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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Favorite Fictional Character --- Colt Seavers

When I decided to start this feature within the first week of the blog launching, it was out of a desire to share the characters I love and want others to love just as much. Nine years later, while I'm still gung-ho on spreading the character love, I'm also reveling in the fact that it's reintroducing some of my childhood favorites. Some of which I haven't thought of in years.

A few weeks ago, when I decided to do one character from every year that I've been alive, it took that side benefit, and put it on steroids. I'm not sure I ever would have featured Colt Seavers otherwise, and that would have been a shame.

For those of you who have no idea who this guy is, other than that it's Lee Majors playing him, let me introduce him to you. Colt Seavers was the main character on the TV show, The Fall Guy. Colt is one of Hollywood's biggest stuntmen, but I guess stuntmen didn't get paid much in the early 1980s. Colt, because he doesn't make enough to cover his expenses, takes up bounty hunting on the side. I'm not sure most people would ever have put those two professions together, but it seemed to work for him. He uses his stunt skills, sometimes in rather elaborate setups, to catch his quarry. I can assure you that while some of what he did may have been unnecessary, it made great television, especially for the impressionable lad that I was. I don't think I had seen anything cooler than some of what he pulled off, and I wanted to be him so damn bad. And for the record, I really wanted his truck too.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

Alan Conway is a bestselling crime writer. His editor, Susan Ryeland, has worked with him for years, and she's intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. Alan's traditional formula pays homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. It's proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

When Susan recieves Alan's latest manuscript, in which Atticus Pünd investigates a murder at Pye Hall, and English manor house, she has no reason to think it will be any different from the others. There will be dead bodies, a cast of intriguing suspects, and plenty of red herrings and clues. But the more Susan reads, the more she realizes that there's another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript-one of ambition, jealousy, and greed-and that soon it will lead to murder.

I don't remember when I received my first love letter. Truthfully, I don't even remember who gave it to me. Despite my failing memory, I remember how it made me feel. That tingly, warm sensation I felt deep in my gut before it washed over my entire body, leaving me feeling giddy and on top of the world. It's the same way I've felt the two times I've found myself falling in love. It's a heady experience that left me feeling invincible, that I could do anything and be everything the other person needed. If I was a Golden Age mystery author, or even one of their fictional creations come to life, Magpie Murders would have left me feeling the exact same way. This is a love letter to a genre, and an era, that Mr. Horowitz so obviously loves.

There is precious little I can divulge in regards to the story or characters you will meet in the pages of this tome,  simply because I don't want to spoil even a second of your own experience once you get started on this. This is one of those books, Gillespie and I by Jane Harris being a perfect example, that I will simply implore you to read it. If you need me to beg, I will. I'll even consider bribery, depending on your price. Tell me what I need to do, and I'll do it. I swear on everything I hold precious in life that you won't be disappointed. This is a pastiche that puts all others to shame.

I just need to figure out a good enough bribe to get Mr. Horowitz to actually write a few Atticus Pünd books, because that section of Magpie Murders is unadulterated perfection.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Favorite Fictional Character --- Thomas Magnum

Looking back on it, 1980 seems to be a critical year in U.S. and world history. Ronald Reagan is elected as the 40th President of the United States, Iran and Iraq engage in a war that will last eight years, Yasser Arafat is elected to lead the Palestinians, Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe and is once again under majority back rule, Indira Gandhi rises to power in India, Post-It Notes hit the market, millions tuned in to see who shot J.R., and John Lennon is gunned down in the street. It was a turbulent beginning to a decade that would see massive cultural and political change on a global level. It would also usher in a decade rich in music, movies, and television.

It was hard to choose a character from this year, simply because it was chock full of good choices. I ended up choosing Thomas Magnum from Magnum, P.I. not only because I wanted to be him, minus the women falling at his feet, but because he represents the first half of the decade so well.

Played by the rakish Tom Selleck, Magnum is a private eye that for whatever reason lives on the Hawaiian estate of Robin Masters, a bestselling sensationalist author. If I remember right Magnum did some work for him, and as a result is allowed to live on the estate while pursuing other clients, as long as he is avaliable when he's needed.  He drives the guy's Ferrari, drinks his alcohol, and gives Higgins, the caretaker, a hard time. I can't say that he's a typical P.I., at least not the ones I'm used to in books, but he was never boring and oozed charisma out of his pores. Looking back on it, I think he looks like a sleazy porn star, but that was hot back then.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the coolest thing he ever did was team up with Jessica Fletcher on one of her trips to the island. They were brilliant together.