Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Tenth Chamber -- Digging for the truth

The Tenth Chamber
by Glenn Cooper

Glenn Cooper Books, 2014
ISBN: 0692225137
ISBN-13: 9780692225134
Available from Amazon

Luc Simard is getting really frustrated, and his dislike for small towns is growing by the minute.  You'd think the folks in Ruac would be happy to know that nearby there was an archaeological site that went well beyond anything that had been previously found, that they were about to become famous and the world would rush in breathlessly to see their great treasure, and give the community a huge economic boost, but no, all these surly provincials seem determined to keep him and his team from studying it.

It seemed a straightforward matter at first when his friend Hugo got a call to restore the old Abbey after a fire, and found an ancient book in a primitive cypher code, and told the Abbot that he, Luc, might be able to help get it translated.  But in it, there was one thing that needed no translation -- a map to a cave.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blackout - When the lights go out.

 I find it interesting when two books have the same or similar title. This new one is by Madeleine Henry and should not be confused with Connie Willis's story.

Available everywhere!
I do not like books with stories that don't end within the book. I want each and every book to have a story arc complete with introduction, crises, climax, and conclusion. Not that everything in the book must be solved within that book.  A trilogy or series does not lend itself to answering all questions to all things. I do enjoy trilogies or even series. I loved The Lord of the Rings, for instance, but I don't like books that simply cut the story off. Connie Willis, an author I love and respect, did this with one of her recent book duos, Blackout and All Clear.  I was so angry I almost threw the book across the room. This is something many writers do nowadays but it feels like a cheat, a way to sell one story twice or more. The Hungry Games is a good example of how stories can be a trilogy but still have a story arc for each book. Another example are most TV series. There is the background, overall story, but each episode has a story that usually finishes within that episode. Exceptions, of coarse, are Soap Operas and shows meant to be like Soaps. Harry Potter series had a plot, a crisis. a climax, and a conclusion in each of the seven books. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies

Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies is the second book in a young adult (Y/A) book series. It follows the adventures of Johnny Graphic, a boy photographer. The setting is the 1930s, but it's not the same 193os we all know about. In this author's version of the 1930s, ghosts co-exist with the living, but only some of the living can see them. Those who can are called etherists. Johnny's sister, Melanie Graphic, is an etherist, and she belongs to a group who is dedicated to understanding how ghosts interact with the world of the living and how the ether (the area where the ghosts exist) works.

In the first book of the series, we were introduced to Percy Rathbone, who had a plot to create and set off etheric bombs. Percy happened to be the son of Dame Honoria, a friend of Johnny and Melanie's family. In the second book, Percy is at it again. In book two he is out to create an army of bog zombies, and they're kidnapping children under the cover of a mysterious fog that has descended upon the countryside. Johnny, Melanie, and their old friends set out to stop him.

Soon, it becomes clear that Johnny and his friends have to split their efforts. While Melanie and Dame Honoria try to research the problem and figure out what Percy is trying to do, Johnny and his friend Nina set off to rescue the children. Along the way they meet some new human and ghost friends that try to help them in their quest. But as some questions about what Percy is doing are answered, others arise, especially questions regarding the disappearance of Johnny's parents, who have been missing and presumed dead since the start of book one, and how their disappearance tied into Percy's plans.

It's important to note that I knew this was book two in the series before I read it. In fact, I had already read and reviewed book one. You can see my review of that book here Since I had that knowledge, I went into reading the book with a sequel/middle book mentality. I was already familiar with the characters and already somewhat knew what to expect in terms of writing style. This book definitely did not disappoint. I found it to be written just as well as the first.

One of the things that I really enjoy about D. R. Martin's writing style is that it is descriptive, but in a plain, uncomplicated way. It's written so that the target (Y/A) audience can easily understand it. However, many Y/A novels are written in such a simplistic style that they are boring. This book actually held my attention so well, as did the first in the series, that I didn't want to put it down at times, and I'm a full-grown adult. Yet, it's written in a way that a younger audience should be able to not only understand it, but enjoy it. It's full of adventure, excitement, action, and suspense.

Another thing that I like about both Johnny Graphic books is that, in my opinion, they aren't one-time reads. I've happily added them to my permanent library. I expect the Johnny Graphic novels to become like familiar old friends that I reach for when the mood strikes me, much like Anne of Green Gables or Harry Potter.

I give Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies 5 out of 5 stars. It's fun, exciting, and attention grabbing, while still being a light, easy read that can be enjoyed almost anywhere from bed to crowded airport terminals. However, I would caution readers to start with the first book, not the second. Many important concepts and characters are introduced in the first book. The second book does not work well as a stand alone novel.

As of January 2015, there is no third book in the series yet, but I hope that there will be soon. Although the book two story feels well-rounded, there are definitely some loose ends, which leave plenty of room for series expansion.

Book: Johnny Graphic and the Attack of the Zombies (Book 2 in Series)
By: D.R. Martin
Publisher: Conger Road Press
Length: 318 pages
Genre: Young Adult (Y/A)
ISBN: 978-0985019631
Available on as a paperback or for Kindle

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Cut - cops, drugs and drama

The Cut: A Wolfe Novel
Peter Churchill
Publisher:  Rhubarb Triangle (ebook)  March, 2014
Sometimes even in the world of fiction, the good guys aren't the James Bond style mannequin that the bad guys never succeed in foiling.  Wolfe is a Detective Sergeant in the Eastern Area Drug Squad, and he's been in law enforcement for a long time, used to the complexities and uncertainties of finding and trapping drug dealers, but he's never seen anything like the challenges he's about to face.

There's something afoot, as they used to say in Sherlock's day.  Cocaine in huge quantities is being shipped into the country by a new, thoroughly competent and incredibly creative, drug king-pin named Simpson, one who enjoys danger and actively loves violence.

Wolfe's been divorced and has pretty much decided that work is the only life he's going to get to have.  His hard shell seems impenetrable until, during a drug bust, he meets Tina, the junkie girlfriend of Billie, a runner for Simpson.  As Wolfe and Tina are dropped into a maze-like game of cat and mouse in search of the brilliant but deadly Simpson, a kind of bond begins to develop, but is it real or is Tina playing him?  Nothing in the dark world of drug dealing is ever really what it seems to be.