Saturday, November 28, 2015

Heard: "Predator One" by Jonathan Maberry

Heard: Predator One by Jonathan Maberry, 2015, download. More narration by Ray Porter.

Another novel in the Joe Ledger series.

A recap: Joe Ledger works for the Department of Military Sciences (DMS) which is a secret federal agency tasked with all sorts of derring-do. Joe Ledger and the DMS are a mix of James Bond and Agents of S.H.I.EL.D. and a comic book heroes. High tech gizmos and science.  Globe-trotting bad guys. Big conspiracies to destroy the USA or the world. Fist fights. Gun Fights. Supernatural evil. Bad guys that survive disaster and live for revenge.

This novel has the last of The Seven Kings - super conspiracy Bad Guys from previous novels - fulfilling his long term plan to wreak vengeance on Ledger and make a mint manipulating the market. Bad Guys kidnapped Brilliant Scientist to torture him into writing software. Bad Guys have both developed and hacked into autonomous software designed for both military and civilian applications. Military drone aircraft, submarines, missile launch software, surface ships, tanks, etc. can be hacked into and remotely controlled. Civilian airliners, drones, and automobiles can be hacked into whenever and driven wherever.

Ledger and his fellow super commandos survive bloody attacks on civilian and military targets. The Bad Guys are super bad by attacking a baseball stadium with tens of drones on opening day. Bad Guys test their tech with murder. Good Guys are honest and outraged at the depravity of bad guys. Ledger wears his emotions on his sleeves. Pregnant woman in peril. Good Guy Dogs are vicious to Bad Guys. Ledger talks heroically and pep talks his team.

Maberry gives us over-the-top shootouts, chases, continental travel, Presidential drama, civilian massacres. There are mysterious and spooky Good Guys. There are mysterious and spooky Bad Guys. There are super high-tech SUVs for the Good Guys. There are super- motivated Bad Guys. Massive gunfights in hospitals. Good Guys are tragically killed. Bad Guys are slowing and vengefully killed.

1. Fun stuff with lots of emotion. Very hoo-rah but not political.
2. Maberry keeps things chugging right along with short chapters, flashbacks, and changing setting. He'll stack cliff hangers against each other and switch the story lines back and forth.
3. Porter chews the material up and spits it out. He puts a lot into the dialogue and the reading.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heard: "Ghost Road Blues" by Jonathan Maberry

Heard: Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry, 2006, download.

Narrator was good except for the women's voices. Horror novel by Maberry with human and otherworldly scares.

30 years ago a serial killer worked his way through several young citizens of Pine Deep, PA. An itinerant farm hand caught and killed the real killer but, in turn, was blamed for the crimes and lynched. The killer was a man possessed by evil and the farm hand knew this. But, Farm Hand was lynched before he could return to Possessed Killer's grave and charm the ground to keep the evil buried.

The current day setting has the adult survivors of the killer still living in Pine Deep. So too live the men of the lynch mob. Turmoil begins when a super-scary thrill killer/thief from Philadelphia makes his escape through Pine Deep. The small-town cops of Pine Deep are poorly led and trained and have to help the Philly cops run a dragnet.

Meanwhile, the Possessed Killer and Farm Hand have rIson from the earth - at least their walking spirits have. Bad men are hearing evil voices in their head. Our Hero is called into action and has to save his girlfriend. A teen boy suffers under his stepfather - one of the Bad Men - and may be an unwitting key to more evil. The Mayor takes multiple depression and anxiety drugs and converses with his sister who was a victim 30 years ago.

1. Fun stuff with scary horror. I did not like the narrator's female voices.
2. Maberry can lay the schmaltz on thick. I'm currently listening to the latest Joe Ledger novel and he does the same in that series as well. I quit reading his YA zombie series because of the overwrought parts.
3. Overwrought seems like the wrong word but I'm not going to check a thesaurus.
4. Maberry is good at villain making. His heroes are humble. His victims are innocent.
5. First novel in the Pine Deep trilogy. I follow Maberry online and I figured to try this out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Finished: "British Paratrooper Versus Fallschirmjager" by David Grentree

Finished: British Paratrooper Versus Fallschirmjager: Mediterranean 1942-43 by David Greentree, 2013, 9781780969244.

One of military history paperbacks that Osprey Publishing must have hundreds of in print. Greentree uses other history and biography titles for a brief history of paratroops by the Germans and British and two larger fights between the two groups. I don't think Greentree uses any primary resources like maps, unit diaries and histories; none of those are listed in the bib anyway.

One fight, Green Hill, was in North Africa when British Paratroopers jumped behind lines with a mission to attack three separate airfields. The mission was way too ambitious and poorly planned for a lightly armed group marching on foot. The Brits had a running five day defensive battle across the desert mountains and had to leave behind wounded men.

