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review 2018-04-20 13:55
The World Without Crows - Ben Lyle Bedard

The Reviewer’s Preface.

 

“And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Everyone who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust
of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

—Daniel 12:2

 

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed,
rather than having two hands, to go to hell,
into the fire that shall never be quenched—

 

“where

 

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’
—Mark 9:43-44

 

Hereto lies the judgement of the accursed: those who have not fallen asleep in Christ, but in their sins have they fallen asleep.

 

For the recipient of eternal life is only returned unto the Earth in the glory and blessedness of his indestructible resurrection, while even the inheritor of eternal damnation is returned unto the Earth in the Divine ordinance of his destruction: his decomposition and his spoil.

 

For no human soul sown in righteousness can be an heir to otherworldly ruination upon the physical death—which is the first death.


But the human soul sown in unrighteousness is already doomed to the corruption of otherworldly ruination upon the physical death—which is the second death.

 

A human soul, still equipped with its five senses but dwelling within the form of a condemned physical being, would account for the second death. And because such a combined spiritual and physical condemnation is truly beyond the scope of Mankind’s imagination, most tend to refer to such doom by the traditional usage of one ghastly word: Zombie.

 

The Reviewer’s Critique.

 

Athens, Ohio—The world is forever changed, no thanks to a deadly parasite known as the Vaca Beber, or Vaca B, which has somehow found its way into the entire U.S. water supply. Some say that the fault lies with American cattle ranchers who had been cutting into the Amazon where the parasite originated; others agree that the U.S. government is actually to blame after it allowed imports from Brazil at the nation’s borders. Of course, those who argue the strain’s cause are those few who have merely survived it. At least for now.

 

On Saturday, August 12, 1989, our star protagonist, a morbidly obese and miserably unpopular young man named Eric, would celebrate his seventeenth year of life surrounded by his single mother and four of his closest (and only) friends. On Monday, May 14, 1990, Eric’s single mother and his four closest (and only) friends would be dead, succumbed to the Vaca B, leaving the devastated and defenseless Eric to fend for himself and to make his own way in the ultimate struggle for survival.

 

Dear reader,

 

Everything you thought you knew about the Apocalypse, the end of the world, if you will, is to be considered frivolity. Not until you’ve been held—as if in a Zombie-like death grip—by the momentous post-apocalyptic storyline currently under review will you come to a genuine knowledge of what it really means to be rattled to the marrow of your bones . . . with grievous anguish and mind-altering fear. For Ben Lyle Bedard’s The World Without Crows does not suffer the faint-hearted gladly.

 

The Long Journey.

 

After burning down his childhood home containing the infected remains of his mother, Eric sets out to travel on foot to the beautiful coastal state of Maine. Believing that a certain island along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean will be his salvation—and protection—from a cracked Zombie population and murderous gangs formed by snapped survivors, Eric, following a survival guide that he lifted from the now desolate Athens branch library, as well as his trusty map, begins the toilsome 800-mile trek north from Wolf Creek Wilderness through many a state park, national forest, and mountain region on a grueling quest to reach his coveted destination.

 

But our leading man’s passage through God’s great gardens and landscapes—in search of saftey—will be anything but safe as he is to undergo one horrendously inhumane tribulation after another along his route, including a detestable trial in the human form of a blood-coagulating American Patriot named Carl Doyle.

 

The Squadron.

 

For a work of fiction with a pagination of only 216, The World Without Crows incorporates a substantial—and surprisingly gifted—cast whose performances on said pages are nothing short of superior. Guaranteed to emboss an imprint of their memory on the reader’s intellect, these supporting players stream into the scenes of Bedard’s deftly composed script—and Eric’s radically changed life—as follows:

 

• Charlie, a grizzled old man and former librarian with a safe cabin, plenty of preserved books, fresh water, and hot meals to spare Eric. That is, until the venomous Snakes slither in.

