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review 2015-09-15 04:53
Abandon - Blake Crouch

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” - Dante Alighieri

 

“He, who had done more than any human being to draw her out of the caves of her secret, folded life, now threw her down into deeper recesses of fear and doubt. The fall was greater than she had ever known, because she had ventured so far into emotion and had abandoned herself to it.” ― Anaïs Nin

 

A day and a half. A few hours, cold and weary. Lost. Afraid.

 

“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.” ― Dante Alighieri, Inferno

 

Hell truly is dark. And it opens up in the mountains above Durango Colorado, in a ghost town forgotten for one hundred seven years. Abandon. Abandon all hope, for Abandon is the home of death. The home of the darkness which fills the human soul.

 

Twisting. Twisting.

 

Abandon was once a thriving gold mining town, filled with people, light and laughter. “The whores, the opium, the fun”, but hey, it was the gold rush, and everything goes. But then, the gold vein faded out, people wandered away. And by the time Christmas day of 1893 arrived, and only a small number of people remain.

 

Jocelyn Maddox, the barkeep and black widow, waiting for the snows to pass in the spring when she will be transported to Arizona to hang for her crimes. Ezekiel and Gloria Curtice, the local lawman and his wife. A preacher, a deputy, a few families. Abandon is dying. Dying.

 

Dead.

 

Now, six people return to Abandon. Scott Sawyer and Jerrod Spicer, mountain guides. Emmett and June Tozer, paranormal photographers. Lawrence Kendall, university professor and specialist on everything Abandon. And Abigail Foster, New Yorker, outdoor magazine journalist, and estranged daughter of Lawrence. They have climbed to 13,000 feet, then dropped 2,000 to the ghost town of Abandon. And then, they too begin to die.

Moving through the abandoned Abandon, you can almost see the town itself, in all its disintegration. Gasping in the thin, high-altitude air. The scent of firs and snow, the cordite scent of landslides. Dry rot and age. And then? Fear. Blood. Desperation. Death.

 

Blake Crouch is a master of edge-of-your-seat suspense. Horror on a human scale. Breathtaking terror so thick in the air the reader gasps, feeling the cold upon the skin, the terror deep in the heart and mind.

 

“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people” ― Dante Alighieri, The Inferno

 

Enter at your own risk.

 

I received Abandon from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2015-09-15 04:27
An interesting werewolf mythology
In the Company of Wolves (SWAT) - Paige Tyler

“There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death.” - bell hooks

 

A meth addict mother. Check. A brutal, drunken stepfather. Check. Living in a hellhole of an apartment, waiting for said stepfather to storm into her room and rape her. Double check. Jayna Winston fled into the night on the very night that nearly happened. Bloody, beaten and alone.

 

Fast forward to the present day, and Jayna finds herself in a hell of a mess. In Paige Tyler’s mythology, werewolves are created at times of great terror and pain, and Jayna’s change came that terrifying night. Now, her alpha, Liam, has placed his small pack into the hands of the Albanian mob, locked them into committing crimes, from theft to murder. Murder. And Liam apparently doesn’t care that his tiny pack is in danger of being killed every time they commit a crime. That right this very moment Jayna’s life is in danger.

Because Liam said there were no werewolves in Dallas. Especially no alpha werewolves. But now, in a warehouse in a bad part of Dallas, Jayna and the omega wolves Liam has taken in – huge, ruthless, savage – are surrounded. Surrounded by a SWAT team composed completely of wolves. Alpha wolves.

 

A whole pack of alpha wolves. Toe-to-toe to one of said wolves, Jayna knows she will never survive. Until the alpha wolf dumps her into a packing crate, tells her to be very, very quiet – and then pours a shipment of very expensive perfume over the crate to block her scent.

 

What the . . . ?

 

Why did that happen? And to make it even weirder, the alpha, Eric Becker, tracks her down. But he doesn’t arrest her. He wants to help. Liam may have dropped Jayna and her tiny pack into certain death, but Becker wants to help. No one has ever offered to actually help Jayna. Now she and Megan, Moe, Joseph and Chris, three beta wolves, can no longer rely on Liam. And without Liam’s strength, they can’t leave, can’t fight back.

But Becker has a plan. First, he has to present himself as an omega, and be accepted by Frasheri, the Albanian mob boss, and his underboss, the psychopath Kostandin. And then? Well, here is what is going to happen . . .

 

Tyler’s mythology is interesting in its difference. Neither Jayna nor her pack members, or Becker himself, have been wolves for very long, all learning what it means. All have things to teach one another. Jayna is terrified, of course, of losing her much loved pack members, even Liam who sold them out to the mob in exchange for money and the illusion of power. To save them she will have to be stronger than she ever could have imagined. And she comes through beautifully. Becker and his people are strong, of course, but also very human in the best sort of way. A pleasant read.

