Review: Dead Blossoms by by Richard Monaco

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Publisher: Venture

Publishing Date: July 2016

ISBN: 9781300509561

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 3.8/5

Publishers Description: Jiro Tazeko is a ronin samurai – tied to no clan and scorned by many. A hard-drinking mercenary and master swordsman, he is looked down upon by his fellow samurai, thinking him without honor.  

Review: Well I finally made it to the end of a very long and interesting tale of a disgraced samurai whom likes to drink the sake….a lot. This was really good but was flawed with sequencing mistakes and a storyline that sometimes drifted and hopped around. This lack of cogency puts the hard test to the reader to follow along but once you slip into your comfortable shoes, the writing style grows on you.

Tazeko is a wonderfully flawed character that grows and changes through the course of the novel as life impacts him in a myriad of ways. These instances help define the persona and drags the reader along for a sympathetic and jovial ride.

“So why you no give 5 stars!”. At times, the novel had sequencing issues where the story line jumped around and lacked connectedness. In one instance, Tazeko and Yazu are poisoned and Tazeko wakes up in a cemetery but there is no mention of what becomes of Yazu, yet he mysteriously re-appears in the story line.  In another, Tazeko loses his sandals and arrives at his destination barefoot, then proceeds to remove his sandals when he enters the domicile. This disappearance and reappearance of people and items occurs throughout the novel. Still, a riveting novel that gets a solid metric.

Review: An Oik’s Progress by Steve Eastwood

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Publisher: Troubador

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781784629403 

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher Description: Psychopathic tendencies begin to arise in Benny, which come to light when faced with a local thug with a grudge against his father. How far will Benny go to stop the man from threatening the father that has always put him down? 

Review: I thought this would be ones man’s psychopathic walk through life from child to adult, according to the description. What it turns out to be is a normal jaunt through life for about 99% of the novel, detailing Benny’s mundane life as a policeman. Its really a novel without a plot which makes it a fictional biography?

The stories within are well written and often funny. The novel follows a typical English writing style that details everyday intricacies from scene descriptions to ordinary dialogue and personal interactions. The ending is abrupt and without merit but makes a bit of sense when you follow an ordinary life for most of the novel. It needed something like the ending to make some sort of plot sense.  A really good read if you’re waiting at the DMV for your license renewal.

 

Review: Doomsday Kids #2: Nester’s Mistake

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Publisher: K Squared
Publishing Date: September 1, 2014
ISBN: 9780692261034
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: Inexperienced with firearms and conflicted about killing people, Nester struggles with whether there’s a place for compassion in a world without laws or authority. Then, as nuclear winter sweeps over their mountain home killing crops and animals, a medical emergency threatens one of their number. Nester must make a desperate choice that shatters their little community and irrevocably alters their chances for survival.

Review: I guess that’s Nester on the cover. In the novel he supposedly is bald with broken glasses and looks like a blind naked mole rat.

All or most of the Doomsday kids have arrived at the promised land….Liam’s cabin in the mountains, where life quickly devolves into the Lord of the Flies. There is a constant inter-play of petty jealousy and angst ridden recriminations that thread through daily challenges. Kids and animals are dying of radiation poisoning and live under constant threat from outsiders. The author does a great job creating this myopic world of malaise where constant fear drives the juvenile mind in all sorts of directions.

Back in the 60-70’s I grew up with an M.D. as a father whom was way before his time in terms of being a prepper. Reloading room, organic garden, medical supplies etc. In the landscape of TEOTWAWKI guns and ammo are rare commodities with ammo worth its weight in gold. In order to give a post-apocalyptic novel some credibility, writers have to infuse a knowledgeable sense of firearms/calibers and their use. Like the first novel, this one was pretty thin in that area. Shotgun blasts don’t “zing” off metal and young kids like Amy are not shooting champions especially without any specifics given. Other critical details like; what are the bullets in the bandoliers?, what are the guns?, what are the calibers? I am sure Liam’s dad taught Katie and Marty something?? These details help to build a credible story-line and were sadly non-existent.

