Author Archives: sirsteve
By Russ Colchamiro
Marcus Powell. Astronaut. Testing the newest in warp spacecraft. Out beyond where his mission stated. Encounters another similar spacecraft. Follows into another dimension and end on an alternate Earth in the middle of skirmishes between two cultures. Wants and plans to go home. Meanwhile back on Powell’s Earth, another man has planned and schemed for decades…to go home.
So, a sci-fi with dimensional stories. There’s a bit of action, a bit of Indian lore, a bit of philosophy. A plot that turned out a bit different than what I thought.
Marcus Powell: astronaut, married with daughter, dad dead.
Harlan ‘Buddy’ Rheams, Jr.: CEO of Taurus Enterprises, former oilman, white receding hair, liver spots.
Dale Aranuke: technician
Keela Amos: long red hair, blue eyes, fit, married
Malcolm Quincy Reno: Nickname is Chill, middle age, pot smoker
Some interesting characters some of which there is decent back story and information. More could have been done in this area but there was a lot of backstory on Harlan that took up a lot of the book.
Good voices. Chill’s came through as well as Keela’s and a couple others. I felt during the backstory part there was a lot of dialogue.
Titled Parts. Profanity.
Okay, so let me discuss the backstory. It starts with Marcus on his flight and entering the alternate dimension, meeting the inhabitants of the other earth. Then it jumps back to tell the story of Harlan. The problem I had with this was I thought it too long. You know the story already, really. Plus, there’s not much action that happens and by the end of this section I was ready to return to Powell’s earth to get some more of that world. This chunk of story could have been shorter to show more action with Marcus. There are the expected battles with the enemy on the other Earth, but his time in the other dimension could have been developed a bit more.
There was a bit of mental telepathy shared by various characters. There was some Indian aspects which I didn’t quite understand and didn’t seem to fit with Marcus and the other Earth. I thought it might connect up, but instead it was a lengthy bit in regards to his wife.
So, a pretty good sci-fi with some interesting characters and the expected deaths. One minor problem I, encountered was a time problem. Keela, on alternate Earth, mentions her husband has been gone two years. Then we have a section where you see her husband land on ‘real’ Earth in 1953. He, like Marcus, flew through a wormhole but he flew from alternate Earth to get to ‘real’ Earth.) Since the beginning of the story is present day, let’s round off the time to sixty years since her husband has been on ‘real’ Earth. Do the math. 2 years alternate = 60 years real. 1 year would = 30 years. Keep halving that and you have the time Marcus spends on alternate Earth being roughly a week or close to it. That would equal almost 1 year real Earth time. However, the present day story on real Earth doesn’t last a year before Marcus returns. It’s minor, but sci-fi fans will take note of the discrepancy.
Anyway, I’ll give this a:
By Michael Wills
1975. Richard Scott would like to reacquaint himself with his daughter. He hasn’t been a role model father. When Scott comes across a beached raft with two IRA men, he discovers some secret plans. Now, Scott is on the run from the IRA, but when they involve his daughter, his goal is to rescue her.
I have no issues with the plot. I think it’s a good premise and brings back some of the 70s thrillers.
Richard ‘Scottie’ Scott: university marketing agent, smokes, divorced, brother dead
Tina: Scottie’s daughter, long black hair, university student
Ellen: drives a blue Morris Minor
Jean: Scott’s ex wife
There are bad guys and there are college students, the latter of which help Scott through his problems. However, I have a problem with some of the characters. While I like some of the college students, I didn’t think they were distinctive enough. I wanted a bit more personality from each.
I wanted more from Tina. She was kidnapped and I wanted more than one scene with her where POV switched around. Should have been more from her, especially at the end. Especially since she’s on the cover.
The bad guys weren’t bad enough. Here are a group of IRA rebels planning on blowing up several targets, killing and injuring scores of people and yet at least one of them is worried that they shouldn’t hurt their kidnapped victim because she’s supposedly innocent?
Here’s another issue. The bad guys didn’t sound like bad guys. They sounded like executives discussing deals and deciding every now and then to be tough. The college students had some individual voices, but not enough. Jean was irritating because all she did was harangue Scott. If she was so desperate, and didn’t think her ex was going to be reliable, why didn’t she call the police or someone else for help?