 

I received In the Company of Wolves from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2015-09-15 03:53
Fairly trite romance
Taken Away - Patricia Yager Delagrange

“I never wanted to be pregnant. I want to paint. I don’t want to burp a baby, feed it bottles, change dirty diapers. Shit! You know that.” – Serena Middleton, wife of Dr. Jessee Bradford

 

Serena never wanted to be married. Never wanted to have a baby. But, she did both. Sophia is a beautiful child, and Serena seems to settle. She is painting, Jessee is working as a veterinarian in a 24-hour emergency animal hospital, and they are happy.

 

Then one day Jessee comes home to an empty house. And neither the FBI nor private investigators can find Serena and Sophia. Kidnapping? Or did Serena simply run, taking Sophia with her? Jessee doesn’t know and, subject to panic attacks and severe depression he decides to leave Santa Monica and return to his home in Iowa to take over his grandfather’s veterinary practice.

 

There, he learns to relax. To enjoy his grandparent’s company, and even finds someone to love. But then? A visit to a gallery changes everything. Is Jessee’s life destroyed? Or will all his dreams come true?

 

There are things I liked about the story, and other things that didn’t quite work for me. The book it written in first person, which sometimes works, but in this case simply led to “telling not showing.” It made the story slow going, and I found myself flipping pages to get past the boring parts. Delagrange also devolves into the trite and corny much too heavily for my tastes. For example, there is an instance at the very end, involving Laura, that was just too ‘smarmy on steroids’ for me. It was OK, but not a book I will keep in my stash.

 

I received Taken Away from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2015-09-13 22:43
Buchman slams the hot button
Target Engaged (Delta Force) - M. L. Buchman

The Afghanistan war has been something of a testing ground for women in combat, with coalition members including Canada, Germany, Poland, and Sweden deploying women in frontline units for the first time. No significant problems were reported in the British survey, and some militaries found that women officers were more effective at some tasks, such as gathering intelligence from female civilians. – Joshua E. Keating, “Foreign Policy: Women on the Front Lines” February 3, 2012

 

Women in combat. Wow. Now there is a discussion as ‘hot-button’ as religion in the US. And M.L. Buchman pushes that button, hard, in his “Target Engaged.” And he does a Kick Ass job of it.

 

Buchman’s book couldn’t be more “up to the moment.” The news for September 11, 2015 was full of the results of the Marine Corp study carried out to test women in special operations combat situations. There was some good news, but mostly bad. The worst? The Marine study didn’t follow the guidelines set up for the test!! Instead of doing what they would do with the men special ops candidates, i.e., choosing the very best the Corp has to offer to go through special training, they chose “average.” AVERAGE??? Oh, cut me a freakin’ BREAK! AS IF they would choose “Average” males to go through special ops training! So, they got the results they were going for. Most of the women failed. Well, here is a little secret – Most of the men failed as well! That’s why they call it ‘special’ training. They weed out the weak. Of course, the articles you find on the net are varied by exactly who was writing them. Hampton Roads put the worst (read, most misogynist) spin on the results, while Stripes Okinawa was the most balanced I could find. I am embarrassed for the Marines, that they thought it necessary to try their best to skew the results for a bad outcome.

 

Where Buchman gets it right, and thrills me that I was offered his book for review, is in how he handles this issue with his Delta aspirant, Sergeant Carla Anderson. Carla is what the Marines should have aspired to in their test. She is no unbelievable Superwoman. She is simply a Soldier. An Army Sergeant with experience, intelligence, and above all, a drive to succeed that is unparalleled. And Buchman makes her believable. She is the kind of woman I always dreamed of being. Tough and ready to face the pain, but at the same time she is kind. She doesn’t take shit, but she doesn’t turn away from it either. She faces it all head-on. And when you dunk a fellow recruit’s head in the slit trench when he tries that misogynistic, hateful crap on you, well, the others have a tendency to stand back and let you do what you are going to do.

 

Buchman takes you through Delta training without pulling punches. I, of course, have no idea if what the recruits go through is realistic, but hey, it didn’t feel ‘unrealistic’ so I am going with it.

 

And, hey. Marines? You should read the book. Of 104 who started, all but Carla male, only seven graduated to the next level of training. And only five of those survived. Now THAT is realism in your training, kids.

 

Anyway. After a month of weeding out the weak, another of perfecting and tuning, the five remaining members of the class, including Anderson, are sent on their first operation. Venezuela, home of the “elected dictatorship” that runs on guns and drugs. And of course, having a woman on the team, especially one who has gone through Delta training and has a perfect, healthy body is, well, the perfect distraction for a drug lord’s guards. Just swagger across the compound with your shirt unbuttoned and everyone’s attention is riveted – enough to assure that picking them off is a piece of cake!

 

With that CIA run mission taken care of, they move immediately to the next. And the next may take them all out before they have been on the job for a week.

 

This is high-action, ladies and gents. Well written, exciting, and believable I found myself glued to my reader screen. Who needs food? Or sleep? Not when I can be reading Buchman! I had never read his work before, but I am loading all of his work into my Wish List.