When the reader cares enough about a novel to read any subsequent novels in the series, I think the author should spend the time getting every facet correct, as this shows that they care for their works as well. This novel really needed a good editor as there were quite a few grammatical errors.

The great thing about TEOTWAWKI is that no one really knows what will happen to society after a myriad of events that could occur. That leaves this particular genre wide open in terms of creative license. As long as the writing is good (which it was) you can take this story line/plot anywhere. There will always be someone who disagrees with future outcomes and that’s ok as long as the story line maintains a credible foundation. I initially scored this pretty high but the grammatical errors and weak firearm portions brought it down.

Review: Archangel by Michael Vorhis

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Publisher: FreeFlight
Publishing Date: January 2011
ISBN: 9780983898504
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: But coincidence, perhaps Fate, causes Mick Calahan to become entangled in the equally mysterious saga of strangers. And circumstances bring him unwillingly into the open, where looms his greatest fear–that his decisions might affect and destroy real lives.

Review: The cover art truly reflects what resides within.

Oh yay, reluctant hero with checkered past and a heart of gold,..time. There is evil white men and poor downtrodden natives with a hottie native temptress thrown in. And it all takes place in Buttfug, Montana. This was published back in 2011, so not sure why it is getting a new release.

So Padre Mick finds himself appointed by the Catholic Church to preside in Buttfug, only to find that the towns inhabitants are fugging weird. I mean, most people, if not all, are fugging weird but this town takes the cake. Mick finds two native boys lying in the street, unconscious and Joe Shmuck says that the first thing to learn living here is to mind your own business. Street toughs working for LUCIUS KNOX (lol) walk the town with impunity, raping and pillaging with the Sheriff’s collusion.

This read like Walking Tall, Billy Jack and Jack Reacher had a love child (see how I made a love triangle? Khul huh). Mick finds that LUCIUS KNOX is evil (duh) and is stealing Tribal land to conduct mining operations and means to eradicate Native life as we know it. His thugs walk around town beating up natives, raping native girls, hurling racial epithets and generally being dodgy all day long.
Mick’s final straw is when super racist thug, Daryl, rapes native temptress Gabriella. Blah, blah, blah Mick takes everyone down with the help of the Washokki and Tissoma tribes whom speak a Kalispel dialect.

FWIW, there is no such thing as the Washokki and Tissoma Tribes of Montana. There are no native “chapters” and corralled youth speaking in hushed Kalispel dialects. There is no Kalispel dialect (Kalispel, Spokane and Flathead speak a Salish dialect). Additionally, there are no towns with racist assholes walking around raping native girls, prostituting native girls. beating and killing native people and talking like that kid on the bridge playing banjo. There are no groups of Indians planning to kill whitey over a mining claim. There is no paying off or buying the Bureau of Indian Affairs. What this novel attains is the conjoining of two perceived disparate groups, the heavy application of race bait and culture trampling and POOF! there is your emotive content and story-line. I might be wrong about the tribes mentioned in this novel, but according to the Tribe I work for, there is the Salish-Kootenai, Crow, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Sioux and a few others in Montana.

Here is my own opinion that resides outside the bounds of this novel. ” There seems to be this weird mockery of the tired and well worn racial shtick you saw in westerns as a kid is just not applicable by modern standards. Today, some groups that see and point the racist finger where none exists or hoist their culture in hopes of claiming ascendancy over others are guilty of inciting tension and fail to understand that by their lack of awareness and entrenched identities, that they merely serve their own egos.”

I get that this is just a fictionalized story meant to make some money and possibly broker a movie deal. The novel was really built for Hollywood and not the reader.

Although I understand the spin in fiction, I think the written word can be carefully crafted to imbibe the reader with certain realities while attempting to entertain. I think the author is a good writer but the recipe was way too clichéd’.

