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  • gilwilson 3:34 PM on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: andrew scott, fiction, , , , , , , ,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More” 

    henry sugar

    Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More”
    by Roald Dahl
    read by Andrew Scott
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 7 hours

    Penguin Audio has recently released the works of Roald Dahl, the man who brought us “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and I have the pleasure of getting all these audiobooks for review. I immediately jumped in with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” and really didn’t know which book to listen to next. It was great reliving my childhood and being entertained as an adult with these fantastically funny and whimsical stories.

    I decided to just randomly choose my next Roald Dahl audio choice and this is the one I came up with. This audiobook came as a complete surprise. The stories in this collection are much different from the Roald Dahl stories I was used to. This collection is a combination of fiction and non-fiction stories each one was unique and while most were poignant they each revealed a little bit of humanity as the story progressed and unfolded. Not knowing any of the stories beforehand made for a very pleasant surprise as the end of each story was reached. Sometimes there was that bit of tear in my eye and sometimes there was a hopefulness for all of humanity.

    This is definitely a collection to grab for the older fans of Roald Dahl. A couple of the stories are autobiographical in nature and as the listener you will discover a little more about the man that told such great children’s stories. The narrator in this collection did a superb job in presenting each story and giving each story their own unique ambiance through his vocal presentation.

     

    Next, I will briefly summarize each story to give you a hint as to what you can expect.

     

    “The Boy Who Talked with Animals”

    This story is told from the point of view of someone on vacation in Jamaica. One night a huge sea turtle is being brought on the shore by some fishermen. All the people on the beach are enthralled by the massive beast and many talk about the ways the turtle could bring in money, some of the enterprising vacationers offer money for the turtle. All offers are turned down because the hotel owner has already paid for the turtle to make turtle soup. The vacationers are then talking about how great dinner will be. A young boy steps in and calls everyone horrible and cruel. The boy loves animals and even talks with them according to his parents. The boy’s father pays off the fishermen and the hotel manager and the turtle is set free. But that is not the end of the story. The next day the boy is missing and only when the fishermen return from sea can the story find a very heartwarming ending.

     

    “The Hitch-hiker”

    I found this story very intriguing. The beginning is not clear where the story will go but by the end it is quite humorous. The story is told from the point of view of a man who has a brand new BMW 3.3 LI. He is enjoying a drive down the highway and stops to pick up a “rat-like” hitch-hiker with long fingers. They begin talking and eventually talk about the car and the hitch-hiker talks the man into pushing the car to it’s limits. They get the speed up faster and faster until a police officer on a motorcycle comes up from behind. The driver is given a ticket and even threatens the driver with prison time. After receiving the ticket the driver becomes quiet. The hitch-hiker then tries to cheer him up by making him guess his profession. Once the driver starts to guess the story becomes funny and even with a little twist to the end of the tale.

     

    “The Mildenhall Treasure”

    This story is the first non-fiction in the collection and tells of a plowman who is plowing a field in England during WWII for a local farmer. The plowman, Gordon Butcher, hits a hard spot in the field and the plow becomes disconnected from the tractor. Wanting to get the field plowed before the snow hits he rushes back to try and clear the plow. What he discovers is a large metal plate. The area is well known for it’s buried Roman Treasures. When he tells the farmer, the farmer proceeds to uncover the treasure which is a collection of silver dinnerware, later discovered to be worth millions. The farmer moves all of the treasure to his home where he cleans the silver and keeps it for himself. The catch is that the United Kingdom has a law that buried treasures must be reported and become property of the country, (compensating the discoverer, of course). The farmer hides the treasure and keeps it to himself until a visiting historian sees one of the silver spoons accidentally left out. This may be a bit of a spoiler but the treasure now sits in the national museum, but the events that lead to getting the treasure in the proper hands make this story intriguing.

     

    “The Swan”

    Break out the tissue for this one. Peter Watson loves nature and birds, when bullies Ernie and Raymond set off to kill some rabbits with the new gun Ernie received for his birthday, they run into Peter. Peter has always been the target of the two bullies and this day just became his worse day ever. Holding Peter at gunpoint the bullies tie him to the middle of a railroad track. They tie him down between the rails so that he narrowly escapes death as the train rolls by and Peter barely fits under the passing train. They then march Peter to a nature sanctuary and shoot a swan. This brings Peter to tears to see such a beautiful creature shut down. The bullies send him over to retrieve the swan. This is when Peter discovers the unhatched eggs. To further Peter’s humiliation, Ernie says he can bring the swan to life and cuts off the wings and straps them to Peter. The events that follow present a little hope to anyone being bullied.

