|Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 14, 2019 at 9:20 PM||comments (0)|
This Cider Still Tastes Funny! is a great book for people who enjoy reading short and often funny anecdotes about life in the great outdoors. John Ford is a game warden who shares his memories about a great many problems he stumbled into when he first got his start in the business. You can read my review here: https://www.gilbertstack.com/other-genres
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 10, 2019 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
Everyone’s favorite Tax Auditor is back in his most exciting adventure yet, Marvelous Con and Tax Cons by Rachel Ford. I have to admit that I am at a loss as to how Ford came to the idea that an IRS agent would make a good hero for a story. Nothing against the IRS, but it isn’t the first agency you think of when you are pondering a good action-packed mystery series. Yet Ford more than makes it work, adding in some solid science fiction touches and tons of geek culture. If you’re looking for a different kind of mystery, you should definitely give the Time Traveling Taxman a try. You can read my review here: https://www.gilbertstack.com/other-sf.
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 9, 2019 at 10:00 PM||comments (0)|
Here’s a serious mystery interwoven with Quapaw legends to produce one of the best westerns I’ve read in a long time--Dire Wolf of the Quapaw by Phil Truman. There’s plenty of action, but underneath it all is a solid mystery that will keep your brain in overdrive trying to figure out what’s really going on. You can read my review at https://www.gilbertstack.com/mystery-2
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 3, 2019 at 9:10 PM||comments (0)|
Andorra Pett is back in her second mystery, Andorra Pett on Mars. Her ex-boyfriend is back and as manipulative as ever as he convinces Andorra to return with him to Mars to find out what happened to her dead best friend. Andorra knows she's going into trouble, but honestly, she has no idea how bad things are really going to get. If you like fun mysteries in an exotic location, you should definitely give this series by Richard Dee a try. You can find my review here: https://www.gilbertstack.com/other-sf
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 27, 2019 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
Here's another of my Occult-tober novels...
Marcus Hunter won’t stay dead…As a pregnant fifteen year old, Autumn Fields learned firsthand that the town ghost was more than a creepy legend. Rejected by her boyfriend and beaten bloody by her father, Autumn climbed out onto the old railroad bridge to kill herself, but a mysterious figure talked her into running away instead. Sixteen years later, she’s come back to Prospect with her daughter to learn if there really is such a thing as a ghost on Hunter’s Bridge…
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 25, 2019 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
As we enter the last week of Occult-tober, here’s a different kind of novel that still perfectly fits the theme. This time we move into the future with Peter Cline's, Dead Moon.
I’ve started a lot of reviews with the words, “I like zombie novels.” That’s true, but what’s even more true is that I like books with very creative takes on the zombie theme and Peter Cline’s Dead Moon is about as creative as it comes.
In the future, the moon has become a massive cemetery with something like 16 million bodies interned there. A space elevator makes transportation to the moon really cheap and the notion that bodies buried on the moon don’t decompose appeals to a lot of rich people. So several cemeteries have sprouted on the moon and a new profession—caretaker—has developed to take care of the deceased.
On top of that, the moon is a tourist attraction with classes of rich students going to the moon instead of Disney World on elaborate field trips. Not to mention business ventures, etc. So there are lots of potential victims for the coming zombie horde.
To read the rest of my review, click on this link: https://www.gilbertstack.com/reviews
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 20, 2019 at 7:45 AM||comments (1)|
Occult-tober continues with Blonde Godess of Tikka-Tikka by Chris L. Adams.
Adams continues his homage to the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s with this quick novella about an adventurer who would fit well into a story by Robert E. Howard. The problem he encounters, however, is all H.P. Lovecraft and Adams does a very good job of building suspense as ancient horrors return to the earth. This is a fast moving tale which you’ll want to read in one sitting. There’s a tiny twist at the end of the story that gives some well-appreciated justification to the villains’ actions. Rumor has it that a sequel is nearing completion and l'm one of the fans shouting: "Write faster, Mr. Adams!"