Review: Daunting Days of Winter by Ray Gorham

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Publisher: Ray Gorham
Publishing Date:April 2014
ISBN: 9781475604214
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher Description: Kyle Tait, having survived the harrowing, cross-country journey home to his family, must now struggle for existence in a post-EMP world that no one could have imagined just three short months prior. Each day brings new challenges – how to fight the bitter cold, where to scavenge food for the table, how to best fend off intruders and keep their community safe.

Review: The cover art is pretty good in a low budget approach.

This was a pretty damn good post-apocalyptic novel. That is to say, it had some issues, but overall was entertaining.

Kyle is accused of raping and killing a young girl and is sentenced to death by the towns jury. It is quite a stretch in believability that a respected and contributing member of a surviving society is convicted on scant evidence. While the premise is kind of weak, this particular side-story took up a lot of the novel. It has this trial like atmosphere with endless dialogue. This kicks off Kyle’s new quest under the onus of banishment from framily. At one point Sean asks Kyle that he heard he was going east, to Idaho. As they are in Montana (Deer Creek) Kyle would need to head west.

While Kyle is banished and traveling overland, Rose (from the first novel) is on her way up north from Wyoming in hopes of getting in touch with Kyle again. This looks like a hookup made in heaven but Kyle is still attached to his frigid wife. Rose has her own set of challenges to face and makes for interesting reading.

I really liked the authors political and social voice as read through the character, Frank. Frank is ex-military and will tell you what he thinks, straight from the hip. Refreshing after reading so much PC garbage lately.

I would have enjoyed a more in depth take on prepping and existing in a post-apocalyptic environment. I think the trial dialogue could have been edited way down and the dire ramifications expounded on in a burgeoning survival community. Still, there was a lot of good info for those of us “inclined” in that direction. The author falls short on the existence and pervasiveness of illness and disease that would have impacted society. Steps taken to eliminate contact with outsiders was non-existent nor were the host of flus/infections and other illnesses associated with malnutrition and starvation. The 1,000 yard shooting accuracy and the bear attack are not believable but “that’s entertainment”.

I had fun reading this as it is more of a story rather than a Wesley Rawles “Patriots” type of novel. The author seeks to entertain, but I felt that part of the entertainment was to keep events and situations as accurate as possible with regards to a post-apocalyptic scenario. The authors take on the value of silver and gold and other commodities is good. Jennifer (Kyles wife) is a lame, whining, needy, frigid nut case that Kyle should have dumped for Rose. Frank should have been expounded upon as a character and offered a good opportunity to get into the ideals and processes of prepping. While living in a community has its benefits, it can mostly be a drain on resources that you might already have plus the added problem that people tend to suck.

Review: The Doomsday Kids by Karyn Langhorne Folan

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Publisher: Doomsday
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9780615966083
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.8/5

Publisher Description: Separated from their parents by a nuclear blast, eight kids must work together to survive. Liam’s Promise is the first of six books in The Doomsday Kids series

Review: First of six books in a series you say? Better change the cover art to follow a theme if you’re planning a series. Presently it is reminiscent of a Twilight movie poster.

This was a very compelling post-apocalyptic survival novel. Kind of a cross between “The Road” and Rawles “Patriots” series. Where Rawles novel has quite a bit of factual detail concerning survival after a cataclysmic event, Doomsday Kids is more about telling a particular story about some kids as they make their way to a Mountain retreat.

As the author was attempting to entertain the reader, there were some fall downs here and there with survival tactics related to poor choices. Yet the author makes it clear that there are distinct options that may improve their collective chances at survival. It becomes quickly evident that any poor choices that are made, no matter how minor, have lasting ramifications on their chances of surviving through the exodus. Poor choices in route selection lead to capture by a band of surviving adults. The kids manage to over-power and out-smart this group of killers using a child’s scream as a diversion. Not buying it. What’s weird is that there is no ensuing chase after the kids when the killers have atv’s and AR-15’s. There is also the starving bear attack scene which is fairly unbelievable. If a bear attacks a group of people, most, if not all of the people will be maimed or killed. So they decide to eat the bear and string it up in the middle of a cement railway tunnel. How are a group of starving kids going to hoist a 225-300 lb black bear up in the air in order to gut and skin it? Where is the attachment point at the top of a tunnel. Who went up there to do it? The author kind of glosses over a lot of details that I feel are pertinent to the story lines credibility.

