August 30, 2012

Lost Gates by James Axler

Title: Lost Gates
Author: James Axler

Format: PB
Pages: 314
Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure

Publisher: Gold Eagle, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-0373626113  
Series: Deathlands, Book 102

Gateway to the Future

Existence after Skydark is a gamble against grim odds -- winners and losers decided by guns, jack and raw nerve. Still, one intrepid group pushes on, working to understand the secrets of preDark tech at the heart of nuke-altered America. Because keeping hope alive is the next best thing to a good shot and finding something better.

Law of Sudden Death

Baron Crabbe is dangerously high on legends of the Trader and rumors of a secret cache. He occupies a redoubt but the old tech remains unfathomable. His ace in the hole is Ryan Cawdor and his band. Prisoners at blasterpoint, they're ordered to use the matter-transfer units to secure the whereabouts of the imagined weapons stockpile. Ryan knows the truth -- and it won't help Crabbe. But the only option is to play along with the crazed Baron's scheme and make the dangerous jumps in a limited window of time. Staying alive is all about buying time -- waiting for their one chance to chill their captors.

Review:  Fun and exciting.  Unfortunately there were a few errors in the story, but it didn't ruin the pleasure of reading it.

Rating:  7 / 10

Tiger Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

Title: Tiger Tiger
Author: Margaux Fragoso
Format: PB
Pages: 314
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir

Publisher: Picador, 2012
ISBN-13:   978-1250002426  
Series: Stand Alone

Synopsis:  A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011 A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title — Tiger, Tiger is a Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction title for 2011A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title One summer day, Margaux Fragoso meets Peter Curran at the neighborhood swimming pool, and they begin to play. She is seven; he is fifty-one. When Peter invites her and her mother to his house, the little girl finds a child's paradise of exotic pets and an elaborate backyard garden. Her mother, beset by mental illness and overwhelmed by caring for Margaux, is grateful for the attention Peter lavishes on her, and he creates an imaginative universe for her, much as Lewis Carroll did for his real-life Alice.

In time, he insidiously takes on the role of Margaux's playmate, father, and lover. Charming and manipulative, Peter burrows into every aspect of Margaux's life and transforms her from a child fizzing with imagination and affection into a brainwashed young woman on the verge of suicide. But when she is twenty-two, it is Peter, ill, and wracked with guilt, who kills himself, at the age of sixty-six.

Told with lyricism, depth, and mesmerizing clarity, Tiger, Tiger vividly illustrates the healing power of memory and disclosure. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the psyche of a young girl in free fall and conveys to readers, including parents and survivors of abuse, just how completely a pedophile enchants his victim and binds her to him.

Review:  This is a really tough book to read.  It was hard for me to understand in places how no one knew what was happening to the little girl named Margaux.  I did find it to be a well-written book, but I didn't like it as much as other people seem to have.

Rating:  8 / 10

August 24, 2012

The Litigators by John Grisham

Title: The Litigators
Author: John Grisham

Format: PB
Pages: 469
Genre: Legal Thriller

Publisher: Dell, 2012
ISBN-13:   978-0345530561  
Series: Stand Alone

Synopsis:  The partners at Finley & Figg often refer to themselves as a “boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. Oscar Finley and Wally Figg are none of these things. They are a two-bit operation of ambulance chasers who bicker like an old married couple. Until change comes their way -- or, more accurately, stumbles in. After leaving a fast-track career and going on a serious bender, David Zinc is sober, unemployed, and desperate enough to take a job at Finley & Figg.

Now the firm is ready to tackle a case that could make the partners rich—without requiring them to actually practice much law. A class action suit has been brought against Varrick Labs, a pharmaceutical giant with annual sales of $25 billion, alleging that Krayoxx, its most popular drug, causes heart attacks. Wally smells money. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of Krayoxx users to join the suit. It almost seems too good to be true . . . and it is.

Review:  Mr. Grisham has never let me down before and, once again, he's written a great legal thriller.  It's fast-paced and full of great characters.  I loved it. 

