Monday, August 6, 2018

Paradise

Paradise: A Michael Quinn Short Story

Author Kevin Scott Olson provided a print copy of Paradise for review.

Another entry in the Michael Quinn series. Mr Olson continues to give readers exciting vignettes in this ongoing series. I've read most of the available titles (one is out of print, drat!). Paradise is tight, well written and engrossing. 

The problem? I want more (this one was only 35 pages, 35 great pages but I want more!). In the words of one of Michael Quinn's professional colleagues (a Mr. Bond played by Pierce Brosnan), "enough foreplay". Michael Quinn is a strong enough character to support a series of full length books. We have seen this in Night of the Bonfire. Please Mr. Olson, "May I have more"?

Length aside, a good read. Enjoy!

Mike 

Dion: A Tale Of The Highway

Dion: A Tale of the Highway

Author Jonathan Maas gifted me this book a while back without expectation of a review, but hey it's what I do.

Dion: A Tale Of The Highway; what to say about this book. It totally blew me away! I personally like stories of a lone character on a quest, it speaks to my favorite fantasy of being the "last man on earth".

There are so many things going on in this simple precept: a lone man being forced to "Drive until this road ends, and then drive some more" (pg 24). 

Our hero doesn't remember who he is or why he is where he is, but he has some wild encounters along his way. In the beginning, the book started to sound like a treatise on climate change and I got a bit worried (not my kind of story), but it quickly left that tone behind. 

Dion: A Tale Of The Highway is pure fantasy, with so many underlying themes that those readers who enjoy dissecting such things will find a treasure trove here. We have the mythology of ancient gods, currant social conditions, far-flung cosmic connections, philosophy and the full range of human emotion.

I did figure out who Dion was early on, which tells me it was probably no great secret to begin with. Sherlock Holmes I'm not (but then a blind squirrel does find an acorn now and then, right?).

The writing is so evocative that I could watch the story unfold completely in my minds eye (since the title of my blog is "Theater of the Mind", this is right in my wheelhouse).

Dion goes to Hell and back (repeatedly) to complete the quest. There are various factions vying to control the outcome of his quest and Dion struggles with figuring out who is actually right. Author Maas does an incredible job of weaving together so many different ideas, emotions, and agendas into a coherent and wildly entertaining tale.

Having read Mr. Maas' two City of Gods books and enjoying them thoroughly (I gave them 5 stars each), I was stunned by Dion: A Tale Of The Highway, it caught me completely off-guard.  It breaks from City's mold and is such a strong story I have to say it is my favorite Jonathan Maas book so far. In fact I will go so far as to say it makes my top ten favorite books. When I had around fifty pages left to read, I actually forced myself to stop for the night. I just didn't want it to end. I prolonged my time in his world one more day.

Okay, enough gushing. Dion: A Tale Of The Highway by Jonathan Maas is an incredible read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys mythic fantasy. You will not be disappointed! Enjoy!

Mike 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

3 Hour Dad: Reading Is Believing by [Hourlution, Adam T]

Author Adam T Hourlution's publicist provided an ecopy of 3 Hour Dad for review.

I'm not sure why, but I didn't catch that this is a true story when I started reading. I kept waiting for the joke to made clear. But, it's true. An interesting tale of a surprise birth (I don't think I'm giving away anything here). 

The story is at once scary, when you consider what could have happened, and miraculous when you read what did. A short, intense, at times funny, but ultimately heartwarming story. I dare you not to feel good after reading 3 Hour Dad by Adam T Hourlution. Enjoy!

By the way, a potion of each sale is donated to a random act of kindness fund (not trying to be an ad, but that is kind of cool).


Mike 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance (MaĆ¢€¦

Author David Ahern provided an e-copy of Madam Tulip and The Bones Of Chance for review.

This is the third entry in the Madam Tulip series, and for me the strongest so far. The story is more focused, tighter. As I gave the first two books high marks, this is saying something. Set in the Scottish Highlands, our hero is ostensibly there to make a movie. But as fans of the series know, trouble is never far away (I'd be really worried if Derry, aka Madam Tulip, moved into my neighborhood).

As readers have come to expect from David Ahern, the story is full of twists and turns. No character is all they appear to be keeping the reader on their toes.

Madam Tulip actually appears a bit later than usual this time. The action well balanced, the intrigue tight and the suspense builds to an incredibly satisfying climax. The supporting cast is still there; business minded Mom, devil-may-care and flamboyant Dad, and the rest we've come to know. They stay where they belong; on the periphery. Made for a much smoother read. 

Madam Tulip and The Bones Of Chance by David Ahern is for sure my favorite so far. It's a good thing when later entries in a series get stronger as they go. Enjoy!


Mike

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Literature

A publicist sent me an e-copy of  Literature® by Guillermo Stitch for review.

