Archives for posts with tag: book reviews

Assassin’s Price by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is the latest and eleventh novel in his bestselling Imager Portfolio series. Like all the other books in the series, Assassin’s Price is set in a world where magic is the literal realization of the imagination. Rex Lorien is back, though six years older than he was in the last book of the series, Treachery’s Tools from 2016. In this novel, more focus is on his eldest son, Charyn, and his attempts to learn more about Solidar and the economics of it, in order to better be prepared one day to take over from his father as the ruler. You can WIN a hardback copy of this page-turning, adventure-filled addition to the series if you are a resident of the United States of Canada and leave a non-Spam related comment below, saying what your name is and where you live, the state or province, to verify that you are eligible to enter! You also must be 18 years or older, and a few other rules are below. Daily entries are allowed.

While Charyn is eager to find out as much as possible about the economics and inner workings of Solidar’s government, his father, Rex Lorien, just keeps telling him things like that there is plenty of time to learn all of that. Caryn is tired of waiting, and he decides to take a stronger interest in Solidar, by educating himself with the help of the factors and craft masters of the land, as well as his father’s advisors. But, he wants to do it without attracting his father’s attention, though he knows that sooner or later, he will find out. Charyn just hopes by the time that happens, his father will understand why he acted behind his back, and that he won’t be too angry at him.

The efforts of Charyn to go behind the scenes, and behind his father’s back, to gain knowledge so he can one day be a worthy ruler of Solidar, sets up the plot and the action that follows. Solidar’s shipping is being disrupted by Jarolian privateers, something that Charyn cannot tolerate. When the privateers destroy ships containing much-needed goods, the prices of said goods are driven up.

A complication in the plot of Assassin’s Price is that an attempt is made on the life of Charyn’s younger brother, and notes that threaten Charyn and his entire family follow. Acts of violence against the rex and his family prompts swift action to be taken to prevent any loss of life or further violence to continue. One of the actions taken is to build more ships, to strengthen Solidar’s might and ability to conduct commerce.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., has often been hailed as a master of world-building, and he showcases that talent yet again with Assassin’s Price. He also delivers characters that are three-dimensional that his legions of fans have come to know and love, and plots that are full of political intrigue. For the chance to win a hardback copy of Assassin’s Price, besides following the rules above, anyone who enters must not be related to myself, and also you must be prepared to provide your full name and snail mail address if you are the one randomly chosen as the winner. You can provide the requested information through a FB or Twitter message or via email, if you prefer not to reveal it at this website. The giveaway will run from Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, to Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, at midnight CT. The potential winner will then have five days to respond and provide me with his/her mailing information by midnight Wed. Nov. 22, 2017, so I can give it to the publisher of Assassin’s Price, Tor/Forge, who will mail out the hardback copy to the winner. If the person chosen does not provide the information within the five day period, a new winner will be selected. Good luck!

Due to Lack of Response, A Winner Was Not Selected in This Giveaway.

Written by: Douglas R. Cobb

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Tales from a Talking Board (Word Horde) is a brilliant collection of 14 short stories by some of today’s greatest authors, centered around the theme of the Ouija board, in its various forms and incarnations, edited by horror author, Ross E. Lockhart. It will officially be available on Oct. 24, just in time for Halloween. It’s an eerie compilation of tales that belongs in the personal libraries and/or Kindles of everyone hwo loves the macabre.

This review of Tales from a Talking Board is based on an ARC I received from Mr. Lockhart, but it is, like all of my reviews, based entirely on what I thought of the quality of the writing. While there was, of course, some of hte short stories I liked better than others, and some that were, in my opinion, better written than others, that’s to be expected with any compilation of any sort. Generally speaking, though, on the whole, I was impressed with the quality of the short stories in Tales from a Talking Board, and if you’re a fan of the genre, as I am, I think that you will also enjoy reading it.

To avoid any spoilers, I will not cover any of the short stories in Tales from a Talking Board thoroughly, but i will let you know what they are about, to whet your interest and give you an idea what the tales are about, other than the general theme of the Ouija board and communicating with Satan and/or the dead.

Tales from a Talking Board opens with the tale, “YesNoGoodbye,” by Kristi DeMeester. The female protagonist, Cassandra, 14, asks her friend to join her in a session with her Ouija board. They both have secrets revealed, including her friend’s romantic interest in Cassandra. Oh, and there’s a horrifying demonic creature outside Cassandra’s window, as well.

Moving on from that terrific start, the second tale in Tales from a Talking Board is “The Devil and the Bugle Boys,” by J.M. McDermott. It’s about competition, the kind between high school bands, and it’s about what happens when questions asked a Ouija board get answers that are hard to bare. Comraderie between male teens and a jokingly-made deal with the Devil, one that the Devil takes seriously, makes this a very intriguing and interesting short story.

