When three men with nothing left to lose go looking for a lost gold mine in the Yuma Proving Grounds, they have no idea the forces they will be up aga...moreWhen three men with nothing left to lose go looking for a lost gold mine in the Yuma Proving Grounds, they have no idea the forces they will be up against...
Johnny Shaw is quickly blazing his way up my list of favorite authors. Big Maria is the tale of three losers looking for their big score. Frank is an old man with cancer. Harry Schmittberger (guess what his nickname is) is a prison guard. And Ricky was a bus driver until he wrecked his bus and became the defendent in a couple dozen lawsuits. When the legend of the Big Maria Mine reaches Harry's ears, the three men join forces, forming a unit almost as capable as one regular man.
The supporting cast is also pretty good. Bernardo and Ramon, Frank's nephews, are hilarious and even I was afraid of Frank's domineering daughter Mercedes. Cooker, aka Worky, was as close to a villain to be found in the book but I eventually felt sorry for him. Poor Worky. The obstacles the trio encountered were well done and seemed fairly accurate since they were venturing into an inhospitable desert that was also a firing range.
Big Maria is one hilarious book. From the opening with Harry puking into his own pants while passed out on the toilet, I was hooked. As with Shaw's other books, Dove Season and Plaster City, the prose is peppered with hilarious lines. Unlike a lot of humorous crime books, this one doesn't lose its luster after fifty pages or so and the humor doesn't descend to a ridiculous level. It's a lot like a Joe Lansdale books and like Lansdale, I think it would be a blast to go to a barbeque at Johnny Shaw's house.
The ending was great. It wasn't all blowjobs and rainbows and I liked how things were resolved.
Like Shaw's other two books, Big Maria would make a great movie. Four out of five stars. (less)
A man's wife is murdered and he's understandably wrecked. When he finds a notebook in her luggage, he finds that his wife may not have been the person...moreA man's wife is murdered and he's understandably wrecked. When he finds a notebook in her luggage, he finds that his wife may not have been the person he thought she was...
I got this from Darkfuse via Netgalley.
Imagine you find evidence that your recently deceased spouse was a serial killer. That's the boat Matt Newman is in in Deceiver. He gradually slides from being the grieving husband to brimming with anger as he reads the entries in his deceased wife's notebook.
I've never read a Kelli Owen book before but she knows about building tension and conveying feelings of loss and anger like nobody's business. I sympathized with Matt at the various stages of his emotional journey.
The payoff at the end is pretty damn sweet. I don't have a bad thing to say about this book. It's an easy four star read.(less)
A stodgy academic runs out of gas in a secluded English town, a town devoid of joy and dedicated to discipline. When the townsfolk ask him to treat an...moreA stodgy academic runs out of gas in a secluded English town, a town devoid of joy and dedicated to discipline. When the townsfolk ask him to treat an undisciplined man whom they say murdered four men, Daryl's life takes a dark turn...
I got this from Darkfuse via Netgalley.
I didn't really know what to think about this DarkFuse novella. It seems to be a story about the dangers of conformity and discipline gone wrong. Daryl lives a rational, disciplined lifestyle and ends up in a secluded village where the people make him look like John Belushi by comparison. But then reality seems to be breaking down at the village and things get really strange.
It was a creepy story but I'm not exactly sure what happened. I've had a great experience with DarkFuse so far but they can't all be home runs, I guess. Two out of five stars.(less)
*** in progress *** When Matt Hollis, a lone demon hunter with a magical pistol, is approached to join the ancient order of Valducan knights, he warily...more*** in progress *** When Matt Hollis, a lone demon hunter with a magical pistol, is approached to join the ancient order of Valducan knights, he warily accepts. Can the Valducans put aside their suspicions and accept Matt before they are overwhelmed by a demonic force bent on ridding the world of holy weapons?
I got this ARC from Ragnarok Publications, the fine folks responsible for the Dead West series.
Firstly, Damoren, a magical pistol with an equally magical bayonet attacked, was forged from a shattered magical sword, also called Damoren. Damoren's current wielder, Matt Hollis, is tainted by demon blood after a bullet fired by Damoren passed through a demon into him, giving him some cool abilities.
I really liked the mythology Skorkowsky established around the demons. Pretty much any monster you can think of was actually a human infected by a demon. Even dragons and vampires.
