What the heck is a forensic geologist? Don’t let fear of the unknown make you skip this book. Jump right in and find out. Just make sure you have stoc...moreWhat the heck is a forensic geologist? Don’t let fear of the unknown make you skip this book. Jump right in and find out. Just make sure you have stocked up on bottled water. Trust me. I had no idea Death Valley was such a lively place. That’s what Ms. Dwiggin injects into her setting: life. You come to see more than a hot, dry desert; you see a fascinating, diverse eco-system. Add to that characters as textured and layered as the scenery she describes, and you have a novel that educates as it entertains. I’ll admit to misgivings when the first person POV switched to third, but the author handled it masterfully, and it never bothered me after. Getting into the antagonist’s head every few chapters added another dimension to the story and worked quite well for me. This book highlights the dangers we face in this nuclear age, without bashing you over the head with strong political views. Just the facts, ma’am. All it takes is one nut-job and some higher-ups covering their butts to put an entire eco-system—and the people who inhabit it—at risk. No safety net is fool-proof. Human error happens. Badwater presents a totally believable premise and a new sort of crime-solver. The mystery kept me guessing, the suspense made me sweat, and the pace was at times as blistering as the heat in Death Valley. I tore through the second half of this book, iced drink in hand. (less)
I almost missed out on a great book. Generally, I’m not a fan of getting thrown into the deep end in Chapter 1. I like a bit more explanation, a bit m...moreI almost missed out on a great book. Generally, I’m not a fan of getting thrown into the deep end in Chapter 1. I like a bit more explanation, a bit more clarity as I begin a book. Personal preference, sure. If you are the same, I urge you not to be put off by the first chapter of Dead White. I kept going because it was clear that the writing itself was top-notch. I’m so glad I did. This book is superbly written, plotted, and paced. The characters are distinct and real, with their backgrounds and secrets slowly emerging as the story moves forward. I read this in pieces only because my day job forced me to keep putting it down. This is one of those books I could have lost myself in and finished in one marathon read. The author weaves a complicated plot filled with unique individuals who never run together in the reader’s mind, and touches on more than a few social and political issues facing small-town America today in a reasoned and thoughtful way. The mystery keeps growing broader, pulling in character after character, until it seems no one is untouched by the troubles facing this town. No one is a superhero, no one is a saint. They are all regular folks with their own troubles taking a back seat to the need to go on in life. Some of them travel down the wrong path. Yeah, it’s gotta be hard to be the sheriff in a town where so many folks are related to you, but you have to put that aside and do your job. The author shows this conflict of emotions without ever going overboard, as well as giving us Marek Okerlund, a man with a tragic past whose only reason for not giving up is his young daughter. Each time I thought I had the mystery figured out, some new twist would come along to keep me guessing. And even though I fingered one suspect before the cops did, turns out there was much more to the whole thing than that. The wrap-up was satisfying without being pat or sugar-coated. Just what this town—and this book—needed. (less)
Lost Cargo is not your typical sci-fi story. It begins with the crash of an interstellar vehicle in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC. Hooked me easily...moreLost Cargo is not your typical sci-fi story. It begins with the crash of an interstellar vehicle in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC. Hooked me easily, and not just because I was raised in the suburbs of DC. Soon we learn that the witness to this crash will not be our protagonist. Instead, college student Travis finds a hidden camera bag, camera inside, and the pictures it contains. He has a hard time convincing anyone that these are indeed pictures of a crashed UFO, but happy chance gives him Lexi, another college student with an interest in UFOs. The hunt begins. In more ways than one. Be prepared for some horror elements. Turns out something extraterrestrial has escaped from the crash, and it’s hungry. Our pair of UFO hunters soon find themselves the hunted. I did not want to put this book down. The author used just enough gore to set the tone, and easily built up the tension to the snapping point, because the reader is never sure who is safe and who is alien food. Thank heavens the predator is not the only alien on the ship. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the predator and the alien animal control officer who also has to find Travis in order to facilitate capture of his escaped cargo. In a few instances, I got a little annoyed at the actions and reactions of the main characters, but given the drastic circumstances, I suppose I should cut them some slack. I also thought the dentist was an unnecessary addition to the book. But what a great, unexpected way to wrap it all up. Kudos for an ending I did not anticipate. Overall, a gripping read with solid writing and a fast pace. (less)
