Murder was easy. The tricky part was getting away with it.
Doak Miller is a retired NYPD cop spending his golden years in sunny Florida. He keeps himseMurder was easy. The tricky part was getting away with it.
Doak Miller is a retired NYPD cop spending his golden years in sunny Florida. He keeps himself in the game a bit by occasionally doing favors for the local sheriff's office.
His latest assignment is wearing a wire to incriminate a woman who wants to do away with her husband. But it just so happens that that woman in question is the girl of Doak's dreams and not only does he help her to not incriminate herself, but he begins a relationship with her that leads to his working out just if and how the husband should be killed.
The latest entry in the Hard Case Crime series, Lawrence Block's The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes is everything that a reader has come to expect. A sexy cover, a hard-boiled protagonist and a fem fatale. The fact that Doak is carrying on affairs with not only the title character but two other women only helps to underscore his role as the noir lead.
Told in quick chapters, Girl is not for the faint of heart. This novel is an homage to pulp fiction at its best -- lurid, quick to read and full of all kinds of graphic details that aren't normally discussed in polite company. If you're squeamish about adults acting like adults (for good and bad), then this book probably isn't for you.
At multiple points in the story, Doak takes in a few classic noir films that have people trying to get away with murder and always getting caught. These sequences seem to be Block calling upon a shared vocabulary for this type of story and it helps us see how he's trying to not only pay homage to it but give it a bit of a new twist in this story.
Not for the faint of heart, The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes is gritty, raw and compelling.
I've not read a lot of Block's previous works but after reading this one, I'm intrigued to look at his extensive back catalog and see what other gems are there. ...more
Reading The Doctors Are In reminded me a lot of those heady days when I first got on-line and discovered there were fellow Doctor Who fans out there wReading The Doctors Are In reminded me a lot of those heady days when I first got on-line and discovered there were fellow Doctor Who fans out there who loved to debate the show as much as I did. This shouldn't come as a surprise to me since I've had debates with at least one half of this writing duo about various aspects of my favorite television show long before I picked up this book.
But reading this in-depth look at each era of the good Doctor (wisely divided up into two eras for the fourth Doctor because, let's face it, there are two eras to Tom Baker's run on the show), I couldn't help but feel like certain only flames were being fanned and I kept looking around for the reply button so I could begin to debate Robert Smith? and Graeme Burke on various points they have about each era of the show. (This is especially true when they pick their five stories that represent each era of the show. Because really -- "Planet of the Spiders"?!? You must be messing with me!)
Reading Smith? and Burke's debates about various eras of the show and the actors who played the Doctor is entertaining and informative. And while this book isn't exactly breaking new ground, it has a leg up in that you can feel the passion and fandom these two have for the series.
This may be a selling point for some and it may be a detraction for others. If you're looking for a by the numbers look at the Doctors, you may want to look elsewhere. If you're looking for spirited debate among two long time fans who don't agree on everything, this is worth picking up and spending time with. It may even make you want to debate the two and it may even make you want to visit the stories they refer to in their top five of the era. And while I can find some points of contention I have with some of their arguments (I've finally found that one fan who doesn't love "Genesis of the Daleks." He's wrong, of course.), these come more from my feelings on the show than on Smith? and Burke laying out their points.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
I've read a lot good Spider-Man comics over the years and I've read a lot of terrible Spider-Man comics over the years.
Dan Slott's "Spider-Verse" hasI've read a lot good Spider-Man comics over the years and I've read a lot of terrible Spider-Man comics over the years.
Dan Slott's "Spider-Verse" has to be among the worst of the worst -- and yes, I've read the entire, completely reviled clone saga from the mid-90's.
So, every iteration of Spider-Man that has ever been is brought together for this epic, cross-over saga. And while it might seem like fun to see the 60's animated Spidey share the page with the new animated Spidey, these fun moments are few and far between in this book. In between, we get a lot of convoluted moments with various iterations of our favorite web-head spouting off meta-physical malarkey. From what I could gather, every Spider-Man in every universe has been targeted by Morlun's family to....ummmm, well, I'm not really quite sure why, except to feed on them and to create a reason for this crossover.
As I read this saga, I alternated between frustrating and shaking my head. In the middle issues, it feels like every other panel is a trio or group of Spider-people all teaming up to go off on an adventure that will have an impact to the main storyline. But those storylines are apparently included in another collection and not here, leaving me feeling like I'm missing a large portion of the story. I suppose I could go and find the referenced issues, but I was honestly so irritated that I didn't want to bother. And part of it was I feared I'd only confuse myself more as to what was going on here.
