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review 2019-01-18 02:47
An Unlikely Hero. A Credible Threat. A Story You Hope Is Fiction
Flight of the Fox - Gray Basnight

Gray Basnight, the author, also participated in a Q&A with me, if you'd like to check it out.


Kill a man's dog, break a man's rules.

No, this isn't a John Wick tribute/knock-off. Not at all. Just another tale about a guy with his priorities right.


A grief-stricken, new widower finally snapped after the death of his dog (no doubt his emotional instability aided by the pain killers he took following the car accident that killed his wife), makes a ranting, angry, delusional phone call to the police, saying something about guns and shooting before killing a neighborhood resident and then running from the police. Authorities consider him potentially armed and dangerous.


Or at least that's what the authorities want you to think.


In reality, Samuel Teagarden is a math professor who was attacked for reasons that he doesn't understand by drones at his home. Teagarden makes a panicked call to the police for help but escapes, although his aged dog dies -- as does someone from the neighborhood. He has no idea what's going on (as the book opens), but he knows that someone is trying to kill him. As you can imagine, this is a pretty good motivation to move as quickly as you can -- which isn't easy, because the car accident that took his wife from him left him with two broken knees.


That's right, he's 49, he's a math teacher and he's running around on two mostly-healed broken knees -- you can practically see Tom Cruise or a Hemsworth lining up to get cast as him in the movie, right?


But why would someone want to kill him? Well, back before he got his doctorate, he was an entry-level code analyst for the CIA and he's dabbled in the field since -- and someone had sent him encoded correspondence from the earth twentieth century. Neither Teagarden or the sender realized how sensitive it was and that there were very powerful people in a "three-letter" agency who didn't want anyone decoding the correspondence, much less knowing it existed.


So, Teagarden has to evade whoever is trying to kill him and the police who think he killed someone -- while trying to decrypt this stack of code and figure out who is out for him. He has his wits, a little bit of cash and a little luck on his side, the other side has resources, drones, surveillance equipment, trained assassins and a federal budget backing them.


Sounds like the ingredients of a heckuva thriller right? It is. It's also one of those that I could utterly ruin for prospective readers by saying just a little more -- so I'm going to resist the temptation to give anything but that bird's eye view.


I can't tell you how or exactly when the book got its hook set in me - which is a good sign, I prefer not to know how I'm being manipulated. But I can say I was a little skeptical initially, but I remember something forced me to stop reading, and I was annoyed by it, and when I checked, it the progress meter was at 14%. That's not long at all for me to get as hooked as I was.


Now, all of us have read/watched a thriller where 3 out of the 4 people the protagonist has met in the last month have some necessary knowledge and/or connection that the protagonist needs to survive and/or meet their goal. Flight of the Fox is the same way -- Teagarden meets just the right people, catches all the right breaks, and so on -- but unlike typical protagonists, he notices this. He doesn't take it for granted, he sees it happening and it affects him. This is a little touch, but its these little things that shows Basnight's skill and uniqueness in the field.


Teagarden is a great character -- he's fallible, he's human, but he's also creative, smart and resourceful. He has to be to survive this situation. The assassin after him from the beginning is cold, efficient and deadly -- you never have any doubt about that. His colleagues and employer are also the kind of people you don't want to get on the wrong side of. There are a couple of fantastic characters in these pages and the rest are pretty good, too.


The story is the obligatory roller coaster -- it's fun, fast with a lot of twists and turns. You also spend a little time sure that you're in a free fall only to realize that everything's been under firm control the entire time. It's realistic enough to make you a little worried about drones flying overhead and to wonder just how reality-based the correspondence is -- but it never sacrifices the sense of a fun (and fictional . . . I hope) story for the reader. I heartily recommend it.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for this post and my honest opinion.

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge 2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/01/17/flight-of-the-fox-by-gray-basnight-an-unlikely-hero-a-credible-threat-a-story-you-hope-is-fiction
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review 2019-01-10 15:45
Valdemar read: Arrow's Flight
Arrow's Flight - Mercedes Lackey

Continuing with my Valdemar read, I'm loosely planning on reading two or three books a  month. Arrow's Flight is the second of the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy which focuses on Talia, Queen's Own Herald.


This was the Deathly Hallows of Valdemar, involving the longest camping trip of all time. I'm joking a little bit, but most of the book involves Talia and Kris, her training officer, doing rounds on the Borders dispensing queen's justice and overcoming obstacles. It's not particularly action packed, although that's fine with me - I'm not an action driven reader. 


Talia is struggling with controlling her Gift, so a lot of the book is focused on that, and on the moral and ethical dilemmas of using her Gift of mindspeaking. She struggles with trying to figure out when and how it's appropriate to bend others to her will by projection, ultiimately coming to what seems to be a reasonable decision that she will employ the Gift as a weapon in the same way that she would employ her hands in combat.


I enjoyed exploring the world of Valdemar and the Heralds. One of the things that I really do like about Lackey's writing is her very open and easy attitude towards sexuality. The Heralds are, generally, not monogamous and they become involved in healthy, friendly sexual relationships in a way that feels very organic and convincing. Especially for a book published in 1987, this is surprising. There are no "punishments" administered for girls/women who have a healthy and even lusty appetite for sex. It's refreshing. 


The next book in the trilogy is also planned for January - Arrow's Fall.

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url 2018-12-24 06:02
Insanely Amazing Things You Can Do With Drone Camera and Transmitter

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review 2018-12-23 00:00
Dragon Age: Last Flight
Dragon Age: Last Flight - Liane Merciel After reading all the Dragon Age books, I can definitely say I've saved the best for last. Both the characters and the exploration of actions, morality and suffering were on a whole different level here when compared to, say, Asunder, which was my first Dragon Age book and almost turned me off from reading them any further.

It was also fun to see some "real" Gray Wardens in the middle of their duty: as amazing as the Warden ends up being in Origins, there is still definitely the feeling of playing it by the ear as far as Gray Warden things go. Here, we get to see some more of their actual hierarchy and methods, for better or for worse.
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