Book Review: The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

 

Publishing Date: June 2019

Publisher: Berkley

ISBN:9780451492289

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 0.95/5

Publisher’s Description: It’s not safe for anyone  alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

Review: This should have been titled, “Stumpy Red Riding Fail” or “A Post Pandemic Virtue Signalling Guide”.  The novel pretty much starts with the “Guns are bad” shtick. And I quote, “Red despised holding the gun….despised everything about it, hated how cold and hateful it felt in her hand.” Project much? I don’t know, it is hard for me to place a self-governing perspective on an inanimate object, but there you are.

The race baiting is off the charts and at one point I was thinking, “Just shut the fuk up already”. And I quote, “Red had that indeterminate mixed-race look that made white people nervous….”. Really?  I don’t feel nervous around “mixed race” people. I thought they were just, people. I am mixed race, I don’t feel different towards anyone or assume that white people will turn on us all when the shjt hits the fan. Maybe since I don’t look mixed race I can blend in with all the evil WHITE rapey men. Well this racist author drags white people through the mud and elevates other non-white races in her little book of hate for most of the novel.  And here I thought segregationists were dead.

Moving on, I found that the geographical certainty that you find in most post-apocalyptic novels was absent. This usually lends a sense of validity to the novel while giving the reader some visual context to go with the story line. What the author did was make it vague enough to expedite the novel without any grounding in fact. Easier to write that way.

And then there is the constant blather about Red’s amputee status, stump soreness and prosthetic. On and on and on. The author doesn’t even know enough to determine the exact name for Red’s particular condition (Transtibial amputee). The author seems like she wanted to paint Red as this smart (3.8 GPA), mixed race (Dad white, Mom Black- both University Professors) can-do survivor gal with all the odds stacked against her. She not only is an amputee trekking across the wilderness but constantly avoids all the people who want to rape her, because where would the story line go without the want of constantly raping?

Lastly, what is fairly obvious is that the author knows fuk all about survival. The questions are many with regard to uncovered aspects of Red’s overland trek. The depths are never plumbed and help, in the form of available food, is readily available as are the gifts of convenient cabins and homes appearing out of the woods, stocked with food and water.  Throw in an amiable old prepper and, presto!  What is also entirely unbelievable is her ability to take out grown WHITE men that have BAD guns or BIG knives with her little hatchet because she was taught a self-defense class in community college.

I liked when Red kept moving forward through the countryside as it helped ground her dipshjt personality (whiney and argumentative know-it-all). Then she suddenly kills three gun toting bad WHITE men with her little hatchet and back in the shjtter we go.

If you love your grandma, skip this.

Black Ice by Grace Hamilton

 

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Relay

ISBN: 9781793352866

Genre: Fiction/ Post-Apoc

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Nathan Tolley’s wife is gone, leaving him adrift in a vast ocean of bitter white that promises nothing but heartache and despair. Yet, his weary band of travelers continue to look to him to secure their safety. But Nate’s no leader. Every decision he’s made on their dangerous cross-country journey has taken them from bad to worse. First Detroit. Then Chicago. Now, Wyoming, which proves the deadliest of all.

Review: “Black …..Ice.., because ice is cold and not black but cold like a beating heart that is black with malice…and stuff….”. It is not unexpected, with this author, to get pelted with stupidity from the onset. It is more of a harbinger of what is to come…a warning of content rife with survival errors, cliched characters couched within a “made for movie” story line.

After having read this novel I have to say that I did not do it justice in the preface.  Grace corrects a lot of her firearm fails that riddle the other novels. In one standoff Nathan is able to identify a specific shotgun model when pointed at him. How this is possible is anyone’s guess. Most of the novel resides within the emotional interactive realm where pages are devoted to the interplay of the characters. This tends to stall the movement and really doesn’t develop the characters in a direction that is interesting.

The movie cliches are pretty thick in this novel. Every interaction that goes awry is with some “Boss”-like evilly guy you might find replicates of in Dungeons and Dragons. For example some Detroit Boss is spending all his resources on tracking Nathan and Crew across the wastes of America. Really? Why? And who would give a fuk?

So while Nathan is sparing the lives of Bosses whom sole intent is to hang or torture them, he kills people with his bare hands to “swave hims wittle pumpkin’s” from religious indoctrination. But see that’s o.k. in Graces world where extinguishing a present threat to prevent future harm to the group is abhorrent. I get the whole “humanity” angle that the author is going for, but it just doesn’t work for this particular apocalypse.

