Thursday, February 23, 2017

Another Star Wars Audio: "Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt" by Chuck Wendig

Another Star Wars Audio: Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, 2016, Overdrive download.

I think finished listening to this book a month or two ago. Now I do not recall too much of the story.

Han Solo has gone missing when trying to help Chewbacca on a mission to free Kashyyk. The group from the last novel is still working together as a trouble shooter team for the Republic. The Admiral from last novel is still super into the Empire and wondering who to trust among the backstabbers and ladder climbers in the Empire.

Things happen. We hang out with impulsive Han who can be a pain in the ass. Love affairs begin and end. Kashyyk is liberated from the Empire that used it as a prison planet. Some prisoners were brainwashed and are used as assassins.  Other things happen.

Things that seem obvious to point out but were important. Wendig writes about the culter of the two sides. How Imperial leaders are supposed to be imperturbable. They should not show shock or surprise.

Also how Han and Chewbacca are full partners. Han is the focus of the movies but Wendig says the two are equals and pals. Chewbacca takes the lead on Kashyyk and Han follows orders and helps where needed.

More soundalike voices for the characters:
1. Ren Hoek sounding guy.
2. Another character is a mix between James Mason and Vincent Price.

A Few Days Ago: "Plaster City" by Johnny Shaw

A Few Days Ago: Plaster City by Johnny Shaw, 2014, 9781477817582.

Short: Southern California farmer Jimmy Veeder helps out his friend Bobby when Bobby's teenage daughter goes missing from her home in Indio.

Long: Jimmy has been living and working at the family farm, caring for his half-brother as his own son, and cohabitating with a woman who's name I forgot. He'll go on occassional benders with his alcoholic and self destructive pal Bobby. After one weekend bender, Bobby gets a call that his teen daughter up in Indio is missing.

Bobby has two dauhters with two women and he is a lousy father. Bobby never actually knew about the Indio girl until she was close to her teens. Bobby has a poor relationship with the girl, Julie, and has only halfheartedly kept things going.

Jimmy and Bobby drive to Indio, meet with the mom, and start snooping. They question a ratty boyfriend. Beat up a couple young Hispanic bikers. Find out that Julie has been working as a bare knuckle brawler for internet videos. Then things get weird and dangerous.

Bobby has poor impulse control. Bobby has very poor impulse control. Bobby tends to shoot off his mouth and swing his fists without much thought. Jimmy is loyal to Bobby but this adventure is causing some strain. Jimmy needs to be at home with his 4-year-old and live-in girlfriend.

More things happen with recurring characters from book #1, Dove [something or other]. It's a decent read but Shaw's novel Big Maria was so dang good that this fails to meet that peak.

1. Southern California working stiffs and cheap beer.
2. Mexican crime lord who freely admits his cruelty and murderous ways.
3. Protagonists in over their (sometime empty) heads.
4. True life depictions of people. There are no happy endings and lovey-dovey reunions between Bobby and his runaway, no goodnick daughter.
5. Somewhat unrealistic depictions of teen girl runaways electing to stay for a while with Bobby's ex-drunk father.
6. Desert living! What a life! Abandoned cars! Cookie cutter suburbs! Irrigation dependent farming! Crooked Border Patrol!
7. Model rocketry love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Heard: "The Blood of Gods" by Conn Iggulden

Heard: The Blood of Gods by Conn Iggulden, 2013, downloaded from Overdrive.

Last in The Emperor series. I am glad that this is the last book in the series because these do have exciting and interesting parts my overall response to this novel was "Meh, it was okay." Iggulden had some neat battle scenes in here and his afterword clearly explained the liberties he took with real history to adapt the story. He had to change a couple names to avoid confusion and moved around a few battles to fit the plot.

Caesar has been murdered and a relative in Greece is named in the will as his adopted son. That man, Octavian, is only about 20-years-old but takes the name August Caesar and inherits the MASSIVE wealth of Caesar. He sets out for revenge against the Roman Senators who betrayed and killed Caesar.

