Thursday, November 29, 2018

Indian Paintbrush (The Carson Chronicles series #3)

Indian Paintbrush (Carson Chronicles, #3)

Author John A. Heldt provided me with an e-copy of Indian Paintbrush, the third entry in the Carson Chronicles series for review.

Having now read all thirteen of Mr. Heldt's books, it has been interesting to witness his growth as a story-teller. From the beginning he was a talented author and his stories are well crafted and very entertaining. He mixes history, science fiction (time travel) and relationships into compelling, fun and sometimes heartbreaking tales. 

Indian Paintbrush showcases Heldt's growth in crystal clarity. The story is so complex, seamlessly weaving WWII history with the Carson family children as they continue their quest to reunite with their parents. The story has more depth of emotion and evokes more compassion for the characters, in my opinion, than previous books. I found myself talking to the author while reading ("John, don't let this happen" and such). The family now finds themselves immersed in 1944 America. They meet the people who have to deal daily with the World War Two. From men who want to do their part to Japanese-Americans held in internment camps. The Carson men also have to face scrutiny for not being part of the war effort.

I really enjoy how the author weaves in characters from earlier books. Meeting friends who have aged while they haven't. Lots of bittersweet moments. This makes for a flowing narrative, like real life where things and people come and go and return again. This of course means the reader needs to read the series from the beginning to get full enjoyment and understanding (fortunately a pleasant task).

As usual, you see I don't share a lot of the story line. I feel if I did that you wouldn't need to read the book, and you really should read this book. But I will share this; there is suspense, romance, tragedy, almost sex (yes sex, almost), even a running gun battle with police. 

Probably the best thing I can say, among all the praise I have heaped on Indian Paintbrush, is that Mr. Heldt has already hooked me for the next book, and didn't have to use a cliffhanger ending to do it. He has crafted such a compelling and emotionally engaging story that readers will naturally find themselves eagerly anticipating the next installment. So, in case you didn't catch it, I highly recommend you check out Indian Paintbrush as well as the rest of the Carson Chronicles by John A. Heldt your effort will be rewarded. Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hollywood Hang Ten

Hollywood Hang Ten

I received an e-copy of Hollywood Hang Ten by Eve Goldberg for review. 

Set in Malibu and surrounding environs during the sixties, we have a surfer-cum-private eye starting out with a missing person case which even he, as a rookie, can see has more to it than meets the eye. Compounding the situation is the fact that his mentor/trainer aka his uncle is hospitalized after a heart attack.

Ryan (our hero) is trying to resolve his first solo case as it becomes increasingly more complex and confusing. The mystery takes him into the world of Hollywood power brokers, the "red menace" and the shadow world of homosexuality (remember, it's the sixties).

Along the way Ryan must navigate the rough waters (get it?) of past relationships, zealotry and intolerance. 

Action, mystery, suspense and illegal activity all rolled into one big enjoyable mystery/adventure. My file does not indicate whether this is the beginning of an ongoing series, but I would be quite surprised if it isn't. Think rookie Magnum PI set in SoCal without the military aspects.

I do hope Eve Goldberg does bring us more of Ryan and his exploits. Enjoy!


The Last Straw

The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2)

The Last Straw is the second installment of the Pigeon-Blood Red series. 

Interestingly, the print copy I received for review does not mention the first book, or that this is indeed a sequel. The Last Straw can easily be read as a stand alone. I don't necessarily advise that though, just because the first book is also a very good read. 

Author Duncan does give us enough background from the first book to keep the relationships among characters clear but (thankfully) does not retell the entire first book.

Our hero (anti?) is a hitman with scruples, not many, but enough for our purposes. He starts out helping his prostitute friend and gets caught up in a much larger and more convoluted situation. We have an organized crime connection and a racial theme, though maybe not what you might expect. I'll not spoil it here, I'll let you read it for yourself. 

