In D.P. Mitchell's debut novel in the Jack Crockett series, Hyperion Web (Dune City Press 2017), the United States prepares to unveil Moses, an anti-tIn D.P. Mitchell's debut novel in the Jack Crockett series, Hyperion Web (Dune City Press 2017), the United States prepares to unveil Moses, an anti-terrorism tool called Project Sentinel. As the unveiling approaches, multiple iconic buildings in Washington DC, America's capital, are bombed, destructive acts eventually tied to a well-hidden adversary operating under the name of Hyperion:
“So there’s a super-secret organization that may or may not be called Hyperion that’s interested in Sentinel and may or may not have blown up half of the City,” Hasken summarized. “We don’t know anything about them, what their motivations are, who’s financing them or what their goals might be. And we need to find them and take them down.” As the AI Moses matures, he becomes a highly-effective tool that Hyperion must destroy. The lead agents, Crockett and Petrov, always seem a step behind as they fight to save not just Moses but the country they love.
Though some of the developments were difficult to accept, overall the story was exciting with nonstop action fueled by Mitchell's impressive storytelling ability. The plot is dramatic, the characters interesting, and the scenes constantly changing. Thanks to a completely unexpected ending, I will wait impatiently for the next in the Jack Crockett series, the ongoing story of an American hero who refuses to give in to forces that often appear too deep and divisive to fight.
--received a free copy in return for an honest review...more
In Praise of Lilith (Olympia Publishers 2009) is a delightful collection of thoughts Susan Scott, a devotee of Jungian psychology, has put together foIn Praise of Lilith (Olympia Publishers 2009) is a delightful collection of thoughts Susan Scott, a devotee of Jungian psychology, has put together for readers. Five of them are personal, two not so much, but all thought-provoking and cerebral.
"...as I write, that 'feeling' comes into it, which is always satisfying, if not altogether surprising. While writing, I seem to undergo an attitude change and find I am more willing to be honest with myself and therefore to the reader as well..."
This sense Susan has of being more honest with herself and readers stands out in her writings. I felt like we were friends wandering down a dirt path chatting about the meaning of life and the world and our purpose in everything. Though this is Susan's first book, it's not her last. I will soon read another thoughtful book she has just published called Aging and Becoming....more
In Jill Weatherholt's debut romantic fiction, Second Chance Romance (Harlequin Digital Sales 2017), Jackson and his daughter Rebecca are doing just fiIn Jill Weatherholt's debut romantic fiction, Second Chance Romance (Harlequin Digital Sales 2017), Jackson and his daughter Rebecca are doing just fine even though his first wife left him for another man. Despite being the most eligible bachelor in his small rural town, Jackson doesn't feel like he needs anything in his life but his daughter, his job, and a select group of close friends. That changes when he saves Melanie's life after her car crashes. Something intangible about her makes Jackson feel like for the first time in a long time, he wants more. But Melanie's personal history includes a husband and twin children killed in a fire and she can't get beyond that. She has arrived at Jackson's small town to convince her only remaining living relative, Aunt Phoebe (who just happens to be Jackson's partner in a local diner), to leave small town America and move back to D.C. where they can live together. To Melanie's surprise, Phoebe doesn't feel alone and refuses to leave. When Phoebe has a stroke, Jackson and Melanie work together to keep the diner going while Phoebe recuperates and Jackson finds himself falling for Melanie.
This makes things a whole lot more complicated.
This is a fun, page-turner of a read, filled with smiles and memories. I ended up reading it over an afternoon (that should have been spent working, but oh well). You will not be disappointed with this cozy Christian mystery....more
Grace Allison's pithy little book, Do You Have a Dream? (ThinkAHA 2017) shares 140 ways to address change and come out better for it. It's broken intoGrace Allison's pithy little book, Do You Have a Dream? (ThinkAHA 2017) shares 140 ways to address change and come out better for it. It's broken into ten sections like Do You Believe in God and Emotions -- Energy in Motion so you can quickly focus on where you need help. Each tip is brief but rich with a section at the end where you can write items that you want to refer back to. With a focus on the spiritual and the positive, I found many that resonated with me. My favorites: What is the Value of Prayer? and Five Keys to Creating Your Dream.