Too many people spoke without using contractions and it didn’t seem natural.
Continuity problem with dialogue. In one scene the bad guys are talking and one says she doing okay and eating. A few paragraphs later, another bad guy asks if she’s eating.
No profanity. Some chapters and scene changes are heading by date.
While the author did a good job of getting around not having cell phones and computers, I thought the scenes with breaking the code were too complex. I enjoyed how they figured out the code, but it didn’t seem tense enough. A lot of the action didn’t seem too intense.
Clean writing with no errors that I caught.
I just had problems with character and dialogue and, though I won’t play spoiler, I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. It might have been drawn out a bit. The way it was written didn’t work for me. I’m not saying the ending wasn’t an interesting way to end the book, but another way of writing might have made more impact.
I considered ranking this a camouflage, but because of the issues with dialogue and characters I must drop it down one.
By Timothy A. Price
When Kyle King gets fed up with the behind-the-times police department, he quits and starts a private investigations firm with a geeky computer nerd partner. Their first case deals with a troll who is writing vicious statements against an aging actress.
That’s about it and though a good plot, doesn’t fully develop or have much to it because the story is pretty short. (Only 27 pages on my epub version).
Kyle King: cop (at the beginning before he quits), drives a Chevy, slightly built frame, 30s
Ally: 20s, wears glasses
Jane Lake: 70s, actress, fit
Cherida Lake: Jane’s daughter, 30s, has a daughter
Anthony Lyons: Jane’s manager, 50s, greying hair
Some typical characters. I did enjoy the camaraderie between Kyle and Allie. Kyle is more into the technology side and Ally is more into the self-promoting social media side. It was interesting that as a computer nerd, she didn’t know about Bitcoins.
Pretty standard and each voice fit the character. There were some B-movie bits here and there but for the most part, okay.
As mentioned, a short story. Little action and not enough computer investigation, not enough drawing out of details, not enough suspects, not enough meat. I won’t play spoiler, but I guessed the culprit from the moment the character entered the story. I think this story could have been drawn out, developed and the result would have been a cooler more enjoyable story. Maybe the next story in the series…
By Amber Gulley
1879. London. James Hurlsworthy has accepted a series of bets from a friend to be completed in a day. However, he barely begins his adventure when he is thrown into some weird situations. There’s a carnival in town and magical creatures are roaming the streets with agendas of their own.
Okay, I thought the premise of James and his bets were interesting. When there’s a murder at the beginning of the book, I thought it was going to start getting really good. Then the story took a turn for left field and ended up going in half a dozen or more directions. The plot fell apart and turned into a book of multiple stories, James and his bets becoming a side story that lost ground.
James Hurlsworthy: has a title of Lord, has an older brother
Eddy Miller: pimp, owns a coffee house, large frame, has siblings
Mr Scraps: owns a curio shop
And more and more and more characters who kept popping up into the story. And very few without magical powers. There is a cat and a rat and spiders and a horse and an elephant and mermaid type creatures coming out of a lake and a girl with butterfly wings and a monster in a basement and too many characters to track and every one is involved with a story of their own and some may cross each other’s paths but there are stories that didn’t seem to develop or lost focus and…whew!
I thought naming a character Arry (get it? Harry without the H, as in one of the British accents dropping the H’s in words?) was a little much.
Mr. Scraps and Eddy had the best voices. There were a lot of internal dialogues and because of the multitude of characters, those threw me out of whatever story might have been happening. Arry and his buds had good accents.
The book is separated into titled Parts. Some profanity. The scenes with James are 1st person from his POV. The rest of the book is 3rd person from various POVs.
So, where to begin. Let’s start with the carnival having a Ferris Wheel. I did my homework and discovered that the first amusement ride with the term Ferris Wheel was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. and was the largest attraction at the Chicago Exposition…in 1893. Yes there were similar type rides throughout the centuries, but the Ferris wheel was until 14 years after this story took place.
