By William Lutz
Before I begin, let me say that this is one of those ‘special’ books I chose to review because it looked interesting enough to catch my attention. Please do not think that because I am reviewing this type of book that I am interested in receiving requests for others of this type.
This is a discussion of the use of doulespeak-language meant to obscure facts, mislead, divert the truth, or outright lie-in various areas of human life. This includes advertising, government (in all forms), political campaigns, statistics, warfare, and medicine. Typical examples are: ‘negative patient outcome’ for when the patient dies; ‘therapeutic misadvenure’ for when a doctor killed two people in an operation.
In advertising doublespeak is used with such words as ‘new’, ‘improved’, and ‘natural’ because of their vagueness.
It also discusses doublespeak used by other countries.
In later chapters, the author discusses doublespeak in such topics as nuclear war.
I think this is an important book for everyone to read and the ‘plot’, covers so many areas of our lives. How we are fooled, mislead, or, as I said, lied to by so many people. We should be educated to recognize doublespeak when heard and hold those accountable.
There are several characters that are cited as using doublespeak: Presidents Reagan and Bush; Caspar Weinberger. Companies are characters: Proctor and Gamble, GM, Ford, DeBeers, John Hancock Life Insurance, Manville Corporation, Colgate-Palmolive.
The quotes cited are wonderful in their humor and intentionally confusing nature. Some quotes are easy to understand, others are entire paragraphs that say absolutely nothing. Some are not even correct or complete sentences. Most of the time I shook my head in amazement and laughed.
I think the writing is solid. There is some repetition throughout. The author cites Orwell and reemphasizes the purpose of doublespeak.
There are so many areas in which to explore and something as banal as a toothpaste ad can be broken down and when the language used is analyzed, you see how vague and non-specific is truly is. Some of the doublespeak has become so commonplace. He discusses how ‘nuclear’ used to be ‘atomic’. ‘Collateral damage’ is another commonly used phrase but what it really means is: civilian deaths.
Although the book was published in 1989, and therefore covers mostly the Reagan years, what is discussed can be seen time and time again today. The doublespeak never ends and it is up to the individual to wade through the crap to find the truth.
The categories and chapters are well organized even if many overlap in topic and doublespeak usage.
by E. E. Knight
Possessed of an unnatural and legendary hunger, the Reapers have come to Earth to establish a New Order built on the harvesting of enslaved human souls. They rule the planet. They thrive on the scent of fear. And if it is night, as sure as darkness, they will come.
Ozark Free Territory, 2071: The Kurian Order has reigned for 50 years. Using the dreaded power of their Reaper avatars, the alien, vampiric Kur hold dominion over the Earth and its inhabitants. Yet there are those who would rather die fighting than surrender to the unquenchable thirst of the enemy—those like David Valentine.
Returning to the Ozark Free Territory, Valentine is shocked to find it overrun by Kurians under the command of the merciless Consul Solon. In a bid to turn the tide, Valentine leads a courageous group of soldiers on a desperate mission to drive a spike into the gears of the Kurian Order. Valentine stakes life, honor, and the future of his home on a rebellion that sparks the greatest battle of his life—one that he may not survive.…
by E. E. Knight
David Valentine is revered as a hero for his part in fighting to regain Earth’s freedom. When a former Quisling traitor is badly wounded, he asks Valentine to find his wife, who has vanished into the darkness of the Kurian Order. With the help of old friends and new allies, Valentine traces her to a mysterious, heavily guarded compound in Ohio. And what Valentine finds within will shake his sanity to its very core.
What? A two-fer? Well, I downloaded the audio books from Graphic Audio Productions and listened to Books 4 and 5 back to back. I have already read Books 1-3 and it didn’t me long to catch up on the story so far after so many years.
I will say to those who are thinking of sending requests for me to review their latest vampire story – please don’t. I accept very few and it has to be something that strikes my interest really good.
Like this series. Alien vamps. I really enjoy the series. It’s graphic and some really bad things happen. Sometimes creepy, gross things.
The hero sort of wanders from story to story and adventure to adventure, picking up partners, losing them, saving a few people, watching others die.
The audio by G.A.P. is a full cast audio and I will say, that despite the good story, the voices and accents get kind of hokey. These guys aren’t top of the line actors.
My only disappointment with these stories is that the Reapers and Kurians don’t show up nearly enough. Valentine constantly fights Quislings or other humans that have become scumbags. There are some other supernatural beings which are cool.