I have to say that these novels are getting better and the characters more interesting and complex. The situations are highly contrived and not-believable but provide a good source of entertainment if not taken seriously. Also I don’t think “Blatter” is a word.

 

Book Review: Daisy’s Gambit (The Clockwork Chimera #3) by Scott Baron

Publishing Date:

Publisher: Curiouser Publishing

ISBN: B07HFLP581

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.3

Publisher’s Description: With a rag-tag team of scrappy survivors, Daisy reluctantly set out on what was her most difficult and audacious effort yet. But if she somehow succeeded, she might just save not only her own world, but others’ worlds as well.

Review: This picks up where Daisy left off, being an asshat. Maybe we just accept that Daisy will never change from being a self-centered arse and enjoy the story.

So that’s what I did. And, amazingly, the Sun broke over the mountains and I was splashed with color and warmth. The supporting caste in this rendition really pushes this novel to greater heights. Joshua, Freya, Craaxiit and even the deranged AI’s round out some pretty well developed characters. Daisy/Sarah/Biggusdickus….not so much.

Thankfully, Biggus, is in a coma for most of the novel so cheers all around and I am buying. Yay! Sarah you just can never get away from as she is adjunct to Daisy’s consciousness and plies the dialogue with patterned responses. So just when you think this stoopid romance is done for, Biggusdickus suddenly wakes up with his twinkle and smirky wink still intact and Daisy loves him more because his AI unit is burnt out, so that means he’s a real human she can hump without having sybian thoughts.

The ending promises some interesting adventures with Freya but then we find ourselves suddenly back where we started. Fug. Still a good time was had reading this as the movement is non-stop.

Book Review: Pushing Daisy (The Clockwork Chimera #2) by Scott Baron

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Curiouser Publishing

ASIN: B07HFMX94J

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher’s Description: With an even more dangerous turn of events throwing her in harm’s way, Daisy’s original plight was now dwarfed by the new issues at hand. Issues involving not only her crewmates and herself, but threats on a global level. Earth was in jeopardy, and much as she hated to admit it, Daisy, it seemed, was its best hope.

Review: I received this novel and #3 in the series from the author because I am so kewl and speshul. But don’t think for a moment that bribes will change the outcome of my reviews. Influence, maybe, but never bowing low to ply the tainted area that Kirkus licks so well. So let us get on with it!

Daisy. In the first novel she was a total asshat. In this installment she is asshat 2.0 which elevates her to butthead.  I just don’t see how a character gets more myopic and self-centered as they move through a story line. Let’s see…..she hates cyborgs, loves Artificial Intelligence, hates augmented humans, loves augmented humans, hates aliens, and loves aliens all within this revolving door of her mind in which sits her besty Sarah. Now Sarah provides levity and logical processes to Dimwits irrational tendencies while turning up Daisy’s ability to see and sense danger…blah, blah, blah.  What Sarah really does is provide a constant internal monologue that helps to explain and develop the story line while providing an iterative backboard for Daisy to develop as a viable character. And boy does that shjt get old. You know what? I really thought that Sarah was going to get transferred out of Daisy’s pea brain and into her own body or an AI cradle. Nope. But let me tell you something, this…. cannot-happen-soon-enough.

So where does that leave us? Despite every crisis suddenly being about her (Daisy) and her sudden move from reluctant bystander to Uber leader, I kind of liked that Daisy had extreme juvenile tendencies and this consistent disbelief in her extraordinary abilities. She is self-centered to the point of keeping vital information from her cohorts because, according to her,she needed “space” or some shjt. This myopic narcissistic view of the world plagues me with the author’s intent. Is he looking for a movie deal? Waiting to reveal the true nature of Daisy what with all that stored data in her head? Or is it the simple compounding of an error from which there is no returning?

So as I wind down I can’t help but think what impetus drives me to return to this series. Is it a car accident type curiosity or something closer to “I hope this character grows the fuk up and jumps on board with a great story, thereby making it better”.

 

Book Review: Freezing Point by Grace Hamilton

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: Relay

ISBN: 9781726446136

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 1.9/5

Publisher’s Description: In the dawn of a new Ice Age, families everywhere are taking to the road to escape the frigid landscape—but you can’t outrun the cold. No one could have predicted the terrifying impact of human interference in the Arctic. Shifts in the Earth’s crust have led to catastrophe and now the North Pole is located in the mid-Atlantic, making much of the eastern United States an unlivable polar hellscape.