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 17, 2019 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
At the heart of Occult-tober is the slow creeping terror that comes from a really scary situation. Jeff Strand's, Ferocious, catches this feeling perfectly as you can see from my review below:
There are few genres in which characterization is more important than the horror genre. If you don’t care about the people to whom terrible things are happening, it’s hard to care deeply about the book. When I picked up Ferocious by Jeff Strand, I was a little bit worried about his ability to pull off the characters mentioned in the blurb—a recluse raising his niece off the grid in the middle of the wilderness. It seemed quite likely the author would slip into caricatures as he wrote about a zombie apocalypse in the backwoods. I could not have been more wrong. In the very first chapter he establishes Rusty Moss as both a hard man who hates people and someone that you absolutely have to love. In the next chapter he establishes Rusty’s niece, Mia, just as credibly. And this father-daughter style team will capture your heart as they struggle to survive one of the weirdest twists on the zombie apocalypse that I have ever read.
Strand is a master at building tension—not only with the ever-growing level of danger but with the very credible mistakes that Rusty and Mia make throughout the novel. They never do anything stupid, but many of their plans and reactions go badly awry. This makes them remarkably human as they deal with a horror they can’t quite believe is really happening to them.
One of the best distinguishing features of this novel is the vast array of zombie creatures that threaten Rusty and Mia. Strand has really thought out the strengths and weaknesses of the various undead forest animals so there is never a point in which the action gets routine. Even the smallest animals are dangerous and this gives the novel a decidedly different flavor from every other zombie story I have read.
Finally, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the vocal talents of narrator Scott Thomas. It’s not an easy thing for a man to craft a believable voice for a seventeen-year-old girl, but Thomas pulled it off and without his ability to do this, the audio book would not have worked nearly as well. He also catches the humor and affection in the back and forth banter of Rusty and Mia. His narration takes an excellent story and gives it that extra touch of magic to finish bringing it to life.
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 15, 2019 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
Omega Deep by Christopher Cartwright is a book that puts the “thrill” in thriller. It’s filled with near-future tech, a great mystery, and plenty of action. This is my first venture into this series, and while the novel is obviously entwined in things that happened before, while setting the scene for books to come, I didn’t have any trouble at all jumping into the action. The book stands alone well and has me very curious about what’s coming next. You can read my review here: https://www.gilbertstack.com/action
|Posted by Gilbert Stack on October 13, 2019 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
Hard to think of a better Occult-tober author than H.P. Lovecraft. His stories have been inspiring scary stories for decades. Here's my review of his At the Mountains of Madness:
I think it’s important to start this review by recognizing how tremendously influential Lovecraft in general and At the Mountains of Madness is in particular has been. He basically created and popularized the whole Things Man Was Not Meant to Know subgenre of horror / fantasy / sf or whatever it really is. The Elder Gods threatening the very sanity of the planet comes from Lovecraft and not only do his motifs show up rather blatantly in works like Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October as well as more recent series like John Ringo’s Special Circumstances and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters International, I suspect that you would never have gotten a TV show like the X-Files without Lovecraft.
So Lovecraft is hugely influential (the World Fantasy Award used to be a bust of Lovecraft) but that doesn’t mean that he’s an easy author to read. Most of the problem is that he was writing in the 1920s and 1930s and his fiction style comes off as slow moving and dated. At the Mountains of Madness takes the form of a narrative account of a disastrous expedition to Antarctica written long after the expedition’s survivors returned with the hope of dissuading the next expedition from beginning. It is filled with long and impressive descriptions of the geology of the continent and the remarkable discovery of a series of fossils the like of which have never been seen on the planet. Isolated from the rest of the world the scientists begin to discover that a wholly unanticipated species inhabited the earth tens of millions of years ago and the more they discover about this early life form the more horrific the story becomes.
And yet, while it is definitely creepy and Lovecraft has many subtle tricks to increase the reader’s understanding that things are going badly wrong, it is still a very slow moving story thanks to the narrative style. Today this book would have been written as a third person narrative following the expedition in “real time” and the action scenes that are quickly summarized in the original would have been fleshed out to play a much more significant role in the book, but that’s not how Lovecraft wrote and I think it makes the book harder to approach for today’s readers.
I listened to an audio version of the novella narrated extremely well by Edward Hermann who did a masterful job of bringing the text to life, but even so it remains a slow moving story. That being said, I still highly recommend it due to its influence over the decades since it was published.