So, I listened to books 4 and 5 and I must say, the ending of 5 left me wondering a bit about Valentine’s character. After all of the horrors he’s seen and the death and mayhem he’s experience and the really evil nature of the enemy…he does something a bit strange. Oh, I won’t play spoiler.
Instead, I’ll give both of these books:
By Christopher Fowler
Present day London: A bombing at a police station takes the life of Arthur Bryant, aged detective. His partner, John May, is devastated. He subsequently receives a packet of notes written by Bryant about their first case together and wonders if that long ago case could have any connection to the present tragedy.
1940: With the Germans making regular bombing runs, young detectives Bryant and May catch the case of a serial killer at a local theatre.
Having written a Then and Now book this one intrigued me. Sometimes I’m wary of stories set in the past, but this is a good one. Nice an gritty with lots of tension, good humor, and decent police procedure bit of the bizarre thrown in.
Janice Longbright: retired detective sergeant, engaged to be married, mother was a police officer, father worked in radiography, smokes
John May: 80s, white hair, police detective, smokes, trained as a code breaker, former boxer and footballer, father was a grocer
Arthur Bryant: police detective, smokes a pipe, short, fleshy, father abandoned the family, prominent ears, insomniac
Liberty DuCaine: third generation Caribbean, hates his name, has a brother named Fraternity, works in forensics
Sidney Biddle: police officer, fit, intelligent
Geoffrey Whittaker: 46, stage manager, parents were in the theatre, smokes
Oswald Finch: pathologist, no sense of smell, wife left him, saggy posture, yellow teeth
Edna Wagstaff: medium, tall, wears a wigs, has a daughter
Andreas Renaldo: Greek, welaty, owns a limo and a threatre company, brother is dead, 30s, black hair, dark eyes, born not being a ble to use his legs
Nice cast (forgive the pun). Good personalities shine through with the give and take between May and Bryant up front. Biddle is the nice whiny foil.
I think voices come through very well. Conversations never deviate although they may stray just a bit to add some humor.
Titled chapters. A bit of profanity, but not bad. Omnipresent point of view as the POV sometimes shifts several times in a chapter. Several instances of explaining the circumstances of a character in the future. The research that was done shows through well. Good time period emotions and attitudes and culture. It’s fascinating to see the British and their almost nightly endurance of bombing raids by the Germans and then the next day, just continue on with their lives. Nice addition of some paranormal stuff (although it’s not that type of book, mythology, and good deductive police work. I would read more Bryant and May mysteries.
By Dan Simmons
Song of Kali follows an American magazine editor who journeys to the brutally bleak, poverty-stricken Indian city in search of a manuscript by a mysterious poet—but instead is drawn into an encounter with the cult of Kali, goddess of death.
I wasn’t sure what this book was going to involve and I was a bit frustrated when many many pages went by and told of a side story of one of the characters. I thought it went on too long. Some of this book is a bit predictable and I didn’t quite understand near the end when the main character returns to Calcutta and then leaves almost immediately without doing anything.
This gets deep into he Kali religion and there are some supernatural parts. I enjoyed the portrayal of Calcutta as one of the worst cities in the world.
I don’t know as if I agree with the depiction near the end where the main character sees violence and horrors around him and thinks the world is changing. I think he neglected to see the world before this story, namely, Vietnam and WWII.
Anyway, it’s an interesting book and I like Dan Simmons. However, with this one, I think I’ll have to go with:
By Timothy Jay Smith
Several Russians have been murder in Poland. FBI Jay Porter has been asked to assist in the case. He pairs with a CIA agent and together, with the help of the local police, they piece together the clues. Meanwhile, there are nefarious schemes in play that involve stolen nukes. The world is in danger if the case isn’t solved and the killer is caught. The case isn’t Jay’s only concern. He’s been smitten by a local woman with connections that have connection with the case. (Of course they do.)
A nice blend of thriller and mystery. Mystery in that Porter and the cops are putting together the clues and trying to find the evidence to nail who they think is guilty. Thriller, in that the author lets the reader know who the baddies are. Good blend of drama with some side stories.
James Porter: FBI special agent, divorced with children
Basia Husarka: Director of the Bureau of Organized Crime, smokes
Kurt Crawford: CIA agent, black homosexual, tall, pierced ear.
Lilka Rypinski: airport executive lounge worker, divorced with child, has a sister, turquoise eyes
I like the characters. A nice blend of locals and foreigners. There are some Russians and Polish some Americans. I like the interplay between Jay and his main contact. I wondered about the fact Kurt was homosexual and if that would come into play…and it did.
