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review 2020-08-30 13:46
'Champion' Heroes
This Paper World - Jeff Lane

In his thrilling fantasy novel, indie author Jeff Lane introduces two strains of superhumans, in effect the Yin and Yang of seemingly contrary forces, locked in a perpetual existential struggle for survival. That the conflict between the ‘champions’ and the ‘spoilers’ rages alongside the humdrum existence of the vast majority of the human population is interesting. That such extraordinary beings are hidden in plain sight among the general population and their activities go largely unnoticed is also slightly unnerving! Both groups are relatively small in number and co-opt lesser mortals to their respective causes, however, the enmity between the two factions is palpable. For the champions it is driven by the predation of the spoilers, whose hunting style resembles that of hyenas. The spoilers seek to harvest power from their superior opponents in a gruesome and tortuous process, draining the very life force from a lone champion, most often isolated and overwhelmed by numbers. Still, for the reader, this insatiable appetite for the ‘consumption’ of champions’ energy, in what is essentially a parasitic existence, readily casts the ‘spoilers’ as villains and the battlelines drawn between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are clearly marked throughout this opening book in the series.

In an act of self preservation, some champions are loosely connected through a national network and this story follows the transition of eighteen year-old, Jim Hunt, from college student to elite champion-in-the-making. Jim is the prodigy of his neighbour, the enigmatic Nathaniel Parker, who had identified the boy’s potential at a young age (and the need to protect it), but until now never disclosed why he was so special. However, the importance of the young man does not go unnoticed and when spoilers audaciously organise to trap Nathaniel and use him as bait to feast on two of the most powerful champion ‘batteries’, Jim has a life-changing decision to make. 

This, will he, won’t he, journey to potential ‘champion’ undertaken by Jim is exciting and at times comical, as the hero is supported by his college roommate, Eric Warner, who exhibits all the more familiar traits of a hapless mortal teenager. In fact, at times, Eric reminded me of Sancho Panza, with his squirely regard and selfless support for his friend, though he is also weighed down by a substantial secret, his ‘sanchismos’ provide a useful lighter tone amid the surrounding tension.

In the broader arc of this compelling story, can the champions survive this coordinated attack on their existence? Maybe even counter attack the unusually organized incursion into their established, but intentionally nondescript lives? No doubt which side the reader is on, but the grandstand finish raises plenty of new questions, which will have me reaching for Book 2 (“This Burning World”). The author has also confirmed that Book 3 (“This Champion’s World’) is currently being edited, so more to look forward to. For fans of thrilling fantasy tales, this is a very welcome addition to the bookshelf and I am obliged to Jeff Lane for a welcome diversion in this time of COVID-19. 

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review 2014-10-19 09:33
77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
77 Shadow Street - Dean Koontz
bookshelves: published-2011, autumn-2014, boo-scary, halloween-2014, tbr-busting-2014, fraudio, fantasy
Read from May 07, 2012 to October 19, 2014


rosado mp3

Description: Dean Koontz transcends all expectations as he takes readers on a gripping journey to a place where nightmare visions become real—and where a group of singular individuals hold the key to humanity’s destiny. Welcome to 77 Shadow Street.

Had this 'onhold' for so long I had to re-start from scratch.

This reads like a cross between House of Leaves and a Doctor Who episode where the Daleks are exhorting: "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

Baseline three star, supernatural haunted-house fayre.
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review 2014-07-29 23:08
All That I Am by Anna Funder
All That I am - Anna Funder

bookshelves: published-2011, radio-4, historical-fiction, autumn-2011

Recommended for: Brazilliant Laura et al
Read from October 22 to 29, 2011


blurbs - Anna Funder shot to fame when her first book, 'Stasiland', about the secret police in East Germany, won the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2004. Now she has taken a true story and written a gripping novel that reveals what happened to the German Left as the Reich took over in the early nineteen-thirties. In a story of fear and fortitude, enormous bravery and terrible betrayal, she reveals not only the lengths the Gestapo went to, to drive the socialists out and to pursue them across Europe, but also the sacrifices made by the émigrés who wanted to tell the truth about what was happening in their homeland.

Anna Funder was inspired by the true story of her friend, Ruth Blatt, and by those of Dora Fabian, Ernst Toller and Hans Wesemann. She has woven history into a story of passion for a cause, for the truth and for life.


Engrossing subject but the execution was poor. Everyone likes this more to a higher rating.

Hattie Morahan, Sara Kestelman and Samuel West read All That I Am by Anna Funder.
It was abridged by Sally Marmion
The producer is Di Speirs.

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review 2014-07-28 15:01
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris by David King
Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris - David King

bookshelves: fraudio, published-2011, true-grime, serial-killer, nazi-related, autumn-2011, france, nonfiction, wwii, war, gorefest, history, medical-eew

Read from October 16 to 20, 2011


** spoiler alert **

RELEVANT QUOTE - “I am constantly amazed by man's inhumanity to man.”
― Primo Levi

From wiki - On 11 March 1944, neighbors of a house owned by Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot at 21 rue Le Sueur in Paris, complained to police of a foul stench in the area and of large amounts of smoke billowing from a chimney of the house. Fearing a chimney fire, the police summoned firemen, who entered the house and found a roaring fire in a coal stove in the basement. In the fire, and scattered in the basement, were human remains.