Review: This novel was so filled with tropes that the cup overfloweth with patterned passages in hopes of a movie deal. The movie preview might read like: “The stalwart wife who was raised under the tutelage of a prepper master is as tough as nails, can shoot better than an expert, is a naturally gifted tracker, is hotter than a popcorn fart and likes a good spanking.  Nathan: the husband who is just too good for his own underpants, reticent to leave a life of established mediocrity for the big city, can’t help but help the stranded and dispossessed. When not being obstinate and over-reactive, he likes to tousle little wheezy’s hair “ An asthmatic son rounds out this familial trio of asshats because insurmountable odds are just not enough. You gotta have wheezy there for false poignancy. Don’t forget the dog/human that barks and whines like Lassie during all the pivotal scenes.

This author and I would not get along in a post-apoc world. She would most likely shoot me on site (because I am a male and naturally want to rape everything) or accidentally shoot herself because she knows dick-all about firearms. It is strange how all her books follow this rapey gang/ Road Warrior trope and her ideas of realistic situations constantly collide with entertainment rhetoric. Her novels follow a pattern of canned “Made for Movie” material that is relentless in it’s bombardment of the senses.

There are a few firearm fails which are pretty standard from this author. For instance, the “line of bullet holes of which the frequency of the holes suggests they were spray from an automatic weapon.” So you can now tell that bullet holes in a car are from an automatic weapon versus a semi-auto or single shot? In another scene, “Blackhair” (a 7-1 evilly gang member) fires his AK-47 hitting their Dodge auto wrecker, which seems to now deflect bullets rather than absorb holes like most sheet metal. What is not consistent is the use of the AK-47. Why would everyone have one when the importation of a fully automatic weapon has been illegal for decades? Conversions (as the most likely culprit) are never discussed. Oh, and in case you missed it, 7-1 signifies seven rape victim…..er, women to one humongous.

So they run into a group of Amish, are taken in, and wouldn’t you know? Fukin’ Cyndi grew up around the Amish and through her Father, adopted the Amish way of life, thereby enhancing her prepping skills. Fug me with a hammer. So when all hope is lost, Nathan rises from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix to save a little street urchin/pedo victim/junkie daughter/gang mistress from NY (who now talks with a southern accent) while finding redemption in the form of a dead elk which are not found anywhere near the Midwest or Detroit for that matter. They are definitely not referred to as 16 pointers. That is a Midwest idiom.

So as I beat my head against a table, I wonder if there is some momma bear in the woods somewhere looking after her little wheezy’s while canning catfish and getting spanked by a sonorous male drone with a rubber ball in his mouth.

Book Review: Haven by Adam Roberts

Publishing Date: August 2018

Publisher: Solaris

ISBN: 9781781085660

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Rural English Post-Apocalyptic survival for a new generation. Young Forktongue Davy has visions; epilepsy, his Ma calls it. He’s barely able to help around the family farm. But something about the lad is attracting attention: the menacing stranger who might be the angel of death himself; the women-only community at Wycombe; Daniel, sent by the mysterious Guz. They all want Davy for their own reasons.

Review: A really well done novel that captures your imagination and pulls you in relentlessly with each new character.  There is so much unfinished business with the story line that this begs a subsequent installment. Like wtf happens to Amber and will Davy find her? What happened to Hat and Daniel? Are their stories to remain stunted without resolution?

Get this novel before someone smacks you for passing it up.

Book Review: Dead Reckoning (911: Book 3) by Grace Hamilton

 

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Relay

ISBN:9781721136407

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 1.4/5

Publisher’s Description: After destroying the Church of Humanity, Jim Parker is a hero of the rebellion. But his mission is just getting started. Living on the run takes its toll on Finn, Ava, and their friends, but Parker gains hope from the ordinary people he sees performing small acts of resistance every day. When word reaches the rebels that the malicious Colonel Brian Hays is inside the Council compound, they hatch a plan to infiltrate the stronghold and take him out. Parker offers to lead the operation, but he has another goal in mind: convincing his daughter Sara to join his side—whether she wants to or not.

Review: I was looking forward to this third in the series, 911, due to the prior novels use of movement to build characters. Yeah there was a a lot of rapey gangs, raping the rape out of anything rape-able, but some perspectives are driven in that direction. Me, not so much.