     

    “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

    Henry Sugar is an extremely wealthy man who loves gambling. While visiting with a doctor friend he discovers a medical report about a man who could see without using his eyes. This man studied with a Yogi until he developed the ability. Henry Sugar sees this as a way to guarantee winning at numerous casinos. The catch is the process of learning this ability requires strict mind and body training. The training, while successful, changes Henry in many ways and soon he looks at life from a different viewpoint.

     

    “Lucky Break”

    This is a non-fictional account which discusses the events in his life that led to Roald Dahl becoming a writer, including a meeting with a famous writer, who helped to launch his career. The story is about Dahl’s school and all the teachers, up until after the publication of his first story.

     

    “A Piece of Cake”

    This final story is another non-fiction story which is autobiographical in nature. This one covers Dahl’s time as a fighter pilot in World War II, and details how Dahl was injured and eventually forced to leave the Mediterranean arena. The original version of the story was written for C. S. Forester so that he could get the gist of Dahl’s story and rewrite it in his own words. However, Forester was so impressed by the story (Dahl at the time did not believe himself to be anything approaching an accomplished writer) that he sent it straight off to his agent who had it published (as “Shot Down Over Libya”) in the Saturday Evening Post, thereby kick-starting Dahl’s writing career.

     

    A great collection of some of Roald Dahl’s lesser known works, that will give you a little more insight of the famous children’s author.

     

     
  • gilwilson 3:44 PM on August 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alladin, arabian nights, , , , , classics, , fiction, sharhzad, sinbad, tales,   

    “Tales from the Arabian Nights” Abridged Compiled by Andrew Lang 

    Tales_from_the_Arabian_Nights_Naxos

    “Tales from the Arabian Nights” Abridged

    Compiled by Andrew Lang

    Read by Toby Stephens

    Published by Naxos AudioBooks

    Length: 2 hours and 14 minutes

     

    Once in a while, as you probably know from reading my posts, I have to go back and visit the classics, especially when they appear in audiobook form.  I ran across this version a year ago and planned on giving it a listen during my vacation but that didn’t work out and it sat in my iPod for a year.  I was looking for a short audiobook to fill time between some major novels and decided, it was time.

     

    This abridged version is a sanitized childrens version of the classic collection. So you won’t be getting the adult-themed aspect of why the stories are being told; the woman telling erotic and exotic stories to the king to entertain him and entice him with wanting to hear more so she may live. Without this element, this merely becomes is a nice collection of fables. While they are cleaned up a bit, by no means are these dumbed-down, sanitized disney versions. The language used is age appropriate for young listeners, but, there is a body count, and there is a scene where somebody dumps boiling oil in the jars with the murdering thieves. This makes the stories digestible for ages nine and up, in my opinion.

     

    This version also features some really nice music as segues between some of the scenes.  The music and the nice delivery from the narrator make for an entertaining two hours of classic story-telling.

     

    The premise of the story is that Shahrazad is promised to a King, Shahryar.  Shahryar is notorious for killing his wives on their wedding night.  Shahrazad comes up with the plan that will make Shahryar intrigued enough to keep her alive until the next day.  She does this by telling stories with cliff-hanger endings and has to rest until the next telling.

     

    The stories themselves are actually a collection of stories collected over thousands of years by various authors, translators and scholars. They are an amalgam of mythology and folk tales from the Indian sub-continent, Persia, and Arabia. Some of the stories date back to around the year 800-900 C.E. Many tales that have become independently famous come from the Book, among them Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Alladin and the lamp and the voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.

     

    For the most part I remember the old Popeye meets Sinbad cartoons that actually placed some of these tales in the world of Popeye the Sailor.  This made for a nice reminiscing moment for me.

     

     

     
  • gilwilson 3:52 PM on July 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , brendan craddock, , faerie, , fiction, , legends, , , new author, peter schmit, quadrivium books, sir lancelot, summerhawk   

    “Summerhawk” By Peter Schmit 

    peternew

    “Summerhawk”

    By Peter Schmit

    Published by Quadrivium Books

    312 pages

    I love reading books that are a part of a series.  Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files,” are a couple of my favorites.  With a series you have a good stable cast of characters that create a whole new world that provide a collection of readings that will last several installations.  There are some books that introduce characters and you just have to know what happened next.  These series’ provide that answer.  This book, “Summerhawk,” is one that I hope and am pretty sure will be a series providing the further adventures of Brendan Craddock.