4.5 Stars for a real page-turner! The book started off with various points of view used to set the scene and drop some clues in different places. This...more4.5 Stars for a real page-turner! The book started off with various points of view used to set the scene and drop some clues in different places. This made it just a little difficult for me to pinpoint the main characters until a few chapters in, but once it became clear who they were, things really got rolling, and that was no longer an issue. While I’m no expert, it seemed to me that the author did her research into various areas. The CDC protocols, the science behind the animals at Triple E, and the nature of the pandemic facing society was all laid out in terms that were technical enough to be realistic without tipping over into boring as can so easily happen. Nothing about this book was slow, heck no, even if it wasn’t a blistering pace all the way through. The proposed scenario for what could happen to our society was chilling. I thought the differing opinions and beliefs of the characters were evenly presented. The characters that mattered had depth and emotion, and you wanted a good outcome for them, so a few scenes had me cringing to think that might not happen. Even the “bad guys” had believable motivations for what they did. And yes, I stayed up way too late to finish this book, because I just could not put it down. Small warning: animals die in this book. If that upsets you, you might want to pass on this one. (I only say this because I know someone who would not want to read a book where an animal character dies, so I thought I should mention it.) And my little pet peeve: head hopping. There is some in this book, though I admit it was so good otherwise I was able to overlook it, for the most part. I know some people don’t mind it, but the writer in me balks at it, and so I took off a half star. (less)
4.5 stars Ms Fulda is an accomplished writer, easily sketching out new worlds and drawing the reader in with ten science fiction short stories. Her cha...more4.5 stars Ms Fulda is an accomplished writer, easily sketching out new worlds and drawing the reader in with ten science fiction short stories. Her characters are a diverse collection of humans, clones, and computers, all infused with enough personality to resonate. I couldn’t much connect with the first piece, “Let There Be Write,” a humorous non-fiction article starting off “In the beginning the author created the concept of the story.” It goes on from there in the biblical vein. (I didn’t count this among the stories.) In my opinion, the book really starts off with “Pastry Run,” a fast-paced tale of futuristic deliverymen and traffic. While first-person present tense generally puts me off a story, this piece was handled well and I was pulled along for the ride. “Blue Ink” and “The Man Who Murdered Himself” are both cloning stories with a bit of a twist. I thoroughly enjoyed “A New Kind of Sunrise,” with its careful buildup that really made me care about these people. It left me wanting more, in a good way. “The Breath of Heaven” was a delightfully disturbing take on artificial intelligence. I almost wanted to root for the computers, but couldn’t quite bring myself to. The end was different than I expected (always a good thing), and the story has remained firmly lodged in my mind. “Ghost Chimes” takes the ghost story in a whole new direction, and leaves one nodding at the old adage, “be careful what you wish for.” “Backlash” is another story that takes an oft-used theme—in this case, time-travel—and gives it a bit of a twist. All of Ms Fulda’s tales left me thinking and mulling them over long after I’d read them. If you like thoughtful science fiction shorts, I recommend this collection. (less)
4.5 Stars! Sometimes I’ll read a book and think, “I wish I could write that well.” Cold Hillside is one of those books. If you like your stories linear...more4.5 Stars! Sometimes I’ll read a book and think, “I wish I could write that well.” Cold Hillside is one of those books. If you like your stories linear, I wouldn’t recommend this. Mr. Cooper likes to skip around in time and tense, a juggler tossing up a new ball without fanfare, until you realize he’s got eight or ten in the air, and all you can do is applaud. Personally, I never had any problem following the timeline, and the shifts in tense were done with such skill that they never jarred.
The book starts out with a car crash. Given the blurb, the reader momentarily assumes it is the crash mentioned there, but soon learns it is not. Names are given, cryptic dialogue spoken, and the reader is left wondering. Later, after several forays back and forth in the timeline, one of the names pops up, and you realize you’ve had a glimpse of this character’s future. The clues to this book’s mystery are often given like that: little snippets of memory brought to the narrator’s mind by unfolding events. Simon has to deal with not only his brother’s death, but the realization that his brother was not the man Simon thought he was. Revelations about Giles' business dealings push Simon into a shady world that grows more dangerous the deeper he gets.
Mr. Cooper paints his settings and characters with delicious turns of phrase. Ordinary things take on a glow thanks to his distinctive descriptions. It’s as much fun to read this for the writing as for the story. The one complaint I have, and the reason I knocked off half a star, is that sometimes there is just a little too much description and it tends to slow things down. Perhaps that particular room isn’t so important that we need to see it so vividly. If you love loads of good description, this book will satisfy like few I've encountered. The characters come to life with subtle ease. Some we get to know slowly, others we see through quickly, still others we get angry at when we realize what they were hiding from us. Some, we end up mourning, just as Simon does.
I didn’t want to put this book down, and felt seriously adrift when I finished it. I’m looking forward to Mr. Cooper’s next offering.(less)