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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-11-06 22:26
Without Warning (The Disappearance #1)
Without Warning - John Birmingham

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.

Title: Without Warning

Series: The Disappearance

Author: John Birmingham

Rating: of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Pages: 576

Format: Kindle





A "wave" of energy appears, covering America, Southern Canada and Northern Mexico. Every single human in that area is simply gone.

The world is in chaos, Americans abroad [citizens and military] are left without a country, trying to survive and figure out what the next step is.


My Thoughts:

We follow several military groups, a U.S Ranger turned journalist, an Engineer in the state of Washington and some sort of mysterious spy woman in France. At first I wasn't sure how having so many points of view was going to work but Birmingham was able to weave the story through each group and it worked. Nothing was confusing or jumbled up.


I felt thoroughly "out of place" as any of the characters with what had happened. What made it even more so was the fact that we never find out what has caused the wave. The whole world doesn't know and it is creating chaos, as much as the world's One Super Power suddenly being gone. I enjoyed this and found Birmingham's portrayal of how things would go down exactly as I would expect it too.


The main thing that bothered me was the Secret Spy lady. She didn't fit into the story and for the amount of time garnered on  her, nothing was wrapped up. It wasn't a bad storyline and it showed the chaos in Europe really well but I was hoping for some sort of resolution.


*Spoiler for the Ending*


Having the wave simply disappear as the last sentence in the book? That guarantees that I'll be reading the sequel!

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review 2015-07-12 00:00
David Hooper 1
David Hooper 1 - John Birmingham DNF @ 19%

I just can't force myself to read anymore of this book. This has to be the most vulgar book that I have ever attempted to read. I absolutely hate the main character and cannot think of any possible way that he can be redeemed. He is a vile and disgusting man. I don't want to spend another moment in his head.

I requested this book because it was recommended for fans of Jim Butcher. Let me warn you - Dave is nothing like Harry Dresden.

ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Del Ray via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
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review 2015-05-07 00:00
David Hooper 1
David Hooper 1 - John Birmingham Received via NetGalley from the Del Ray team (Random House Publishing Group UK) in exchange for an honest and completely unbiased review.

Dave is your average, middle aged, balding, hard working man. He loves hookers, his booze and his blow. Okay, maybe he isn't average. He has his issues, but he's not a bad guy. Really. He's just had some down luck the last few years, but he's going to fix it once he gets his next big paycheck. The IRS? He'll pay them back! The child support payment? It's coming along! Just a few more days!

Even his coworkers adore him:
Dave, as she never tired of pointing out, was an exemplar - she used the actual work, too, having read it in one of those undreadable werewolf romances she immersed herself in between flights - Dave was an exemplar extra-freaking-ordinaire of why a woman like her, a woman of independent means and good breeding hips, had to be careful. Men who weren't to be found in the blessed state of being other women's husbands were generally deserving of their wretched and benighted state by way of being..
"...unmarriageable a-holes."
"What?" croaked Dave, who'd drifted off into a hangover haze for just a moment.
"Completely unmarriageable a-holes, Dave. Such as yourself. World is full of them, I said. All trying to get at my good breeding hips and my 401(k)."

Did I mention his coworkers were just as classy?

Our hero may not be cookie cutter, but he certainly does the job when creatures steal on to his oil rig with intent to kill. After dispatching the ring leader, waking up in a hospital where soldiers await to whisk him off on a not-vacation..Dave continues to be the "exemplar" of a man who can't quite get his life together - even when he's in the middle of an incredible adventure.

My favourite part of this book is how it doesn't take itself seriously. The humor, wit and sarcasm make a story that would be sickeningly routine and dull into something fun for long time fantasy readers. Brimingham brings the action as well, developing a warrior race - the horde.