The third offering in Tales from a Talking Board is Anya Martin’s “WeeGee WeeGee, Tell Me Do.” One of the reasons I really enjoyed reading this tale is because it explores a bit of the history of the Ouija game, and goes back to the days of Vaudeville, when the great singer, Marie Cahill, helped make a song about using the Ouija board into one of the most popular songs in the United States. It’s also about a women who gets abused by her husband and desperately wants to leave him.

That brings me to the fourth short story in the anthology, a mysterious and fascinating tale with elements of science fiction in it called “When The Evil Days Come Not,” by Nathan Carson. It takes place, for the most part, in a very peculiar orphanage, ran by a quasi-religious man who is reportedly over 130 years old, who does not have the best interests of the children at heart. It’s an odd, unique tale that I loved reading, though it is a disturbing one, in some respects–cool stuff!

The fifth short story in Tales from a Talking Board is “Grief,” by Tiffany Scandal, a great author who has a very eye-catching last name, or pseudonym. Parents grieve over the death of their son, who had cancer, and they want to try contacting his spirit with a Ouija board. They find out it wasn’t necessarily the wisest thing for them to do.

Then, the collection’s sixth tale is a funky gem called “Spin the Throttle,” by David James Keaton. It’s an unusual take on the traditional Ouija game and communicating with the dead, or possibly, with Satan. Many unusual items can be used to learn secrets from the Other World, partiers speeding down a road in the back of a truck, in a hot tub, discover.

Tale number seven in Tales from a Talking Board, the halfway mark in the collection, numerically speaking, is “Pins,” by S.P. Miskowski. In it, a woman, Helen, travels with her friend, Barb, to a psychic, who tells Helen that she must hold pins in her hand. This is, to me, another highlight in the anthology, though it’s about communicating with the dead via a psychic, rather than a medium. Helen thinks the psychic is fake, until…well, you’ll just have to read it to find out what Helen finds out!

The eighth short story in this page-turning anthology is one with one of the coolest titles in the collection, “Deep Into the Skin,” though several other cool titles follow. It is written by Matthew M. Bartlett and is a tale narrated by a first-person character who runs a tattoo parlour called Mikey’s Ink Chamber. Mikey’s old mentor gets murdered in a grisly fashion, and an employee fears that maybe a serial killer is on the loose. Three odd-looking people come into Mikey’s shop, and one locks the door behind him. He tells Mikey he wants him to do a job, in return for his life, in this thrilling tale.

I’ll briefly touch on the last few short stories, which are also great fun to read, especially for fans of the occult and horror stories. Short story number nine in Tales from a Talking Board is one with another very cool title, “Burnt Sugar Stench,” by Wendy N. Wagner. It’s another tale told in the first person, and is about Takas, a 20-year-old clairovoyant who is often “on retainer,” both by the cops and by Russian organized crime figures, like “the Raskolnikovs.” She is given the job of locating the kidnapped heiress to the Raskolnikov fortune….Time traveling and saving the world are parts of this terrific tale.

Numero diez, or ten, in Tales from a Talking Board is yet another tale with a cool and intriguing title, “Worse Than Demons,” by Scott R. Jones. It begins in a rather novel way, as the entire short story is meant to be an interview a reporter from a magazine conducts with a director, Gregory Martens. One of the interesting themes the story explores is if language can be considered to be a “virus.” It’s one of the tales I consider to be a highlight of the anthology.

The eleventh short story in the anthology is another one with an eye-catching title, “The Empress and the Three Swords,” by Amber-Rose Reed. It’s a first-person tale set in London, and in it, an acquaintance of the narrater’s, an actor, takes him to the residence of a woman known as “Gypsy.” It’s a gem of a tale, about the Tarot, a sword given as a gift, and the fate of the Birds, and a future that Gypsy is reluctant to reveal.

“Questions and Answers” by David Templeton is the twelfth short story in Tales from a Talking Board. The characters in this tale, who take a class that’s an introduction to becoming a Spirt Board operator, learn that education continues even in the Afterlife. This short story is another of my faves in the collection, and even includes mention of how Alice Cooper reportedly got his stage name.

The thirteenth short story in the anthology is another one with an intriguing title, “Harpuspicate or Scry,” by Orrin Grey. It’s about a woman attending college and her attachment to a much older professor of Philosophy, who she asks to walk her down the aisle when she gets married. They don’t have a love for each other, but he is influential in her life, and she sometimes spends the night at his house, rather than traveling back to the city she lives with her husband, Gavin.

When the professor dies, the narrator tries to communicate with him through Ouija boards. He gave her a phrase from a poem to memorize, but no matter how hard the narrator tries, she cannot make contact with him…until one day, someone she knows does, through an entirely different way, in this terrific tale.