Literature® is an interesting spin on the dystopian theme, corporate rule. In this world reading books is considered rebellion. I didn't get a good sense of why though. (We Goodreads members would be the subversives here). Our hero, Billy, is the hapless and clueless pawn in the conflict. 

A bit choppy for me, time frames changed without warning. We eventually wind up with a man running for his life. Well written and complex, but it left me a bit unsatisfied at the ending. Don't get me wrong, the ending was beautifully written and emotionally engaging. Just unfulfilling for me. I got the feeling that I missed something important along the way, or maybe that I am just not cerebral enough to get the full benefit from Literature®. 

If you like cerebral and at times ambiguous motivation, go for it. Enjoy!

Mike

Horsemen (City of GodsII)

City of gods II: Horsemen by [Maas, Jonathan]

I received a print copy of Horsemen the second entry into the City of Gods series, from author Jonathan Maas with no expectation of providing a review. You know I'm going to do it anyway.

I may have a problem here. I gave the first book in the series; Hellenica 5 stars in all the places that require such things, and it fully deserved that rating. But what am I supposed to do now? I'm all out of stars. Giving Horsemen another five stars seems to be damning it with faint praise. Horsemen has taken the story to new heights. Considering the four main characters (Horsemen) are teens, we must believe this book is to be pigeonholed as YA. That would be so wrong, so limiting. 

Our "teens" are tasked with bringing order to the "Conurbation" while dealing with petulant, scheming, greedy, and double dealing Gods. Thankfully the Gods here are second tier. Most are recognizable as deities, but they are not the "Big Guys". Poseidon is probably the highest ranking god mentioned. Okay, maybe Zues, but both of these appear mostly as backstory. We instead, spend time with lesser gods; Loki, Heracles, Oshun, Dagon, Lillith and more of that ilk.

Author Jonathan Maas has created such a wonderful "conurbation" of districts which worship all these lesser gods. This really facilitates the interactions between various districts. 

Our Horsemen are familiar, in principle, to most readers: Death; Kayana Marx. War; Gunnar Redstone. Pestilence; Tommy Alderon, and the White Knight Saoirse Frost. This group destroyed my ability to call Horsemen as a YA book. These characters are incredibly wise and consider their actions deeply before acting. Many YA stories have young people who are the smartest or most clever around, but these four are so far beyond that, there age becomes irrelevant. 

We have violence, political intrigue, no sex (kind of difficult when the slightest touch from two of the characters causes death), loyalty and distrust. 

The story is so well crafted, the character and world building is superb, and the author speaks to his audience with such respect and intelligence that Horsemen holds its own in any age group from YA on. I think it appropriate for even the mature middle grade reader.

There is some veiled social justice message hanging around the periphery. Why else would Frost Giants, Spartans, Apaches (yes, Geronimo and Cochise), Norse and Amazons all live so closely together? Can you say diversity? Thankfully the focus is on the story and not the social justice. The balance works for me.

If I haven't been clear, I think Horsemen (City of Gods II) is an incredibly good followup to Hellenica and has definitely hooked me. Jonathan Maas has hit this one out of the park. Bring on more! I encourage everyone who has even a passing interest in epic fantasy to check this one out. Enjoy! 

Mike



Sunday, June 24, 2018

Dark Waters

Dark Water

David Haviland (publicist) provided an e-copy of Dark Water by Simon Thould for review.

Dark Water, an eerie sounding title to be sure, actually refers to the town the story is set in. The activities taking place in this small community on the edge of the Forest (the Wikipedia function on my ereader explained this location well) are also quite dark. Rafter, our hero or anti-hero, you choose, is the hard drinking ex-military sniper whose code of ethics draws him into a missing person case.

We have; sex, drugs, rock'n roll. Human trafficking, drug-dealing, Albanians, Hell's Angels, Foreign Legionnaires, promiscuity, extreme partying and plenty of local secrets. Brutal and graphic violence. The sex would be called a tease; lots of promise but little to no follow through. I guess hearkening back to the idea that you can't have graphic sex and violence in the same story.

Good action sequences, but the story did lag a bit for me between those sequences. A lot of hurry up and wait; kind of like the real military. This added to the feel for me that the book was longer than it actually was. In the end, not a lot of really likable characters. Gabriel and Li Li (new friends of Rafter) were probably the only ones for me. The rest are so flawed, and unabashedly so that it becomes difficult to sympathize with them, or root for them. Our hero, unrivaled killing machine that he is (and really, isn't that what we all want in a good action story?), is the hardest drinking character I think I have ever encountered. The amount of vodka he consumed through out the story, which chronologically is only a few days, is staggering, and he should have been by the end of the story (pun intended).

My biggest and most lingering question? Does anyone (beyond the author) know what a "Wolf" vehicle is? I Googled it, and all I got were auto dealers, no reference to any actual vehicle. Made me a bit crazy. 

I did like Dark Water by Simon Thould. It did make good on its' claim to be good action story. Enjoy!


Mike