 

The only thing that made me uneasy? This is a member of the “romantic suspense” genre. As such, Carla and Special Forces Sergeant First Class Kyle Reeves, one of the five, have a relationship. Buchman actually handles it well, but the very fact of the relationship aspect gave me pause. One of the things that women in the military face is sexual harassment. One of the things the military faces is women in the military being in relationships, and getting knocked up by, other soldiers. This is something that soldiers like Lance Cpl. Callahan Brown, one of the two women who survived the recent Marine test, has to face every day. All she wants is to be the best possible combat soldier. However, it is made harder than it should be, not only by the military brass and their fellow soldiers, but by other women who don’t have the fortitude to “Ovary-up” and concentrate on business, not what is between their legs. Buchman handles it fairly well, but it was still a concern for me, that Carla was distracted a couple of times from the business at hand by drooling over her fellow soldier. Of course, he was distracted at times as well, so goose and gander.

 

PUBLISHING DECEMBER 1, 2015

 

I received Target Engaged” from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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review 2015-09-12 06:32
Homo pravissimus
Blind: Killer Instincts - Sidney Bristol

“Human nature is evil, and goodness is caused by intentional activity.” -- Zun Zi

 

“As human beings we have the most extraordinary capacity for evil. We can perpetrate some of the most horrendous atrocities.” -- Desmond Tutu

 

Plato, bless him, was wrong. No matter how intelligent he was. He said, To prefer evil to good is not in human nature.” Possibly it was simply a blind spot. Or a “if wishes were horses” sort of thing. Because people, no matter who they are, or what they believe in, are balanced on a knife’s edge of savagery. Some more than others, of course. But for some? For some, there is no other choice but the darkness. Twisted, rotting souls, aching for the pleasure of blood and agony. Needing the death, the pain they bring to others. Then there are the soulless ones – the ones born with no conscience, no light. Those who live only for the game of death. A game.

 

Simply a game.

 

Emma know about the game. Her grandparents were pawns, many years ago, when the TBK Killer took their lives. As if “took their lives” could possibly portray the horror of their deaths. Torture. Blind. Kill. Only, the truly cruel part? They left her father alive. Her father, who never recovered. Who lives in hiding, drunk and brutal and broken. So, Emma tries to understand. She gathered all of the monster’s letters to his victims she could find. Created files. Notes. Timelines. She learned everything she could about the monster who destroyed her family. She isn’t educated, she likes big trucks and dirt bikes, and she has only a single friend. But she is holding it together, working as a mechanic and sculpting in left-over metal and junk parts. She is alive. Sort of.

 

Jacob. Jacob is different from Emma, but in many ways the same. His father was the cop who brought down Mitchell Land, the TBK Killer. Mitchell Land, who killed himself in prison. Jacob’s father was never the same after that case. Bitter, silent, he never recovered. His father treated Emma’s horribly – hounding the child until he broke from the pressure. Until Emma’s father collapsed under the weight of not only what he saw, but the brutality of the police who were so determined to catch the killer, they destroyed the child’s soul. So. Much. Pain.

 

Now, years later, Jacob is a cop himself. And one day, he receives a letter. Then another. Letters which, while not exactly the same, reflect those of the TBK Killer. When his politician lieutenant refuses to listen, blowing off the letters as the work of kids or a creep with a personal grudge and knowledge of Jacob’s history, Jacob turns to Emma, hoping her collection will help him to discover if what he thinks is true. There is another serial killer out there – and his next target is Jacob.

 

Now, the bodies are piling up. And all of them have a connection to Emma. The two of them will have to work together to save one another. And with the FBI shutting them out, can they protect one another from a monster? Oh, but there is more to it than that. A lot more. A type of sick savagery that is both horrific – and yet totally believable. A truth that surely has Plato rolling in his grave.

 

This is one twisted tale, delving into the darkest depths of what is so lightly called the ‘human soul.’ Or rather, the very fact that, realistically? There are a lot of people out there who simply don’t have what we so blithely call a soul. Homo sapiens so dark, so evil, that even giving them the name isn’t truly realistic.

 

Homo pravissimus.*

 

This is a dark and bloody tale, and totally, completely compelling. Well, I can say that with a proviso of sorts. Sidney Bristol is a romance author who happens to write “romantic suspense.” So, there is a lot of sex in the book. I found it disappointing, actually. I am fine with romantic suspense. I like it in fact. But it is when an author like Bristol, who is such an exceptional suspense writer, puts so much sex into a book that it overshadows the suspense, well, I am disappointed. Of course, others will find the sex part to be exactly why they like the book, so to each their own. Be that as it may, I am glad I was offered the opportunity to read the book.

 

I received Blind from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own and are based upon personal literary tastes.

 

* prāvissimus(Latin) Adjective - ‎(superlative of prāvus) 1. most or very deformed; 2. most or very depraved

 

 

 

 

Source: soireadthisbooktoday.com
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