Finally, the fourteenth tale in Tales from a Talking Board is “May You Live in Interesting Times,” by Nadia Bulkin. In this brilliant short story, a man struggles with his religious beliefs and the desire to contact a dead love interest, and the latter wins out. He throws away his career, and more, trusting in a Ouija board and his dead girlfriend, Alice, more….but, she is not the same, at all.

Fans of horror tales and the macabre will enjoy reading the collection of horror stories that make up Tales from a Talking Board, edited by Ross E. Lockhart. Check it out today, and have pleasant screams! Yeah, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but, oh, well….This a a Must Read for anyone who has every had an interest in the occult or using Ouija boards–get it, or regret it!

Written By: Douglas R. Cobb


Spots by the talented author, Simon Plaster, is his latest satirical novel featuring a small-town reporter, Henrietta, who is from the actual small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. In Spots, Henrietta travels to Oklahoma City, where the novel is primarily set, to report on the days leading up to a TV awards show in which awards are given to the best actors/actresses in TVCs, or TV commercials, otherwise known as “Spots.” Because of this, other than Henrietta and her mother, Wynona Sue, many recurring characters from Plaster’s other novels in the series are not featured in Spots, but that is more than made up for with his cast of new characters, including ones from famous commercials, like William Shatner, the insurance gal, Flo, and the two guys who currently are in commercials for Sonic.

The plot of Spots revolves around the antics and intrigue associated with the actors and actresses up for awards in Oklahoma City, when the Academy of Television Commercials Arts and Sciences is forced to relocate its annual awards ceremony from Las Vegas to OKC. Henrietta, who is now a reporter for OKC’s Tinseltown SCENE newspaper, wants to get a scoop that she hopes will result in her winning a Pulitzer Prize.

Besides the usual gossip and rumors circulating around, and the rivalries that exist between TVC stars, like one Plaster writes about between Flo and her almost identical sister, Chloe (Clo), who is in commercials for Transgressive Insurance Company, there are rumors brewing about a scheme to murder at least one of the TVC stars—but, which one, Henrietta wonders, might be the first to die? Will it be possibly Flo or Chloe, maybe, or the bald-headed man from insurance commercials who seems to know an awful lot about what people do, or maybe one of the Sonic guys, or even Jimmy Mayhem, Colonel Sanders or William Shatner?

Deano DeBoffo is also one of Spot’s main characters. He’s a famous Hollywood producer/director and he wants to create a docudrama that is basically one long commercial, called “What’s In Your Wallet?” A part of the plot of Spots involves his efforts to convince some of the TVC actors gathered in OKC to sign up with him to be in his planned movie.

Spots is a very entertaining satirical romp poking fun at awards shows and the actors/actresses appearing in some of the most famous TV spots in recent memory. It is probably a novel that would be most enjoyed by Young Adults and older, as Plaster also references many older commercials that many adults will fondly remember, like the Alka Seltzer ones, with catch phrases like, “That’s one spicy meatball!” and “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!”

I found the in-fighting between many of the TVC stars to be very amusing, and also whenever Simon Plaster wrote scenes including Jimmy Mayhem. Plaster has written, with Spots, one of his best satirical novels yet. Will the reporting that Henrietta does for OKC Tinseltown SCENE land her the Pulitzer Prize she feels she so richly deserves? Who is behind the rumors and apparent attempts to kill off TVC stars? Check out Spots to find out! It’s an entertaining satirical novel I highly recommend, along with Plaster’s other novels featuring small-town reporter, Henrietta, like Hmmm?, Ticks: A Tail of Climate Change and a Girl, and Hogback!

Written By: Douglas R. Cobb


The Dramos Saga by the amazing author Franklin E. Wales relates the adventures of the title character, Dramos, a character torn out of the old Wild West, who also has a unique set of talents when it comes to killing supernatural beings like werewolves and vampires. In the interrelated stories about Dramos and his exploits that make up The Dramos Saga, Wales skillfully weaves in plenty of action to hold the interest of his readers, a fan base that is exponentially growing by the day. If you would like to enter to WIN an ebook copy of The Dramos Saga, just leave a comment below, with your name and country, state, or province where you live, and be 18 or over –it’s that simple, though there are a scant few other rules, which are below! Fans can also buy The Dramos Saga and the author’s other novels at Amazon here.

Without (hopefully) revealing any Spoilers, The Dramos Saga opens with “13 Steps.” In “13 Steps,” Wales introduces his readers to the character of Dramos and hints at his origin story. At the beginning of the tale, Dramos, or Doriano “Dramos” Tepedino, as he’s otherwise called, is getting ready to be executed, by getting hung by the neck until dead. The rest of the first short story is about what leads up to Dramos’ death sentence, why he pleads guilty, and how he cheats death, because he — you will just have to read how he does it, yourselves. The fact that he does cheat death is not much of a spoiler, as, of course, there are other short stories in the book, all featuring the central protagonist, Dramos.