The story was pretty good. Matt has to overcome the mistrust of the rest of the Valducans and help them deal with a shit ton of demons. There's a lot of action and gore. Unfortunately, there's also a lot gun porn in this; long descriptions of weapons and lots of technical details.
Another thing I liked was the inclusion of excerpts from the Valducan's history interspersed with the regular chapters. Funny how I'm reading Carrie at the same time and it uses a similar technique.
It was a fun read and things got really tense in the last 20%. Since it's the first book in a series, I knew some people would live but if the first book is any indication, the story of the Valducan knights is going to be a bloody one with lots of casualties. 3.5 out of 5 stars.(less)
When he finds out his father has terminal cancer, Jimmy Veeder returns home for the first time in over a decade. His father has one last request: one...moreWhen he finds out his father has terminal cancer, Jimmy Veeder returns home for the first time in over a decade. His father has one last request: one last visit with a bar girl named Yolanda. Little does Jimmy know the shitstorm his is about to unleash...
Since Plaster City was part of the Kindle First program this month, I thought it was high time I read Johnny Shaw's first Jimmy Veeder novel, Dove Season, and I'm very glad I did.
Dove Season is a crime tale that feels like something Joe Lansdale would cook up after a night of bad Mexican food. It takes place in the poor communities on the California/Mexico border. Jimmy Veeder is a conflicted Slacker who returns home to spend what remaining time his father has left with the old man. Who knew crossing the border to track down a hooker would stir up so much trouble?
Shaw's dialogue reminds me of Joe Lansdale's; full of black humor and sounding authentically rural. I lost count of all the quotable lines. Jimmy and his best friend Bobby Maves drink and wisecrack their way through the Mexican underworld, getting their asses handed to them repeatedly.
The humor is tempered with some brutality and surprising plot twists. I'm not going to spoil anything but this is certainly a book where the main character doesn't leave the story in a mass of unicorns and rainbows.
The relationships between Jimmy and his friends and the depiction of small town rural life were what separated this story from other crime books for me. The way Bobby and the Buckley's helped Jimmy blunder through everything was awesome.
I guess it's harder than I thought to articulate all the things I liked about this book. Here's a line that I found particularly hilarious: "I feel like I just walked into a tampon ad. I love the shit out of her but it's time we put on our man pants."
Jimmy Veeder is living the straight life with Angie and Juan, apart from the occasional Mavescapade, when Bobby's sixteen year old daughter goes missi...moreJimmy Veeder is living the straight life with Angie and Juan, apart from the occasional Mavescapade, when Bobby's sixteen year old daughter goes missing. Together, Jimmy and Bobby navigate a cesspool of gang members and underground girl fights. But is Julie still alive? Or does she even want saving?
Plaster City was part of the Kindle First program in April. And it is spectacular! There aren't many sequels that don't diminish the original but I'd say Plaster City is even better than Dove Season, the first Jimmy Veeder fiasco.
Plaster City sees Jimmy and Bobby go on another of their alcohol and testosterone fueld adventures, this time looking for Bobby's sixteen year old daughter, a girl he barely knows. There's plenty of action, humor, and general mayhem, much like the first book. Buck Buck and Snout come back, as do Gris, Angie, and both the elder Morales and his criminal grandson Tomas. In addition to that, we get to meet Bobby's ex Becky and his father. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree there.
Even more than in Dove Season, I can't help but notice the resemblance of Shaw's tales to those of Joe Lansdale, both in humor and violence. The interplay between Jimmy and Bobby had me chuckling out loud quite a few times. I can't emphasize enough how funny these Jimmy Veeder books are. Hilarious but never degenerating into outright nonsense.
As in the first book, the dynamic duo took a world class ass kicking, especially Bobby. The ending surprised me a bit since there was a character I suspected was introduced to do some kind of heroic sacrifice but I'm glad Shaw went his way with it.
If you're looking for action, laughs, and outright enjoyment, you'll be hard pressed to find another book this awesome. Five out of five stars. It's a contender for the best book I've read in 2014 so far.(less)
In a future where the petroleum supply is nearly exhausted, an industrialist is extracting a mysterious superfuel called Fire Ice from a lake beneath...moreIn a future where the petroleum supply is nearly exhausted, an industrialist is extracting a mysterious superfuel called Fire Ice from a lake beneath Antarctica. But what is the super fuel and what is the beast that is attacking workers? That's what The Doctor and a journalist named Lizzie are trying to find out...
