Cascadia is the new thriller from author and Oregon native H.W. “Buzz” Bernard, a former weather officer with the U.S. Air Force for over 30 years, anCascadia is the new thriller from author and Oregon native H.W. “Buzz” Bernard, a former weather officer with the U.S. Air Force for over 30 years, and a senior meteorologist at the Weather Channel for 13 years. Since publication of his debut novel Eyewall in 2011, Bernard has released a total of five thriller novels, with Cascadia being the latest, slated for release in July of 2016.
Bernard’s latest novel is based on the premise of a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami striking in the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The central character, Dr. Rob Elwood, is a successful geologist who has suddenly become haunted by very explicit and repetitive nightmares of a massive earthquake tsunami obliterating the coastline of the northwestern U.S. during the busy Independence Day Weekend. Despite being a scientist who relies on hard facts, Rob cannot help but feel that he has received some kind of supernatural premonition that a 500-year “big one” is going to strike. He struggles with the decision of whether to make this ‘prophecy’ he may have been given public in the hopes of saving innocent lives, though putting his career at risk on the one hand, or keeping his visions to himself and possibly allowing untold numbers of people to die needlessly if it indeed comes true on the other. In addition to his inner conflicts, Rob clashes with his family, his colleagues, and local officials about his decision.
Intertwined with Rob’s story are those of two other men: one a down-on-his-luck Vietnam veteran named Neahkahnie Johnny, who may have stumbled on the solution to a centuries-old puzzle which may finally turn his life around, and the other is Shack, a retired military pilot who has made a trip to Oregon to make right a wrong he committed long ago when he was a self-absorbed young flyboy. The potential for a massive earthquake and tsunami in the Cascadia Subduction Zone carries with it the potential to forever change the lives of Rob, Johnny, Shack, and everyone living in the Pacific Northwest. There are so many great parts to Cascadia that I would like to share, but at the risk of spoiling the plot, I will leave to the reader to check out the details.
Cascadia is a great showcase for Buzz Bernard’s background in environmental science and his talent for writing thrillers. It is clear that he put a great deal of time and research into making Cascadia as scientifically accurate as possible. He expertly weaves scientific information into the story without detracting from the plot, and his characters are immediately relatable. Bernard’s descriptions of the terrain of the coastal Pacific Northwest virtually transport the reader there, and his action sequences are terrific. A series of scenes involving Rob in his small airplane is especially riveting, and kept me up reading much later than I had planned. His pacing of the story is excellent. There were no slow sections that made me want to skip forward at any point in the novel.
A few things held me back from giving Cascadia a full five stars. To be frank, I did find a few aspects of the story to be a bit ‘out there’ compared to the rest of the novel, particularly Rob’s willingness to take such huge professional risks based on nothing more than a series of dreams, and the appearance of a mysterious woman named Cassie at various points in the story. There were a few times when I found that that Bernard’s characters’ speaking patterns did not sound natural in places. For example, the occasional placement of mid-sentence dependent clauses came across to me sounding more like something a person would write, as opposed to something they would say. I also thought that Bernard had a tendency to occasionally wax a bit too eloquent in his physical descriptions.
With memories of the massive December 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean that claimed nearly a quarter million lives still relatively fresh, Cascadia is a novel that can really set the reader on edge, especially if they or someone they know lives near the ocean. In Cascadia, Buzz Bernard has successfully done what the author of a good thriller does: exploits the possible and makes the reader wonder ‘what if’. I love a good disaster novel, and this one did not disappoint. Fun, exhilarating and informative, Cascadia is well-worth your time.
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary advance copy of Cascadia in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I am not connected with the Buzz Bernard, his representation, or his publisher Bell Bridge Books in any way, and I did not receive any monetary gain from this review....more
I usually avoid celebrity memoirs, because I have found them to be too self-aggrandizing, either in a "look how great I am" sense, or a "look how horrI usually avoid celebrity memoirs, because I have found them to be too self-aggrandizing, either in a "look how great I am" sense, or a "look how horrendous I used to be" sense. Based on what I knew of Eric Clapton, I had the feeling that Clapton: The Autobiography would be different, and it was.
Penned entirely by Clapton itself, this book reads something like a very contrite confession. Clapton's lifelong struggles with addiction and attendant relationship dysfunction are addressed very directly, but never with lurid details or scenarios that make him appear to be a victim in any way. Whatever misadventures occurred in his life, Clapton owns them, and blames no one but himself for those lows. At the same time, he is more than willing to give credit to those who helped him reach his high points. Clapton has been sober and drug-free for over 20 years now, and this book was clearly written from the point of view of a recovering addict adhering to the 12-steps.