Are there werewolves in the first story? Yes! And, Drmaos encounters a foe from his family’s past, from Italy — the vampire, Tarczali. Wales also relates how Dramos, who starts out the story nude, stumbles into an encampment searching for clothing to purloin and becomes a part of a stagecoach robbery. There’s enough violence and shoot-outs in “13 steps,” to satisfy the most jaded of Western fans, and enough supernatural beings like werewolves to also satisfy most horror fans, or at least, ones of the Old School variety, who love reading about beings like werewolves and vampires that actors like Lon Chaney, Jr., and Bela Lugosi originally helped make famous on the Silver Screen.

Then, The Dramos Saga goes on to relate other, related, adventures that Dramos is featured in, like the second short story in the collection, “Funeral Coach.” Dramos is hot on the trail of the Vampire King, himself, who goes by the name Pierre Durie. A character called Colby has been forcibly enlisted by Tarczali’s minions at the Circle Star Ranch to be a Coachman for a funeral coach.

When Dramos orders Colby to get down from the funeral coach, he learns the horrible truth behind it, directly from Colby. He cannot get down, as he has been chained to the stagecoach at his ankles. The lead rider next to Colby has been shot in the neck and is practically dead. Colby tells Dramos, that the funeral coach contains a coffin. Dramos shows Colby that inside the coffin….ah, but that would be a Spoiler, so I will not mention what Dramos shows the Colby.

The other short stories — or chapters, that stand alone as parts of the overall saga of Dramos — are “Pickin’ To Beat The Devil,” “Renegade,” “Vampire’s Gold,” “The Vampire King,” and “Blackwater.” The other five short stories in The Dramos Saga will leave readers enthralled, and there is much more violence, blood, gore and gunfire for anyone who loves reading Westerns and Horror novels in this genre-crossing collection.

Besides the rules above, including leaving a comment below and either letting me know where you live below or through a Twtter or Facebook message, what are the remaining few rules? The period of time entries to win an ebook of The Dramos Saga will be accepted will be from Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, to Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, at midnight. Also, anyone related to me cannot enter, and if you have won something from this website during the past 90 days, you are not eligible to win this contest. The potential winner will have a five-day period to respond when I contact him/her, to then email the winner the ebook. If the potential winner does not reply within the five-day period, a new winner will be selected. Multiple entries are allowed, but please, do not leave a Spam-related comment, as anyone who does will be disqualified. Good luck!

By: Douglas R. Cobb


Strong To The Bone (Tor/Forge) by best-selling thriller author, Jon Land, is another page-turning addition to Land’s series of novels featuring fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, complete with all the twists and turns, and action, fans have come to expect from Land’s novels. Texas Ranger has faced myriads of tough adversaries in the past, but in Strong To the Bone, she faces perhaps the toughest yet, as she has a very personal stake in the matter. Beware: Spoiler Alerts follow, though I will try not to reveal too much about the fantastic plot of Strong To The Bone.

Here’s the first Spoiler — sorry, in advance: One of the foes she encounters is the man who raped her when she was a college undergraduate. Spoiler Number Two rapidly follows on the heels of the first Spoiler: Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, with the aid of her boyfriend, Cort Wesley Masters, seven-foot-tall friend and protector, Guillermo Paz, and assorted law enforcement officers, also take on a drug-dealing gang of neo-Nazis intent on remodeling the United States and destroying America’s very way of life.

Read on, and get my further thoughts on Strong To The Bone — besides the fact that it is another terrific entry in the series — and please leave a non-Spam comment, below, or Message me on Twitter or Facebook, what your name is, your state, and city, to get the chance to WIN an autographed hardback copy of the thriller, before it is even available in stores on December 5, 2017! Only residents of the United States who are 18 or older are eligible for this particular contest. Jon Land will personally autograph and mail out the prize to the person who wins. There are just a few other simple rules that follow at the end of this review.

As with the other novels in the Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, Jon Land interweaves the past with the present, including flashbacks of cases Strong’s illustruous forebearers played key roles in, that resonate in the future and her own cases. In Strong To The Bone, both Strong’s grandfather, Texas Ranger Earl Strong, and father, Texas Ranger Jim Strong, play pivotal roles. Caitlin’s grandfather deals with an escaped Nazi prisoner of war, who murdered everyone else in his barracks before escaping, while her father is understandably enrage when Caitlin gets raped, and he does his best to help find the person responsible.