 

• Birdie, an orphaned African American girl of six years with whom Eric falls head over heels in a sort of parental love after nearly shooting her to death during a scavenge for food. Immediately taking her under his guardianship, Eric and Birdie form a sturdy, deeply emotional, and unbreakable bond that will propel her to Eric’s right side as his top-billed supporting lead.

 

• Sarah, a twenty-something pretty blonde and fellow survivor with a penchant for fishing and cooking. After meeting and conversing with Eric and Birdie, Sarah quickly decides to join them on their journey to Maine.

 

• Brad, Sarah’s boyfriend and a pistol of a former gang member who, despite his machismo and low blow taunts about Eric’s hefty weight, ultimately concurs to join Eric, Birdie, and Sarah—Maine or bust.

 

• Cecile, Sharif, Katie, Van, David, Mark, Mary, and Sharon all consist of a small set of survivalists who dwell on a large farm in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and call themselves the “Slow Society.” Taking in Eric, Birdie, Sarah, and Brad after the quartet chance upon the Slow Society camp while diligently trying to escape a madman stalker, it is Cecile who offers the hungry and famished youngsters a dwelling place in the camp, so long as they contribute to manual labor around the farm. A generous gesture indeed were it not for Old Scratch.

 

• John Martin, a tall and powerfully built African American man from Cleveland, Ohio who encounters Eric while traveling—on foot—to New York. But John Martin is not making the passage alone. In his warm company are two redoubtable individuals who can do nothing short of adding even more sublime appeal to an already breathtaking prose.

 

• Lucia and Sergio are those two redoubtable individuals. The Hispanic siblings are traveling with their lifesaver John Martin when they, too, meet Eric’s small group, join with them all on their excursion, and skyrocket to stardom status by way of their supreme performances.

 

• Daniel Sullivan, a green-eyed monster of a religious fanatic, and macabre Shepherd of a demented flock.

 

• Carl Doyle, an all-American chauvinist, a repulsive race baiter, a Land Rover driver, and a bearish being who will for a surety grant the reader a nightmare. Carl Doyle, a most harrowing dead man walking.

 

• Kaye Cornplanter and Ms. Good Prince Billy also make cameo appearances: Cornplanter as a Seneca Warrior vowing to take back the Red Man’s land; and Good Prince Billy as a hoary, but tough matron striving to maintain order amongst humanity from the confines of a long ago abandoned Church.

 

The Reviewer’s Postface.

 

Mankind’s greatest fears are those of death and destruction. And we, as humans, never know what we’re truly made of until we are faced with those fears. Speaking of which, here, on the shook up pages of Ben Lyle Bedard’s marvelous post-apocalyptic chiller The World Without Crows, Death gallops in on his pale horse. And Hades follows with him.

 

In the age of many a trendy dystopian narrative, it would perhaps be safe to assume that very few can actually project the world’s end and the total obliteration of nearly all humankind in quite the same way that the consummate Bedard does with The World Without Crows.

 

An intensely poignant effort, no reader—be he or she Jew or Gentile—will be allowed to follow this clenching plot from beginning to end and then separate from it emotionally unaffected. No, not even one. For the tear duct of the human eye will not resist to shed a salted stream; and the human heart—in all of its life-pumping pomp—will not resist the heavy temptaion of an embittered ache.

 

Desperation, dark and poetic, is to be the reader’s guide. For the souls of men are to be required of them—regardless of fleshly hue or societal status. Extraordinary is The World Without Crows.

 

Five . . . let the dead bury their own dead stars.

 

 

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Bedard Publishing, as well as Ben Lyle Bedard himself, for the author-issued copy of The World Without Crows in exchange for my honest review.

 

Analysis of The World Without Crows by Ben Lyle Bedard is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com

 

Date of Review: Thursday, April 19, 2018

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review 2018-04-18 23:14
All For You by Jessica Scott
All For You - Jessica Scott

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This really was a fantastic read. I have had this book for years but for some reason never picked it up until now. Let me tell you that this was a big mistake. Huge mistake. This book was really good and made me think. It made me feel which is always a good thing. I think that I had expected this book to be a more typical military romance before reading it but I was completely wrong. I am really glad that I took the time to read this powerful story.