Octavian learns that the name Caesar has big influence. Just as important are the thousands of Romans who remained loyal to Caesar Number One thorugh Caesar's gold based patronage. Octavian and his two loyal pals gain command of some Legions, team up with Marc Anthony, take over government in Rome and head after Brutus in Greece.

There are battles. There are political schemes. There is Roman indifference and pride. There are horses. There are many, many dead soldiers. There is not as much of Brutus as previous novels.

1. Brutus got to be a bore in the previous novels. Brutus as a spectacularly skilled soldier and commander but was always second fiddle to Caesar. Brutus loved Caesar but Caesar loved Caesar more then Caesar loved Brutus. Brutus got fed up and, after a lot of whining, joined in the conspiracy to kill Caesar.
2. Rome was a fucking mess. Slavery. The politicians and the wealthy could wield absolute power. Women were property. Public safety was with your own blade or body guards.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Read: "Clear by Fire" by Joshua Hood

Read: Clear by Fire by Joshua Hood, 2015, 9781501105715.

I ran across a writer's blog where Hood was a guest and writing about guns and gin information within novels. I'm fairly certain I spotted a gun error in the article about avoiding gun errors. The irony was delicious. But - big but - I could easily be wrong. Anyhoo.  Hood's shoot-em-up novels sounded like they'd be worth a try. This came from Waukesha PL and I ordered the paperback version of this for my library.

Two main characters. Mason Kane is a former Super-Duper-Commando-Master-Operator-Tactically-Operating-in-Tactical-Operations-With-Fancy-Guns. Kane's unit was sneaking around Libya when Kane was betrayed by the unit and left behind to die. He has since made super good friends with a former head of the Libyan secret police. Kane has been bumming around North Africa avoiding assassination and plotting revenge on the U.S. Army goons who tried to kill him.

Renee Hart is the first woman in a Super-Duper-Commando-Action-Adventure-and-Excitement-and-Explosions unit. Hart is sent to California to work with local Dep. of Defense agents who are investigating whether a local scientist is manufacturing and selling nerve agents.

The two characters follow independent storylines. Mason is eager to get revenge on his old unit buddies plus the CIA people trying to kill him. Mason's unit was an assassination squad and working black ops. Renee is trying to track missing nerve agent and starts after Mason's old unit when that unit destroys a small CIA base in Afghanistan and uses the nerve agent to murder everyone in the local village.

Things happen. The two team up to stop the unit that is traveling through Afghanistan and killing any suspected AG bad guys. The unit is also planning to widen the war - they'd rather nuke the whole region and hope to get things really riled up.

Mason is not a good guy. He is an assassin and burns a man to death out of revenge. Renee is forced to do a number of unethical and immoral things to finish the job. The two make lovey-dovey eyes at each other but this is an action and regret novel. Hood gives us shoot outs and sorrow. Manly men bond under extreme circumstances while politicians and high ranking officers send them to certain death.

1. I enjoyed the book but sometimes it was confusing. The story kinda swerved around and did not always make sense.
2. Lots of neat little details about how army and spy guys do things. How they attack a building or prepare for a mission. How people on the run contact colleagues or avoid trouble. Where do you set an ambush? How you react to an ambush. Things I have no clue about. Except for driving a car. I know how to drive car.

Heard: "The Crossing" by Michael Connelly.

Heard: The Crossing by Michael Connelly, 2015, Overdrive download.

Narrated by Titus Welliver who plays Bosch on the TV show.

Bosch is retired after being forced into retirement. He's been mostly taking it easy over the past few months but his half-brother Mickey 'Lincoln Lawyer' Haller is suing the department on Bosch's behalf to try and get Bosch reinstated.

Haller continues to work other cases and has a high profile murder case he is defending. The case involves the rape and beating-to-death of a official of the City of Beverly Hills. Or, was it Hollywood? No mind. The case brought a lot of press and the woman was married to a County Deputy.

