need to learn how to floss. My response back is explained in the book as it could throw off their fire breathing. They may lose some accuracy if they have a tooth ache and are unable to shoot that flame straight. There are of course many other reasons for good teeth in a dragon but this is a children’s book.

The story is straight forward enough as the child will get a sense on the importance of flossing. I realize some may not think that as something important but really it is. Oral care is something all children should learn from an early age, or they can have a life time of problems.

The books artwork is well done and works well with the story and is something I can see young children enjoying. A parent would get a laugh out of the art work and I’m sure a good conversation with their child. I say this as I’m sure a child may have many questions about a dragon as a parent reads this to a child.  I’ll close by saying that I did get a copy to review and can see how this book would appeal to parents interested in teaching good oral care, and more importantly getting a child interested in reading.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2017 in Reviews

 

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The Scent of Rain by Anne Montgomery

I’m going to start by saying that this book does have some frightening scenes and will delve into many forms of abuse. This can be from sexual, physical and verbal abuse that will shape many of the characters within the pages of the book. The Scent of Rain is also based on things that are actually happening today in parts of Colorado as explained by author Anne Montgomery at the end of the book.

The Scent of Rain, while fiction, is a book that could potentially be very true when it comes to what happens within the confines of a cult. The Fundamentalist Mormon (FLM) group in which the story takes places is one that is lead like so many other cults by one man, a prophet. A man whose word is law and if you do not follow his law you will not be allowed to go to the Celestial Heaven.

The story revolves primarily around the live of sixteen year old, Rose Madsen. She has plans for her life and many do not seem to agree with what her mom’s choices are for her.  Bliss, Rose’s mother, wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps and get married off to a member of the FLM. The problem with teenagers today are that often they do not wish to follow what their parents wish and some even will speak back to their parents. Rose is one of those teenagers and when she speaks up to her mother’s wishes Rose is beaten. Rose will even find herself locked into a small closet that would make the one a well-known wizard was locked in look like a suite.

The treatment of Rose is just one of the horrific stories that come out of this book as sadly there are others. A ruling from the leader of the group, their prophet, requires all children with pets to kill those pets. These type of events will eventually lead to the greatest act of Rose’s teenage life as she runs away.  She will find that she will not be going alone as a young man with just as a troubling life will go with her.

Sadly this potential of a great ending for the runaways will not go as planned. A misjudgment by those who find the two leads to even more trouble for the pair. Although there are others in the area who wish to help the FLM is a very powerful group.  It really is when others start to stand up to the prophet that things begin to show signs of hope for Rose and Adan.

This is a very powerful book and one that is not easy to put down. There is a lot of drama within these pages but at same time you get a sense of hope. The book is again fiction but really if one wishes all they need to do is some research to find out that these type of groups are out there. Groups that have older men running a compound with multiple wives and many children. Often they rule thru not just fear but psychological abuse that make others fear leaving would be like dying.

Author Anne Montgomery surely did her research on this book. You will find that out in notes she provides along with the dedication to Flora Jessop. As stated in the dedication she escaped two separate cults and now tries to rescue other girls, and women, from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She acknowledges the subject matter at the end of the book and how she hopes to shed some light on the issues that are found in groups like the FLM. I know the subject matter in the book can be troublesome if not horrendous at times but this is a work of FICTION. The book may be based on some potential real events but the story telling is top notch as you watch people try and overcome this life. All they wish to do is believe in hope and rise above what they know and become the person they wish to be.

I’m going to start by saying that this book does have some frightening scenes and will delve into many forms of abuse. This can be from sexual, physical and verbal abuse that will shape many of the characters within the pages of the book. The Scent of Rain is also based on things that are actually happening today in parts of Colorado as explained by author Anne Montgomery at the end of the book.

The Scent of Rain, while fiction, is a book that could potentially be very true when it comes to what happens within the confines of a cult. The Fundamentalist Mormon (FLM) group in which the story takes places is one that is lead like so many other cults by one man, a prophet. A man whose word is law and if you do not follow his law you will not be allowed to go to the Celestial Heaven.

The story revolves primarily around the live of sixteen year old, Rose Madsen. She has plans for her life and many do not seem to agree with what her mom’s choices are for her.  Bliss, Rose’s mother, wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps and get married off to a member of the FLM. The problem with teenagers today are that often they do not wish to follow what their parents wish and some even will speak back to their parents. Rose is one of those teenagers and when she speaks up to her mother’s wishes Rose is beaten. Rose will even find herself locked into a small closet that would make the one a well-known wizard was locked in look like a suite.

The treatment of Rose is just one of the horrific stories that come out of this book as sadly there are others. A ruling from the leader of the group, their prophet, requires all children with pets to kill those pets. These type of events will eventually lead to the greatest act of Rose’s teenage life as she runs away.  She will find that she will not be going alone as a young man with just as a troubling life will go with her.

Sadly this potential of a great ending for the runaways will not go as planned. A misjudgment by those who find the two leads to even more trouble for the pair. Although there are others in the area who wish to help the FLM is a very powerful group.  It really is when others start to stand up to the prophet that things begin to show signs of hope for Rose and Adan.

This is a very powerful book and one that is not easy to put down. There is a lot of drama within these pages but at same time you get a sense of hope. The book is again fiction but really if one wishes all they need to do is some research to find out that these type of groups are out there. Groups that have older men running a compound with multiple wives and many children. Often they rule thru not just fear but psychological abuse that make others fear leaving would be like dying.

Author Anne Montgomery surely did her research on this book. You will find that out in notes she provides along with the dedication to Flora Jessop. As stated in the dedication she escaped two separate cults and now tries to rescue other girls, and women, from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She acknowledges the subject matter at the end of the book and how she hopes to shed some light on the issues that are found in groups like the FLM. I know the subject matter in the book can be troublesome if not horrendous at times but this is a work of FICTION. The book may be based on some potential real events but the story telling is top notch as you watch people try and overcome this life. All they wish to do is believe in hope and rise above what they know and become the person they wish to be.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in Reviews

 

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