Let me discuss the carnival. I thought it an interesting place where the carnies steal souls…and lives of many of the humans who attend. That was a cool aspect. But it wasn’t developed enough to keep my interest. Ditto the monster in the basement. What a creepy, scary THING, but again, it never developed and that early story died early. Then there were a story about one of the magical creatures wanting a necklace back and spent much of the book trying to find it. Another had a girl who wanted to run away and join the carnival. Anther story had the demise of Eddy. Another story had these spiders that bothered a lot of characters. Another included the mermaid type creatures coming out of a lake, but that didn’t seem to go anywhere and never concluded. The book starts with James in a cemetery with someone else and wondering if he was going to get away from the spiders but I didn’t make the connection at the end of the book. His story about the bets fell apart in short order and never really got back on track.
There was too much going on here without a succinct development in any if the subplots. I kept hoping it would evolve and nicely tie up, but I was disappointed.
The rank I give this is because of the above comments and not because there were any grammar/punctuation/spelling errors.
by Ben Coes
Covert operative Dewy Andreas helps discover a Chinese mole in Mossad, and thus begins a chess match of deadly proportions. When the Chinese Minister for State Security, Fao Bhang, discovers the identity of Andreas, he sends assassins to Argentina where Andreas is with his fiance, America’s National Security Adviser. When the kill mission goes wrong, Andreas reverts back to his military training in order to seek revenge. It’s a game of one-upmanship between Dewey and Bhang. But there are other players in the game, both American and British who also would like to see Bhang eliminated. And unbeknownst to Andreas, he is included in their schemes.
An oft seen plot with your typical explosions and gunfire. Nothing too new here.
Dewey Andreas: 39, covert operative, usually on assassination missions handsome, unruly brown hair, bright, cold, blue eyes, large aquiline nose, grew up in Maine, played football for Boston College. Went to Ranger school. Was in Delta Force. Had a son who died at age six from leukemia. Drives a Ford F-150, played hockey in high school, has a scar on his left shoulder to his bicep, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Fao Bhang: minister of China’s state security, has a half brother, was an assassin, smokes
Jessica Tanzer: 37, National Security Advisor, Andreas’ fiancee, auburn hair
Raul: 31, assassin, has a penthouse in Peru, drives a red Kawasaki Ninja 10r, long hair, muscular
Adrian King: 35, the President’s Chief of Staff, 5’8”, thick brown hair, bushy eyebrows
Lots of characters who come and go, play minor but important roles. Thrillers like this are noted for lots of politicos and agents and contacts. It’s pointless to list a lot of the characters, since most of them end up dead after a few chapters. Coes includes the standard array of good guys, bad buys, and those behind the scenes.
Not too bad for capturing the voices of the characters. As I mentioned, there are a lot of characters, but each seem to have a good distinctive voice. For me, I have to assign a voice (deep, calm, cynical, etc.) for each character, even if a few sound similar. Especially with a book such as this one with a plethora of voices. Conversations don’t wander too much from the point of the scene which is good because the book is long enough without extraneous material.
Lots of relatively short chapters. Chapters headed by location. Profanity, but that’s expected in a thriller such as this one. Lots of build up chapters, drawn out details. Short scenes here and there to link to other scenes later. There is a ‘busy’ feel to it. The actions scenes move but there are many instances of repeated words within a paragraph which tends to give the action a stilted feeling. I felt the story could have been written a little tighter without a lot of the extra stuff. Still, a decent thriller.
By Richard Stark
Parker, professional thief has just ripped off an armored car. During the getaway, his vehicle crashes. With the cops bearing down, he flees into an amusement park, closed during the winter, where he finds there is only one exit. Said escape route is now guarded by members of the local mob and their paid off cops who all witnessed Parker’s actions and soon learn about the robbery. It’s thief versus the mob in funland.
A different Parker novel. Usually, Stark writes about a different job for Parker to accomplish, lays out the details, the problems and the relationships with other team members. Then you see the operation play out. In Slayground, the job is complete and in its aftermath Parker has to fend for himself. This time, it’s how Parker can effect his escape and still keep the money.
Parker: professional thief, has a girlfriend, wife dead
Caliato: 38, member of the local mob, patient nature, smokes cigars
Donald Snyder:64, watchmen for Fun Island amusement park, drives a Volkswagon, stocky, owns a Colt .44 revolver
Parker is intelligent and tries to anticipate difficulties. I really get into his head, start empathizing with the character. If the reader can get drawn in, then the character is well written. Normally, the other characters are other members of Parker’s latest team.