General Information
Narrator.......................Paul Michael
Genre...........................True story of a brutal serial killer
Total Runtime...............13 Hours 54 Mins

BLURBS: Death in the City of Light is the gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.

The main suspect was Dr. Marcel Petiot, a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma. He was the “People’s Doctor,” known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, not least in providing free medical care for the poor. Petiot, however, would soon be charged with twenty-seven murders, though authorities suspected the total was considerably higher, perhaps even as many as 150.

Who was being slaughtered, and why? Was Petiot a sexual sadist, as the press suggested, killing for thrills? Was he allied with the Gestapo, or, on the contrary, the French Resistance? Or did he work for no one other than himself? Trying to solve the many mysteries of the case, Massu would unravel a plot of unspeakable deviousness.
When Petiot was finally arrested, the French police hoped for answers.

But the trial soon became a circus. Attempting to try all twenty-seven cases at once, the prosecution stumbled in its marathon cross-examinations, and Petiot, enjoying the spotlight, responded with astonishing ease. His attorney, René Floriot, a rising star in the world of criminal defense, also effectively, if aggressively, countered the charges. Soon, despite a team of prosecuting attorneys, dozens of witnesses, and over one ton of evidence, Petiot’s brilliance and wit threatened to win the day.

Drawing extensively on many new sources, including the massive, classified French police file on Dr. Petiot, Death in the City of Light is a brilliant evocation of Nazi-Occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.

This book should have come face to face with an active editor to whittle it down to ten hours max. Georges Simenon, Sartre, Camus, Fleming, Picasso and de Beauvoir's lives overlap with this grisly tale.
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review 2014-01-30 22:12
This book is going right on my Favorites shelf
The Jade Rabbit - Mark Matthews

Her husband Randall calls her Sweet J; the kids at the Shelter call her Ms. Janice.  Zhu is the name she was given at the Chinese orphanage where she lived after being given up by her China-Mama, before she was adopted by her American parents. Number 1242 is the number she will be wearing as she runs her next marathon.


All these things have shaped her: her abandonment by her mother who was trying for  a boy; her loving adoptive parents; her training for runs;  her happy marriage; and her work as the Director at a center for troubled children.


I don't know much about most of these things, but Mark Matthews' book made me feel like an expert.


Ms. Janice is counseling a troubled teen, Hailey, who is at the shelter because she isn't safe with her mother and she isn't safe with her father.  Hailey is pregnant, and Janice shares that she is adopted.


"'So I guess your mother didn't want you?' Hailey asked, clearly amazed at my story.


'Well, my biological mother, or my China-Mama,  as I called her didn't really have a choice because of how it is there.  She was actually making a big risk just to get me to the orphanage . . . So really she loved me more than most.  Some infant girls are actually killed at birth.  Had China-Mama  not loved me, I wouldn't be here.  She knows I'm okay though,' I said,  and turned to smile into Hailey's eyes.  'She feels it.'


In reality, Janice has abandonment issues and wages a constant struggle to overcome them.  Her parents are excellent.  Her Mom is a marathoner, and Janice started training with her at an early age.  Her mother is adept at making sure Janice knows she is loved all the years of her childhood, not only by herself and her father, but also by the birth mother who had given her up.


"'In a perfect world, China-Mama could have raised you.  I don't kid myself about this,' is what my mom always told me, 'but we are perfect for each other so [we] can be grateful for that.'"  


Janice is currently focused on two girls in particular, Hailey and Sharleen, both of whom have disappeared.  Janice suspects they are sleeping in the basement at the shelter, and is in a quandary as to how to deal with it.  There are legalities and ethics involved, but sometimes doing the thing that is right falls outside the boundaries.  Also Janice's own unresolved childhood issues are in play; she wants to ensure she remains the protector and not a perpetrator.  Yet these same issues have honed her and made her stronger.  These are the things that enable her to pass on the hope and the skills to enable the children at the shelter to become strong too.


Her daily runs are where Janice grinds through many of her problems.  Her thoughts as she runs are fascinating.  She thinks about work problems and possible resolutions; she replays memories, with her parents, with her husband; she calculates minutes and seconds as she trains; she relates the mental and physical highs and lows associated with the effort.  Almost, she made me want to think about taking up running myself.  Not because she made it sound easy, but because she made it sound so rewarding.


And Mark Matthews!  He must have some admirable women in his life.  Because when he writes his female characters and makes them talk about or think about or feel women's topics such as motherhood and nurturing, he made me believe that women had felt them, and spoken them, and thought them.


There were a very few issues with the book that I hope will be addressed in subsequent editions: for instance, once he spelled wondered when he meant wandered, more than once he used besides when it should have been beside, and quite often he  used adjectives when he should have turned them into adverbs (quickly rather than quick, slowly rather than slow).  But those little tiny things don't really matter given the greatness of the book.


An  angry parent came to the shelter to confront Janice, and I felt the danger.  The children revolve in and out the doors of the shelter, and I felt the hopelessness and despair.  But there is also kindness and compassion, and sometimes there is a success story.  And there is the marathon -- the preparation and the training and the actual day, and I never thought the minutia of all that could be so entertaining, but it was.


There's conflict resolution, character development and growth, compunction to care about what happens to the characters, and a very satisfying ending.  I can't think of anything else that needs to be added.








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