Archives for posts with tag: book reviews

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.

If you enjoy reading dark urban fantasy novels, you really must check out Joseph Nassise’s brilliant Eyes To See (Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles Book 1). Sometimes, one has to lose what he most cherishes to be able to see how much he misses it. Sometimes, the blind see better than the sighted; sights that we ordinarily can’t see; the ghosts that walk amongst us on a daily basis. This novel is a fantastic beginning to the Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles, and though there have been many books written about the paranormal and ghost busting before now, Nassise’s (author of The Heretic)shines as being one of the best in recent memory.

The novel’s chapters alternate between ones taking place in the present, labeled “Now,” and those in the past, titled “Then.” Though Hunt has lost his eyesight, he’s done it to help him find his kidnaped daughter, Elizabeth. We learn this in the “Then” chapters. Though he loses his eyesight, when he’s in the dark, he can see, to an extent, well enough to get by with the use of a cane. And, he can see the ghosts that walk around us, who are largely unseen by most of us, except the pyschically sensitive.

The main protagonist, Jeremiah Hunt, was once a Harvard classics professor. He was charged with taking care of his daughter, but gets so wrapped up in his research and work on his computer that he fails to realize the passing hours since he’s last seen and heard his daughter, Elizabeth. When he eventually realizes that he hasn’t heard a peep from her for awhile, he goes in search of her and doens’t find her anywhere. He notices an open window in her bedroom, and comes to the conclusion that his daughter must have been abducted. The cops, for a time, suspect that he was involved in whatever happened to Elizabeth, which just adds to the misery and hopelessness that Hunt experiences.

Though Jeremiah loses his normal vision, he gains the spiritual aid of an entity he calls “Whisper,” and another one called “Scream.” They enable Hunt to learn enough about who is behind certain murders that he has often assisted the police in solving homicide cases. Even with their help, Hunt has a hard time figuring out who, or what, is behind the brutal murder of Brenda Connolly. Hunt was brought into the case to provide as much information to the cops as he can, but the posed naked body of Brenda, hands wired and on her knees as if in prayer, is unsettling, to say the least. And what has tinged her skin green?

Hunt sees arcane symbols and words on the walls of the dead woman’s bedroom. He recognizes a pattern, and that Connolly’s murder is reminescent of others. With the help of a bartender who Hunt has recognized possesses pychic abilities, Hunt gets tantalizingly closer to discovering who the murderer is-and how it all ties in with his daughter’s disappearance. But, is at all designed just to lead Hunt into a deadly trap?

Eyes To See by Joseph Nassise is a spellbinding dark urban fantasy that will haunt your nightmares and memories for a long time after you finish reading it. If you love reading novels of outstanding paranormal fiction, than I highly recommend that you check out Eyes To See and see for yourselves what a great author Joseph Nassise is–get it today!

–Douglas R. Cobb–

Marie Brennan’s historical fantasy series about the Onyx Court, the realm of the fae, that lies hidden below Queen Victoria’s London was too big, too grand in scale for a mere trilogy. To do the job of writing about it sufficiently well, four books were needed, at minimum. Going against the trend of trilogies, Marie’s With Fate Conspire is an excellent addition to the Onyx Court series, and is perhaps her best novel to date.

Queen Lune and her realm are threatened as never before by the Industrial Age. The presence of iron is anathema to the existence of elves and the other fae, and London is becoming a city where iron is everywhere, in pipes, bridges, railways, trains, and buildings. She realizes that the conitnued existence of her realm is much in doubt, and that it will only be a matter of time until it collapses. The most she can do is to prolong its life through her sheer determination, indomitable will and the power of her magic.

One of her past human consorts, the Prince of the Stone Benjamin Hodge, tried to talk others into not tearing down a part of the ancient wall that surrounded London, but he was unsuccessful. With the destruction of the wall, like that of the gates that General Monck had commanded to be torn down fifty years previously, to when the Great Fire burned part of the entrance to the Onyx Court, the details of which are mentioned in the other books in the series, Lune has feared what these changes would mean to the survival of the Onyx Court. Will her best efforts finaly prove to be not enough in this finale to the series?

Marie Brennan skillfully weaves into her tale several Dicksenian themes, like those of social injustice, poverty, the unjustness of the class system and the presence of ignorance and enlightenment amongst every class, and a playful sense of humor into her writing. One of her most villainous characters is one of the results of this: that of Nadrett, the gangster lord of the Goblin Market. The underworld of the Goblin Market reminded me of Fagen’s London, where he enlisted the aid of children to do the dirty work of picking pockets for him. Brennan’s research into the London of the past, including its sewer system, makes With Fate Conspire and the London within it come alive for the readers of this book, as with the other novels in the series, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and the marvelously entertaining A Star Shall Fall. Then, there’s the seemingly unrelated question of why are large chunks of the memories of certain prominent citizens disappearing, and how is that, if at all, connected to the other developments in the novel.

There is a large cast of characters in With Fate Conspire, again a trait of Dickens and another one of the greatest writers who depicted social injustices, Victor Hugo. Brennan handles this extremely well, and creates some of the most fascinating and realistic characters of any fantasy novel ever written. For example, there’s Elizabeth (Eliza) O’Malley, one of the Whitechapel Irish people brennan writes about. Her childhood sweetheart, Owen Darragh, was stolen away from her seven years ago by the faeries of the Goblin Market, but she still has not given up her search for him. It is hard for her to get anyone to help her, because no one believes her account.

Benjamin Hodge, the current Prince of the Stone, is left–along with the remnants of the Onyx Court–to maintain order in the realm after Queen Lune’s disappearance and presumed death. But, how can a mere mortal, even if he is the Prince of the Stone, hope to succeed in keeping the Onyx Court going, with so many people and evil fae working against him?

Besides the lord of the Goblin Market, Nadrett, there is, for instance, his servant Dead Rick. Dead Rick is a shape-shifting Black Dog, who is held as a slave by Nadrett to do his will by the memories Nadrett stole from him. Benjamin Hodge definitely has his work cut out for him.

Dead Rick is one of the only people or fae that believes Eliza, and he sympathizes with her. Eliza gets a break when she overhears a conversation between two women referencing faeries in the city. She applies to be a maid for one of the women, Miss Louisa Kittering, and discovers that the real Miss Kittering has been replaced by a faerie changeling. Though the changeling helps her connect with her lost love, Eliza faces many further obstacles in her attempts to restore him to his former self.

With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan is a magical, awe-inspiring conclusion to her Onyx Court series. The lines between good and evil are rearranged, and both mortals and faeries must work together to save the faerie kingdom and maintain the safety of London. Marie Brennan has written a dramatic and page-turning final to her series that is a Must-Read for the fans of her Onyx Court series, and for anyone who loves reading historical fantasy novels.

–Douglas R. Cobb–

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