Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Silence of Ghosts by Jonathan Aycliffe


Synopsis From Back Cover: 

Dominic Lancaster hoped to prove himself to his family by excelling in the Navy during World War II. Instead he is wounded while serving as a gunner and loses his leg. Still recovering from his wounds and the trauma of his amputation when the Blitz begins, Dominic finds himself shuffled off to the countrysideend by his family, along with his partially deaf sister, Octavia. The crumbling family estate on the shores of Ullswater is an old, much-neglected place that doesn't seem to promise much in the way of happiness or recovery.

Something more than a friendship begins to flourish between Dominic and his nurse, Rose, in the late autumn of that English countryside, as he struggles to come to terms with his new life as an amputee. Another thing that seems to be flourishing is Octavia's hearing. 

As winter descends, sinister forces seem to be materializing around Octavia, who is hearing voices of children. After seeing things that no one else can see and hearing things that no one else can hear, Octavia is afflicted with a sickness that cannot be explained. With Rose's help, Dominic sets out to find the truth behind the voices that have haunted his sister. In doing so, he uncovers an even older, darker evil that threatens not only Octavia but also Rose and himself. 

There is something about this time of year that has me craving a good ghost story. Halloween merchandise is lining the store shelves, the serious decorators have already started on their homes, scary movies become habitual viewing, and my reading tastes get darker. Don't get me wrong, I love a good scare anytime of the year, but this is when I want to wallow in them.

Haunted house stories are my weakness, and I can rarely pass one up. Of my favorite books of all time, at least four of them feature a house I would do anything to visit in real life. I'm not sure how I stumbled across this one, but I'm damn glad I did.

Atmosphere is the key to a well crafted ghost story, and boy did this have a suffocating aura permeating the pages. It enfolds the reader, wrapping them in dread. It crawls in through the readers eyes, burrowing its way into brain tissue. As a reader, I found myself unable to put the book down, because I did not want Dominic, Rose, and Octavia to fade away, lost amongst the depair.

Despite a postscripted ending that I could have done without, and not fully sure I truly understood, if this is typical of Mr. Aycliffe's work, I can't wait to wallow around with him some more. Now, I just need the weather man to get with the program.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton


Part Of The Synopsis From Dust Jacket: 

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.  

Fair warning, a little of my political side comes out in this "review".

Frankly, I don't know how to objectively review this book. Even if I could somehow manage to be objective, how do you "review" a first person narrative of an election that is still tearing our country apart? I voted for Sec. Clinton in both the Democratic primary, and in the general election. What's more, I would do it again with a joyous heart.  But right now, my heart is broken by the wasted opportunity this country had to be lead by someone of her caliber. Instead, we have a man in the White House who is currently blaming hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico for their own suffering, while he's playing golf. He's poking at the leader of North Korea, his Justice Department is now saying it's okay for employers to fire you for being gay, and Dreamers are just months away from being deported. I told you I couldn't be objective about this.

In What Happened, Sec. Clinton is pretty frank in how she sees the mistakes she made, the fake email controversy and Director Comey's role, divisions on the left, and Russian interference combined into a perfect storm she just couldn't figure out how to navigate. This could be my own biases showing, but I think she's right. Throughout the book, Sec. Clinton lays out her case and does it without whining.  She accepts blame when she should, but doesn't hold back in holding others accountable when it's appropriate to do so.

Sen. Sanders used right wing propaganda to weaken her with his supporters. He painted a corrupt narrative of her that some voters, primarily younger who didn't really know her, bought into. They didn't understand the primary process, couldn't believe she was beating him in the primary, so they bought into this whole notion of the primary being stolen. The fact that it was the same primary system that allowed then Sen. Obama to beat her, was immaterial to their anger. They labeled her corrupt, badgered her supporters online, and a few in WI, PA, and MI threw hissy fits and either didn't vote, or voted for Dr. Stein, who has her own ties to Russia.

The letter Comey wrote to Congress days before the election truly was the final nail in the coffin. She is right when she says the momentum was on her side, but that the letter stopped it cold. It was an unprecedented act of interference in our election system by the FBI. His whole manner was suspect, from his initial statement to that final letter, he behaved in a most unseemly  manner.

The scope of Russian interference is staggering. Giving the Trump campaign opposition research, hacking the email systems of the DNC and John Podesta including the planting of fake emails, creating fake news stories, orchestrating anti immigrant rallies on US soil, taking out political ads on social media, employing thousand of social media trolls, stirring up racial tensions online, and only they know what else they did. The investigation is for from over, but what's already known should chill the blood of every American.

If you couldn't tell by my tone, I'm still a little bitter about the election. I wish I could find the grace and humor that Sec. Clinton shows in this book. Her pain and disappointment are on full display, but so is her warmth and compassion for those she feels she let down. This is a deeply personal memoir, and if it hurt for me to read it, I can't imagine how it felt for her to write it.

It's obviously a book by someone who is never going to run for office again, it's far too candid for that. And that's what hurt the most. Granted I've admired her for years, but seeing this openness from her cements the idea that regardless of how or why it happened, the missed opportunities that were only possible with her in office are a national disgrace.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

FrightFall Readathon


If you know me personally, or have been following the blog for a while, you know I love Halloween. I love losing myself in a spine tingling tale. I dim the lights as low as I can deal with, turn on the electric fireplace, and with a mug of tea at hand, I burrow down and get lost in tales of ghosts, monsters, and murder.