Look, I get it. The idea of Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham showing up here is fun. But that fun wears off quickly and what we get is a convoluted mess that just keeps piling it on for six long issues.
I'm not sure where Spidey goes next. And I'm not sure I necessarily want to follow. ...more
Can my favorite secular television series offer us any insights on the divine? The answer is yes.
Matt Rawle's book The Salvation of Doctor Who looksCan my favorite secular television series offer us any insights on the divine? The answer is yes.
Matt Rawle's book The Salvation of Doctor Who looks at spiritual lessons we can take away from the over fifty year run of the series. The book is broken down into four sections, each one focusing on an aspect of the series from the Doctor himself to the nature of time to the various foes the Doctor has faced over the years. Rawle offers short chapters that are intended to be read daily and to help the reader find deeper meaning from the series.
As a starting point for a conversation, I've got to admit I enjoyed this book a great deal. And while I may not necessarily agree with all of Rawle's points in the book, I still found his arguments were well made and I could see where he was coming from.
This book has a heavy influence on the modern Doctor Who. And while I can see why the book might lean more on the modern stories and their situations, the classic Whovian deep inside me kept wishing we got more than a passing nod to the original stories. I realize that there a lot of new Who fans who haven't or won't watch the classic stories and this book is designed to appeal to all fans. But I still can't help but feel like Rawle only did a passing glance at the fifty year history of the show and possibly overlooked a few lessons that are sitting there in the classic era run.
Also, I can't help but feel that my reading this book straight through in a couple of sittings wasn't how it's intended to be read or experienced. I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley, so instead of reading one lesson a day and allowing it to sink it, I read the book straight through in a couple of sittings. This lead me to notice that Rawle begins to repeat certain points in later sections of the book. I might not have noticed (as much) had I used this as a devotional or a conversation starter from a small group as it's intended....more
When she was sixteen years old, Tessa was only survivor of the Black-Eyed Susans killer. Dumped in a shallow grave with some of her fellow Susans, TesWhen she was sixteen years old, Tessa was only survivor of the Black-Eyed Susans killer. Dumped in a shallow grave with some of her fellow Susans, Tessa survive to testify against the man authorities believed was the killer. But over the years, Tessa always wondered if she helped convict the right man. As the convicted killer's execution looms, Tessa is forced to question her role in the conviction and if the real killer is still lurking out there, taunting her with black-eyed Susans planted under her window.
Told in alternating time frames, Julia Heaberlin's Black-Eyed Susans expertly doles out detail after detail of Tessa's time in recovery and testifying and now as she tries to help an apparently innocent man avoid a wrongful execution. Heaberlin deftly sews each seed for the truth of what happened to Tessa and who was really behind her disappearance.
I'll admit this one hooked me in the early stages. Tessa's doubting of herself and her narrative (as well as her admission of her manipulating certain aspects of her therapy) made me question her reliability as a narrator. But this comes less from an agenda and more from wondering what Tessa is hiding from herself that may eventually come to light.
There are a couple of plausible explanations for what happened to Tessa and just if and how it ties into her family and her friendship with a girl named Lydia, who mysterious vanished after throwing Tessa under the bus on the witness stand. Heaberlin teases these details early and slowly builds up toward the revelation of what happened.
All the details of Black-Eyed Susans hang together very well. There are some interesting revelations as the book progresses and it's fascinating to get inside Tessa's head as we get to know her and find out about her experiences. The final revelations are well set up and just about everything from the book holds up in the final analysis.
Some things have meaning. Others don't. And it's interesting to see which details become important and which ones are not as important.
The added ticking of the clock as we count down to the alleged killer's execution helps drive the story.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Bret and Sara Vreeland don't have it all -- in fact, there are times when they wonder how they're going to make it through the month. But they have eaBret and Sara Vreeland don't have it all -- in fact, there are times when they wonder how they're going to make it through the month. But they have each other and they have their faith.
But what if something were to happen that changed all of that?
Eric Wilson flips the story of Job and instead of having everything taken away to test the faith of the Vreeland, the couple is given everything that could ever dream of (at least from a worldly perspective). But just as with Job, there are trials to come with being blessed beyond measure.
Wilson tells a good story with One Step Away. It's good to see that Bret and Sara aren't saints, but instead people with flaws and secrets. There are some secrets from the past that will come back to haunt them (a few I figured out a chapter or two before Wilson let us in on the details). But overall, Wilson keeps the pages turning and kept my interest us for the entire novel.