Haller is convinced of the Defendant's innocence - a rare thing - and asks Bosch to look at the file and talk to the Defendant. Bosch thinks, "Bullshit! He did it." But, Bosch is also aimless without murders to investigate. Bosch realizes that is Defendant is innocent than the real killer is going unpunished. Bosch is all about catching people. But, Bosch is also wary of crossing the line from police work to defense work. He does it anyway.

Things happen. Bosch asks questions. A couple jewelry store owners are murdered after some of those questions are asked. Bad guy vice cops are on that take. Prostitutes are being used in an extortion racket. Bosch starts to dig into a second murder, the murder of the prostitute who cemented Defendant's alibi. Bosch's daughter thinks he drinks too much and soon she goes to college in Orange County.

Meanwhile, you are re-watching Season Two of Bosch and getting the two story lines confused.

1. Connelly writes about how every murder investgatd by LAP is still recorded in bound ledgers. Bosch would read those books during downtime at work. Other characters remark how odd they think that is and how could Bosch remember the unexceptional things he has remembered from those ledgers. But, Connelly uses the murder of Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer from teh Our Gang comedies as his example. Who wouldn't remember reading about how Alfalfa was shot to death over a few hunting dogs? Hell, I remember that I never read a damn murder ledger.
2. Connelly loves having the police use security camera footage and analyze what they see.,
3. Connelly tells some really interesting stories. One thing about the way he shows Bosch work is that everyone Bosch does seems obvious to me. In reality I would be clueless and bumbling, but following Bosch around makes all the work seem intuitive. It's neat to see from inside the character's head.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Read Weeks Ago: "Revolver" by Duane Swierczynski

Read Weeks Ago: Revolver by Duane Swierczynski, 2016, 9780316403238.

I think this is the best of Swiierczzonshi's novels. And he has written a lot of nice novels.

Swirrichinksi writes a lot of crime and comics and fast paced thrillers. This one has mystery and murder but, I assume, will appeal to more mainstream adult fic readers. But, what do I know?

Set in three different timelines in Philadelphia:1965, 1995, and 2015. Swwirynsskkkiush rotates among the three timelines to tell the story. I assume this was not an easy book to put together by joining three different stories. Especially since the stories lines will dovetail together.

1965. Black and white cops team together in the middle of a summer of street protests and riots. The cops - well one of them - are trying to track down the person who tried to drop a couch off a roof onto the cops's heads. On the way they run into a drug trafficking conspiracy. The two Officers are later murdered in a small bar.

1995. The son of one dead 1965 officer hears the man suspected in the '65 murders is out of prison. He starts to shadow the suspect. He also starts investigating the rape and murder of a young woman whose body was left in the City's star neighborhood.

2015. The daughter of 1995 Cop flies back to Philadelphia from Houston for the anniversary and plaque dedication to, her grandfather cop's 1965 murder. She is close to being kicked out of her grad school crime science program and proposes a project to investigate the grandfather's murder with modern science.

Many things happen. We learn Philadelphia history and race relations. We learn about boozing, and sorrow, and dysfunctional families. We follow investigators from three eras. We learn about bad guys doing bad things. We learn about good guys who have drinking problems.

Comments and Spoilers:
1. Other things we learn. We learn that 2015 Daughter's secret son in Houston could have been cut from the story because it feels like filler.
2. We later read how reviewers say the novel is a treatise on race relations over the decades. We say, "OK, but it's really a family novel with shit going on. This is a Philly novel starring a Philly family."
3. We remind ourselves about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and wonder how truthful that show is.
4. We think, "C'mon there is no way the city is that bad. But, maybe... I mean they do film in Los Angeles, maybe that is for more than reasons of economy and convenience."
5. We then think, "I keep reading this Schweinhuntinski guy's books. Maybe I should learn to spell his name. Nah, screw it."