Rating:  10 / 10

Sacrament by Clive Barker

Title: Sacrament
Author: Clive Barker

Format: PB
Pages: 604
Genre: Horror

Publisher: HarperTouch, 1997
ISBN-13:   978-0061091995  
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quotes:  Take pleasure not because it's fleeting, but because it exists at all.

This will not come again.  Nor this.  Nor this....

Synopsis:  Living and dying, we feed the fire. Will Rabjohns, perhaps the most famous wildlife photographer in the world, has made his reputation chronicling the fates of endangered species. But after a terrible accident, Will is left in a coma. And in its depths, he revisits the wildernesses of his youth and relives his life with a mysterious couple who have influenced his life as an artist and a man. When Will awakens, he sets out on a journey of self-discovery--one where he will penetrate the ultimate mystery and finally unlock the secret of his destiny. Soaring, provocative and passionate, Sacrament is a masterwork from the pen of one of today's moist acclaimed authors.

Review:  This was a really, really strange story.  I liked it, mostly, but it was an odd journey and difficult to follow in places.

Rating:  7 / 10

August 16, 2012

Prodigal's Return by James Axler

Title: Prodigal's Return
Author: James Axler

Format: PB
Pages: 315
Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure

Publisher: Gold Eagle, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-0373626106  
Series: Deathlands, Book 101

Favorite Quote:  Next time, I'll explain how to set a broken leg.  That could be useful.

Torn Asunder

America, defiled and reshaped by nuclear carnage, promises little but a struggle for survival. Still, a group of hard travelers trek the worst this hellish place can offer, surviving by their wits, razor skill and knowledge of preDark technology. Their leader, Ryan Cawdor, is a Deathlands legend, a warrior and hero to many, a relentless enemy to more. And he understands the only way forward is the future, even when the past has a will of its own....

Sins of the Father

Searching for an operational redoubt, Ryan and his companions go up against a ruthless band of coldhearts. The shock of seeing Ryan's long-lost son as the band's point man puts the group on a new mission -- rescue Dean at all cost. But when Dean shoots and wounds his father in a firefight, the strange turn of events leads the travelers deeper into the shifting sands of their own destiny. And father and son, each committed to the laws of decency and fair play, will confront an uncertain legacy.

In Deathlands, there's no going back....

Review:  I was so happy and excited that Dean seemed to be rejoining this series.  But, at the end, he didn't.  I really wish the powers that be would bring him back.  I always liked his character.  It was a good story though. 

This is actually the 101st of these books I've read.  The outside cover says it's #100, but I think they aren't counting the prequel, Encounter, and I am.  I think I'm ready for something different for a little while now.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

August 14, 2012

Perception Fault by James Axler

Title: Perception Fault
Author: James Axler

Format: PB
Pages: 315
Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure

Publisher: Gold Eagle, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-0373626090  
Series: Deathlands, Book 100

Favorite Quotes:  "If we get out of here, Ryan, you can beat me to your heart's content, but until then you stay awake, dammit!"

Dark Passage

The ravaged landscape that was America two centuries ago is now blighted by post-nuclear holocaust savagery. Still, there remain pockets of preDark technology that may offer undiscovered paths to reclaiming the future. Ryan Cawdor and his companions have faced most kinds of horror that Deathlands can deliver -- and survived. This merciless place can break even the strongest, but it has yet to destroy hope.

Place of Promise

Denver offers a glimpse of that very hope -- a power plant, electricity, food and freedom. But the city is caught in a civil war between two would-be leaders and their civilian armies. Challenged by both sides to do their bidding, Ryan discovers a third player in the quest to control the mile-high city -- a secret enclave of White Coats with the strength and technology to pursue a twisted agenda of their own.

Tomorrow is never just a brand-new day in the Deathlands...

Review:  The story idea is a great one.  It's unfortunate that this particular book was so poorly edited.  Incomplete sentences, misspellings, and other obvious editing mistakes make this a trying book to read at times.  I still did like the story though.