I also like the fact that while this is apparently the start of a series, the action of this novel is self-contained. I can say I'd enjoy a visit to the world that Wilson has created a self-contained story that can be enjoyed on its own merits....more
Well, she slept with two boys at the school year kick-off party. She's promiscuous -- sAlice Franklin has a bad reputation.
What has she done, you ask.
Well, she slept with two boys at the school year kick-off party. She's promiscuous -- so much so that she's had an abortion. And she got the star quarterback killed because she was obsessed with him and kept texting him, causing him to become distracted while driving.
But are any of these things The Truth About Alice?
Told from a rotating first-person point of view from four people who interact with Alice, Jennifer Mathieu's debut novel seeks to fill in some of the details, looking at what is true and what's been greatly exaggerated. It's fairly clear from the early moments of the novel that no one could be nearly as awful as everyone says Alice is, but there are some grains of truth in the rumors. But those grains may not always have been planted exactly where you think they were.
I'll admit some of the revelations seem a bit obvious -- but that's with the benefit of spending a few chapters with each character and finding out that he or she knows more than he or she is telling. The novel doesn't shy away from the devastation Alice feels or the shame she endures. It also serves as an interesting warning about the power of words and how sometimes people may be protesting too much.
Alice isn't a saint. But then again, neither is anyone else. And this novel is an interesting way to look at not only how the various characters view Alice but also themselves.
It's a fascinating read and one that may linger with you a bit after the final page is turned. ...more
In an odd bit of timing, I started reading this latest collection of the Batman '66 comics on the same day that the news broke of Yvonne DeCarlo's pasIn an odd bit of timing, I started reading this latest collection of the Batman '66 comics on the same day that the news broke of Yvonne DeCarlo's passing. This turned out to be bittersweet because the first story features Batgirl and the Dynamic Duo battling the forces of evil around Gotham City.
As I said for the first two installments, this comic book series is intended as pure, unmitigated fun and a great homage to the classic TV series. The comics can do things that the TV show budget didn't or couldn't but it never forgets what made the TV series work so well. One story that's especially fun finds Wayne Manor robbed and the Shakespeare bust removed, effectively cutting off our heroes from the Batcave. Forced to resort to older versions of the costumes, we get to see Batman and Robin in the costumes from the movie serials that preceded this one. The story is a lot of fun and stays just long enough so that it doesn't wear out its welcome.
Also included is a story that finds Batman invented a robot that will be on duty 24-hours a day and fight crime. The scenes of Bruce and Dick actually getting to fishing are nicely done as is the reasoning for why the Bat-bot can't stay on duty all the time.
This collection continues the fun of the series and was just delightful. It's not heavy Batman stories -- but they don't need to be. If you want something fun and entertaining, give this series a try....more
I can't tell you the number of times I was thanking the good folks over at NetGalley and Pocket Books for giving me a digital ARC of this e-novella.
PI can't tell you the number of times I was thanking the good folks over at NetGalley and Pocket Books for giving me a digital ARC of this e-novella.
Picking up where the second part left off (and with a cliffhanger that had me absolutely flummoxed), the third and final installment in "The Returned" is everything I hoped it would be and then some. I can only hope lots and lots of people buy this and that Pocket will give us more of the New Frontier. And I hope that if we get more that David will have time in his schedule so we won't have to wait four years for the next installment.
The revelation of who is really behind the Awesome on New Thallon ended part two and had me hooked for part three. But there was also the growing threat to the Federation and Calhoun's own increasingly questionable choices. I'm happy to report (hopefully without too many spoilers) that David pays off every single thread in the final installment. And thankfully, while one threat is wrapped up, there are still new things put into play that leave me wanting more and wanting it as soon as possible.
With his typical compulsively readable style and superb character work, David once again affirms why he's one of the best writers in the business -- tie-in novel or otherwise. These books put a big grin on my face and made me recall what it is I love about Star Trek -- the entire franchise and not only the New Frontier.
This three part series is easily one of the best things I've read this summer.
Now, Pocket Books, I beg you -- please give us more.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this e-novella from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Bad blood has existed for years between the Satterfields and McElroys. But when Romy is assigned to tutor high school football player Julian, sparks bBad blood has existed for years between the Satterfields and McElroys. But when Romy is assigned to tutor high school football player Julian, sparks begin to fly and the two fall madly in love. Planning to elope the night of their high school graduation, Julian stood Romy up, never offering a reason why he didn't meet her and head off to Nashville to follow their dreams together.
