Thursday, January 25, 2018

Not From the Stars

I was given an ecopy of Not From the Stars by Christina Britton Conroy for review.

Not From the Stars is the first book in the His Majesty's Theatre series. Set around an Edwardian England theatre (British spelling), hence HIS Majesty's Theatre, we have several interweaving stories of people trying to improve their lot in life. It is at times heartwarming, heartbreaking, humourous (British spelling, okay I'll stop) and frustrating. At first I was a bit concerned because it starts with the life of a gay actor. The gay character didn't bother me so much but I don't really want to spend a whole book on the life style. If that makes me insensitive, oh well. But that did not become an issue as that was just part of the setup for the greater story.

Warning: There are somewhat graphic scenes of sexuality (not the gay variety, in case you were wondering), and (for me very difficult to read) violence against women.

There are several well developed characters whose stories captivate the reader. All their lives become involved in some manner with the theater. As a first installment, Not From the Stars is great. It gives us characters to root for and others to root against. The ending is not the dreaded cliffhanger because we know where it's going, but we do have to wait to read the next book to continue. I really like how this is handled, enough of a tease to keep the reader interested, but not so much that it leaves us with an unsatisfied feeling. The more I read of this book, the more I liked it. No slow passages. The author keeps the story moving along brilliantly.

Not From the Stars does a nice job of conveying the societal norms of the time which for me added a touch of humor that I found refreshing. A fairly quick, light read. Good escapist fun. Spend some time in Edwardian England and check out Not From the Stars by Christina Britton Conroy. I look forward to continuing this series. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

I was given an ecopy of The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle  by James Dixon for review.

This was a somewhat difficult book to read as it has to do with a man's world falling apart around him while he is unable to do much about it.

We are confronted with several unpleasant realities of our world: The lack of empathy for those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. The disdain for the homeless, believing they have chosen that life. People in that state preying upon each other. And so on.

The main character Willem (reminiscent of Lenny in Of Mice and Men starts out sympathetic enough and we like him, or at least root for him. We see him forced, rather abruptly, from the bosom of society. We painfully endure his downward spiral into darkness (his transcendence). It is a heartbreaking journey that Willem does not understand.

These things I sympathized with as I read, and some of his, shall we say, less than appropriate actions, could be viewed as justified to a point. His more egregious actions are not acceptable under any circumstances, erasing any affinity I had for him.

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is a harsh story, with harsh depictions of society. Although I found it a very well written and wholly engrossing story, I rebel at the reaction I felt I was being encouraged to feel; that none of what happened was Willem's total responsibility.

Although not marketed as such, The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle could be viewed as an indictment of the treatment of mental health issues, but that is my feeling, not necessarily those of the author. My copy actually had no notes from the author or any info about him to give any idea of his motivation for this story.

Anyway, as I said, very well written. It will keep your attention. But fair warning: it is not a "feel good" story with a happy ending. It's a tragic story of a tragic life, and I do recommend it as such.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sirens in the Night

I won a print copy of Sirens in the Night by Michael Bradley in a Goodreads Giveaway.

Sirens in the Night is an intense horror story. It has a Stephen King feel to it; the slowly building feel of dread culminating in a fantastic finish.

I saw a big tip of the hat to one of my favorite tv sitcom's, WKRP in Cinncinnati. Also a smaller nod to Divergent, I'll let you find that one yourself.

Since the back cover tells us the history of one of our heroes, it's not a spoiler here to say, like WKRP we have a DJ who said a bad word on air and is paying the price. He is, eventually, teamed up with a female detective in the face of unspeakable evil.

They are forced to contend with an ancient mythic evil. Great suspense, and a great retelling of the mythology of the Sirens set in contemporary Philadelphia. No one but them knows that the very fate of the world depends on them.

The mood of the great horror stories is preserved here. There is overt, evil sexuality like in any good horror story. No romance though. Good action, great suspense. Like classic horror, the evil doers are not present front and center until the big confrontation, as I said, the dread slowly builds. The reader is not beaten over the head with graphic violence and gore (sadly, what often passes for horror nowadays). The conclusion of the story is true to the old school vibe, unsettling yet satisfying.