    This book introduces Brendan Craddock a mild mannered former school teacher who has a secret.  That secret is soon revealed and it sends Brendan into a tailspin into a world of myth, magic and mayhem.  Brendan is the reincarnation of Sir Lancelot Du Lac, The Summerhawk, and with that brings eternal powers, a really cool sword and a bunch of people that want him to serve them.

    Brendan is recently divorced and his ex-wife is about to get married to the perfect man. He is so perfect that, no matter how hard he tries, Brendan can’t bring himself to even dislike the guy.  He’s even invited to their wedding, probably just for his daughter’s sake.  All Brendan wants is to find a nice quiet bar and get good and drunk.  When a barfly and her mate decide to start a fight with Brendan, he finds himself battling with supernatural powers that he has never experienced before.  As the battle ensues the other parties involved also develop a bit of the supernatural and become half human and half animal.

    Brendan soon goes to his aunt for questions, which only lead to other questions and mysteries.  When Brendan’s daughter, Genevieve, is taken away on a dark, stormy night, Brendan picks up his sword and goes through hell to the world of Faerie and Fae to recover the only stable part of his life.

    Peter Schmit has created a glimpse into another world and a cast of characters that will leave you wanting more.  I have it on good authority that this will be a series that I will be enjoying for a while.  Schmit has written such depth to these characters that as the reader I felt I already knew who they were and was ready to jump in to the adventure knowing I was in safe hands.   The world of legends borrows from the Arthurian legends but Schmit has added in his flair to make this world even more magical and full of surprises.

    Trust me on this one, this freshman work from new author Peter Schmit is worth jumping into.  Make this your next new author read.

     
  • gilwilson 7:27 PM on April 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: angst, , , , fiction, jake hart, , , ron currie jr   

    Audiobook Review: “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles: A Novel” by Ron Currie, Jr. 

    flimsy

    “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles: A Novel”
    by Ron Currie, Jr.
    read by Jake Hart
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Listening Length: 8 hours and 6 minutes

    I’m really not sure what attracts me to these mopey, bitter stories of accidental success, but by gosh and by golly they are fun to hear. Okay I guess that was a bit of a spoiler, so, sorry, but the telling of this story is what makes it interesting and worth the investment not the final outcome, which I haven’t really given that away, yet.

    The story behind this novel which may or may not be true, is that the writer, Ron can’t seem to cut a break. In a tale told through a drunken haze with a story that is not unlike those told by Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahnuik, Adam Davies or even some Hunter S. Thompson. A little bit of the bizarre thrown in with some real life emotions and that’s what sucks you in to this plunge into the darker side of an author’s mind.

    Ron, the character in the book, just cannot catch a break. To start things out the woman he loves does not love him back. This woman, Emma, is willing to see him as a friend and actually a friend with benefits. They do have sex on occasion, but the sex is a combination of love-making and boxing matches. Emma has constantly eluded him and when her house is burned down after a divorce, the burning house contains the latest manuscript Ron has been trying to finish, Ron decides to escape. Throw in the recent death of Ron’s father and this leads to Ron relocating to a tropical island where he soaks his grief in rum and picks fights with the locals, all while writing about his love of Emma.

    Eventually Ron drinks himself into a stupor, writes a suicide note and tries to take his own life by driving off a pier into the ocean. Notice I say, “tries.” He wakes up on a beach with the tides and currents washing him out of his car and ashore. Heading to a bar after being on the beach a day or so, he wants to start his drinking again. When no one recognizes him, Ron decides this is the time to make a fresh start, acquiring forged documents he makes for himself a new identity and leaves society behind to be alone in the desert of Egypt.

    In his absence from the world his suicide note goes viral thanks to a probing reporter and the manuscript he was working on gets published. The world soon becomes enthralled with Ron Currie and his love story. Many people commit suicide, all pushed by the love that never can be and Ron’s heartfelt story. All this happens without Ron knowing. He is, after all, living a secluded life in the desert working for a small restaurant catering to tourists. After some time of trying to find himself by either floating in the Red Sea or seeking solitude in the desert, Ron finds some peace but can never shake the love that can never be.