Rating:  6 / 10

August 13, 2012

Tainted Cascade by James Axler

Title: Tainted Cascade
Author: James Axler

Format: PB
Pages: 316
Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure

Publisher: Gold Eagle, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-0373626083  
Series: Deathlands, Book 99

Favorite Quote:  Certain aspects of life in Deathlands just shouldn't be committed to paper, she realized.

Primal Salvage

The blighted aftermath of a global nuclear showdown, Deathlands exacts a blood price. The living pay it; the dead don't care. For one legendary band of warriors, this barbaric new world holds a chance for redemption: the secrets of the past. They roam a disfigured America, searching for pre-dark tech... seeking the path to a future worth living.

Victory Spoils

Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert remains a death pit of scorching heat, cannies and grim odds. Ryan Cawdor and his group survive the trek there, only to be drugged, robbed and left for the slave trade. Escaping their captors leaves them alive but stripped of their prized gear: their weps, J.B. Dix's glasses, Dr. Mildred Wyth's medical kit and, worse, her secret codex. The companions must rely on each other to challenge their enemy and settle the score.

In Deathlands, revenge is sweeter.

Review:  I've almost read 100 of these books.  In fact, I'm starting #100 today.  I just can't seem to get enough of them, although I certainly can't read more than a few at a time.  They really are one of my favorite vices.  They cannot be called great classics, but they are always fun, exciting and fast to read.

Rating:  7 / 10

August 9, 2012

A Secret Gift by Ted Gup

Title: A Secret Gift
Author: Ted Gup

Format: HC
Pages: 346
Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Press, 2010
ISBN-13:   978-1594202704  
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  The fourteen-year-old author -- the last and only living link to the B. Virdot letters -- was now ninety, a great-great-grandmother who lived at the Laurels of Masillon, a nursing home just outside Canton.

Synopsis:  An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather. — Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone was inspired to place this ad and assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around- even to save them.

But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable- retiree persona he'd always shown his grandson. Gup unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

Review:  I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction, but this story seemed to hold promise.  It was quite good in parts and quite dry in others.  I can't say I loved it, but I'm still glad I read it since it is a true story that I otherwise never would have known about.

Rating:  5 / 10

August 7, 2012

Through the Ice by Piers Anthony & Robert Kornwise

Title: Through the Ice
Author: Piers Anthony & Robert Kornwise

Format: PB
Pages: 271
Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Baen, 1992
ISBN-13:   978-0671721138  
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "I am the One," Seth agreed.  "But I shall not serve you."

Synopsis:  One minute Seth was fighting for his life against a gang of teenage punks in Michigan, the next he had fallen through the ice--into another, magical Earth. Seth, along with a telepath, a faun, and a giant have been chosen from four different Earth planes to fulfill a quest in a world of magic.

Review:  This was an okay story, not one of my favorites by any means, but it was alright.  It was fast-paced and easy to read.  It is definately juvenile literature but it didn't take away from the story.

Rating:  4.5 / 10

August 3, 2012

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

Title: 77 Shadow Street
Author: Dean Koontz

Format: HC
Pages: 607
Genre: Horror

Publisher: Random House, 2010
ISBN-13:   978-1617932991  
Series: Stand Alone

Favorite Quotes:  "Boy.  Black hair.  Blue eyes.  Aboveground.  Second floor.  West wing.  Exterminate.  Exterminate"

She said something then that made no sense:  "'We're going to the meadow now to dry ourselves off in the sun'"

Synopsis:  I am the One, the all and the only. I live in the Pendleton as surely as I live everywhere. I am the Pendleton's history and its destiny. The building is my place of conception, my monument, my killing ground. . . . — — The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.

But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. With each passing hour, a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. Soon, all those within its boundaries will be engulfed by a dark tide from which few have escaped.

Dean Koontz transcends all expectations as he takes readers on a gripping journey to a place where nightmare visions become real—and where a group of singular individuals hold the key to humanity’s destiny. Welcome to 77 Shadow Street.

Review:  This book is unlike anything I've read before.  It's scary and horrible and could so easily be true.  I enjoyed every terrifying moment!

Rating:  10 / 10
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