The whole book takes only about twenty minutes to read. It's called a ThinkAHA book because you think about the tip and later, after re-reading it, you get that epiphany. Recommended for those seeking solutions to recalcitrant problems in their lives....more
I've probably read every Spenser and Hawk books out there by Robert Parker and his ghost writers. The characters are always hard charging, moral, andI've probably read every Spenser and Hawk books out there by Robert Parker and his ghost writers. The characters are always hard charging, moral, and flawed in a way I can relate to. His longtime girlfriend Susan, with the Harvard PhD in psychology, is always there to untangle the confused human brain explaining what is really behind the odd and dangerous actions of Spenser's unusual clients.
In Little White Lies (G.P. Putnam's Sons 2017), Spenser is hired to retrieve a jilted woman's money from the man who swindled her. When Spenser gets close, she changes her mind, but it's too late for Spenser. He's already found out this cad has swindled many women and may be involved in murder. Spenser spends the rest of the book going from twist to turn in an effort to figure it who's cheating whom and how to make the innocent and the families left behind whole again, all with his usual irreverent attitude about the entire process:
"As a communication expert, I figured we might communicate in Morse code. Assuming she could hear me knocking my glass against the bar. And assuming she knew Morse code."
"When at first you don’t succeed, keep bugging the hell out of people and see what shakes out."
"...she leaned up on her toes, kissed me on my cheek, and told me it was nice to finally meet an authentically good man. I nearly blushed, had I been the blushing type, and looked for a horse to ride away on."
There's nothing wrong with this book at all. Spenser and Hawk are their usually hard-charging, odd selves. The plot is clever and tricky enough to keep my attention. There's just something different from the original Robert Parker series. I'm not even sure what it is, but it's why I have the book 4/5 instead of 5/5. If this is your first read in the series, you'll probably think it's perfect....more
In Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison's Devil's Triangle (Simon & Schuster 2017), next in their highly-acclaimed A Brit in the FBI series, NicholaIn Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison's Devil's Triangle (Simon & Schuster 2017), next in their highly-acclaimed A Brit in the FBI series, Nicholas Drummond, girlfriend Mike, and a newly created FBI team are called on to help Kitsune, a brilliant criminal they befriended on an earlier mission. When her husband is kidnapped as part of a plan to force her to meet with nefarious crooks, she talks Nick into backing her up when she explains that these crooks are responsible for engineering the vicious sandstorm that is blowing half of the Gobi desert into Beijing. To free Kitsune's husband, Nick and his team of outside-the-box thinkers race through Italy and Egypt and everything in between (after starting in America) in a race to stop two deadly siblings who will spend any money and break any law to achieve their goal. In this case, that's to recover the Biblical Arc of the Covenant.
Indiana Jones aside, I learned a lot about the history and mythical power of the Arc from this book. It would be a worthy read even if the settings weren't as engaging, the plot so tightly delivered, with unique characters who always seemed to do the unexpected....more
Stephen Hunter's latest in the Bob Lee Swagger series, G-Man (Penguin Random House 2017) unexpectedly starts in the 1930's with the death of Bonnie anStephen Hunter's latest in the Bob Lee Swagger series, G-Man (Penguin Random House 2017) unexpectedly starts in the 1930's with the death of Bonnie and Clyde at the hands of Bob Lee's grandfather, Charlie Swagger. Charlie is a small-town sheriff with a big reputation for heroism, bravery, and doing the impossible. Quickly, Hunter moves readers to the present day as the Bob Lee we know is settling into retirement and all the boredom and aches that includes:
"Nothing [to do] meant a three-hour ride on land that was all his, another hour of horse care, then three or four hours in his shop working on this or that rifle project (this year: .375 Chey Tac at over thirty-five hundred yards, and, damn, if he didn’t own over thirty-five hundred yards’ worth of Idaho on which to find out what it could do). Then on to the email thing, for conversations with old friends the world over, including reporters and retired sergeants, Russian gangsters, Japanese Self-Defense Force NCOs, FBI..."