    After some time Ron is discovered and deported back stateside. Upon arrival he finds not a welcoming fan base to his new best-seller but a country mad at him for deceiving them, he’s supposed to be dead. This brings out massive lawsuits and Ron is forced to defend himself and his actions. The problem is, he can’t, he feels responsible for the suicides and feels he should be punished.

    Without rewriting the entire book in this review, that pretty much sums it up, but there is so much more. This book, to borrow an idea from “Shrek,” is like an onion, many, many layers. Well worth the time reading but even more worth the time listening. The book is written in first person from Ron’s viewpoint and the reader, Jake Hart, does a superb job representing the angst and anger from the author’s life.

     

     

     
    • khurshauthor 3:54 PM on April 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Good review. I, too, liked the philosophical onion layers about love, death, and the ‘singularity’ Currie presented. I liked the way the book was presented in short un-labeled chapters. It kept me turning pages. He kind of lost me at the fake death/posthumous fame twist, though. Took me out of the relationship between him and Emma I was just starting to understand. I liked Charlotte, and was sad to see her dispatched. Keep it up, Gil. T.

      Like

      • gilwilson 8:28 PM on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        having listened the audiobook i didn’t know they were unlabelled chapters…that explains the long ramble sound of the book

        Like

  • gilwilson 10:42 PM on October 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , fiction, , , , , , ,   

    “While Bugles Blow!” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “While Bugles Blow”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multicast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    Approx 2 hours

    I never get tired of these Stories from the Golden Age releases from Galaxy Audio. Not only do they bring back the old pulp fiction stories from the mid-20th century, but they are so professionally produced that they bring the stories to life and leave the listener feeling as though they are taking part in the story as it is happening.

    I know that anytime I want to escape in a fun story I can always count on Galaxy Audio’s productions of the pulp fiction stories from L. Ron Hubbard. With superb acting, realistic sound effects and an original music score to match each story and genre, these productions put you in the middle of the story and you have no choice but to listen to the very end. Matching all that with the stories written by Hubbard guarantees a good time with a good story.

    While a good part of the publications contain two or three short stories in the two-hour audiobooks, this time around it was one story for the entire audiobook. This story, “While Bugles Blow,” was originally published in the December, 1936 issue of “Five Novels Monthly,” and is a far-flung adventure involving an American serving as a Lieutenant in the French Foreign Legion.

    In the middle of a war between the Jeppas and the Berbers, the commandant of the Legion fort is tricked into buying a slave girl. When either side captures women it is common politics for the Jeppas and Berbers to auction them off as slaves. When the commandant of the Legion fort is tricked into buying a golden red-haired female Jeppa Warrior, the local Berber leader wants her for his own and attacks the fort to get her.

    The lieutenant defends the fort with only 60 men under his command against 3,000 Berbers. The American finds himself using all his expertise in order to protect the woman and the fort. This gives the Jeppas the chance to win their side of the war. Is this all a trick to get the Legion to fight their war? The answer comes in this exciting tale from L. Ron Hubbard with the typical twists and turns and even some good humor thrown in to make this story the perfect action story.

     
  • gilwilson 10:11 PM on October 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fiction, H.E.R.O., heroes, kevin rau, , , , ,   

    “H.E.R.O. – Metamorphosis” by Kevin Rau 

    “H.E.R.O. – Metamorphosis”
    by Kevin Rau
    self-published
    340 pages

    The digital age is upon us and what may have ruined the music industry may be a boon for the publishing industry, well maybe more for the authors than for the publishers. When the mp3 format for music came out it was a nice way to store audio files on the computer but as the market demanded mp3 players became a hit. I had one of the original Rio mp3 players, I believe it only held about 64 megabytes worth of files. Which at the time (late 1990s) it was enough, or so we all thought. Then Apple came along with their iPod and changed the way music was distributed.

    This has been a bad thing for the recording industry. The sharing of mp3 files is super easy and pirating of music is pretty common. This caused major losses for the recording industry by way of sales. The recording industry should have stepped up and made sure that all the music released was worth having, but someone along the way dropped the ball and now the only thing major record labels release is the same old cookie cutter pop that sells but has no real artistic value. The positive side of this is that local bands and talent that would have been otherwise looked over can now self publish and distribute their music easily. So now we have choice, but sometimes you have to really sift through the detritus to find a treasure.