Early on in Strong To The Bone, Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong takes matters into her own hands, when she, in the company of Cort Wesley, sees drunken college students spilling out of a bar and causing a major disruption. She learns that there is a young female college student still within the bar, who has been sexually assaulted, and goes about coming to her rescue in a decidely flamboyant, but very effective, Caitlin Strong manner, by commandeering a fire truck with her boyfriend’s aid, and turning one of the truck’s hoses on the crowd to give her the space she needs to get through all of the bodies to help the young woman inside.

Cort Wesley’s two teen sons from a previous relationship, are also back in Strong To The Bone. while Wesley’s son, Dylan, is taking off a semester from college at Brown University, he is working at a car body shop where his father got him a job. A group of neo-Nazis that drive a truck by the car shop on a daily basis shout out racial slurs to the Hispanics who also work at the place, and Dylan, being perhaps a bit too much like his father, does not take kindly to the slurs and confronts the neo-Nazis armed with a gun.

Cort Wesley finds out about Dylan’s actions, but he does not want to directly get involved, nor have Caitlin Strong get involved in the matter. Instead, he goes to where Colonel Paz is volunteering at a shelter, dispensing food and philosphy to the homeless men who come there, and enlists him in keeping an eye on his son and stepping in, when necessary.

Jon Land very ably and convincingly ties in these subplots of Strong To The Bone into the main one, about a neo-Nazi drug dealer who has enormous wealth and power, and who has the head of a pharmaceutical company ready to do his bidding, under the threat of blackmail and getting the daylights beaten out of him. Strong To The Bone’s gripping plot, three-dimensional characters, gritty realism and non-stop action will have readers on the edges of their seats, not wanting to put the book down.

Strong To The Bone is not yet on sale either online or in stores. However, by following the rules above and leaving a comment below (or by messaging me via Twitter or my Facebook page) with the requested information, which will only be used to contact the winner, and for no other purposes, one lucky person will win an autographed copy of Strong To The Bone by Jon Land! The contest will run from Monday, September 25, to Friday, October 13, at midnight. The person randomly chosen as the winner will have five days to respond and provide me with his/her complete snail mail address, which I will only use to give to Jon Land, so he will know where to mail the autographed copy of Strong To The Bone. People who have won anything from this website during the past 90 days are not eligible to enter. also, anyone who is a relative of mine is not eligible to enter. Good Luck and Happy Reading!

By: Douglas R. Cobb


City of Saviors (Tor/Forge) by Rachel Howzell Hall is Hall’s fourth gripping thriller in her series featuring LAPD police homicide detective, Elouise “Lou” Norton, who has become a sergeant on the force. In City of Saviors, Lou is suffering from PTSD and recovering from injuries after her run-in with the brutal murderer, Zach Fletcher, who came very close to ending her life in Trail of Echoes. Lou and her partner, Detective Colin Taggert, investigate the death of seventy-three-year-old Eugene Washington, who dies after a Labor Day weekend picnic, and determine that the Vietnam vet’s death was anything but a natural one.

I and the book’s publishers, Tor/Forge, are pleased to announce that that one lucky reader of this review who enters below will get to WIN a hardback copy of City of Saviors! This giveaway is open to only residents of the United States and Canada who are 18 or older and leave a non-Spam related comment below, meaning the state or province and city he/she lives in. A few other rules are also below. Eleanor Griego was the winner of the last book giveaway, a hardback copy of Killing Is My Business by Adam Christopher (Tor/Forge).

 

City of Saviors Captures Readers’ Attention From the Very First Sentence

City of Saviors captures the readers’ attention from the very first sentence, and holds it to the very end of the novel. Norton has faced many nefarious murderers during her career, but perhaps none who are any more devious than the culprit behind the death of Vitenam vet, Eugene Washington. The house Washington dies in is like a scene out of the suburbs of Hell, with cats, living and dead, roaming around at will, roaches scurrying everywhere, and the oders of spoiled food and death pungently scenting the un-airconditioned air.

Washington is found dead, sitting in an armchair, with a gun in front of him, and an unfinished meal on a rusty tray beside the armchair, with roaches stuck in a casserole dish. Also, Norton and Taggert spot an unfinished 40-ounce bottle of Schlitz on the tray, with roaches sprinting in and out of it. Lou makes it out of the house of horror, somehow, back into the sunlight on a 98-degree day, without throwing up, but just barely.

She and Taggert did not see any bullet holes in Washington’s body, but Norton knew that did not necessarily rule out murder, especially with a “girlfriend” of the victim, Bernice Parrish, on the scene, anxiously awaiting news about a will inside the house, and “soup pennies” she had been promised by Washington upon his death. “Soup pennies,” were slang for gold coins.

It turns out, in City of Saviors, that others also have a motive for wanting to see Washington dead, like some of the congregants of the 6,000-member congregation of Blessed Mission Ministries. The church is led by the colorful and charismatic Bishop Solomon Tate. When Norton, Taggert, and others re-enter Washington’s house, this time wearing HazMat suits, and Norton discovers the victim’s will, another possible suspects is named in it, Oswald Little, who has been promised Washington’s property.