The second fight was a Brit Paratroop attack against a bridge in Eastern Sicily. The Allies wanted to cut off the German retreat to mainland Italy using the Straits of Messina. Paratroopers dropped and attacked the 400 foot long Primosole Bridge south of Catania. The Limeys succeeded in taking the bridge and the hills south of the bridge but fought back and forth with the German paratroops sent in to counterattack.

Both fights are good examples of misusing the units. Paratroopers are meant to drop behind enemy lines, fight, and be relieved ASAP. Paratroopers cannot bring enough people or carry enough arms, ammunition, equipment, and vehicles to easily hold out past a couple days. The table of organization changed during the war with units adding heavy machine guns and using gliders to deliver small vehicles and cannon.

Since the paratroopers were often misused they often failed to fully complete a mission or ended up with high casualties. But, paratroops were recruited and trained as elite soldiers so they would be employed as shock troops to reinforce trouble areas as regular infantry.

1. These books are fun, quick reads. I have trouble keeping all the German names and military titles straight.
2. I read Currahee! by Donald Burgett when I was in middle school and, ever since, I've enjoyed reading paratrooper books.
3. I appreciate that Osprey Pub. always has maps, photos, and color illustrations in the books. Maps especially, I hate when someone writes a book and does not include even a simple hand drawn map.

Another Poetry: "My Favorite Tyrants" by Joanne Diaz

Another Poetry: My Favorite Tyrants by Joanne Diaz, 2014, 9780299297848.

I liked this collection better than the last collection by Lindsay. Groups of poems about political tyrants and grief with two poems featuring Larry David.  I presume most of these are biographical and not fiction.

Diaz writes a lot about the death of her dominant mother. There are many poems about Diaz and her father coping with the mom's death and absence. Diaz's mixed feelings because her mother was such a "Queen Bee" and a bit of a tyrant herself.

Diaz's writing is sharp tongued. Wait a minute. The writing is sharp tongued? That doesn't sound right but I won't go back and make more sense. There is a poem about Brian Williams's coverage of the Italian Winter Olympics that reeks with distaste. (Or disgust. Maybe it's sarcasm, you really cannot tell in print anyway.) There are a lot of poems with humor and black humor, like The Watch List.

1. The back cover says Diaz teaches at Illinois Wesleyan. I toured there when I was a sophomore, or so. I was told about early admissions and how some students graduate early from high school to enroll. "Cool," I thought. I remember starting to fill out a form once I got home, then I got bored and quit.
2. Ringo Starr told a story about wanting to emigrate to Texas. He dropped into the U.S. embassy or consulate and asked. He got started on the process but on his return visit to the embassy/consulate they gave him a stack of papers. Ringo said that giving a teenager a bunch of paperwork is an easy way to dissuade the kid from anything.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Done: "The Cartel" by Don Winslow

Done: The Cartel by Don Winslow, 2015, 9781101874998.

More death and destruction across Mexico as DEA Agent Art Keller is persuaded to join the hunt for Adan Barrera. Winslow mixes fiction and reality together the same way as he did with Power of the Dog. Barrera seems based on Joaquin "El Chapo' Guzman.

Art Keller is hiding out with monks as Adan Barrera sits in prison. Keller keeps bees as he hides out from Barrera's death bounty. Barrera has his own prison wing to himself, lives in luxury, and brings in any visitors he wants for parties. Keller ends up rejoining DEA when Barrera escapes prison.

Keller heads to Mexico City as an advisor. Corruption is rampant because of the tons -literally - of cash that the Mexican drug cartels have. Those who cannot be bought are killed. Anyway.  I don't have the energy or interest in recapping the whole novel.

Winslow does a great job of using his many characters to walk us through ten years of war in Mexico. The Presidential administration has taken sides. The local towns take sides - or are forced to take sides. The people in the middle get crushed. Like in any war the it is the civilians who always get in the neck.

Winslow tells us about the many cartels as the war escalates.Beheadings. Massacres. Kidnappings. Public display of corpses and body parts.  Dedsheet banners hanging from bridges and announcing intended victims. The Zetas - former Army special forces - are particularly inhuman and deserve death.

We meet people trying to stand up to the violence and lawlessness. Northern border towns are abandoned as cartels force out the police and city  government. Journalists try to write about the events and are murdered. Women step into City administrations and are raped and/or murdered. The only person to take on the job of a small town Police Chief is a 20-year-old woman with no experience. She is killed.

Things settle down a bit. Enough people are killed for a truce to take place.