Scaroth brought FoeSunder up and flowed into a killing stance. The point of the blade glinted high above Dave’s head before rushing down with terrible speed.
Dave dropped down to his right knee with Lucille above his head, blocking the first blow, half expecting Scaroth’s blade to slice straight through the wooden handle. But the enchanted hardwood held, the blow landing with a giant clang. Holding the Hunn’s blade, he pushed up with his right hand, using the maul’s head to drive the blade off to his left. Coiled tightly, Dave’s legs launched him into Scaroth’s midsection, knocking the BattleMaster off his feet. He rolled over the snapping fangs and hot froth to land on his feet a couple of yards away.
They circled each other one step at a time, shieldwise. Helicopters, hammering overhead, focused their searchlights on the action, driving the remnants of the Horde away from the two combatants.
“I will feast on you this day,” Scaroth said, lunging toward Dave. “The little champion’s blood will make a fine aperitif before I feed on your nestlings.”
“They have aperitifs in Monsterland? Man, you guys have changed. It used to be all about the skulls full of bloodwine.”

To be fair, much of the novel feels like a movie with the action sequences, the girl and the snappy dialogue which could be really annoying if you aren't in the mood. Dave vs the Monsters fills a niche that is very poorly furnished. Brimingham is Pratchett but less alternate reality and more United States of America.
So, if there's something strange in your neighbourhood who are you going to call? Probably not Dave, but he will be there anyway.

This book would appeal to readers who enjoy action/adventure, paranormal, fantasy and a hero who isn't your average hero. High risk of humour, frightening monsters and lippy dialogue. For those who need less serious in their reads.
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review 2015-04-12 06:28
I'm sorry, Dave...
David Hooper 1 - John Birmingham

Dave vs the Monsters: Emergence

by John Birmingham


This is one of those books that can actually be summarized by its title.


In retrospect, I can see that it's not the book that was the problem, but my expectations. I assumed that a book with the title "Dave vs the Monsters" had to be at least a little tongue-in-cheek. I was expecting something funny, fluffy, genre-savvy, and a bit clever.


In actuality, this has to be one of the purest cases of "what it says on the tin" that I've ever encountered. Basic plot: Dave works on an oil rig. Said oil rig is attacked by monsters. Dave kills one of the monsters, mysteriously gains incredible powers and knowledge, spends about half the book angsting about it and being examined by the military, and waits for the monsters to attack again. The monsters attack again. Yep, that's a pretty good chunk of the book.


In spirit, Dave versus the Monsters is rather like Monster Hunter International although with even less characterization, worldbuilding, and theme exploration and even more graphic violence. Don’t expect a good explanation for any of the events in the book because you won’t get them.

Why did Dave’s killing cause supertalents, other than book convenience? Well, we eventually get the answer that he absorbed the daemon’s talents, but that’s weak at best. If it were true, every time the monsters kill each other, they should power up. And none of them have hyperacceleration.

(spoiler show)

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of mindless action-oriented UF, but I prefer mine to be a little lighter on the sexism, homophobia, and racism. Dave is pretty much an unapologetic bigot. Gay jokes are his worst form of insult, wives are there to be cheated on, and he’s definitely not winning Father of the Year award. As for women, apart from all the time Dave spends thinking about the prostitutes he uses, we have lovely quotes like this:

“Dave found that he wanted to hold on to the splitting maul. It felt natural the way a really beautifully crafted baseball bat did. Or a pool cue. Or a fine piece of ass… or anything, really.  Any tool that had been carefully crafted by a skilled maker with one purpose in mind.”

Because that’s what women are, obviously. Carefully crafted tools with one purpose in mind.

Other than the issues mentioned above--and bear in mind that they’re endemic in UF, even if not necessarily to this extent--there’s not much wrong with the book, but it’s not a good fit for me. I like my worldbuilding intricate, my violence meaningful, my characters redeemable, and my narrators genre-savvy. Even though I love the idea of an oil rigger wreaking havoc with a splitting maul, I think I’ll leave Dave to his monsters and find my UF kicks elsewhere.


**Note: quotes are taken from an uncorrected advanced reader copy and may not reflect the final wording. However, I believe they speak to the character of the novel as a whole.**


~~I received a copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Random House- Del Ray Spectra, in exchange for my (depressingly) honest review.~~

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review 2015-01-30 21:25
He Died With A Falafel in his Hand by John Birmingham
He Died With A Felafel In His Hand - John Birmingham

Read by Julieanne: Excellent, very funny share housing experiences. TBK is read by Aussie actors including Gretal Killeen and Mikey Robbins.

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