Very well balanced action and suspense. Peripheral sex. A full serving of the seedier side of life. The main character, Rico (what else?) is a "man-with-no-name" kind of character, deadly as they come if you get on his bad side and able to deal with pretty much any situation. A true stoic (actually, my kind of hero) in the classic sense.

Rico deals with a rival, a girlfriend, a mob boss, an unlikely ally and various distractions all with a laconic, "just doing my job" approach. He is not big on explanations.  

Thankfully, as the second part of a trilogy, Duncan does not saddle us with the dreaded cliffhanger ending (THANK YOU). As I said, it stands alone. But if you don't read the first book, you're missing out. Enjoy!


Nightvision Twilight Shadows

Nightvision Twilight Shadows

The first book in the Mother's Realm series, C.H. Knyght's Nightvision Twilight Shadows maybe the first "shape-shifter" story I have read. Obviously I am not well versed on the genre, but I did like this book quite a bit. 

A magic based fantasy with a quest feel. We have various kingdoms inhabited by shifters segregated by their particular abilities. We have wolves, owls and snake shifters so far, as well as dryads, elementals and other magical nature entities. A nice blending of sword and sorcery and shifters.

The character development may be a bit thin to begin with but does build as we read further, and as the introduction to a series we will have more opportunity to get to know the characters better.

Good action so far with hints at intrigue, romance and coming of age. I think what I liked the most was the way the magic element came into play. We don't get wildly powerful wizards performing unbelievable acts. The magic is actually an underlying glue to bind all the kingdoms. The characters have to rely on their own abilities and not just fall back on magic.

There is someone using forbidden magic and therein lies our tale. Unlikely alliances are forming to combat the evil. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in future books. All in all a good first encounter with this genre.

If you are a fantasy/shifter fan, check this one out. I think it's worth your time. Enjoy!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Time Castaways

Time Castaways (Deathlands, #89)

Time for another guilty pleasure read. Time Castaways (Deathlands # 88 according to Goodreads, 89 on Amazon) by house name James Axler. As usual, I do not know who the actual author is (nor do I particularly care), I like the series and have so far enjoyed all I have read.

This go around the warrior survivalists are in the Great Lakes area of what is left of the U.S. As usual they are battling ruthless barons intent on their destruction. The twist? In this part of the nukescape the items of value, and hence the basis for power are; salt and metal. The inhabitants believe their small section of the planet is the whole world. They live according to the dictates of The Book. A genealogy of sorts which directs who can mate with whom in this small population to avoid excessive inbreeding.

As Deathlands books go,  Time Castaways is a pretty good entry. It even has an epilogue. First one I recall seeing. We have the requisite violence and mayhem, but also one sided romance (not a good idea for an outsider to have romantic inclinations towards one of the companions).

I always count on The Deathlands series to provide good escapist post-apocalypse reading. Time Castaways was well balanced and entertaining. Enjoy!


Uncle Herbert: Time is Running Out!

Uncle Herbert: Time Is Runing Out!

I received an e-copy of Uncle Herbert: Time is Running Out! by Philip C Elrod for review.

The story of Uncle Herbert is related by his nephew Andrew a guy just going through the motions in life and seemingly okay with that. His uncle has other plans and they make for a wild, almost madcap world wide adventure.   

Herbert is your basic misunderstood scientist marching to his own internal drummer. He has built a time machine and needs help from Andrew to "SAVE THE WORLD!"

Andrew is thrust into a world he really has no idea how to function in (yeah. I know, bad grammar). How he adapts to fulfill his uncle's requests is great fun to witness. International intrigue, romance, action, time travel, family dysfunction, violence and some surprise aspects that would require a spoiler alert to share.  

My copy did have some typos and mistakes, you know how I get when they are too egregious. Fortunately they didn't quite reach that threshold. But enough to mention.

Main characters were fairly well developed, but some ancillary characters not as well. This makes some of the actions those characters take a bit jarring. I admit though that this may be a bit on the picky side, because overall the book is very entertaining. A good engaging adventure that appears to be the launch pad for a fun series. Enjoy!