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review 2019-09-29 17:17
The Day of St. Anthony's Fire - John Grant Fuller Jr.
The Day of St. Anthony's Fire - John Grant Fuller Jr.

Heartbreaking and Truly Terrifying.


I was sitting around the supper table with my family discussing theories about the Salem Witch Trials. The ergot theory was put forward, and I dismissed it, largely because of the scale: hundreds of people accused, tortured, and tried over more than a year, but also because the initial accusers would roll around on the floor in seeming fits but immediately recover, and none of them suffered anything like an actual injury during those supposed fits. Then the Spouse mentions that French town, you know...


I did not know. I had never previously heard of the book nor the incident it describes in well-researched, well-documented, and well-communicated detail. In August of 1951 some three hundred people in and around Pont-Saint-Esprit in Provence, France were poisoned. It was a horrible accident that killed five people,hospitalized more than a hundred, and caused many to suffer lasting debilitation.


As a medical mystery, it is enthralling. All the local GPs as well as the large number of treating physicians from the nearest largest cities agreed they were seeing an event out of history a mass poisoning due to ergot. They had to look in history books to get treatment ideas.


Then there's the legal mystery: who are what will be blamed and have to pay? The investigators had quickly found the suspect flour, but then there were years of examining the evidence. The police couldn't accept the ergot theory because the volatile alkaloids disappeared too quickly and too completely. There was literally no evidence. The legal wrangling that followed lasted a decade.


It's a fascinating book for those interested in medical or historical mysteries. Fuller is thorough in his recounting, but never boring. Since I didn't have Truly Terrifying, I took advantage of that black dust jacket for


Library copy



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review 2019-09-07 03:05
I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

The reader suspects that Matheson has issues. Big ones. With women and anger, primarily. But, as the Spouse pointed out, the first two thirds of "Legend" are brilliant. Neville teaching himself science in order to figure out the world he now lives in, that's quality stuff. His own obtuseness, however, sheesh

The other stories are intense and clever, but I don't recommend reading them all together. Matheson's world is a miserable place.



Library copy

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review 2019-08-30 03:01
It's some effort, but readers will be amused by this
Cause And Effect: Vice Plagues The City (Kind Hearts And Martinets #1) - Pete Adams

I almost DNF'ed this one. I'll talk more about that in a little bit, but I want that stated upfront. I hope some readers will decide to give this a try, but I want to warn some (I'm thinking of fellow citizens of the U.S. here) that it might take a little work. I also want to stress that I do recommend this book, because I think it'd be easy to walk away from what I'm about to say with a different impression.


Detective Inspector Jack Austin is the kind of cop that can make Jake Peralta look like Joe Friday. He's undisciplined, offensive, easily distracted, far too concerned about coming on to women and joking around when he should be focusing on work. Yet, within the police, he's (almost) universally loved and deferred to. The citizens he polices may love him more. That "almost" will prove hazardous to his career, but he can't seem to be bothered by that.


The title (and marketing) would lead you to believe this is Crime Fiction—and it is, to a degree. But this tale about a multifaceted crime wave running through this city has several issues. My main problem with this storyline is how little police work we got to see. Jack would make some guesses, which would prove to be unerringly correct, but most of the actual work (including, testing those guesses) was done by his team off-screen. Sure, there's some intimidation of suspects and a lot of heroics by Jack. But, it rarely seemed that Adams was all that interested in the investigation—there were heinous crimes, some horrific human costs—but those frequently took second place to Jack goofing around. This is only something I've realized as I was writing this post, in the moment, you get caught up in the story and don't realize that this near-super cop doesn't actually do much. Suddenly, that joke I made about Jake Peralta doesn't seem as funny. Jack really has a lot in common with Jake, for both of them, despite their juvenile antics, they're beloved, and seem to solve a decent number of crimes.


I actually liked the story around the crimes and thought some of what was used there was pretty ingenious. But in retrospect, I realize that it's pretty meager as storytelling goes.


There were two other things the novel focused on more (and better) than the criminal investigation. The first is a romance for the out of shape (and not all that attractive) widower, Jack Austin. Things finally click for Jack and a woman he'd been interested in for years since his wife died. This is a sweet story, and I quickly became interested in it, and my interest only waned (and then only a bit) when I was starting to notice how much space the book was spending on it.