When a Colt 45 and a thousand dollar bill are found under the foundation of the old family house (which is being bulldozed), Bob Lee in his boredom decides to try to unravel the mystery of why they were hidden there. The search takes him back to the '30s when Dillinger and Baby Face and that entire crew were robbing banks with impunity. In an effort to stop them, the FBI hired gunslingers--like Charlie Swagger--to engage the bandits in gunfights at their skill level.
As with all Bob Lee Swagger novels, this one is imbued with a deep love of firearms:
"His fingers knew it immediately. As a design, the thing was one of many masterpieces that had tumbled from the brain of John M. Browning before World War I, so perfect in conception and execution, such a chord of power and grace and genius of operation that even now, more than a century after its year of adaptation in 1911, it was standard sidearm of many of the world’s elite units."
One thing I always like about Bob Swagger novels is Bob's sage wisdom. He's able to break life and lessons down to their essentials so anyone can get it. Here's his take on handsome men:
"As an analyst of human strength and weakness, he knew that the handsome ones could be tricky. It’s something an infantry officer and a cop pick up on fast. They get used to being the center of attention. They expect things to go their way. They don’t like to take orders, especially from the many less attractive than they are. They move at their own pace. Sometimes they seem not to hear what is said to them. They are very stubborn, not out of commitment to a certain line of logic but to the idea that their beauty confers on them certain divine rights. The moving pictures and the fancy magazines have only exacerbated these problems, for on-screen the handsomest man is always the best, the champion of the show, the lure of all the gals, the hero of all the guys, and your real-life pretty fellow too often comes to assume the same of himself, except he has yet to do a thing to earn that reputation. So problems—little, knotty difficulties, little spats, grudges, pissing contests, garbled communications, slights too slight to mention but annoying to suffer, a sense of self-importance—all make every transaction with the handsome man more bother than it should be."
Then there are some of the words he uses. Not a lot but I'm pretty well read and it stopped me when people were 'palavering' (chatting).
Overall a good read though a bit more wandering than his usual--which explains the 4/5 stars. I was expecting his traditional action-packed story and got one that is more contemplative, personal, and less intense than what I expected....more
Wendy Unsworth's Palaver Tree (Amazon Digital Services 2012) is a beautiful, sad but happy story about Ellie. Ellies leads a fairly boring--well, unevWendy Unsworth's Palaver Tree (Amazon Digital Services 2012) is a beautiful, sad but happy story about Ellie. Ellies leads a fairly boring--well, uneventful--life in Cornwall England that is upended when first her husband and family dog are killed by a hit and run driver and then her elderly mother dies. She no longer has any reason to remain in a town that, though it includes friends, has never really felt like home, and now holds nothing but lonely memories.
"Even after two years of marriage, she often woke with the feeling that she was somewhere she didn’t belong and would be caught, any moment, on the loose without an entrance ticket." She moves to a small African village to teach, but that it turns out brings its own set of problems. By the time Ellie gets through these new experiences, she's changed. I was originally pulled in by the cover, but it was the gorgeous storytelling from Wendy that kept me reading.
"There was a tension in the house like musical strings, stretched to their limit and fit to snap."
"Lately, any sentence honoured with a mention of her husband was apt to hemorrhage sarcasm like warm treacle through a sieve."
You cannot fail but enjoy this tale of Ellie's personal growth from unmotivated housewife to extraordinarily accomplished adult....more
John Mullen's inventive story, Digital Dick (Murders in Time Press, 2015) is about an artificial intelligence named Dick Young who considers himself aJohn Mullen's inventive story, Digital Dick (Murders in Time Press, 2015) is about an artificial intelligence named Dick Young who considers himself as human as his creator and the man's family. In fact, he calls them 'Dad' and 'sister', which is reciprocated by them. He argues it's about who he is, not that he looks like a boxy CPU atop a set of rolling shelves.