I don’t know as if I noticed anything wrong with the dialogue. I think everything stayed on track. Voices were fine. Nothing exciting about the dialogue, just straightforward stuff.
A bit of profanity.
Some sexual scenes, including homosexual scenes, which, personally, I didn’t find tasteful and I thought they were a bit much, but, that’s just my opinion.
I don’t know as if I fully understood the reason the FBI and the CIA both were called in. They worked well together, which isn’t normal in other thriller type stories. Usually, the two organizations stay apart and don’t share.
While I thought there was a nice blend of the main mystery, the main thriller with the nukes, and a budding romance, I wonder if there wasn’t a bit too much that nothing was really in the spotlight. A lot was going on here what with Lilka’s sister and family excited about going to America and Lilka getting involved with Jay and the Russian scientist and his unique situation and the bad guys. Just a lot gong on here as I said.
Interesting, uh, climax (and pun intended here) at the end. The story also left some ‘hmmm’ moments wondering about the unanswered questions.
All in all a decent story and the rank I give it is based on the “enjoyability’ factor.
By R. Weir
Jarvis Mann is back and this time it’s all in. Hired to track down the murderer of a former acquaintance-who has cheated death once before-Mann travels to San Diego where he becomes involved with mobsters and gangsters and Chinese and what might be secret government operatives running an illegal operation and… Well, isn’t that enough? No. Back home in Denver, he’s dealing with an irate auto dealer going through a divorce who wants Mann’s hide. Oh, and some old enemies show up to make the story that much more complex.
So, Weir is writing this as a possible swan song for Jarvis so he brings in a bunch of characters from previous books, writes a complex and intricate plot and goes out with a bang. Grab your story boards, folks, This one gets involved.
Jarvis Mann: Private investigator, 6’0, owns a motorcycle and a Mustang
Brandon Sparks: owns a construction business, mobsters
Perry Hester: married, red hair, chiseled face, has two children, car dealer
Barry Anders: lawyer, mid forties, 6’1”, auburn hair
Manny Saiz: brown curly hair, 30s, homicide investigator, drives a gray Chevy Silverado
Maximilian Conway: 6’3”, slender, brown hair
Eugene Washburn: tattoos, drives a Camaro, 6’2”, 200+ lbs., shaved head
And get out your roster because there are so many more characters who get involved. Brandon’s daughter, Mann’s cop girlfriend, Mann’s ex girlfriend, an assassin for hire. Very well done of Weir to keep everybody straight and unique.
A lot of adverbs used with tag lines. The usual issue with dialogue in these Mann books is that most of the characters speak without using contractions. It’s fine if one or two do it, but when the bad guys start in with it, the conversation doesn’t flow and doesn’t sound natural. This is not an example, but only a type: “You will come down here or I will kill you.” Sometimes that works, but when it’s constant, it doesn’t.
Also there was a character near the end who just doesn’t sound like a victim when speaking to Mann. She’s too pat, too exact, not emotional enough and her speaking doesn’t reflect the situation or the emotion of the situation.
I mentioned the ‘ly’ words.
Otherwise, the writing could have been tightened in place. A lot of overwriting, extra words unnecessary to make the sentence work. I would have liked to have seen a bit more emotion. More show instead of tell.
Still, a decent story. I always wonder what case Mann is up to next and how he extricates himself. Weir has a good grasp on his character. The ending felt a bit like, “Well, I want to end this in a certain way and the climax of the story didn’t take me there, so I’ll add one more bit to make it work.” Okay, didn’t understand the obvious filler material, until the very end and I’ll say one thing before the rating: I hope Mann returns in another novel.
By Erica Spindler
A serial killer’s victim are ten year old girls. Rockford homicide investigator Kitt Lundgren is on the case but after three murders Lundgren messes up and the killer escapes. Five years later, Lundgren, trying to recover from alcoholism, a divorce, and the death of her own child is called back into action when another girl is killed. However, this time, the real killer calls Kitt to say the latest victim was done by a copycat and he’ll help her. Lundgren partners with a brash cop name M.C. Riggio and together they sort out the clues, even while more girls die.
A pretty good serial killer thriller mystery. Well laid out plot with a lot of suspects. I always enjoy a good murder mystery.
Kitt Lundgren: 43, homicide investigator, at the beginning is married with a daughter, drives a Taurus
Brian Spillane: Kitt’s partner at the beginning, large build, freckles, red hair, married with daughters
Mary ‘M.C.’ Riggio: homicide investigator has 5 brothers, drives a Ford Explorer
Salvador Minelli: 51, silvering hair, handsome, deputy chief of detectives, married with 5 children
Lance Castrogiovanni: comedian, red hair, thin
Several other characters in the cast who come and go, are suspects then cleared. Very good cast with lots of personalities coming through. Well rounded characters.