My good friend Michelle of The True Book Addict has been sponsoring readathons for a while on a separate page, Seasons of Reading. She has been doing this one for a few years now, but this is the first time the entire month of October is in play. Once I knew that, I knew I had to jump on board this year. To learn all the details please visit the sign up page.

I've already picked out a few books I'm wanting to get through in those 31 days. The will probably change, but here is what I'm planning on as of right now.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'll be Black Next Week



August into September, is my busiest time at work, hence why I haven't been posting lately. I just wanted to let you know I'll be back next week, and will also have the results of my Blogoversary giveaway then.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Apache Wars by Paul Andrew Hutton


Part Of The Synopsis From Back Cover:

The 1861 kidnapping of the boy who would grow up to be Mickey Free-the only man Geronimo ever feared-started the longest war in American history: the brutal struggle between the Apache and the U.S. government for control of the Southwest. When the Apache Wars finally ended in 1890, the western frontier had closed, and the once  powerful Apaches had been imprisoned far to the east or corralled on reservations. 

It has always amazed me how one decision, one action taken by someone who would normally not be important to history, can alter everything. One action, seemingly done in isolation, can have rippling effects that can never be foreseen. This is a masterfully crafted narrative of one such chain of events, one that even the Oracle of Delphi could not have predicted.

Dr. Hutton obviously knows his subject. The research done, and the obvious love he has for a well spun tale, shine through on every page. Through the lives of those involved in the brutal campaign, he draws the reader into that world. It's not pretty nor safe, it's violent and bloody and almost everyone he introduces on the page will suffer. It's not a period in the history of our country most of us like to think about outside the romanticized era of Hollywood Westerns, but it's a story that needs to be told.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books, for this review

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Favorite Fictional Character --- Inspector Gadget


Growing up in the 1980s allowed me to wallow in the greatest cartoons of all time. Thats not to say there weren't some great cartoons prior to and after the 1980s, but that decade is the Renaissance of televison cartoons. If you have been following this blog for any length of time, at least before my extended hiatus, you know that I'm a huge cartoon nerd. If you were to bowse  through past Favorite Fictional Character posts, you would see numerous cartoon characters. I'm addicted to them, and I remember 80s cartoons that nobody else I know does. Not that Im bragging.

With today's pick I'm cheating a little. The pilot of Inspector Gadget aired on 12/04/1982, but the series itself didn't air until September of the following year. But since I've already decided on the character for 1983, and I needed one for 1982, Inspector Gadget it is.


Anyone familiar with the show knows that Inspector Gadget, no other name is ever given, is a bumbling cyborg police inspector who talks and acts like Maxwell Smart. Despite the fact that he can summon a helicopter blade from his head, stretch his arms and legs about as long as he needs them to be, and can pretty much summon any object from his body that he can ever possibly need, he is pretty much a waste of his bionic enhancements. Hell, if it wasn't for Penny and Brain, his niece and dog respectively, he probably would have been killed in the pilot episode. Much like Maxwell Smart, he means well and tries his hardest, so you can't help but like him. You just don't want to have him as backup in the event something goes wrong. And whether I was laughing at him, or with him, he never failed to entertain.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Dakota Bell and the Wastes of Time by Brian Olsen


Synopsis From Publisher: 

Dakota Bell had a difficult summer - her boss turned evil, her roommates took off, and her girlfriend wanted a break. She hoped her birthday might turn things around, but the gang of identical gunmen crashing the party had other ideas. Dakota and her friends flee for their lives through a mysterious portal, leaving them stranded in their own childhoods. She'll need to save the past before she can save the future, but the present holds dangers all its own. A madman hunts her across the years, monsters wait for her beneath the earth, and Dakota's out of time...

It seems like it's been decades since I read the first three books in this series, but it's only been about a year, so I'm not feeling too guilty.  What I am feeling is annoyed that I didn't get to this one sooner. I got it at the same time I got the previous two books, but for whatever reason I got distracted, and forgot about it. And before I get started on the review, I have to say how much I love this title and the way it not only plays with word meanings, but with the actual concept of time as well. Frickin brilliant.

Like the first three books, this is a mashup of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and social commentary. This time it's blended together into a hilariously violent game of cat and mouse played through space and time. Of course you can't have time travel without paradoxes coming into play, and I like the simplistic approach the author took. If a paradox occures, the universe manufactures whatever it needs to keep it from destroying the time line. 

Character wise, I'm in love with this cast of characters even more than I was in the beginning. They all get their moments to shine, even though this book centers around Dakota. Alan is still my favorite. What he goes through in this book, makes what happened to him in the first book look like child's play. Whether it's having to confront a truly horrific episode from the past, or having to deal with yet another issue of the heart, he rises above it, and shows a huge amount of maturity at the end. Caitlin is still Caitlin, and she has to deal with where her life is heading, and what she pictures the end goal to be. Mark makes the most selfish decision he could in this book, and I applaud him for it. I can't imagine having to face the choices he had to make, or the sacrifices he chose in order to save the world. Dakota has to deal with choices made in her childhood that were not only beyond her control, but about as paradoxical as can be. And that leaves us with the evil boss. I still adore him, I still understand where he was coming from, I'm heart broken at the betrayals he has had to contend with, but I stI'll think what he did is truly horrific. He made choices that are almost impossible to defend, even if his heart was in the right place. I wish he could have been saved or redeemed, and I still cringe when I think about his ultimate fate. Since this series played with science fiction constructs, maybe there will be a fifth book that serves as his path to salvation. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Other Books in the Series:

Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom 
Caitlin Ross and the Commute from Hell 
Mark Park and the Flume of Destiny