Basic. No fluff. Parker doesn’t waste words. In fact, Parker does very little talking. Most of the conversations are by the mobsters and bad cops. And they’re pretty distinctive voices.
Book separated into Parts. The writing is basic. No nonsense. No details sensationalized. It’s business through the eyes of Parker. Action is laid out step by step. Some profanity. This was written in the era of pulp fiction popularity but doesn’t use that type of language. Of course this is the serious side of Richard Stark, aka Donald Westlake. Parker is the serious professional thief whereas John Dortmunder is the humorous. I’ve read other Parker novels and what fascinates me is the amount of research Stark had to have done. If you’ve read any of his books, think about first, the job, then the preparations for the job, then the possible problems (which always happen). The devil-and the delight-is in the details and they’re laid out one by one. Of course, you’re rooting for a bad guy, but that’s okay, because it’s the anti-hero type of story. Parker is a thief and for him, it’s like anybody else doing CPA work, or construction, or waiting tables. In all of Parker’s stories, you’re reading to see how he defeats not only the cops (which are almost nuisances) but other obstacles (usually other bad guys). Very little, if any humor, very dry at best. Smart writing. On the cover I’ve shown, is a quote by Elmore Leonard. “Whatever Stark writes, I read.” I think that says it all. He tends to show some action then go back and explain how characters came to be doing that action.
Westlake died a couple of years ago and the world will miss him. I’m trying to collect and read all of his books. I haven’t once been disappointed.
Every now and then I will present, mixed in with the regular reviews, a series of shorter reviews, usually audio books that I’ve collected, listened to, but didn’t have the opportunity to write down the usual elements for a more detailed review. Unless none is available, the plot summary will be from the Amazon listing. These are Quick Kicks. Any assigned or accepted reviews from author requests will be the normal four point analysis.
By Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
Narrated by alternating members of an unreliable group of teens, this riveting thriller will have readers on the edge of their seats. No one is safe, and everyone is a suspect.
Callabrese High’s exclusive parties are famous for booze, sex, and most especially, their scavenger hunts. But when the latest invitees RSVP yes, they have no idea what they’re in for. Because this time the high school elite aren’t the ones doing the hunting. They’re the ones being hunted.
It’s a serial killer book with a bit of gore but not much. Sometimes I found it difficult to distinguish between the characters as the narrator didn’t use different voices for the characters. With a lot of characters to deal with, the authors don’t get into them too much, and the killing of them had to be done every so often.
I enjoyed the game and wished more of the game wold have been played. Some may argue that it did get played out, but it felt almost secondary. A vast array of characters who were typical high school snobbish elite.
by Darrell James
Investigator Del Shannon is assigned to find two kidnapped teenagers. In Tuscon, Shannon makes contact with one of the kidnappers and negotiates a money drop. However, the drop goes bad and Shannon has scant leads. ATF Agent Frank Falconet is assigned to trace a major league felon presumed to be dead. The man’s brother’s image was picked up on surveillance in Tuscon. When Shannon and Falconet meet up, they realize their two cases are connected and it’s off to the bayous of Louisiana. While they also try to sort out their previous romantic relationship, the teenagers must contend with killers and tiger…and the possibility of treasure nearby.
Oft-seen plot given a little sizzle with the wilds of the southern bayous. The addition of tigers provides a little more interest.
Del Shannon: 31, Investigator for Desert Sands Covert in Tuscon, carries a nine millimeter Baby Eagle, parents dead, short blonde hair, ice green eyes, drives a Jeep Wrangler, graduated Community College
Frank Falconet: 39, ATF agent, lives in New Jersey, Irish-Italian, grew up in Brooklyn, divorced, has a teenage daughter
Lissa Rogers: 18, teenager, long dark hair, slim, runner up in the Miss Teen America pageant, parents dead
Kendra Kozak: teenager, friend of Lissa, long red curly hair, average looks, curvy body, lives with Lissa as parents aren’t around
Payton Rickey: smokes, hairy body, has a leg injured from a plane crash, handsome
Teddy Rickey: Payton’s younger and taller brother, blonde hair buzzed on sides, spiked on top, pale skin, hooded almost colorless
Standard bad guys. The main two good guys have some depth and the interplay between them is good. There were two problem scenes I had with Lissa. I know the author had to include the first particular scene for the purpose of suspense. I also knew how the scene would end because if it ended the way it should have, the story would have been shorter. However, I didn’t believe how Lissa responded to the situation at hand, even with her adventurous spirit. The second scene also could have had a different choice made when she discovered the circumstance at hand. I don’t want to reveal too many details to spoil the story-basically each scene dealt with two possible chances at escape-but personally, I didn’t buy either decision or action. Maybe I could believe the first one, because, as I mentioned it had to happened the way it did to prolong the story. But, not the second instance, not with the surroundings and the issues involved. I also didn’t like the second teen, Kendra. She was irritating with no ounce of strength or common sense.