The interplay between Lundgren and Riggio is up and down. At times they work well together, but there is always an edge. Neither trusts the other. I don’t think conversations are wasted and voices come through well. Conversations are direct with the needed information given. The baddie’s voice is very nicely done.
Chapters headed by date and time. Relatively short chapters. I think this is a well written book, straightforward. Not a lot of action but the mystery kept me going. Good police procedural information. The clues were laid out even from the beginning. Having read a lot of mysteries in my time I always suspect when one introduces a characters and he becomes a recurring part of the story. That doesn’t mean I knew who the killer was (I strongly suspected this person) but there was a nice surprise at the end.
By Chris Kuzneski
King Ludwig II ruled Bavaria for twenty-two years, commissioning extravagant castles throughout his homeland and exhibiting such bizarre behavior that he was eventually declared insane. According to legend, Ludwig had stockpiled a massive cache of gold and jewels that would finance the construction of the largest castle of all time. But in the years since the king’s mysterious death, no one has found any evidence of such a trove.
Jonathon Payne and David Jones are pulled into the mystery by a colleague, who asks them to investigate the legend. They agree, and quickly find themselves in a life-or-death struggle to uncover the truth about Ludwig’s death, his mythical treasure, and who would be willing to kill for it.
This is a wonderful team. I really enjoyed the humor from Jones. The history is interesting and the adventure typical of these kinds of stories.
The action is tense and quick and Payne and Jones know when to be serious.
The ending, for me, was a bit anticlimactic. It involved more history and lecture time and I expected the bad guys to come storming in. Apparently, they had decided to call it a day and return in a later story. So, after a big build up, there was the revelation but no final gunfight and the risk of the treasure being lost at the last moment.
Still, a good story and I’m interested in listening to others in the series.
By David Hagberg
Kirk McGarvey’s son in-law is killed as well as an investigative reporter. McGarvey, a former CIA agent, and the company he once headed make a connection to a contracting company and a powerful Washington D.C. group known as the Friday Club. This is a group of individuals who can manipulate elections, policy, even who lives and who dies. McGarvey’s people want to reign in McGarvey, but when tragedy strikes again, he falls back to his days as a spy and vows to track down those responsible.
Nice thriller with lots of action and no nonsense meat. A little politics, a little spy game, some nasty baddies.
Kirk McGarvey: spy, former CIA director, early 50s, tall, solid build, thick brown but graying hair, gray/green eyes, married,
Todd Van Buren: 29, CIA operative who runs the training facility, McGarvey’s son in-law, majored in political science at the U. of Maryland, knows multiple languages, married with daughter, was in cross country in college
Joshua Givens: Washington Post reporter, majored in political science at the U. of Maryland, short, thin, played football in college, married with child
Robert Foster: leader of the Friday Club, 60s, short, stocky, law degree from Stetson University and MBA from Harvard,
Tim Kangas: 31, medium height/build, thinning light brown hair, brown eyes, grew up in California, former CIA operative, works for Administrative Solutions
Ronni Mustapha: late 20s, deep set dark eyes, born in Saudi Arabia but grew up in Georgia, former CIA operative, works for Administrative Solutions
Roland Sandberger: President of Administrative Solutions, former Delta Force, Colonel, blue eyes, ash blond hair, narrow shoulders,
S. Gordon Remington: 50, Veep of A.S., British, former British S.A.S., Lt. Colonel, drives a Bentley Arnage, solid build, bulldog features, mustache, married, Earl of Paxton, attended Oxford
Good standard array of characters, from the hitmen to the power brokers, from the computer geek to the individuals who go against the hero at first but side with him at the end.
Tight. No long discussions. Voices come through pretty well.
Book divided in to Parts. Relatively short chapters. Some profanity. Action is tight and swift. Not a lot of techno-babble to be confused about. Story moves along as expected. Just an all around good thriller.
Edited By Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes
In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.
I listened to the audio version. The book was introduced as being very dark. Sure, they all dealt with magic and demons, and Dresden series type beings, but most had more than a bit of humor involved, so I wasn’t all that ‘scared’ or affected.
However, they were pretty decent stories. The only one I could have done without was the one where the fairy or pixie or whatever he was spewed filth every time he spoke. It became old and over the top.
The first story concerns characters from Dresden’s world, so that was a good intro.