In City of Saviors, LAPD homicide detective finds herself on a case like no other. Her investigation into Eugene Washington’s murder leads her to wonder why Bishop Tate might have a reason to protect a member of his congregation and led her astray. Was Washington poisoned, or did somebody possibly know about an allergy he had, which led to his death?

For the chance to win a hardback copy of City of Saviors, all you need to do is leave a comment below, mentioning your name and what state or province in Canada you reside in, and your city. That information will let me know if you are eligible to enter, as Tor/Forge needs to know in order to mail out a copy when a winner is randomly chosen. The potential winner also needs to be 18 or older, and must provide me his/her complete address upon being chosen as the winner. People who follow me on Twitter @DouglasRCobb can leave the requested information as a Message there, if you would like, rather than below. The contest/giveaway will run from now, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, for two weeks, to Saturday, Sept. 30, at midnight. The potential winner will then have five days to provide me with his/her full snail mail addres, to give to Tor/Forge, who will then mail out the copy of City of Saviors. Enter now, and good luck!

By: Douglas R. Cobb

This contest has now ended. Nobody entered, so sadly, nobody was the winner of this excellent novel by Rachel Howzell Hall.

 


tower downTower Down by award-winning thriller author, David Hagberg, is an exciting, fast-paced novel about events that could have been torn out of today’s headlines, involving terrorism, ISIS, and the bringing down of newly-constructed “pencil towers” in New York City.  A blood-thirsty freelance killer, code-name Al-Nassar, or “the Eagle,” educated in England masquerades as a multi-billionaire, Khalid Seif, after having killed him, and sets into motion a scheme that brings one of the pencil towers crashing down onto Carnegie Hall, killing hundreds of people, including seventy to eighty multi-billionaires from around the world who are inside the building. Can former CIA operative, Kirk McGarvey, prevent the killer from striking again? Details on how to win a copy follow, after this review!

Author David Hagberg delivers the goods with Tower Down, an intense page-turning thriller, the 21st novel Hagberg has written featuring McGarvey. The action begins before McGarvey, known as “Mac” by his friends, enters the picture. Al-Nassar leaves a trial of bodies wherever he goes, but his fingerprints are not on file, and he takes great care to clean up possible loose ends — by methodically killing anybody he thinks might later be able to identify him.

The pencil tower known as the Tower was built to be impossible for terrorists to destroy, so that there would not be any repeat of the events of 9/11. A nine-ton counterweight near the top of the Tower, controlled by a computer, helps the building adjust to any swaying it might otherwise have experience due to high winds. Over 90 percent of the apartments in the Tower were sold prior to the building’s construction, for exorbinant sums of money, with one penthouse going for a hundred fifty million dollars.

Al-Nassar strikes during a party Seif had planned, with some of the world’s wealthiest men and women in attendance. When the Tower inevitably falls, their lives are forfeited, along with the lives of hundreds of people below.

After his wife, Katy, daughter and son-in-law’s murders, and the deaths of other women in McGarvey’s life, he has been cautious about letting his guard down when it comes to his love life. However, in Tower Down, McGarvey has, once again, found love, in the form of his latest girlfriend, Pete Boylan, and he intends for their love to last. But, with his own life hanging in the balance, can McGarvey also protect Boylan’s, as he tracks his elusive prey to Cannes and other locales?

YOU could win a hardback copy of Tower Down from Tor/Forge and What’s New in Book Reviews if you are a resident of the United States, by simply leaving a non-Spam related Comment below and mentioning the state you live in. If you are selected as the winner, I will need your complete mailing address, so I can forward the information to Tor/Forge, so they can mail the copy out to the winner.  The comments will be seen by me as Feedback, instead of as comments. A winner will be chosen on midnight August 1, and if he/she does not respond with his/her mailing address after five days, a new winner will be selected. To purchase a hardback, paperback or Kindle copy of Tower Down at Amazon, click here — good luck to everyone who enters!

By: Douglas R. Cobb

 

 

 




How could you not like a book and a series featuring a female protagonist with the humorous/sexy name of Lucky O’Toole? So Damn Lucky is the first I’ve read in Coonts’s romantic mystery series, but it won’t be the last. The third novel(after Wanna Get Lucky, and Lucky Stiff) continues Lucky’s adventures in Las Vegas as the Head of Customer Relations at the mega-casino The Babylon. A typical night for her can involve any number of things, from an aging Midwestern couple trapped in a sex swing to a temperamental French chef who’s determined to make Lucky catch fire.