This one started out great. There were greedy businessmen, short-sighted environmentalists, dinosaurs, a mysterious hairy beast, and Silurians. Then things started getting unnecessarily complicated.
The Doctor as well written and I liked the Silurian plotline, as I always do when the scaly ones make an appearance. Then the Sea Devils showed up and things got a little cluttered.
It had its moments but The Silurian Gift fell a little short for me. 2.5 out of 5 stars.(less)
Wanna Cook? is an episode guide for the exquisite television program, Breaking Bad.
I got this from Netgalley.
Wanna Cook is an episode by episode analy...moreWanna Cook? is an episode guide for the exquisite television program, Breaking Bad.
I got this from Netgalley.
Wanna Cook is an episode by episode analysis of the rise and fall of one Walter White, cancer sufferer and meth cook. Each episode is picked apart, highlighting the milestones on Walt's rise and fall, as well as commentary on the actors and camera work. Some of the symbolism is also picked apart.
The writing is pretty good and I liked learning about the underlying philosophy of the show. I thought they may have read a little too much into some of the symbolism, however. The book made me want to watch Breaking Bad in its entirety once again. There were some clever insights and I enjoyed the trip down memory lane immensely but I'm not sure how necessary the book actually is in this day and age since there are probably thousands of websites out there dissecting Breaking Bad in great detail.
The only thing I thought may have been lacking in the book was that there were no "what might have been" sections. No mention was made that Jesse PInkman wasn't originally intended to survive the first season, for instance.
Wanna Cook is a good look back at a great TV show. I am on the one who knocks! Three out of five stars.(less)
The sixth Doctor and Peri get yanked back to the 16th century by John Dee. After a clash of egos, The Doctor discovers The Master is pulling Dee's str...moreThe sixth Doctor and Peri get yanked back to the 16th century by John Dee. After a clash of egos, The Doctor discovers The Master is pulling Dee's strings. But what does The Master have planned involving a super nova in the constellation Cassiopeia? Can the Doctor stop his schemes? Of course he can! He's the Doctor!
I got this from Netgalley.
I must admit, this is the first Doctor Who story I've read that features a Doctor I'm unfamiliar with, in this case, the Sixth Doctor. Still, that did little to impede my enjoyment.
A Handful of Stardust features such diverse elements as witchcraft, incubii, John Dee, super novas, and The Master. It feels very much like a standalone episode of Doctor Who, complete with uncertainty and a little running away. Just when The Master appears to get the upper hand, The Doctor works that old magic and things are resolved before the closing credits roll.
The Time Trips continue to be entertaining bits of Whoviana. Three out of five stars.(less)
Bleeding Shadows is a collection of short stories by Joe R. Lansdale.
Torn Away: A small town sheriff brings a suspicious man in for questioning and ge...moreBleeding Shadows is a collection of short stories by Joe R. Lansdale.
Torn Away: A small town sheriff brings a suspicious man in for questioning and gets a lot more than he bargained for...
Right out of the gate, Lansdale reminds me just how good he is at writing short stories. This one feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone or something. Short and sweet if you like the idea of a man on the run from supernatural forces.
Bleeding Shadows: A PI is hired to find a hooker's missing brother, who is a blues man playing sounds that no human should hear...
I read this one in a Lovecraft anthology once. It's still creepy as hell the second time through.
Tom Morgan is in a coma but still alive. Twon and Ollie go looking for Will Longmire and their money. Markum is closing in on Cruelty and Forgiveness...moreTom Morgan is in a coma but still alive. Twon and Ollie go looking for Will Longmire and their money. Markum is closing in on Cruelty and Forgiveness is on the loose. Oh, and Merlo the cowardly dog and Randy Miser join forces.
Mama Lorn's little boy has done it again. While Cruelty didn't make an appearance, a lot of dominos were set up in this installment. The setting is starting to feel a little True Detective-ish, always a good thing.
There's not a lot more I can say without revealing too much. As always, the episode blew by and left me wanting more. I'm looking forward to rereading the series in one whack once the whole series is released. Four stars out of five stars. (less)