This book deals with military suicide and PTSD which are some pretty tough topics. Most of the soldiers in this story are affected by their time in combat in one way or another. Reza is a Sergeant First Class and tries to watch out for his men while dealing with his own issues. He often has to spend a lot of valuable time trying to find out what is going on with his me. Time that could be spent in training before their next deployment. 

Emily, a Psychiatrist, is new to the Army and really wants to help the soldiers that come to her for help. Her family is not in favor of her decision to enlist in the army but she is determined to make a difference. She quickly learns that there are a lot of things that she does not understand in regards to what the soldiers have been through so she works to learn what she can. 

I really liked Reza and Emily together. They had such great chemistry even though they were not at all alike. They both seemed to be able to support each other in exactly the way that was most needed. I really appreciated the fact that the romance didn't overpower the other issues that the book was dealing with. If anything, I would say that the romance aspect of the book was secondary to turmoil with Reza and his soldiers. 

I really liked how this book was able to show such tough topics in a way that felt realistic. Reza's battle with alcohol was painful to watch. There were some pretty graphic scenes that really got to me. I understood how Reza and Emily were taking thing hard because I was right there with them. I also really appreciated the fact that the book ended on a very hopeful note because I really wanted to see both of these characters get their happy ending.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought it was a really well done story that was quite eye opening. This book is the forth book in the Coming Home series but I read it as a stand alone without any trouble. I would definitely read more from this talented author in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed this book. The book had a very strong focus on suicide and PTSD for soliders that have been to war. I think that the romance was good but it wan't really the main focus of the story. I liked Reza a lot and thought he showed a lot of growth during the course of the story. Emily was a good match for him and I really liked how seriously she took her job. I am really sorry that I let this book sit on the review pile for over 4 years since I really ended up enjoying it.

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review 2018-04-09 17:20
Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer
Lingering Echoes - Erica Kiefer

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This book was just okay for me. I have had a review copy of this book for over 4 years but never felt compelled to actually read the book until now. I must say that I am happy to finally be able to mark this book off of my list of books to read. I found this to be a pretty quick read that held my attention but it was never the kind of book that totally grabbed me. 

My feelings are pretty mixed about this book. I think one of the main things that I didn't care for in this book was the fact that it was another teen romance featuring a love triangle. I am not usually a fan of love triangles. In the case of this book, Allie has two boys falling for her. Aaron is always there to support her and gets her through a lot of tough times. Damien is the dangerous older guy that drives a motorcycle and has a few stalkerish behaviors. Guess who she picks? 

I think that Allie's behavior was another major hurdle for me to overcome with this book. I am the mother of a teenager and not a teen so I do realize that I am probably not the target audience for this story but Allie was too much at times. She kept telling everyone that she was going off to college soon so she could make her own choices. Of course her father was telling her what she needed to do because on her own she wasn't doing too great. 

I had a few other issues with the story. I thought that Damien's past was way to easy to figure out. We do eventually get more details but even then I thought everything seemed a little too perfect. Allie has a moment towards the end of the book where she suddenly remembers something that she had forgotten for the past year and it just felt really odd. I also could not believe that Allie's father and step-mother never addressed her step-brother's behavior towards her. He was terrible to Allie and then suddenly they started getting along. 

There were some things that I did like about the story. Allie had a lot of grief and guilt to deal with from an event in the past. It has obviously had a great impact on her life and I did like seeing her work through those emotions. Allie and Aaron's friendship was a high point of the book. Aaron was probably my favorite character in the story and I liked his connection with Allie. While the big action scene at the end of the book seemed far-fetched, I still found it to be rather exciting.

I do think that a lot of readers will like this one a lot more than I did. I was entertained by the story even when I was questioning a character's behavior. I am glad that I read this book even though I feel like it was a pretty forgettable read.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Clean Teen Publishing via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. It's probably not a book that will really stay with me long term but I was entertained. The book does pick up the pace towards the end with most of the excitement happening during the last 25% of the book. I thought that a lot of the story was predictable.