What Adams seems most interested in is talking about (or having his characters talk about) Jack Austin—what kind of man he is, what was his life (professionally and personally) before this book ended. The amount of space devoted to off-duty Jack Austin is a lot greater than you might expect going into this book, but it's the heart and soul of the book. The latter chapters of the book are very intent on teasing this out via challenges to his new romance and his career—but a lot of that doesn't seem like it should be present, I think it would've felt more natural in books 3 or 4. It's laudatory enough to make you wonder about the way the novel works, it doesn't feel earned (as it would coming up later in the series), so that rather than letting the reader discover what a swell guy/great cop he is over the course of a series, we're just told it. However, Austin's character and qualities are not only is this what Adams seems interested in talking about more than anything else, but it's also pretty compelling and interesting—moreso than anything else in the book. So take my hesitation about it with a large grain of salt.


The emotions are real, and will get you dragged in—there's a lot of pretty moving material here in a book that seems to think it's a comedy (it's light-hearted, but I don't think actually ever funny). I appreciated the heart and emotion in every scene and it's this kind of thing that won me over.


So what was my problem with the book? Jack's so intent on being eccentric that he intentionally misspeaks, uses nicknames for characters (so you have to learn the nickname as well as the actual name for a whole lot of characters from the starting gate). Throw in some nigh indecipherable Cockney rhyming slang (and a little bit that was more easily decipherable) and you've got a real challenge to read. But because I'd agreed to do this Book Tour (and ones for the next four books in the series), I had to press on when I really wanted to set (throw?) the book aside. Instead, I went with the immersion approach to learning a foreign language, trusting that eventually something would click for me with the phrasing and everything would make sense. By the 45% point, I'd grown accustomed to his Jack's idiosyncratic dialogue and thinking (probably sooner, but I didn't notice for a little bit.


I mention this only to be forthcoming for potential readers. This isn't a book to read casually but to plod through with all your critical faculties operating. So, yes, I had to work a lot harder to get through this book than I'm typically inclined to, but I'm glad I did. Not only was it worth the effort, I'm curious and invested enough to look forward to what happens next. Hopefully, you're smarter than I am and don't have any problems for the first half (or not that many), so you can enjoy the whimsical and amusing book at an earlier stage than I did. At the end of the day, however, it's a fun book and worth the effort.

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/08/29/cause-and-effect-vice-plagues-the-city-by-pete-adams-its-some-effort-but-readers-will-be-amused-by-this
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review 2019-08-28 18:45
THE KING OF PLAGUES by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter
The King of Plagues - Jonathan Maberry,Ray Porter

This is my favorite of the series so far!


There were lots of surprises here, a few gains and some substantial losses. All the things that keep this reader interested in continuing.


I've been listening on audio and I love Ray Porter's voicing of Joe Ledger. In fact, he is the reason I've continued on with these books. I'm looking forward to the next!


Highly recommended! (As long as you've read the previous books in the series.)


*Thanks to my local library for the free audio download. Libraries RULE!*

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review 2019-07-20 15:35
"Map of Plagues", by J.F. Penn
"Map of Plagues" - J.F. Penn
Mapwalkers book #2

Ms. Penn’s stories are a blend of psychology and the supernatural written in a fast-paced style. No doubts in my mind, she is in her elements writing dark fantasy thrillers. “Map of Plagues” chronicles further the journeys started in “Map of Shadows”, although you could easily fit right in if you start with book#2, it would be preferable to read book #1 first.

Leave all your believes behind and let yourself be transported along with the Mapwalker team across the Borderlands in a race against time to find the missing pieces of a map before the Shadow Cartographers get a hold of them and use their power against Earthside. 

I am not a huge fan of fantasy and I usually stay away from reading them but what pushes me to read books written by this author is the richness of her words. Each movement is vividly painted, dark and full of lively descriptions. The author definitely has some wicked creative skills. Did I like this story, not really, too weird and way over the top for my enjoyment. Having said this, you may want to be pulled into a world filled with blood, gore, human sacrifice and creepy characters “Map of Plagues” provides all the elements to do so. Be careful, the world Ms. Penn has created weaves a spell that will hold you captive till you turn the last page….whether you love the story or not. 

For myself I stay on the fence with this one. 

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. 


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