Finished: "Bullet" by Mary Louise Kelly

Finished: Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly, 2015, 9781476769813.

A neat angle with the main character in her early thirties discovering she has a bullet in her neck. The novel was kind of "eh" though and had a weird detour at the end. Anyho.

 Professor WhatsHerFace works at Georgetown teaching French and French Lit. She is single, talks to her mother every day, has two older brothers, he lawyer father is retired. WhatsHerFace has had bad wrist pain for the last year. She goes to the doctor. Dreamy Doctor sends her for X-rays and MRI. MRI tech says, "How'd that bullet get in your neck?"

WhatsHerFace finds out she was adopted as a toddler. She has no memory of her family. Lack of memory is probably okay considering her parents her murdered in front of her. WhatsHerFace decides to track down more information. WhatsHerFace goes to Atlanta, ends up in the newspaper, talks to people who knew her parents. Talks to Police Detective who worked the murder case. WhatsHerFace and Dreamy Doctor rub together.

WhatsHerFace goes back to D.C. and seems to be followed. Someone breaks into her house. The theory is that the bullet will be evidence, WhatsHerFace may have a memory recall, the killer is after WhatsHerFace. Blah, blah, blah. More things happen. WhatsHerFace is married. WhatsHerFace figures out the killer was banging WhatsHerFace's mom. WhatsHerFace kills the killer. WhatsHerFace flees to Paris. Blah, blah, blah. WhatsHerFace lives happily ever after when she gets off the hook.

1. The novel wasn't bad, but it really wasn't for me. It just kinda went on for a while and I did not care enough about the characters and action to stay interested.
2. I mean, yeah, I finished the book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Poetry: "Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower" by Sarah Lindsay

Poetry: Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower by Sarah Lindsay, 2013, 9781556594465.

I'm not sure why I ordered this for work but it must have won an award. The title is also neat. Don't let Lindsay's status as an Olie graduate dissuade you from reading.

Lots of poems drawing in aquatic life like squids and octopuses. Poems of deep sea life in pitch black water. Poems about Aunt Lydia and her observations. I liked these.

There are some real nice ones in here. Lindsay never goes too abstract, I understand what she is writing about. I may be drawing my own conclusions about her stories and intent but, hey, tough crap.

62 total poems and I won't try to flip back through and flip favorites. There are enough good ones that flipping through would be worth my time.

The title refers to a sea worm that eats bones.
But without her (and the him she keeps,
for his lifetime, in her body), every
seashore would be barricaded
by skeletons of whales

EDIT Nov 6, 2015: Since this made Forgotten Books I took some quick photos of some one page poems. I also did some Poet Poses. I cannot get the dang HTML layout to work like I want.

EYE IN THE SEAS - cannot get this to rotate


Pondering Poet

Thinking Poet

Drunken Poet

Heard: "Nothing to Lose" by Lee Child

Heard: Nothing to Lose by Lee Child, 2008, download.

Short version: Reacher rolls into town. Runs into trouble. Beats up local goons. Has sex with local female cop. Kills a few people. Proclaims his love for justice. Hits the bricks.

This is the usual formula from Lee and, like usual, it works. I do still think Reacher is basically an asshole. He is a highly intelligent man, a math savant, but he chooses to work through intimidation and violence. Sure, he'll always say he gives people a choice, but he will also goad opponents into action and them overract and severely pound on people. Sometimes he'll enjoy giving the beatings and sometimes he is emotionless. Lee always provides nasty villains to make you happy Reacher is a goon with a brain.

I'm not the only one who wonders about his position on a sociopath scale. Or, if he is unable read or understand the emotions of others. He certainly doesn't usually care about most people - even if he does put his neck out for near strangers. Kinda like a movie villain who really likes someone and ingratiates themselves into that person's life.  Anyway.

Reacher is walking west through the plains of Eastern Kansas and visits Hope, CO. A few miles down the road is Despair, CO. "Huh," thinks Reacher, "That's kinda neat, I should go through Despair."  Reacher gets to Despair, is refused service in the local cafe, and four toughs show up telling him to get out.  Reacher is arrested, taken to court, fined for vagrancy, and driven by local Police Officer to the City limits and dropped off.

Reacher is ticked off. Reacher goes back to Despair and causes trouble. Reacher meets Pretty Young Thing whose husband is missing in Despair. Reacher wants to help. More things happen.

Things: a Company Town under the thumb of the factory owner. Religious zealotry. Missing young men. Worried young women. Lady Cop in Despair has brain damaged Army husband. Reacher speechifies the importance of honor, duty and respect. Reach and Lady Cop have sex. Lady Cop joins Reacher in researching the factory owner. Lady Cop joins Reacher in stopping a dirty bomb.