    This seems to be happening now with books and authors. When the portable eReader “Kindle” came out many authors wrote stories that were available only online. Later the “Nook” came out and then there were many eReaders all competing for your dollar. I purchased a “Kindle” and have enjoyed it ever since. I love having thousands of books in my hand on one device. This also has created a market that made authors able to self publish. I am constantly scouring the internet for free books by up and coming authors and many times they will offer their books for free in order to get their name out. This is how I discovered this book and the entire “H.E.R.O.” series by Kevin Rau.

    I’m a huge comic book fan and I often find great audiobook versions of novelizations of comic books. This time around I ran across Kevin Rau on Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/herobooks )and discovered he was creating his own world of superheroes with his line of books that are all self published, and like any good dealer, the first hit is free. His books are all available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many other online booksellers and you can get this first one for free. I will warn you that this will turn into a habit, because these books are addictive, especially if you love comic books and superheroes.

    On his website ( http://www.kevinrau.com ) he has 3D graphic renderings of the heroes and villains in his book. As a full-time computer programmer he is able to use that skill to create the computer generated images which adds to the effect. He has published a book that contains the images, which makes a good companion to this collection.

    So let’s talk about this book, “H.E.R.O. – Metamorphosis.” This one is pretty much the introduction to the series and it does a great job of bringing the reader into Kevin Rau’s Superhero and SuperVillain world. Through the changing of three fairly normal college age friends from normal humans into metahumans, Kevin not only introduces the three heroes but the world that created them and even the politics of a world where super powers happen.

    The world was once threatened by an asteroid, and in order to save the planet nuclear missiles were launched to destroy the threat. While a cataclysmic event was averted by the destruction, a side effect was created. Pieces of the asteroid became radioactive and began falling to the planet. These fragments had the power to change human D.N.A. and mutate those that were too close. Some gain powers and become heroes and some villains. In the worse case scenario some become so horribly mutated they not only look horrid, but also lose their minds. An organization was formed to allow those that become heroes to help and to round-up the mutants who present a danger to all.

    Lance, Rael and Stephanie are all good friends who have been raised in single parent homes, more to the point, those single parents were all metahumans. They have been raised as if they were to become heroes themselves, taking the proper courses in school and even through weight training and martial arts. One day they are told to be at the mall when the next meteor shower hits, and sure enough they become heroes and their lives change forever.

    Lance becomes the hero Spartan, a brick who is super strong (think of The Incredible Hulk). Rael becomes a bit of a mutant in that his eyes become catlike, his teeth sharpen a bit and his hands have turned into claws, he becomes the Black Tiger and is able to use his martial arts training better than before. Stephanie becomes Psystar, a hero who is able to read minds and influence emotions, she is also able to fly. The three have been studying and training for this for all their lives and when a mutant by the name of Shrinker begins kidnapping humans to feed her army of mutants the three go into action to shut her down.

    The story is extremely fun and very smooth flowing. My favorite part of the book is that the author tells the story from the different perspectives of the three friends and mixes in third person perspective to tell the entire story. I really can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. I should say that this book does seem to be aimed at a younger audience so don’t go expecting something with intense depth. Just prepare yourself for a fun superhero novel with some very well written fight scenes.

     
  • gilwilson 1:53 PM on June 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audiob, , , biker gangs, , , dea, , , fiction, raymond khoury, , reincarnation, , sean reilly, templar, tess chaykin   

    “The Devil’s Elixir” by Raymond Khoury 

    “The Devil’s Elixir”
    by Raymond Khoury
    read by Richard Ferrone
    published by Penguin Audio
    Approx 12 hours
    I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I started this book but the summary on the back of the cd box was intriguing:

    “What if there was a drug, previously lost to history in the jungles of Central America, capable of inducing an experience so momentous – and so unsettling – that it might shake the very foundations of Western Civilization?
    What if powerful forces on both sides of the law got wind of that drug and launched a vicious, uncompromising pursuit to possess it?”

    With that sort of intro, I thought this was going to be one of your typical cops and robbers/detectives audiobook. Let’s just say, I was a bit wrong on that assumption. Also, that summary also held a bit of a spoiler that pretty much ticked me off. Once I got to the section that was spoiled. But I’ll not giveaway the surprise ending.
    Starting out I wanted to share my views of the production aspect of this book. The book is read by Richard Ferrone, who has this cool sounding rough, gravelly voice. It is a very intriguing book, but the first time I started listening, It was hard to stay interested because his voice seemed a bit too much. I decided to give the book a second chance and after the first cd, out of 10, I caught his rhythm and it flowed perfectly. It was just getting used to his timbre that took some time. Once it started flowing it seemed a perfect fit to the main character, FBI agent Sean Reilly, and being told mainly from his point of view it worked. The problems I had were the sections where it was from an out-of-story observer’s point of view where it took more time to get accustomed to. As a whole it was a good listen but I did have to let it just flow over me to get to that point.