Besides dealing with the “normal” events and scheduling of conventions at The Babylon, Lucky also has her hands full doing the same sorts of things at the aging Grand Dame of Las Vegas casinos, the Athena Resort and Casino. Recently having discovered that her boss, Albert Rothstein (also known as The Big Boss), is her father has not made her life any easier, and is one more secret she wants to keep closely guarded. She is in charge of seeing that events like a Star Wars and Star Trek convention goes off without a hitch, and the final show of “the forty-year run of the Calliope Burlesque Caberet,” featuring the famous but aging magician, Mr. Dimitri Fortunoff.

What to do when there is a “hitch,” though, like when an escape artist/magician tragically dies inside of Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell, after having received numerous death threats? And, what if the paramedics who come to take the escape artist to the hospital aren’t really paramedics, and the body, itself, semingly vanishes into thin air?

As if dealing with this magical mystery wasn’t enough, Lucky also faces romantic and personal challenges. Her hunky boyfriend is touring with a rock band in Europe, leaving her very lonely, and very horny. Temptation taunts her in the form of other handsome men she encounters, like a newly-hired French chef and Dane, a tall Texan who works for the Gaming Commission. Will she succumb to the temptation, or somehow find the resolve to remain faithful to her boyfriend?

Also, Lucky’s mother is back with the Big Boss, and is pregnant. The Big Boss wants her to give up control over her whore house, and she is reluctant to do so. When the Big Boss asks Lucky to be the go-between, and talk her mother into giving up the house of ill repute, will she honor his request?

The troubleshooting Lucky O’Toole loves her cars as fast as her men, and her car of choice in So Damn Lucky is a Ferrari. Besides the challenges I already mentioned, Lucky has to deal with things like settling a disute over a limited-edition, gold plated golf club that its owner chucks into a water hazard. It’s then retrieved by a caddy, who claims it as his own; but, the man who threw it into the water hazard suddenly has a change of heart, and demands it back. It’s a case that would pose a quandry for Solomon himself, but it’s a cinch for the intrepid Lucky O’Toole to figure out an equitable solution.

So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts is a fun, fast-paced, page-turning read. It’s a novel that combines the thriler/mystery and romance genres, with a generous dose of humor laced throughout. Whether you’re already a fan of the Lucky O’Toole series, you definitely will be once you’re read So Damn Lucky. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, which is another plus, but I would recommend that you check out the entire series, as I plan to do. It’s a novel that gratiously gives you all of the fun of Las Vegas without ever leaving your house! Add it to your reading lists today!

By; Douglas R. Cobb


Franklin E. Wales knows what it takes to tell a great zombie story: blood, guts, glory, halfbreed human/zombies, and…oh, yes–zombies. As I have been known to be an afficionado of horror & zombie novels, I was very much interested in reading/reviewing the author’s novel available at Amazon for $10.99 (Click to Buy) Deadheads: Evolution and seeing for myself if it was as good as I’d heard. It is, and even more so, a brilliant shining gem of zombie goodness without the candy-coated shell. As a bonus, it has very cool illustrations by Joseph “Jody” Adams. The bombs have been dropped, the zombie virus has spread, and the voracious Deadheads want to claim the Earth as their own. To Hell with the meek–the Deadheads are here, they’re attemtping to become the dominant species, and…they’re evolving.

What can you expect when you read Deadheads: Evolution? Is it worth your hard-earned cash? It’s about motorcycle-riding, dark sunglass-wearing, gun-totin’ Gage Owen, and takes up his tale two years after the biobombs fell, transforming the Earth into a wonderful mystical gory Zombie Wonderland. Well, it’s not that wonderful if you’re a human, as humans are no longer at the top of the proverbial foodchain–zombies are. Fortunately, there are people out there like Gage, fighting back against the zombies and trying to bring order back to the chaotic postapocalyptic world one dead zombie at a time. And, Gage likes to go about his bidness while singing tunes like The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The old standards are best, when it comes to shooting the Living Dead.

And, there’s a traveling companion he picks up, the lovely Sara. Sara has been held captive, locked away and fed, by a household of zombies who have figured out a way to lure humans to their screaming munchy crunchy deaths. Their plans for Sara are ruined when Gage invades their happy home and rescues her, by putting caps into their zombie heads. Sara, Gage finds, is a fairly proficient shot, herself–which can (and does) prove to be very useful–especially when the Deadheads are becoming more intelligent, and seem to be developing a mindreading, hive mentality, like they do in Stephen King’s novel Cell.

Yet another interesting character in Deadheads: Evolution is the ex-Congressman, First-Peter. He and his brother Samuel try to flee the Deadheads in a boat, but they find to their dismay that the boat is also carrying an unwelcome stowaway: a deadhead in the hold. The zombie infects Sam before First-Peter can stop it, and Sam in turn becomes a zombie. First-Peter kills him, then hallucinates–or does he? Jesus walks on the water and speaks to him, and in his hunger and thirst-induced condition, First-Peter takes and eats a strip of his brother’s flesh, in order to attain a new life…or, at least, to continue living. The real/imaginery Jesus reminds him of a bottle of Gatorade down in the hold, thus providing First-Peter with enough to drink to keep him alive until he reaches land.