The Cajun character’s voice comes through best. Conversations were fine but I didn’t feel real energy in them.
Some profanity. Varying lengths of chapters. It’s written well and it’s a good thriller. There was nothing unexpected, no twists. Having read a previous book in this series, I wasn’t disappointed but at the same time wasn’t excited. I read the ARC but noticed a lot of errors to be fixed, in some instances incorrect words altogether. Because I knew it was an ARC, this didn’t affect my ranking, just noted that there were more errors than usually seen in ARCs. Anyway, it was a good book.
By J. L. Gregory
This is a collection of stories about mothers. This is not a collection of stories that praise and show how wonderful mothers are. This anthology of anecdotes gives a peek behind the curtain of reality. Some are funny, some are amusing, some are sad. All are charming tales that show mothers who are quirky, loving, exasperating, frustrating, and how some cope with situations in unique ways…and the reactions and observations of those who grew up under those mothers.
Some of the stories include:
– A mother’s cooking in the 1950s
– A mother at church trying to make friends
– Why a woman won’t eat beets
– A woman’s words help a college student
– Two women’s thoughts on their mothers
– Mother’s change after retirement
– How one mother rid herself of baubles and collectibles
– How cooking kills skip a generation
Mothers, of course. Elderly, young, divorced, married, widowed.
Sons and daughters who are counselors, mothers and parents themselves, retired.
Though the stories show some interesting aspects of mothers, don’t forget that these stories come from the observations and experiences of those who had these people as mothers. How their lives were affected, and how those experiences were passed on to their children. Sometimes it feels as if the people telling the stories are in the background but they’re really not and when I kept that in mind, it made the stories that much more enjoyable.
The bits of conversation fit each character and without a lot of background information or description, I knew who and what kind of person spoke. From the shy student to the irascible, complaining mother, to the grieving widow
A few incorrect words but I skipped over those.
It’s a short book, quick read. A nice taste of life with mothers with some humor (I enjoyed the story of how one mother disposed of her collectibles), some sad moments. Most ended with some joy that the people would be okay after their experiences.
Well written slices of life from a lot of perspectives. This might make a good Mother’s Day present.
By Luke Johnson
Ray King is a recently promoted Chief Inspector and his first case is the murder of a private investigator. The case involves some very important individuals involved in politics. Add to that an apparent suicide. Just when King thinks he he has the case solved, he realizes he doesn’t…and the body count rises.
An intricate plot set in Britain. Pretty well laid out with some surprises along the way.
Ray King: Chief Inspector, 6’2”, peat brown hair
Terry Donovan: Detective Sergeant, 6’, carrot colored hair
Annette Crosley: former cop, private investigator, brown hair, green eyes, drives an MG Metro
Jim Wallace: graying hair, burly, Chief of detectives
Charles Robertson: MP, tall, sandy hair, 40s, married w/children, owns a security company
A nice cast. Lots of people and a lot of them die. I think there are good personalities and fairly well developed throughout.
Donovan has a good accent, dropping the H’s in a lot of words. The attorneys and Robertson have good voices, too. A lot of conversation. Near the end, I realized the cops spend an awful lot of time talking to people or interviewing people, even if it was a relatively short conversation.
Book is divided into Parts. Some profanity.
I wondered for a bit how the rest of the book was going to play out when the apparent murderer was caught early on. Then the complexity started and it turned into a pretty good chase after the killer since people kept getting killed.
I don’t have anything bad to say about the book. Clean writing. Everything worked out well. It would be interesting to see if King and company show up again in another book. If they do, I think it would be a worthy read.