The characters have fairly good development but I ended up not really caring about them too much. Sad backstories just don’t get you sympathizing with them as their current behavior is mostly combative and self-centered. The only ones you like are the 10 year olds that continue to have trusting mentalities. The author used the word “muttered” over 69 times in this novel in order to expedite the scenes. This was a big fail in a novel that was not that long.

I will probably get the next in the series to see where this story-line and plot go. It has good movement coupled with scene development. The flow of the novel is pretty good. Needs a good editor that won’t blow smoke up the author’s ass about the realities of survival. Really, a 10 year old girl walking 100-200 miles while starving and sick with a mental disability. Riiiight.

Review~ Pharoah by David Gibbins

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Publisher: Bantam/Dell
ISBN:9780345534705
Publishing Date: October 2013
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 1.2/5 stars

Publishers Description:Marine archaeologist Jack Howard has made an astounding find in the depths of the Red Sea: proof of a mass suicide by a pharaoh and his army. But what could have driven the most powerful people of their age to hurl themselves to their deaths? What terrible new king, revered as a new god, came to take their place?

Howard’s search leads back through the ages to the discovery of the vault of Tutankhamun in 1928, the legacy of American adventurers in Egypt, the fate of General Gordon’s doomed garrison in Khartoum—and a long-shrouded catastrophe that saw a unit of Gordon’s would-be rescuers swallowed by a mysterious Nile whirlpool. Between the story told by a crazed survivor of that horror, a lost labyrinth, and the truth behind a three-thousand-year-old conflict, Howard is on the verge of a discovery that will change history—for good, for evil, and for the future of all humankind.

Review: Pharaoh is one of the biggest disappointments in my experience. Especially when I had high hopes for the new release to capture my minds imagination and whisk me away to LaLa land.
Approximately 90% or more of the novel is a historical account set in the late nineteenth century between the war of the dervish and England in Khartoum. You will mostly follow the life of Major Mayne during this time, whom briefly bounces into the area that concerns our intrepid boyo, Jack Howard.

There is absolutely NO ACTION in this novel with Jack Howard and Costas. It is all set in the past, during an important time in history to the author (I am sure), that has no relevance to the intended story-line. Not only is this novel pure shjt, the author shovels this self-indulgent crap on top of it with the author’s note….”The Gordon relief expedition has always fascinated me because of my own family connection with the story…..” And there you go. The whole reason to write a historical account. I guess you can use a popular vehicle (Jack Howard) to foist your wares on the unsuspecting, but keep that shjt away from me.

Even the dialogue between Jack Howard and all his know-it-all peers revolves around lengthy archaeological diatribes. But Gibbins is not done, he tries to get any new readers up to speed with the tried and true method of buddy stories…..”I should have known a PhD from MIT in electrical engineering and robotics would have a hard time with simple wiring…” “Well if I had not gotten drunk during my doctoral thesis at Cambridge, blah…I would have never have gotten my other doctorate in …blah, blah…..blah , blah”

I don’t know what happened to this guy (Gibbins). He should have wrote a totally separate non-fiction novel, and called it “Major Mayne, not from Spain, in the Land of No Rain”. I wonder who patted Gibbins ego on the back for promulgating this disaster.

Readers are fickle, and they fall in love with the characters, such that they become like family. When the author kills off beloved characters or even approves short actors (Tom Cruise) to play bigger than life action heroes (Jack Reacher), they lose a ton of devoted readers and subsequently, money. Don’t waste your time or money on Pharaoh, as it has nothing to do with the Jack Howard adventure series.