    The story starts out with a monk in the jungles of Central America finding the secret to life in through the help of a local plant and a shaman. When another monk from the monastery in Spain tracks down the first he finds that the first has been partaking of “The Devil’s Elixir” and they both leave the secret in the jungle. Jump ahead about 300 years and the DEA/FBI are trying to bring back to the states a chemist who has found this elixir and is helping to manufacture what “will make meth seem like aspirin” for a Mexican Drug Cartel. Sean Reilly is the FBI agent on scene and when the US forces are discovered on the compound all hell breaks loose and he is forced to assassinate the chemist and leave.

    After that bit of a prologue the book takes off and does not slow down until the surprising twists toward the end of the book. There are two twists that make this book one of those that will make you speak aloud the phrase, “Whaaat?!?…cool, wait, What?!?..No!!” At least that’s what I did. One of the twists dips into an esoteric view and then the other is one that almost seems inevitable.

    The action takes off when an old flame of Sean Reilly’s calls him after she has been attacked in her home and she’s on the run with her 4-year-old son. The old flame is Michelle, a former DEA agent, and she is being target by a biker gang. Even though she is no longer in law-enforcement, they won’t stop trying to capture her. When Reilly comes to San Diego to help her out it is discovered that the biker gang, under orders of a mysterious drug cartel, is capturing scientists and a psychologist and is after Michelle because of what she may know, but it turns out Michelle is not the target, the actual target is part of that “Whaaat?!?” moment I warned you about.

    I hadn’t paid much attention to this aspect but the book is actually part of a series of books by Khoury, however this book reads easily as a standalone action novel. In a shoot-em-up thrill ride that will take you from the jungles of Central America through Cartel Compound in Mexico and through the streets of San Diego this book doesn’t stop once it starts rolling.

     
  • gilwilson 11:02 PM on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , autumn aftermath, , fiction, , , , , , ,   

    “Autumn: Aftermath” by David Moody 

    “Autumn: Aftermath”
    by David Moody
    Published by Thomas Dunne Books (2012)
    388 pages

    What an adventure!!  If you, like me, have been reading the entire “Autumn” series by David Moody, this final book in the series is a bittersweet thing.  First of all It brings an end to the series of books where the dead have risen and only about one percent of the population have survived.  Now, before I go any further, I should clarify that this is not your typical Zombie Apocalypse novel.  While the dead do rise and there are a few survivors having to fight of the hordes of rotting, walking dead, they never use the word zombie.  In fact, the things that make this different from other zombie stories, is that the walking cadavers do not have the need to feed on the dead, and the infection is not spread and the survivors do not have the risk of being turned into the living dead.

    This series is primarily about survival and how the interactions of the human race could allow us to destroy ourselves further or enable the species to live on.  The cadavers in David Moody’s book can kill but only by mere mass of thousand of bodies closing in on someone.  They do become violent when threatened, but they are not out to eat your brains.  So if you are ready to survive that then get ready to read an outstanding series about apocalyptic survival.

    This is the fifth book in the series (you could almost say 6th because of another story that was released online, but maybe I’ll explain that more if I get a copy of that one on my Kindle) and wraps up the entire apocalyptic events and even attempts to explain why the undead “attack” the living.  The extra super cool thing about this book is that it fully explains and brings into the fold that last book, “Disintegration,” the 4th in the series.  “Disintegration” introduced a completely different set of characters from the first three books and I just assumed it was a side book which took place at the same time as the others.  But this final book in the series wraps them all up in one nice neat package.  (However, Mr. Moody, if you are reading this, there is room for a follow-up, that would be fun.)

    While it was amazing to wrap up all the books and find out what was going to happen to mankind in a world overrun with rotting dead folks walking around, I was sad to see that the story was over and done.   The best part about the series was not the walking dead, nor really the survivor’s stories, the best part of the series and especially so in this book, was the descriptive writing by David Moody, that kept me in the story in all dimensions.  There were times when he would describe the surrounding areas covered in decomposing bodies that through his words I could actually smell the rot and decay.  In a similar manner I could hear the squelching of the people walking through the liquid depths of decay through fields where the bodies were decomposing and leaving a liquid slurry of rot.  At the same time as writing about these gory details the author also placed the reader into the heads, in a very realistic manner, of each of the characters and made it easy to understand why they acted as they did.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that this guy, David Moody, is the bard of zombie apocalyptic stories.