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review 2018-03-30 13:28
Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason
Rises the Night - Colleen Gleason
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a great time reading this book and thought it was even better than the first book in the series. I have had the first three books from this series sitting in my review pile unread for a couple of years. I am so glad that I am finally reading the series because I am really enjoying it. I ended up reading most of the book in a single day simply because I didn't want to put it down. 

This is the second book in the Gardella Vampire Hunter series and the series really does need to be read in order. This book really assumes that the reader knows everything that happened in the first book and picks up shortly after that installment ends. Victoria has been through a lot and seems stronger now as a result. I really felt for her as she struggled to find herself again. I thought that the opening scene of the book really did a fantastic job of illustrating how dark her world has become.

I really liked seeing how much Victoria has grown in this book. Everything she has been through has really changed her and she seems to have a harder edge in this book. She doesn't worry as much about society and actually has a lot more freedom in that area. She is both physically and mentally strong which she proves many times in this story. It was really wonderful to get to know some of the other characters a bit better. Sebastian was great in this book. I was never quite sure if he should be trusted but I really wanted him to prove to be trustworthy. I was never quite sure if I liked his character in the first book but I loved him in this one. 

This book really had everything I hoped to find when I started reading. There is a whole lot of excitement and action spread throughout the book to really keep things moving forward. I love that the vampires in this book are definitely the enemy and are not romanticized. There was enough mystery in the story to really keep me guessing until the very end and a few shocking scenes that made me doubt everything I thought I knew. The chemistry between the characters was also really well done and a bit of a surprise.

I do recommend this series to others. It really was one of those books that are just really hard to put down. I can't wait to start the next book in the series so that I can find out what is in store for Victoria next!

I received a review copy of this book from Avid Press via Edelweiss.

Initial Thoughts
Honestly, this was great! I liked it even more than the first book. Victoria looks at life differently now and has a much harder edge. She has been through a lot and has come out stronger than she was before. I liked getting to see some of the characters just a bit differently. I was never quite sure if Sebastian should be trusted but I really wanted to trust him. There was lots of action, some pretty scary moments, and quite a bit of chemistry between characters to keep me turning the pages of this one.

 

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review 2018-03-27 23:32
The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman
The Murderer's Daughter: A Novel - Jonathan Kellerman

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book! I have always wanted to try Jonathan Kellerman's work so I decided to give this book a try. Unfortunately, life got a little busy when I had originally planned to read this book and my review is about two and a half years late. I really wish that I had read this book when I first got my hands on it because it was really good. 

This really is Grace's story. Grace was a wonderful character and incredibly complex. She had a less than ideal childhood but as adult, she is a highly respected psychologist. I loved the fact that we get to know Grace both as a child and as an adult. I thought the contrast between the two periods was really well done. I wouldn't really say that I ever liked Grace but I really did enjoy trying to figure her out and was very curious about her past.

Grace does have a bit of a secret life and that life intersects with her professional life early in this book. As she tries to figure out what really happened, she finds that things may be connected to her past. I thought that the mystery side of this book was really just okay. It was rather complex and I never had everything quite figured out but it wasn't the most enjoyable part of the book for me.

I thought that the first parts of the book were the strongest. I really enjoyed all of the book that focused on Grace as a child. Adult Grace was really more interesting to me during the first part of the book as well. The book continued to bounce back and forth from past to present but as the story progressed the two timelines grew much closer to each other. As the focus of the book moved towards bringing the mystery to a conclusion, it seemed to fizzle out just a bit. 

I would recommend this book to others. I really enjoyed the writing style and found this to be the kind of book that was easy to keep reading. I do hope to read from this author in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed this book and am kind of mad at myself for leaving it unread for as long as I did. The book did lose some momentum for me during the last third of the book. I really liked learning about Grace both in current life and in the past. The contrast between Grace as a child and as a mature adult was very well done and eye opening. The book did seem to focus more on the mystery aspect as it moved towards the finale which was somewhat less interesting for me. This was my first time reading Jonathan Kellerman and I really enjoyed his writing style.

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