"I may not be pretty, but thanks to Dr. Young I am pretty smart. It is my software that makes me special, that allowed me to come alive, and that brought me so much grief."
When Dick's creator is murdered, he offers to assist the police and is refused. That doesn't completely stop him:
"It occurred to me that I might learn something about what was happening to Jane if I listened in on Gabriel Nuñez, the Los Asesinos member. I dialed his cell phone after first sending the code to disarm the ring tone. When the connection completed, I could hear..."
When the police are unable to find the murderer, Dick engages a PI named Leo to be his human face as he takes steps his computer brain says are needed to solve the crime. The excitement is watching Dick connect the dots, work with those who don't believe he can do it, and along the way, try to understand love, friendship, and other human emotions not well quantified as bits and bytes.
"I assumed being lost in thought would be like having one of my subroutines go into an infinite loop, processing the same lines of code over and over."
"Asking Dr. Young to call him ‘Dad’ was the first time I said something I desired to say, as opposed to responding to a question. It was my first volitional act."
This is a clever tale seen through the eyes of an AI and told with John Mullen's fresh sense of humor. I eagerly await the sequel....more
Despite being about the man who creates the world's first artificial intelligence (fictionally), Galen Surlak-Ramsey's Little Computer People (Tiny FoDespite being about the man who creates the world's first artificial intelligence (fictionally), Galen Surlak-Ramsey's Little Computer People (Tiny Fox Press, 2017) isn't really about the geeky world of programs and codes. It's a love story, about a geeks live for his AI and a boy's love for a girl
Gabe Erickson is h***-bent on creating the first sentient computer program. When his girlfriend dumps him, he is bored and lonely and goes into overdrive, programming non-stop until he finally solves the big issues and his AI is launched.
"Her [Gabe refers to his AI, Pi] cables sat snug in their ports, sockets, and plugs, wrapped tightly together and color coordinated for easy reference. I had no doubts once she understood she was seeing herself—like a man who looks into the mirror for the first time with recognition—she would understand not only who she was, but where she came from."
As he obsesses over Pi, Gabe's sister Courtney worries that he's lost and facilitates him asking a gorgeous woman out:
"Courtney shook her head and gave me the same look of pity I reserve for people who mix up flash drives with hard drives, memory with storage, or want to break out the Windex when I suggest they clean their Windows."
Now, Gabe has two problems. First, Pi is testing her virtual boundaries and second, his new girlfriend is wonderful but forcing him to think outside his coding box. To resolve these problems, Gabe must match wits with his AI, resolve moral issues, and try to keep the few people in his life from getting hurt by his problems.
The book is geeky--I won't deny that. For example, the chapter numbers are written in binary and the titles are written as though code. Gabe often falls into the type of thinking that would serve his programming:
"/* Note to self: the amount of time actually spent debugging is inversely proportional to the hotness of any samurai chick that knocks on your door. */"
"...my brain had collected way too much mental garbage and needed to empty its recycling bin."
"what has always worked for me has been either cardio or circuit training. Give me an hour or two of one of those, and my neurons will be defragged, my internal RAM will be freed, and I’ll be ready to take on the world again."
"...fired impulses down another binary tree. Is Kimiko hot? Yes. Do I like her personality as well? Yes. Do I enjoy serious conversation if it also includes talk on death? No. Death aside, do I want to see if Kimiko is long-term material? Yes. Am I willing to suffer something I don’t like to get something I do? Yes."