I was especially impressed with how Clapton never really throws anyone under the bus in the course of the book. A few people get harsher treatment than others, and fairly so, but after more than 50 years in the music business, I'm sure he has encountered some real villains who would be great fun to skewer. He never does. Despite the sins of his past, it became clear to me the further I got into his life story that while Eric Clapton is very, very human and has made some terrible choices, at his core he has strong character and a good heart.
The quality of the writing in Clapton: The Autobiography is excellent. His skills as a memoirist are not quite equal to his musical skills, but they are actually quite close. I strongly recommend Eric Clapton's autobiography for even the casual fan, and am hopeful that Clapton puts forth some new written products soon....more
If you were a part of music in the 80s, you will love this semi-autobiographical novel. Some further edits, particularly in narrative point of view woIf you were a part of music in the 80s, you will love this semi-autobiographical novel. Some further edits, particularly in narrative point of view would be helpful, but still a very enjoyable read....more
As a native Mainer, being a Stephen King fan is almost expected, and I have been one since my teenage years. I'd be lying if I said I'd read all his bAs a native Mainer, being a Stephen King fan is almost expected, and I have been one since my teenage years. I'd be lying if I said I'd read all his books, because I haven't, and I've abandoned several of his longer novels in the past because either they or I ran out of steam. 11/22/63 is among King's longer works, but the combination of King, alternate history and rave reviews made this one almost too much for me to pass up.
I approached 11/22/63 with skepticism, since time travel as a subject often seems to become rather schlocky and pop culture-ridden. That was not the case in this novel. Throughout the novel, King paints deft pictures of American life in the late 1950s and early 60s as seen through the eyes of one of his most "normal" protagonists, Jake Epping. Between King's having been alive during that time period and his excellent research skills, he really brought that era to life in what I feel is some of his most skilled writing. Being able to do so through the lens of an Everyday Joe like Jake Epping allowed King to paint the time period with a fairly broad brush, relatively free of narrator bias. In 11/22/63, King also effectively addresses the consequences that time travel could have on history in ways that are seldom touched upon in other pieces with that subject. The so-called "butterfly effect" is always lingering just over Jake Epping's head, and almost acts as another character in the story.
This is not the place to give a full recount of the plot, which is essentially that a man from the present goes back to the late 1950s and spends over five years trying to prevent the assassination of John Kennedy. And it is certainly not the place to give away any spoilers. Suffice it to say, one does not need to be a history buff, or even a longtime Stephen King fan to enjoy this novel. Fans averse to the horror and gore for which King is so well-known might actually find 11/22/63 to be a safe path into his work, as the blood and guts are extremely minimal in this novel.
Lastly, if you are wondering why I only gave four stars instead of five, it is only for one reason: too much padding in the plot. The vignettes of the past and some of the subplots are pleasurable, but there is a lot that might be considered filler. 11/22/63 could easily be just as terrific a story in 200 fewer pages. Nonetheless, this is one of Stephen King's greatest novels, in my opinion, and comes highly recommended....more
Colin Woodward' Republic of Pirates is highly recommended. The author has a real talent for turning nonfiction into a captivating narrative without saColin Woodward' Republic of Pirates is highly recommended. The author has a real talent for turning nonfiction into a captivating narrative without sacrificing facts....more
As a teenager, I loved MTV, from its inception in 1981 until it started getting more focused on pop culture than music videos in the late 1980s. The aAs a teenager, I loved MTV, from its inception in 1981 until it started getting more focused on pop culture than music videos in the late 1980s. The authors of this memoir were the faces of MTV during that heyday, and I recall them as fondly as I do many of my old high school buddies from that same era. "VJ" is a essentially a collection of memories from the four surviving VJs (J.J. Jackson passed away in 2004), from the time of their hiring at the channel to their departure. The stories are exactly the kind of gossipy, fun kind of thing a fan of classic MTV would expect in a book such as this. I truly enjoyed reliving the glory days of MTV (and my own younger years) through this book, and still listen to Mark, Nina, Alan, and Martha each day on their SiriusXM 80s channel. The book's tone got a bit bitter toward the end when the VJs recounted their struggles post-MTV (hence the four stars instead of five) but other than that it was a fun and breezy read that I highly recommend to fans of music from the 80s....more
The P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch is a revised version of his novel The Lawnmower Celebrity, originally released some years ago. A P45 is an unemployment fThe P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch is a revised version of his novel The Lawnmower Celebrity, originally released some years ago. A P45 is an unemployment form in Britain I am told, and Jay, Hatch's protagonist, has plenty of experience with joblessness. 18 years old, having just lost his mother to cancer and utterly lacking in direction, Jay's current situation is a series of false starts and disappointments. He struggles to get some traction in his life, but just seems able to do so. One job after another is won and then soon lost, often as the result of Jay's humorous but ultimately self-destructive behavior. His perspective that everything seems so phony is very reminiscent of Holden Caulfield's in Catcher in the Rye, which Hatch makes no attempt to hide. Jay's gruff but loving father employs the "tough love" approach, but Jay rebels against it. His girlfriend Gemma nudges Jay more gently, but has to watch out for her own well-being at the same time, causing friction in their relationship. His other friends and family are also dealing with struggles of their own, and are unable to adequately give Jay the support he needs. Jay's one guiding star is that he wants to write for a living, but jumping on the moving train that is a writing career is predictably difficult. In the end, Jay needs to steel himself and take a big risk to actually start moving forward in his life.