In this installment we get a more static look at our players as they settle in to fight FEMA. Although the movement is good, Sara and Ava languish under patterned roles. How Sara goes from church spy rape victim to Recon Scout Uber Killer Babe whom everyone calls a hero and makes old men cry with their rapey stories, in the span of months, is fooking beyond me. Ava is a bit more believable as she has been in the trenches the longest, but strangely takes a back seat to Sara. Oh and lets not forget covering the PC bases with Ava getting hot for Sara. Fug.

The other not so bright spots in this novel were the guns. I have harped on this in the past so I won’t bore you with the details. (Me) professional action shooter for years….blah, blah blah. Anyhoo, Sara likes to cup her shooting hand, which would make Sara a very bad shot. Sara and the bad guys also seem to have a penchant for Sig Sauer’s and Beretta’s. Both of which are shit guns and no one uses in competition. How everyone gets a Sig, is again, beyond me. Dumb FEMA I get, as they are all issued the same side arms in the military (except for specops).  But this is also another fall down as FEMA seems to have both gun models. Does Everyone only shoot Sigs and Berrettas in this novel? There is also this weird penchant our heroes exhibit in collecting guns from the fallen. Where are they putting them? Why would they do that if they have the same gun/caliber? Would you not, in a heated situation, just grab the ammo/magazines? When Wisconsin (based on guns owned) is the third largest standing army in the world, you would think there would be a large variety of guns without the need to pick them up in tight situations.

Mostly the novel read as an interplay between Sara, Ava and Parker’s tribulations. The constant life history interludes halted the movement and reduced the novel to the mundane. So what I got out of this novel was the developing inclination that the author really doesn’t live what she is writing about even though she could be a prepper. Her knowledge seems to be derived by supposition and study but not actively living it.  The small things that you should know are missed and that lent an inauthentic air to the novel. Her bio is long winded and is more about selling herself as a survivalist in order to lend some sort of credibility to the novel. I am not buying it.

Book Review: Dead End by Grace Hamilton,‎ Jack Colrain

 

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Relay

ISBN:9781987561623

Genre:Post Apoc/Dystopian

Rating: 3.6/5

Publisher’s Description: In the time before the storm, Jim Parker committed his life to helping others. As a police officer, he placed himself in harm’s way for the greater good. But now that the world’s been turned upside down by a deadly EMP strike, it’s all he can do to survive. With his friends Finn and Ava by his side, Parker must defy the power-hungry Council and search for his long-lost daughter, Sara.

Review: I did not read the first in this series but wish I had. This was really good, and not just of the character and world building etc., but from a preppers perspective. I was indoctrinated into the prepper lifestyle as a young boy. Homesteading  in a large family where my parents were convinced that the crash was upon us. This novel is one of many in the genre, but one of a few that weave an accurate approach to the story line while creating a solid foundation in fact.

Where the novel completely diverges from reality is really based on future suppositions about certain events transpiring and the subsequent fallout/recovery. In this novel every group is boiling with men whose only goal is to kill, subjugate, rape and/or execute after the rape. If they are not raping or wanting to rape, they are smirking while killing or thinking of rape. These groups that are functional or rather, dysfunctional, fit into convenient paramilitary boxes or religious splinter groups where their rotten under belly is exposed.

History proves that when reactionary mobs find a chink in societal norms, events quickly escalate to violence and looting. This occurs when there is no “event” promulgating the action. However when resources dwindle under the yoke of calamity, people usually come together. Take for instance war torn cities or as recent as Venezuela where there has been a monetary collapse. The collective humanity have not been reduced to their basest of natures.

I think preppers, by nature and design, are convinced of negative outcomes that support their identity. A “If something bad happens then I was right”, approach to life. I get that there are homesteaders that get back to nature and self-reliance, but once you take that step into prepping then you’re planning for the worst possible outcome. This is often reflected in the literature that encompasses these actions.  The bottom line is that we just don’t know.