If you like old school horror, Sirens in the Night by Michael Bradley will feed the need (nicely?, suspense-fully?, horrifically?) choose your adverb. Enjoy!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Desolation Crossing

It was time for a little guilty pleasure reading, so I went with Desolation Crossing by the non-existent James Axler. I don't know the name of the actual author (just like the other hundred or so Deathlands books I have read).

Desolation Crossing is to my mind, one of the better entries in the series. Face it folks we are not talking literature for the ages here, we're talking survival in a post nuclear wasteland.

Plot? Sliced so thin it only has one side. But really, all a plot is for in the Deathlands series is to put our heroes in position to blow stuff up, chill bad-guys, and generally contribute to the mayhem of the times. That's why we read 'em!

Desolation Crossing is down and dirty survival mayhem and carnage. No bizarro world tech. No space station time travelling cold hearts bent on dominating the nuclear waste pile that is the deathlands. Just shoot first and ask questions later action, plenty of it here, the road trip from hell.

We learn a bit of J.B.'s history (the plot thins). One thing I really liked was not having to read for the hundredth time the backstories of each character. By now (book 86 or 87 depending on your source) we know how each character came to be a part of the companions, enough already!

Sex, drugs, and a little rock and roll, plus all the shoot 'em up action you could want. Desolation Crossing filled my guilty pleasure craving very nicely thank you. Enjoy!


Monday, January 8, 2018

The Perfect Partner

Author(s) Ursula LeCoeur provided an ecopy of The Perfect Partner book #4 in the Love in New Orleans series.

Although I am not a big romance fan, two things convinced me to give The Perfect Partner a look.

First, the book is set in New Orleans and lately I enjoy stories set there. Second, and more important, The Perfect Partner is the second book in the Love in New Orleans series that I have read. I had already reviewed The Devious Debutante and enjoyed it, so the decision wasn't really that difficult.

The Perfect Partner continues focusing on different characters I already met in my earlier reading. There is a lot of comedy, sexual tension and drama. Sexual tension that is interesting based on the time frame the story is set in, the late 1800's. It probably wouldn't be as believable set in current times. And while still on the topic of sex, I am again surprised at the steaminess of the scenes of sexuality written by a mother and daughter writing team. Wouldn't have worked for me with either of my parents.

The social and cultural differences highlighted in The Perfect Partner add to the fun of this story. The social and sexual taboos are hilarious at times.

Our partners are a pair of mismatched advice columnists and the interactions between them are priceless. Add a helping of murder and a taste of voodoo, and you have a well rounded story that entertains even grumpy old men like me.

So, a romance that is not sappy, action, "modern women", drama, suspense and humor. A little something for everyone. The Perfect Partner by Ursula LeCoeur has it all. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Girl from the Woods

I won a print copy of The Girl from the Woods by Chris Keane in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

The Girl from the Woods, would for me, be best described as a romance/suspense  rather than the sci fi/ fantasy it is listed as. A small quibble, but I was expecting a much more paranormal focus. The story wound up interesting enough to overcome my disappointment.

I guess the fantasy aspect is true; our main character Dante, while being basically a slacker and a some what loser, is also at nineteen years old still a virgin. Sounds pretty fantastical for these days.

Seriously though, the story while fairly short, is suspenseful and entertaining. We have a very and I mean very dysfunctional family. We have a very hot girl (much hotter in print than on the cover, just saying), and a setting which lends itself to the darker vibe needed to keep the story interesting.

The story unfolds as any good YA mystery does, enough twists and turns. It is, perhaps, a bit more mature than I would have expected, both in language and sexuality. It's probably my age that makes me notice coarser language. The depictions of sex are graphic without being offensive (I'm not a prude).

The Girl from the Woods  by Chris Keane is fun, funny, suspenseful, spooky and sexy all at once. A fun read to be sure. Enjoy!