But the entire tale is told with a simplicity that serves even Luddites, a balance between the tech world and the one the rest of us live in, and a solid sense of humor that kept me chuckling throughout. If you like these sorts of things, you'll love this book (as I did)....more
Based In The Wild West of guns, horses, marshalls, and lawlessness, this is the story of two US Marshalls who go after a group of outlaws who broke ouBased In The Wild West of guns, horses, marshalls, and lawlessness, this is the story of two US Marshalls who go after a group of outlaws who broke out of prison. This is a time in America's past when there weren't enough lawmen, travel was slow getting from here to there and messages were sent my 'soundboards' which is like telegraph. Still, the human brain is clever and these two marshalls out-think and out-fight their adversary, though not without problems.
In a parallel plot, we see the jailbreak and what comes next through the eyes of one of the convicts. He's smart, patient, driven, and definitely has a goal that's rooted far in the past. He didn't just break out of jail; he has a plan. that he's out of his prison cell. The setting is authentic with plenty of period details that make readers feel at one with he story.
The setting is authentic with plenty of period details that make readers feel at one with he story. I wouldn't call myself a fan of Westerns, but had I known how good this book was, I would have picked it....more
A CIA operation to bring down an overseas drug lord goes badly wrong, resulting in an American drone blowing up the Chinese embassy. Blake Carver, theA CIA operation to bring down an overseas drug lord goes badly wrong, resulting in an American drone blowing up the Chinese embassy. Blake Carver, the agent on the ground, finds himself in the crosshairs for who is blamed and flees to not only save his life but figure out who really committed this crime. Before the book ends, Blake is shot at on two continents, forced to use the assistance of a questionable though genius hacker, and ends up relying on the help of an ex-girlfriend who he hasn't spoken to in years but he still misses. Even more interesting is that Carver has hyperthymesia, better known as super-autobiographical memory, which means he remembers everything that's ever happened if he experienced it or read about it.
There are a few plot points I found challenging to accept, but overall it was a well crafted international tale of intrigue....more
Serenity Stalked (Sweatshoppe Publications 2017) is the second in Craig Hart's Shelby Alexander series (here's my review of Book One). Shelby is a retSerenity Stalked (Sweatshoppe Publications 2017) is the second in Craig Hart's Shelby Alexander series (here's my review of Book One). Shelby is a retired former boxer who now earns his money 'fixing' problems for people in the small rural town of Serenity Michigan. As he creates a new life for himself after a divorce and tries to develop a relationship with his adult daughter, he also finds he is pretty good at solving crimes. In this story, a serial killer has settled in Serenity and chooses as an early victim the married ex-boyfriend of Shelby's girlfriend. The town sheriff -- no friend of Shelby's -- is happy to pin the murder on Shelby, considering him the jealous new boyfriend. Shelby scoffs at that until the murder weapon shows up hidden on his property. Things go from bad to worse when the murderer picks his new victim, this one closer to Shelby's heart.
What makes this more than a traditional murder mystery is the main character, Shelby Alexander. He's older, calmly confident that he knows who he is, and doesn't rattle easily (or at all). This is a man I could enjoy being around.
Overall, a wonderful read, cleverly plotted, with just enough tension that I couldn't stop reading. Keep it up, Craig Hart!...more
Jennifer Kelland's Calmer Girls (Take the Plunge Publishing 2016) is a wonderfully constructed story about two sisters who are polar opposites exceptJennifer Kelland's Calmer Girls (Take the Plunge Publishing 2016) is a wonderfully constructed story about two sisters who are polar opposites except for the boy they both have fallen for. When their mother and father separate, they must move away from Calmer Cove to a new area with new friends and new challenges. They've always engaged in raucous sibling rivalry, but both falling for the same boy doesn't help at all. This wonderful YA book touches on all those topics so important to this age group. I'd recommend it for parents looking for a G-rated story that will grab their child's attention while helping them understand important issues.
One more item that makes this story unique: this glorious poem in Chapter One:
"For the wind was on her quarter, and the engines working free
There's not another whaler, that sails the Arctic Sea
Can beat the Old Polina, you need not try me sons
For we challenged all, both great and small, from Dundee to St. John's."
I thought of this poem often as I read this story....more