What does he then do, but start himself a new religion, to honor Jesus and the New Life he has received. First-Peter captures a deadhead he christens Adam, gains followers, and becomes the creator of a new religious movement. The sacrament of the religion includes partaking of strips of flesh he slices from Adam and then consumes, inviting anyone who comes to his revivals to also eat. It’s a religious movement you can really…sink your teeth into (groan). Spoiler Alert: Too bad a brutal motorcycle gang puts an end to First-Peter’s life.

Deadheads: Revolution by Franklin E. Wales is proof that there is still plenty of life in the Living Dead subgenre of horror fiction. Gage, half-human, half-zombie, is all bad ass! On the human side, another villain Gage faces is Sheriff Brody of New Hope. If you are a fan of horror and zombie fiction, Deadheads: Evolution by Franklin E. Wales is a Must Read and is well worth the cover price. Other fantastic novels by Franklin E. Wales include Purgatory Junction, Booger, Gamesmaster, and Friend. A little short on cash/prefer to read ebooks? Well, friend, you’re in luck, as you can also buy this fine book by Mr. Wales at Smashwords as an ebook for a mere $3.99. Just click here.


Can you stay cool while it’s getting hot? Environmental concerns and the threat of global warming are topics that everyone should be concerned about, and they have also played into the plots of SF books like the brilliant Paolo Bacigalupi novel The Wind-Up Girl and even Cormac McCarthy’s New York Times bestselling novel The Road.

Tobias S. Buckell’s latest page-turning novel, Arctic Rising, is about a time in the not-so-distant future when the polar ice caps are melting due to global warming. Though I like reading just about any type of SF, I especially like reading those in which the plot seems very plausible because the future depicted is based on trends, events, or scientific theories that are prevalent today. To me, that basis in reality makes books like Arctic Rising seem more relevant and gripping.

In Buckell’s book, global warming has caused the polar ice caps to partially thaw and calve off icebergs, which in turn causes lowland coastal flooding, and opens up the Northwest Passage and uncovers land that has been encased in ice for thousands of years. The land is called Thule. New communities form in Canada, and it becomes an economic powerhouse. The United States and other nations try to claim parts of the sea bed, in their ever-continuing efforts to locate new oil and other mineral reserves. But, others seek to use the newly navigable oceanic highways to transport drugs and illegally dump nuclear waste material.

The main female protagonist of Arctic Rising is the Nigerian airship pilot (working for the underfunded United Nations Poar Guard) Anika Duncan. She and her UNPG copilot, Thomas Hutton, soar in the skies above the frigid polar seas in search of suspicious ships that might be transporting drugs or radioactive waste to dump. Anika notices that the scatter cameras on the airship are detecting that one such suspicious ship, the Russian Kosatka, registered in Liberia, is emitting strong radioactive readings. When they come in closer to investigate, someone aboard the ship opens fire with a RPG launcher, bringing Anika’s airship crashing down into the ocean.

By the time a ship rescues them and helicopters come to take them to where they can obtain further medical attention, theKosatka is long gone. Though they both are alive when pulled from the ocean, Tom’s protective uniform wasn’t zipped up properly and let in the icy water, bringing on hyperthermia. He dies from it, and Anika is more determined than ever to learn why their airship was attacked and what the Russian ship had been transporting. She knows that the rewards could be high for those captains who loaded up old derelicts with radioactive waste and had “accidents” off the coast of African nations, and believes that perhaps the Kosatka was involved in similar illegal activities.

When the ship is found, and the crew arrested, no sign of whatever cargo might have been onboard is in sight. Fortunately, Anika has kept a recording of the evidence gathered by the scatter cameras to prove that the Russian ship had been transporting something radioactive; but, someone, or ones, seem determined to hush the investigation. Why are various military agencies and corporations suddenly getting involved? Could it be that the crew was trying to smuggle a nuclear weapon of some sort?

Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell, who also wrote the bestselling novel Halo: The Cole Protocol, is a suspenseful book that is sure to stay with you and open your eyes to what might happen if global warming continues at its present rate. The activist group Gaia Corporation, which tries to use technology to reverse global warming and which has a plan to terraform the Earth, also create a superweapon that falls into the wrong hands. When Anika goes undercover and attempts to stop the Gaia Corp’s weapon, the action really picks up and makes for a fast-paced, exciting read. If you like very realistic science fiction thrillers, I highly recommend that you add Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell to your reading lists.

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