As other reviewers have undoubtedly remarked, The P45 Diaries alternates between hysterical and tearjerking. While Jay's character is endearing and his actions are undoubtedly funny, there are many times the reader just wants to reach into the pages and shake some sense into him. Anyone who has been trying to follow a dream in the face of internal struggles and a world seemingly arrayed against him or her will be able to relate to Jay.
Ben Hatch hasn't really broken onto the American literary scene yet, which is a shame. If you are unfamiliar with him, you really should get to know his work. In addition to The P45 Diaries, he has also published two nonfiction works: Are We Nearly There Yet? and Road to Rouen, which chronicle travels with his young family throughout Britain and France, respectively. He also has a highly engaging Twitter account. Ben never fails to make me both laugh and think. He is definitely one to watch....more
This is a well-balanced, well-researched biography of a complex but ultimately admirable man. The recent attention paid to the 50th anniversary of JFKThis is a well-balanced, well-researched biography of a complex but ultimately admirable man. The recent attention paid to the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination spurred my interest in brother Robert, about whom I knew very little. Evan Thomas' biography of RFK, published in the late 1990s, is highly readable and very even-handed. Like most people, RFK was not a two dimensional figure, but complex and multi-faceted. He could be be a crusading advocate for the downtrodden at one point, and engineering a behind-the-scenes political maneuver to undermine an enemy the next.
I came away from this book feeling like I really got to know Robert Kennedy quite well. My interest in the man and his legacy grew as I read, and I plan to seek out more information about RFK in the near future.
If you are looking to learn about one of the most influential people in U.S. politics in the 1960, Robert Kennedy: His Life by Evan Thomas is an excellent place to start....more
As a lifelong Mainer, novels set in this state have always caught my eye. This multilayered mystery follows three generations of a family beset by traAs a lifelong Mainer, novels set in this state have always caught my eye. This multilayered mystery follows three generations of a family beset by tragedy. Set on Monhegan Island, in Aroostook County, and in Vietnam for a time, Dylan Boyd does a masterful job of drawing the reader into his characters and the setting. I honestly had no idea how this novel would end, or even how the different narratives wove together, until the final pages. Boyd's experiences as a lawyer lend real credibility to the courtroom sequences, although the legal detail does run a bit thick in spots. I highly recommend Blue Lobster to readers who enjoy courtroom drama or realistic Maine-based novels....more
Not too bad for a zombie novel. There is a great deal of fast-paced action, which is exactly what I would want in a novel such as this. The Wild WestNot too bad for a zombie novel. There is a great deal of fast-paced action, which is exactly what I would want in a novel such as this. The Wild West setting gave Gehenna a unique twist, and the characters, at least the two protagonists, were ones you could root for. I am looking forward to reading the next installment in Jason Brant's West of Hell series....more
I am developing an addiction to Terry Prachett! This is the third of his books that I've read, and the second I've read in the Discworld series. I becI am developing an addiction to Terry Prachett! This is the third of his books that I've read, and the second I've read in the Discworld series. I become a bigger fan with each one. The Light Fantastic is a more coherent story than the first in the series, The Color of Magic, due in part to the fact that Pratchett does not need to develop his characters and his world as much for the reader. Strongly recommended for fans of fantasy and satire....more