The minor fall downs in this novel were the fire fights with trained soldiers against an old cop, one girl and two women.  I am not saying that they can’t be as capable but when getting gunned at by Strykers with .50 auto BMG’s and thermal imaging then you are pretty fucked. Of course they always win and are bleeding out after every encounter but seem to become ambulatory and get into another rape-fest/gunfight. I am not buying what the authors are selling me, but it was still very entertaining. Another miss hit was when Ava and Parker are captured by a band of raping/laughing men and Ava shoots Shitbird and Frank with a Glock handgun. After Ava puts down Frank she stands over him, …“The magazine in the pistol was empty…her handgun dry-fired in series of whispery, mechanical clicks..”. Glocks are single action and do NOT click on empty as the trigger does not reset without jacking the slide or live firing. Fug. Details people.

I still had a good time reading this and will definitely get the next in the series.

Book Review: The Alaskan Chronicles. The Provider by John Hunt

Publisher: Lodestone

Publishing Date: June 2018

ISBN:9781785356896

Genre: YA/ Post Apoc

Rating: 2.0/5

Publishers Description: The year is 2020 and President Trump has just announced that the world is bracing itself for the effects of a huge solar storm. 17-year-old Jim Richards is a gawky, unimpressive teenager in Anchorage, Alaska. As chaos descends and society breaks down into anarchy and violence, his family team up with others to leave the city and take their chances in the Alaskan wilderness. They can no longer flick a switch to get what they want, no mobile or internet, in fact no communication at all with the wider world, how will it play out?

Review: This was intended for the YA crowd…not sure why as it has some valuable insights that exceed millennial cognition. In short, this is a post apocalyptic novel set in the wilds of Alaska where a survivor recounts his life from an aged perspective.

While I am a fool for all things post-apoc, this novel drew me in despite some minor factual fails. For instance it is mentioned “there is something magical about willing a small hunk of brass into a bulls-eye”. Jim is referencing shooting and the hunk mentioned should have been lead even with a copper jacket.  Another firearm fall down is when they hear three shots, in quick succession and Bob says “Pistols,….sounds like Berettas, army issue..” Really? So Bob, can tell the make of a firearm just by listening to the sound when it fires? Well that is just impossible. Period. Perhaps you can tell the caliber in some instances but that is rare.

In the event that there is a huge C.M.E. (coronal mass ejection) that knocks out the electrical grid, then cars would also be affected by the electromagnetic pulse except for cars from about the sixties on back. Then why is there a miles long exodus of jam packed traffic on the highway? The author expounds on the country of India continuing on as usual as they don’t have much electrical power. India would be crushed like other countries as it has a big reliance on transported goods .

The bush craft felt patterned and not realistic. More like it was researched then converted into a story line. The main characters are built well (Bob and Jim) with Jessie, Bess and Mary rendered a bit thin. What I really did not like was the beginning of the story told by Jim as an old man. It gives the novel away in such a manner as to relegate the main story line outcome as a known instance. Kind of like opening one present on Christmas eve rather than  all of them on Christmas day. This delivery continues throughout the novel and becomes tiresome in approach. The ending is really weird and does not fit in any believable scenario.

Despite my shjtpicking, the author has a deft hand at weaving an interesting tale. Jim is likable, honest, positive and hardworking in his approach to life. Qualities that immure and defy death while enhancing survival. I am not sure if I will continue on this series based on the weirdo ending and the constant political burps that litter the pages.

Book Review: Sanctuary Creek by John Kavanagh

Publisher: Riverdale

Publishing Date: December 2017

ISBN:9781626014268

Genre: ScFi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publishers Description: In Sanctuary Creek, the third novel in the pop culture Macroglint Trilogy set in the near future, Chicago is the new home of the Papacy and the American Pope. But all is not peaceful. This American Century of new Catholicism is rocked by evidence of the authenticity of the recently discovered diaries of St. Sebastian (who claims Jesus was a third-rate magician), the suspicious death of one of the new Pope’s closest cardinals, and the rumored existence of a porn video featuring the world-renowned Catholic pop star Angelique and someone very high up in this new American Catholic Church.

Review: To be fair I did not read the first two novels in this series. Which seems to be acceptable as the first two don’t have anything in common as per the descriptions. Had the novels had a deeper connecting thread, then there would not have been the need to create and entertain exhaustive backstory in the form of explanatory prose. Just when the story line becomes interesting, you are thrust into page after page of supportive backstory that totally derails the story line and subsequently, any interest you had in reading the outcome.

While Terry, Peter II and Angelique are interesting characters, you never get a real consistent reveal as you are under a mountain of faux history. There is also a definite hostile and passive aggressive take on religion, specifically Catholicism that tends to grate after awhile as well.