A decade later, Romy is coming home to take care of her father and with a new boyfriend in tow. The new boyfriend comes from a well-to-do family and has every intention of making an honest woman of Romy. But there's one small catch.
Actually, there are several catches before Romy and her new boyfriend can live happily ever after. There's the question of just who and where she wants to live out happily ever after.
Set in the same small town as The Happy Hour Choir, Sally Kilpatrick's sophomore novel Bittersweet Creek not only lives up to the high expectations I had for it, but it eclipses them. Kilpatrick sets up a romance that has obstacles to it -- and they're obstacles that are authentic and earned. There are moments in this novel when we're just as uncertain who Romy will choose as Romy is and there are moments when I couldn't quite figure out what was going to come next -- because Kilpatrick had created a believable scenario where one of many choices could happen.
The strength of this novel is that Kilpatrick gets us to understand and care about both Julian and Romy. (She even makes Romy's new boyfriend sympathetic. In a role that could easily have been one note, she gives him some depth). By alternating the narrator from chapter to chapter, we're allowed to see inside the minds of our two star-crossed lovers and to discover what lead to their romance and to the events of the night in question. I'll even go so far as to admit that Bittersweet Creek created a bit of a knot in my throat and some misty eyes reading it. Kilpatrick gives us a deep, fully realized and believable romance between these two.
It helps that she's surrounded our star-crossed lovers with a great supporting cast. You won't necessarily like all of them, but they're all utterly believable, read and authentic.
Honestly, I was completely surprised and pleased by this novel. Sally Kilpatrick set a high bar for herself with The Happy Hour Choir. Bittersweet Creek easily clears that bar and has set a new higher bar for her next book. It's firmly put Kilpatrick on my list of authors to watch and read everything she publishes. And yes, this book is one that is totally outside of my usual reading comfort zone. But don't let that bother you -- pick it up, set everything else aside and prepare yourself for one of the most enjoyable books I've read all year.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC for this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I should also add that I went to school with Sally back in the day and that we both share a deep, abiding love of all things Big Orange. ...more
For a book promising us the "inside story" on the Brady vs Manning rivalry, I was expecting a bit more.
And maybe the revelation that (gasp!) Tom BradFor a book promising us the "inside story" on the Brady vs Manning rivalry, I was expecting a bit more.
And maybe the revelation that (gasp!) Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are friends off the field should have been enough. But, quite frankly, I still kept feeling like there should have been a bit more substance to this book.
Part of this could be that as a Tennessee fan, I've followed Peyton since he become a Volunteer, so there isn't much included here that I wouldn't already know because of my deep, abiding fandom of Peyton and the Volunteers. But as I read this book, I couldn't help but feel that it would benefit from a bit of editing -- especially in some of the middle chapters as I began to feel like I was reading the same couple of anecdotes over and over again.
I also find it interesting to read this book in the wake of the current hoopla surrounding Brady and deflate-gate. I realize that the book's lead time meant this couldn't really be delved into that much, but reading some of what we find out about Brady here, I can't help but feel like it sheds some new light on him as a player and person.
Brady vs Manning tries to walk a fine line in looking at this rivalry. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite do what it set out to do.
I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Middle installments of a trilogy can suffer a bit from treading water. We had the rising action of part one and we get to see it all hit the fan in paMiddle installments of a trilogy can suffer a bit from treading water. We had the rising action of part one and we get to see it all hit the fan in part three, leaving little room for any significant development or plot advancement in part two.
This is not the case with Peter David's second installment for The Returned.
David gives us enough action, suspense and character development to fill three other Star Trek novels. Exploring the pocket universe where the race that destroyed his world came from, Calhoun finds an even bigger threat waiting. But is he so consumed by a desire for vengeance that he'll overlook this and put not only his ship but the entire Federation at risk?
Meanwhile, Mark Henry, Robin Lefler and Cwansi are back on New Thallon and dealing with the politics of that world and Cwansi's role as the next in line to rule the world. Oh yeah and Mark is dealing with people finding out he has god-like powers and can heal people.
One of the best things in the Trek publishing world, New Frontier proves as delightful and page-turning as it always has. David's freedom to explore his own pocket of the final frontier gives him the freedom to take chances and pay them off -- something he does admirably here.
And just when you think it can't get any better, David pulls off one hell of a cliffhanger that left me eager for the next installment.
If you haven't read the series, this is not a good jumping in point. Part one might be better. But honestly, do yourself a favor and start from book one. It's really worth your time.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. ...more