    Okay the main story of this book finally converges the two parties mentioned before and brings in a few new characters.  As soon as you open to page one you will not be able to stop until the end because of the non-stop action and will to survive.  The first couple of books told of the group that started the whole walking cadavers experience in cities, a university, an army base and finally finding an island to settle on after clearing the few dead.   Book four took us on an adventure where a small group was surviving in the city, but when the dead overpowered their home base, took off and found a group holed up in a remote resort hotel.  That book ended with the hotel being overrun by the zom…oh wait…walking cadavers.

    “Aftermath” takes us first to one of the characters from the hotel finding a small group of people surviving in a castle where the bodies cannot get inside.  When the winter sets in and the dead are frozen the group heads back to the hotel and finds the few survivors and brings them back to the castle.  In this castle there is a bit of a rift between 2 men who want to lead, one says they should plan for the future, while the other says no need to plan, just wait out the bodies.   When they make a trip to raid a town of food and supplies, one man, Harte, distracts the unfrozen dead so the raiding party can get back to the castle.

    Now it’s time to bring in the folks that are on the island.  If you remember they have a helicopter and are still using it to fly to the mainland for the occasional supply run.  This time they fly to the mainland to find boats for future trips.  They fly into the same city where Harte distracted the dead, and find Harte still alive.  Harte tells them of the survivors in the castle and with the idea of adding more to the population of the island a few fly to the castle to bring the survivors to the island.

    The leaders of the castle are split as to whether they should stay or go and a schism develops which further develops into a small war between the islanders and the castle survivors.  The outcome is a long battle for the survival of the human species.

    While the zombies don’t eat flesh, this is definitely a book and series that any zombie lover should add to their library.

     
  • gilwilson 3:06 PM on March 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bedbugs, , fiction, , pyschotic horror,   

    “Bedbugs” by Ben H. Winters 

    “Bedbugs”
    by Ben H. Winters
    Published by Quirk Books (2011)
    256 Pages

    Being a fan of horror, it shouldn’t be surprising that every once in a while I find a book or movie that creeps me out. Stephen King did that a lot for me, after all who didn’t look closer at St. Bernards checking for rabies after reading “Cujo,” or getting worried about the superflu when  sneezed after reading “The Stand,” or even stepping on to the sidewalk whenever a ’57 Plymouth Fury would cruise by after reading “Christine?” Okay, maybe not so much on that last one, but I did look for a Fury to have as my first car back in the day, hoping mine would be possessed. Anyhow, Ben H. Winters has written a novel that has creeped me out just as bad if not worse, than anything Stephen King has done, so far. (Yes, Mr. King, you will now have to one-up Mr. Winters. I’m waiting.)

    So how did Ben H. Winters creep me out? Well first of all creating a book about the parasitic pests, bedbugs, is a good start. All throughout the reading of this book I would find myself itching all over and check to make sure I had none of the vermin on or near me. To make matters worse, “Bedbugs” is not about a simple infestation, but rather an infestation in which only one person can see and is the victim of these attacks.

    Susan and Alex are a couple in New York who are getting by in their small apartment with their daughter Emma, Susan decides the apartment is getting too small and talks Alex into helping her hunt for a bigger place. After numerous listings and showings Susan is beginning to think she won’t find anything until she runs across this:

    FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

    Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment. When they go to see tha apartment they fall in love with the place, even if the landlady is a bit eccentric the rent seems low enough and there is even a bonus room in which Susan can set up as a studio and return to her love of painting.

    Soon after an expensive move they begin life on Cranberry St. and the mysteries and horrors begin. First, Susan sets up her studio in the bonus room but due to the bad smell in the room cannot continue, when she brings it up with the landlady, Andrea, she tells her of how the previous tenants left in such a hurry that they forgot about their cat and the cat died in that locked room. After another cleanup and chemical assault from the handyman Louis, Susan begins to paint again. Susan finds a bloody photo of the previous owners and paints a portrait of the woman who used to live in the apartment.

    When Susan wakes to find a spot of blood on her pillow she becomes concerned, and later when three bites that appear to be bedbug bites appear on her arm, it’s time to call in an exterminator. The exterminator finds no sign of the vermin and tells Susan she has no bedbugs, and that the bites may be spider-beetles. When the portrait of the previous tenant suddenly appears with bedbug bites on the face Susan realizes that these are not your normal bedbugs.

    Susan loses sleep and begins sleeping on the couch completely sealed into pajamas, socks, gloves and hats to keep the critters from biting but when one crawls into her mouth she and her husband pay a trip to the doctor. The doctor tells her the bugs are in her head but Susan knows better, these are not your normal bedbugs, these not only feed off your blood but off your soul. And that’s when the story really gets creepy.

    So check out this super creepy book and be prepared to scratch that itch that shouldn’t be there.

    Sleep tight and don’t let the “Bedbugs” bite.

     
  • gilwilson 4:36 PM on February 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , fiction, miss peregrine's home for peculiar children, , ransom riggs, , , , ,   

    “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs 

    “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
    by Ransom Riggs
    Published by Quirk Books (2011)
    352 pages

    Okay before we start on this book I have to share some info that took place in the reading of this book. While reading this fascinating young adult fiction, I opened up a store with a friend of mine. While opening the store I started reading this book in hardcover format, that’s important and will be explained later. The store we have opened is True Hideaway Family & Gaming ( http://www.truehideaway.com or find us on face book) The central focus of the store is for gamers especially those that play “Magic; the Trading Card Game,” we have friday night tournaments and are looking at maybe doing tournaments other nights since we’ve become popular.

    We affectionately refer to our store as a “nerd store,” because it is home to all things nerdy. My part of the store is comic books and collectibles, the other aspect is we sell books (manga, reprinted pulp-fiction books, sci-fi / fantasy novels and graphic novels) as well as all the gaming materials. We even have regular “old-fashioned” board games and anyone can come in anytime and play a game. Role playing games seem to be highly popular and we have folks come in and play their campaigns. I am liquidating my old comic book collection of around 2,000 or so comics and when I sold an old “Kiss” comic from the mid-70s for $70, I decided to reward myself by finally buying a kindle.

    With my rewarded kindle in hand, I loaded up some books that are on my to-read list and took off. The first book I loaded was this book, I was halfway through the hardcover, but I thought what better way to launch than to get this “peculiar” book rolling. I am now in love with my kindle, but every so often I know I’m going to go back to a regular tree killing book, but for now, I’m a kindler.

    Okay let’s move on to this book, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” When I first picked up this book I wasn’t aware that it was a Young Adult fiction, I knew it was fiction, but the goal is for ages 13 and up. The and up is very true, this book is very well written, with a fascinating story and some great adventures thrown in that make this book perfect for all ages.

    The book was originally intended to be a picture book with the photographs that were collected by various people from bins of lost photographs found at flea markets and such. But thanks to a genius editor at Quirk Books, Riggs wrote a story based on the photographs. The photos are all peculiar in and of themselves and putting them together to form a story the author shows not only genius himself but a storytelling ability that would put any comic book writer to shame.

    The bulk of the pictures feature various weirdness of subjects; a man posing with a rock in the background looking as though he’s lifting the boulder, a young boy’s head on a dog’s body, a young girl looking as though she’s holding a flaming orb. Many of the pictures are a bit creepy and sometimes when the story behind them created by Riggs is told they can seem extremely normal or even creepier.

    The story revolves around Jacob whose grandfather had escaped Nazi invasion by fleeing to a children’s home on an island off the coast of Wales. The children are all “peculiar,” at least according to the stories from Jacob’s grandfather. There is the invisible boy, a teacher that is a bird, a strong man, a girl that floats, one that controls the growth of plants. So at times this school seems to have come out of an issue of X-men comics. But the story goes even further when Jacob witnesses the death of his grandfather at the hands of a shadowy figure. Jacob tells his story and immediately branded as suffering a mental breakdown due to the loss of his grandfather. His grandfather’s last words were to follow the loop to September 30, 1940 and find the bird. Cryptic yes, but after exploring his grandfather’s possessions he finds that the school his grandfather survived the war in exists.

    When Jacob and his father make a trip to Wales, the dark secret behind “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is revealed and soon Jacob must save the children and possibly the world.

    Superb creativity that will capture the attention of anyone of all ages.

     
    • gajenn 4:59 PM on February 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the review, this has been on my “to-read” list for a while!

      Like

    • Erica 3:53 PM on February 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      This sounds great! I’d never heard of the book before, i like the use of old photographs – what a great touch!

      Like

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